tv rewatch: Veronica Mars (2004-2007)

Veronica Mars Rewatch

Veronica Mars. I tuned in when it originally aired on TV, donated to the movie Kickstarter, and drooled over the SDCC coverage…but when the heck was the last time I actually watched the show?

Yes, while I adored VM when it was on, even went to far as to buy the DVDs, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and watched the entire series through a second time. With the movie set for release next year, I figured this was the best time to sit down and relive the magic…or see how the show looks 10 years later. (Plus, I have two friends that need to be turned into Marshmallows by the movie premiere).

1. PILOT (extended): My DVDs only have the “extended cut” version of the pilot and that is the only way I have ever seen it. I can’t remember when I started watching Veronica Mars but I feel like I saw season 1 on DVD, not in real-time. But of all the episodes, this is probably the one I have seen the most as I have tried to hook new viewers. It’s hard for me to focus on the actual episode because while I’m watching all I can think about are the stories to unfold.

As pilots go, it’s pretty solid but you can still feel that uneasiness of the cast and writers. No one is quite sure who they are yet (except for maybe Enrico, who IS Keith Mars). There are SO MANY mysteries to set up in that first 45 minutes – Lily’s murder, Veronica’s rape, the disappearance of Veronica’s Mom and, to a lesser extent, why Duncan dumped her so abruptly. PLUS introducing us to a rather large cast of characters while giving us backstory about the murder investigation and how that changed Veronica’s world. It’s a very packed 45 minutes.

It does have some very important moments – this is the episode that gave us the “Veronica Mars: She’s a marshmallow” line and the dealings with Weevil and his gang carry over for the rest of the season, allowing Veronica to easily move between the world of the 09ers and a street gang. And, of course, BFF Wallace is introduced and it’s hard not to like him right away.

2. Credit Where Credits Due: Everyone seems a little bit more comfortable in their skins in this episode though the writers are still struggling to catch up the audience on Veronica’s backstory, especially the Veronica/Duncan plot and her relationship with bad-boy Logan. Ugh, and Paris Hilton. Why? Nothing dates this show more than her appearance. Luckily, this is her final episode.

Not sure how the newspaper teacher could be quite so oblivious to Duncan and Veronica’s previous relationship, no matter how new to the school she is. Veronica is a little too snarky towards her from the start, but again you can tell the writers and Kristen Bell are still massaging her character. She can only be so jaded…but how jaded?

This episode is all about loyalty and betraying trusts – we have Duncan and Veronica awkwardly reconnecting, Catlin (Hilton ugh) betraying Logan, and Weevil’s cousin trying to pin the credit card fraud crime on Weevil’s grandmother then on Weevil. Veronica confronts her father about his on-going investigation in the Lily Kane case. And then the photo of Lily running the red light…it’s a tangled web of intrigue!

My favorite scene is with Veronica and her Dad when the go to the hotel to try to get the information on who rented a room. I also love the little moment in the diner when Keith tells Veronica to take off her hat – a sweet Dad moment. I love their dynamic, probably one of the best father/daughter relationships ever on TV.

3. Meet John Smith: I remember this episode blowing my mind the first time I saw it. It was really well paced and the mystery had enough twists on it’s own plus we had Veronica’s story and Duncan’s story, which are finally maturing in the characters we will come to know later. Re-watching, I had forgotten about Duncan’s own issues and it was good to show him struggling with the depression that came from dealing with his sister’s murder and the fact that, deep down, he knows it has not been solved.

I was never a fan of Troy. I’m still counting down the episodes until he leaves. Which is funny because I liked him in X-Men! Still, Veronica trying to get over Duncan and move on with Troy leads to some cute scenes. When she pulls away at the last moment as he leans in to kiss her, you do feel for the guy. But she trusted her gut, and it was the right thing to do.

Again, best moments in the episode are still Keith and Veronica. When she comes in late after her date and he asks her how it went, she comes back with “the sex was great” and he deadpans “that’s not funny” and she makes that great *thinking* face and says “Pretty sure it was.”

Later on, after Keith overhears Veronica talking with her client about how if his father left the family he is probably better off without him and Keith peeks in on Veronica later to try to defend her mother and Veronica comes back with “The hero stays, the villain is the one that leaves.”

Then there is that final scene, when Veronica thinks she has finally found her Mom and Kristen shows us the emotion she can convey. After 3 episodes of Veronica being stalwart and stone-faced, seeing her start to crumble as she asks her aunt where her mother is and why would she leave…breaks my heart.

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“Traumatizing” reads

My library’s Facebook page posted a link to this blog entry and it has generated a LOT of comments, ranging from picture books to novels. Then Dunc went and posted about Flowers in the Attic this morning. So now I’m sitting here thinking of what books from my past have stuck with me, for better or for worse.

The first title that popped into my head was Where the Red Fern Grows. When I was in elementary school, our sixth grade teacher was the coolest person. Everyone hoped to have Mr. Gwynn as their teacher. And we all knew that his favorite book of all time was Where the Red Fern Grows and that it would be our assigned reading that year. In my 12-year old mind, I would read the book and love it and Mr. G would think I was so mature. Or something. Then the assignment happened…and I started the book…and the little suburban girl who had always owned a dog and a cat that she treated very sweetly was like WTF IS THIS SHIT?!?! (Only not because I didn’t really swear as much when I was 12). While I know this book probably represents how people trained their hunting dogs back in the day, to me it was like reading a chronicle of animal abuse. I don’t even think I made it to the end of the book. I went from admiring my teacher to being upset with him and not really respecting anything he said after that.

Of course, this was the start of being assigned traumatizing books. Bridge to Terabithia wasn’t far behind. I don’t think I finished that one either after someone spoiled me that it was a super depressing ending. Some people like those kinds of stories, I know, but it was not for me.

Soon, this was what reading became to me – books that were upsetting. I think for most of middle school, I pretty much stopped reading books. (Eventually, I stumbled upon Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but that will have to be another post.)

Suffice it to say, after these two titles, I stopped trusting my teachers’ recommendations and I honestly can’t remember how many assigned books I read cover to cover. Probably not until Senior year of high school…sad but true.

How about you? What is the first book the comes to mind when someone says “traumatizing childhood reading”?

Spotify rocks my world

OMGERD you know you want to sign up for Spotify!
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Use this link to get me extra brownie points

What is Spotify, you ask?  It’s a streaming music service. It actually originated in Europe but a few years ago they worked out a deal to come stateside.  There’s still a lot of debate on how fair it is to the artists, but honestly I have discovered more music this way because you can easily search for a band and listen to an entire album before you decide to buy it.  I bought more songs last year than I had in a long time and it’s all because I had a chance to hear them before spending my hard earned cash.

When they launched, they had made a deal with the devil Facebook and you could only join if you had a Facebook account but that has apparently fallen by the wayside and you can now register with just an email address.

Obviously, the free service has commercials but you can stream so much music, make and share playlists, and even follow bands that you like and get music recommendations from them!  

Plus, if you sign up using my link, I can earn a free month of premium service, which means I can get to Spotify on my mobile devices for a month and be commercial free.  Good times. 

So, yeah, give it a try and send me some new music to listen to (you know my name)

video game thoughts: Ni No Kuni (2012)

Ni No Kuni

I have been wanting to play this game since watching the Rev3 review. I usually don’t play turn-based RPGs but I just could not resist the pretty that is Studio Ghibli. And since we had Best Buy gift cards lying around, bringing my actual purchase price to $2, I figured I would give it a try.

You play as Oliver, Ollie for short, who is the “Pure-Hearted One”. After your mother dies, a fairy creature named Mr. Drippy appears and tells Ollie he is the one chosen to save their world from the evil Djinn Shadar. Ollie is hesitant, until Mr. Drippy says that the people in his world are connected to the people in this world so if Ollie can find his mother’s “soul mate” they might be able to resurrect her somehow.

The animated cut scenes look beautiful, which is no surprise. But we played for almost 3 hours yesterday and just finished off the tutorial zone of the game. As far as gameplay goes, from what I know of turn-based RPGs, this seems about normal. You can move around during the battle sequences but you still use a menu to pick your attacks. After attacks, the creatures drop health/magic that you can run over and pick up.

There are spells to learn and creatures to capture and lots of side quests and mini-quests. All the explanations are taking a looooong time. I’m hoping when we pick it up again, the game will let us play for awhile without interruptions. I’ll write more then.

Lose Your Own Adventure! #1

Lose Your Own Adventure!  #1

After 3 years of waiting, it’s finally here! And it is glorious! I’ve already hit a “YOU LOSE!” page twice. The writing is just as bad/good as the real series and the art is spot-on. It’s like reliving my childhood reading but less nostalgic and more depressing. Thanks Despair!

(Watch for the Kickstarter for book 2 in September)

tv shows I did not expect to like: Archer

Archer on FX

Not knowing anything about ‘Archer’ (the description on Netflix leaves something to be desired), I assumed it was just another spy show, a James Bond clone. I’m not even sure I knew it was animated, but I had no idea it was a comedy.

A friend had me watch the first episode, and it was funny enough, but I set it aside to watching some other things. Thank goodness it was still on streaming a few months later. I decided to give it another try after reading people raving about the fourth season.

I can’t quite pinpoint why I love this rude, crude, and sometimes downright vile show. I think the fact that, even at it’s strangest moments, ‘Archer’ (the series, not the man) has it’s heart in the right place. I love all the characters, love the running gags (which span SEASONS), but I think the thing that has endeared it to my little geek heart the most are the super-random references that Archer (the man) will make to comic books, sci-fi and fantasy shows. He’s this badass who mocks everyone slightly nerdy, yet he clearly has this other layer that has read tons of X-Men comics and watched Stargate.

The show is vulgar and I’m never sure who I should tell about it because of that. The humor is twisted and it catches me off guard, actually making me laugh out loud.

And I didn’t even mention the fantastic cast. You’ll recognize a lot of them on sight, even if you don’t know there names. And SO MANY GUEST STARS.

If you’re a fan of ‘Venture Brothers’, this is something you should be watching. If you’re a fan of over-the-top comedies that manage to mix high brow and low brow humor into a single one-liner, you should watch this. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!

favorite movies: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. Poster

I’ve posted a little bit about E.T. before but I watched it again this weekend and felt the need to talk a bit more about this classic movie and its effect on me.

The thing that I love about E.T. is that there is something for you at every age level. When I first saw it, I could only have been a preschooler. I assume that those first few viewings, I was along for the ride with Gertie, not really understanding the deeper meaning behind the actions, but following the story enough to know that E.T. and Elliot were friends but E.T. needed to go home.

Watching it later on VHS, closer to Elliot’s age, I must have identified with that lost boy. My home life was not like Elliot’s but even though I might not have understood what divorce was yet, or even what it was like to have an older brother, I understood what it felt like to be a kid in a world where everyone seems older. You have no power, it can be hard to find friends (because clearly Elliot is a bit of a loner. We only see him interact with his siblings on a regular basis), and you are constantly trying to make yourself heard. And E.T. comes along and fills all the voids in Elliot’s life: he is someone Elliot can teach and care for, he turns into a friend, and eventually E.T. even becomes a father figure, giving Elliot the goodbye he has been longing for the entire movie that the absentee parent did not give him.

Much later, I watched the film again, this time along with Michael. I would have had a younger brother at this point, a new person in my life who I wanted to both protect and strangle. That’s what little brothers do – drive you crazy. But, as the older sister, I had to watch out for him. So when Michael agrees to let Elliot take the lead, I understood why. That bond between siblings, especially when the adults around you make you wonder about growing up, can be stronger than any logic. Michael understood how important this all was to Elliot and he stood by him. Near the end, you know he has a bit of regret, that maybe he shouldn’t have become to caught up in the excitement, when he finally reveals to the mother what is going on.

And now, here I am watching this 30 year old movie, seeing it as an adult. Watching the poor mother, caught up in her own problems and work but trying to stay present for her three children – it’s a juggling act all too common. If they had gone to her from the start, E.T. would have been taken away and the story would have ended there. Adults and parents are far too mature and logical. They don’t see the world from the right perspective (and we don’t get to see them for most of the movie. The Mom is the only adult who we get to see all of until the very end when the scientists force themselves inside). As an adult, you are torn between rooting for Elliot and the kids to foil the scientists, but at the same time you ache with knowing that kids do have their own world and you can’t protect them.

It’s a beautiful movie for so many reasons and I could go on and on, but this aspect of it always strikes me every time I watch it. It was brilliant for Melissa Mathison to put these three children in the story, spanning different ages. It gives the film this magical staying power. Every time I watch this movie, I find something new to love, some little thing on the sidelines, some little big of dialogue I didn’t notice before – but every time I watch it, I have that pang of emotion, wishing that I could go back to that sweet innocence of Gertie, or remember the struggle of being a 10 year old, or even just find that confused teenager again…but we don’t live in Neverland and eventually we grow up. And it’s a big “ouch” but E.T. will always be a favorite of mine, a film deeply ingrained in my heart and in my mind.