"Veronica Mars" is one of the best shows on telelvision. Reruns of Season One start a week from today, after UPN is done fumigating the time slot now that Britney and K-Fed are about done with it. I've watched a few minutes of that show -- accidently Tivoed due to it being set to record "VM" -- and all I can say is, wretched. Anyway, I read in Entertainment Weekly last week that "VM" holds the distinction of being the lowest rated show on television this year that was renewed for another season. It doesn't surprise me that its ratings are that low because it's on UPN, and it doesn't surprise me that they renewed it anyway because it's not like UPN has ever had a critically-acclaimed show before and they'd be stupid to toss it on the trash heap, because, people? The show freaking rocks. Watch the re-runs if you don't believe me.
"VM' has garnered a lot of comparisons to another show about a petite blonde former cheerleader who now deals with darker issues and kicks ass doing so, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," of which I was a fan for many seasons. This similarity was driven home to me during the first appearance of Tina Majorino as Mac, Veronica's cute, soft-spoken, kinda awkward, computer geek pal who has long red hair and reeks of high-school-era Willow from "Buffy." Thinking about I further, I discovered a lot of other parallels that are less obvious, but here they are:
Sunnydale was the picture-perfect California town with demons lurking beneath the surface (literally). Neptune is the picture-perfect California town with demons lurking beneath the surface (figuratively).
Sunnydale had vampires and other assorted demons. Neptune has really nasty rich kids called 09ers, which refers to their zip code in the nice part of town.
Buffy had Giles, who began as her mentor and became a father figure to her. Veronica has Keith Mars, her actual father, who has become a kind of mentor to her in the realm of private investigation.
Buffy's first sexual experience resulted in Angel losing his soul and turning evil. Veronica's first sexual experience was similarly traumatic -- she awoke after an 09er party having been drugged and raped.
Buffy fell in love with Angel, but it was a love that could never be, because he's a vampire and she's a slayer and it's not a good mix. Veronica fell in love with Duncan Kane, but it's a love that could never be because his dad was messing with her mom on and off for years and they might be brother and sister (ew!). That mystery is cleared up in the last few episodes of Season One, but I'm not giving that away since I want people to watch and enjoy if they haven't done so already.
Spike is a vampire who is evil but comes to befriend the Scoobies and falls in love with Buffy. They go on to have tumultous relationship. Logan is an 09er who seems pretty evil but comes to need Veronica's assistance and falls in love with her. They have a tumultuous relationship. I always liked Buffy better with Spike than with Angel. Similarly, I like Veronica better with Logan than with Duncan.
Buffy had Willow, Veronica has Mac. Buffy had Xander -- Veronica has Wallace.
Now the contrasts:
Buffy kicked literal ass. Veronica kicks more figurative ass -- she's smart and she cell phones, the internet, her dad's PI doodads and tricks she's picked up from him, a Chrysler convertible, and a dog named Back-up to solve mysteries and right wrongs. I like Veronica better. I always found Buffy a bit whiny and kind of a drama queen. Veronica has been through some equally crappy stuff and only gets a little broody from time to time. She dresses better too. And the storylines don't feature cheesy demons and stuff like a lot of Buffy's used to. With all due respect to the Slayer -- "Veronica Mars" Season One is a better show. Let's just hope Season Two lives up to the promise of Season One -- and that people start watching.