Tuesday, April 12, 2005

"Veronica Mars" and Missed Opportunities

Thanks to a review copy from UPN, I watched tonight's episode of "Veronica Mars" a few hours ago and was glad to be able to.
The series, about a high-school girl who also works as a private eye, is Nancy Drew with a much grimmer sensibility, with dialogue that recalls "Gilmore Girls" both in its glibness and its load of pop-culture references.
"Veronica" also respects its characters more than a lot of shows. The adults may not always be seen, but they are still key to the younger people's lives, and the young people themselves repeatedly defy stereotyping.
Kristen Bell, who plays Veronica, is a fabulous actress; she's been out there getting noticed for some time -- and did a terrific guest-starring role on "Deadwood" its first season. Still, Veronica is a role that calls for many skills, and Bell definitely shows them all.
But there's another reason I was glad to watch "Veronica," which is that I don't see it nearly as often as I should. And the reason is often that I just forget to watch.
Tuesday night in the House of Heldenfels is packed with viewing. Shows watched live or being recorded tonight include "American Idol," "The Amazing Race," "House," "The Office" and "Blind Justice."
When they are new episodes, we add "Gilmore Girls" and "One Tree Hill." "The Shield" would also be on the list, except that FX is very good about sending out episodes of it in advance. And, before it ended its run, "NYPD Blue" was a weekly routine.
Now, that's all on one night. Yes, some of those shows are my wife's favorites, not mine. But other nights also have shows I like, and shows that as a TV critic I feel a need to monitor occasionally, even I don't like them much. There are always piles of tapes and DVDs of upcoming telecasts for possible review, and at some point I have to face the boxes of TV shows on DVD for the weekly TV-on-DVD I column I write. Then -- although all that TV might suggest otherwise -- I have a life that also involves doing things other than watching TV.
So sometimes there are shows that I like or admire but just don't get around to watching all that often. I was immensely fond of "Girlfriends" for several years, and when I've checked it out this season, it still seems pretty good. But I don't get to it very often. For a long time, I admired "Judging Amy" enough to watch it and "NYPD Blue," one in real time, the other recorded. Maybe it's still good, but I haven't seen it recently enough to say one way or the other.
I don't think I'm atypical about approaching TV this way. I suspect there are shows you've thought about watching, or that you've heard are good, but you just don't get around to it.
Maybe you already have a long list of TV favorites, and it's hard to make time for something new until one of your favorites is gone. Maybe you have a busy non-TV life, so something has to jump up big-time for you to make room for. The problem with that, of course, is that if we don't watch the good shows, they may not get enough of an audience to stick around. "Veronica Mars," at least, has been picked up for a second season. So somebody was watching.


Blogger Hobbes said...

Veronica Mars is a terrific show. Well written and with a cast of talented actors. My wife and I set our TIVO up for a season pass as we never want to miss an episode. Who woudl have thought that UPN would actually broadcast good television?

4:48 AM  

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