Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Book Review)

Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Book Review)

I can’t get enough Veronica Mars.

Following the wildly entertaining three season long television show, fans have been lucky enough to see the continuation of the life of the edgy, vindictive, sleuthing Veronica in the Veronica Mars movie, and the fun follow-up novel, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.

Well, for fans, things keep on rolling with the latest novel about the exploits of our favorite heroine, in Mr. Kiss and Tell.

vm2This time around, Veronica is put on a case where a girl was the victim of a brutal sexual assault at the Neptune Grand Hotel, the centerpiece of wealth in the seaside town of Neptune. She is hired to try and find out what really happened, since the girl can be seen entering the hotel on video, but never leaving it. From here, the mystery unfolds, and we are swept into a seedy world of abuse and prostitution.

As with the first VM novel, this one brings back the familiar cast of characters from the show, that we all know and love. There is the perfect amount of exposition, explaining the role that each person played in Veronica’s life, which makes the novel accessible for those who are new to Neptune and looking for a casual book read. Also, it is not too much for the hard-core fan, who of course remember the youngest Manning girl, or the importance of Leo in Veronica’s teen life. It was a good balance, to appease the old fans, and the new.

vm3As for Mr. Kiss and Tell itself, it is a similar beach read to The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. The mystery itself doesn’t offer as many twists and turns as the show, film, or first book offered, but the majority of the time was spent with Veronica knowing who did it, and trying to figure out a way to catch him. It provides a suitable amount of intrigue, even if it is not as good as the first book, overall.

Part of the charm of the first book was that Veronica’s voice was captured perfectly, and it was tough to read without hearing her voice in your head. The sharp-edged sarcasm always came through in the dialogue. That is lost a little bit in Mr. Kiss and Tell, and some of the dialogue comes across as quite un-Veronica. Maybe she is mellowing as she approaches 30?

There are the secondary story lines, as well, which push forward the general narrative of the lives of the people of Neptune. There is the romance between Logan and Veronica that is continued on in this book, and the developing story of the partnership between Keith and his daughter as they continue to grow Mars Investigations as a team. There is of course continued battles with Sheriff Lamb, and an upcoming election to decide his future. Some of the extra stories were a little underdeveloped and almost thrown in, but it doesn’t really take away from the overall enjoyment of this read.

Mr. Kiss and Tell is another fine addition to the growing universe of Veronica Mars. Fans can only hope that they will continue with the novel series, as it really does offer nice, light reads, that provide interesting mysteries, some laughs, and a group of people that we have known for a decade now.

And the best part, for those who are fans of the show and get it…Veronica gets a puppy. And names it Pony.

vm4Perfect.

House of Lies: Season 3 (TV Review)

House of Lies: Season 3 (TV Review)

At the end of the second season of the hit show House of Lies, Marty Kaan broke away from his massive firm and decided to open up his own shop, forcing the loyal members of his Pod to make decisions for themselves on what their futures may hold, and where they will work.

To start the third season, we are given views into the lives of the different characters in their new (or old) places of employment. Jeannie and lovable Doug are still toiling away at Galweather, while Clyde jumped ship to work with Marty’s psychotic ex-wife Monica. Marty is toiling away at his new place, trying to put Kaan & Associates on the map, while struggling with his new Pod, and dealing with life as a smaller fish in a very big pond of financial consultant firms out there.

lies2Much of the season is focused on how the members of Marty’s original Pod will reunite, and with this comes the usual manipulation (of companies, and each other), blackmailing, and backstabbing that we have become used to on House of Lies.

Many of the usual things are there, even if by this third season, the show has become more serious and seems to have lost a step in the razor-sharp wit department that it was so good with over the course of the first couple of seasons. (I think much of this was due to the primary characters being apart for much of the season, as their interactions with one another are what gave the first two years of the show its best, and most humorous, situations).

lies3Either way, House of Lies remains crazily watchable, as we wait to see what is going to happen with these people that are created as so detestable, that we can’t help but love them.

While the show always provides interesting stories about the companies they are working for (this season focuses primarily on a couple of health food companies and a new hip-hop clothing line run by friends with past ties to the drug trade), the most interesting part of the show remains the characters.

Season 3 gives us more on each of the primary characters, including Doug and his hasty marriage to his controlling wife, Clyde and his fall from grace, Marty and his dealings with his family, including an excellent look into the often rocky relationship with his son, and the mysterious Jeannie, who remains perhaps the best shark of them all, all while keeping her life a secret from everyone else.

Don Cheadle has garnered much acclaim for his role as Marty Kaan, and rightfully show. But Season 3 signals a bit of a changing of the guard.

lies5In my opinions, House of Lies has become Jeannie’s show. Kristen Bell, still beloved from her days as Veronica Mars, rules House of Lies. She is deliciously manipulative, and knows how to get what she wants. She manages to out-maneuver even the best during this season, showing that she is more than just an associate of Kaan’s- she has become his equal, and in many ways, his superior. Bell plays the role so well, that she is able to keep us adoring her, even if so many of her methods are questionable, and even if we never really know what her true motives are. Is she pushing for the throne in the business? Or just trying to make it rich? Or does she simply want to do the right thing for her clients and her partners? She shows glimpses of all of these things, and she manages to keep us guessing the entire time. In my opinion, the beautiful and vicious Kristen Bell deserves more credit than she gets for her role as Jeannie, who over the course of three years, has far and away become the most interesting character on the series.

Okay, not from Season 3, but I don't care!
Okay, not from Season 3, but I don’t care!

Even though Season 3 may not be the best during the show’s run, it is still very good television, and worth delving into a Netflix coma for a little while to pour through the episodes.

Sit back, and watch Kristen Bell take the world of financial consulting by storm.

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 3

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 3

The final installment of the beloved Veronica Mars TV series shifts our characters out of Neptune High, right into Hearst College, Neptune’s premier institution of higher learning.

All of the characters that we have learned to love over the first couple of seasons are back for the third go round. They have continued to develop from the events of season 2. For example, we have the lovable lout Dick Casablancas, who has been deeply affected by the criminal activity and death of his younger brother, Cassidy. In typical Dick fashion, his method of coping involved booze, partying, and women.

BELLNow that Veronica has moved along from high school, it doesn’t take long before she begins making enemies at her new school. Being smarter that the rest of the students in her criminology class doesn’t exactly endear her to her new classmates, or her new TA, the former prized student of her respected professor.

But, as we know, it won’t take long until people all over campus are asking her for favours, creating the small mysteries that move the series along. And of course, we have our large-scale mysteries that serve as the undercurrent for the year. An on-campus rapist, a mysterious suicide/murder, and Veronica’s tumultuous relationship with Logan Echolls, keep our heroine busy, all while trying to remain a successful student, work a part-time job, and continue helping out her father at Mars Investigations.

Veronica Mars remained nicely consistent throughout its three season run. The same things that worked in the first season continue to work in the third, and it is a formula that viewers have come to enjoy and love. Personally, I didn’t find the third season as engrossing as the first two, but that doesn’t mean that there is really an kind of drop in quality in the show. The last year is every bit as enjoyable as the first two, even if the mysteries aren’t quite as all encompassing or impactful on Veronica as they were the first couple of times around.

As always, the relationships are what make this show great. Logan and Veronica. The introduction of new roommate characters in Piz and Parker. The old standbys in Veronica and her father Keith, Mac, and Wallace. These relationships have been built up for three years, and we are not disappointed in the way that they have developed over the course of time.

Season 3 of Veronica Mars does not disappoint. The only sad thing is that there wasn’t more after the end of this season. On the DVD version, you can see the sneak peak of what would have been season 4, where Veronica would have been an intern at the FBI. Perhaps it was a good thing that the show ended after its three years. Veronica Mars was never destroyed by soap opera plots, or uninteresting side plots. It remains something that is always an entertaining viewing. This is one of those series that can be re-watched time and again, every few years. The wit and humour always remains, and the standout performance by Kristen Bell is never diminished over time.

If you have gone through the first couple of years of VM, you will not be disappointed by the third. Keep watching, marshmallows!

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 2

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 2

After the addictive, thrilling, and funny first season of Veronica Mars, most viewers will immediately plunge into the second season of the show, which continues from where the first season left off.

With the murderer of Lilly Kane behind bars, Veronica is now a senior, and continues her battle against the elites of Neptune, the issues at her school, and the race war that is on the cusp of exploding on the streets of her hometown.

v2There are many great things to further enjoy in the second season of this show. The story of Aaron Echolls continues, as he tries to prove his innocence for killing Lilly. His son, and Veronica’s sometimes boyfriend, Logan, is also in his own fair share of trouble, as he has been accused of stabbing and killing one of the PCH bikers. There is that little matter of her still not knowing who raped her at a year end party the year before….

Season 2 moves these stories along, as well as introducing a new problem that serves as the central mystery for the season: a bus crash after a field trip to Shark Stadium kills several Neptune High students. Luckily, or strangely, all of the richer kids were not on the bus ride home, having opted to take a limo ride home. Thus, the questions begin to come out. Who’s fault was it that the bus crashed? How did all the rich kids know to get off? Who was targeted with the crash?

The bus crash leads us on an intriguing mystery over the course of the system, that also cleverly ties in to older mysteries that the show began in it’s initial year.

As with the first year, Veronica works to solve mini-mysteries while she works on the bigger one at the same time. She still puts herself in overly dangerous situations, she still possess a razor-sharp wit, she still is forced to look in the mirror now and then and wonder who she really is, and what her role is in the destruction of the lives of people around her.

All of the main characters from the first season remain, and her inner circle is expanded from only Wallace, to more frequent appearances by Mac, and more important roles by Logan, Meg, Dick, Duncan, and Cassidy/Beaver. These characters play secondary roles in Veronica’s life, and this is something else she needs to deal with. Is she out there to help other people out, or is she in danger of becoming too self-centered and focused on her own revenge to truly be able to call herself a friend?

The secondary characters are also given stronger story lines, including Wallace becoming involved with his father, taking some time away in Chicago, and getting into some issues with a vehicle incident.

Veronica Mars, the second season, offers more of what viewers learned to love in the first. It is an endlessly clever show, with strong writing, great acting, and carried by the excellent lead of Kristen Bell as Veronica.

If you have watched the first season, I am going to guess that you are hooked, and year 2 will definitely not disappoint.

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 1

Throwback TV: Veronica Mars Season 1

I’ve written a fair amount about Veronica Mars, because I just love it. I’ve written about the movie trailer, the film itself, and have even read the first novel in what is a possible VM book series, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.

Going back to where it all began, season 1 of the cult TV show is simply an awesome watch. Over the course of the season, we see the development of the characters that would play roles throughout the series, and we would see Kristen Bell become Veronica, to the point where she is one of the best female TV characters of the last decade.

And seeing as how Veronica Mars has been a recent addition to the Netflix lineup, it seemed an appropriate time to write about it. While I have gone through the entire series three times prior, seeing it on Netflix drew me back in for another complete viewing.

veronica2After Laura Palmer, and well before Rosie Larson, we wanted to know who killed Lilly Kane.

The premise of the first season is to introduce the once popular, but now pariah character of Veronica Mars, daughter to the former sheriff of Neptune, California, where the social divide is great between the haves and the have nots. Veronica used to run with the popular group, date the son of a billionaire, and be well respected among her peers at school. But that all changed after her best friend, Lilly, was murdered. Her father, Keith Mars, tried to pin the murder on Jake Kane, Lilly’s father, which essentially ostracized both of them from the high end people of Neptune. Veronica stuck with her father, not believing that the murder was solved, as the new sheriff would have everyone believe. Sure, there was a man behind bars, but something never fit right with the Mars family. Now, no longer sheriff, Keith is a private detective in town, and Veronica helps him on some of his cases. Often of the more sordid variety, such as cheating husbands.

But Veronica wants to know who really killed her best friend. Not to get back in with the cool people at school, but for her peace, Lilly’s peace, and her father’s vindication.

The first season of Veronica Mars has the long, over-arching story line of who killed Lilly. But in between, there are smaller arcs, as well as episode one offs, all of which are fun and interesting little mysteries, filled with wit, humour, and the perfect amount of seriousness, all while exploring topics of class division, popularity, and the typical teen issues. Veronica deals with small cases, like mysterious dog disappearances, to bigger things, like drug smuggling, and her own drugging and rape at a school party.

Veronica has a chip on her shoulder, and she is determined to get revenge on people who have wronged her, and wronged the people that she cares about. While her behavior can be morally questionable at times, Veronica always has justice at heart, which makes her an intriguing character.

She has a veneer of sarcasm that is able to protect a hurt girl, who has many wrongs in her life. Aside from the fall from popular grace, she has had to deal with an alcoholic mother who eventually abandons her family, questions about her own paternity, the scorn of the people from her past, and the struggles to balance her unique job and her studies, where she is a top student without the money to go to an elite school. She needs to earn everything she gets, and she is faced with tough decisions all the way through the first season.

But she is tough, which is why we love her. There is nary a situation that doesn’t warrant a quip from her, and the writers of the show gave Bell some great material to work with. But it is Bell that really makes this character come alive, and she gives Veronica the edge and humour that make her so lovable, and an easy character to cheer for.

The first season is full of twists and turns, both within the small story lines, as well as the big one. There are plenty of laughs, and plenty of strong secondary characters that make the show go round. Particularly strong is the relationship between Keith and his daughter, as they are serious about their work, but also seem to have the perfect father-daughter relationship, in that they can confide in one another, and do so quite hilariously at times.

Regardless of your taste in TV, Veronica Mars should be considered as a must see series. It never got the viewers it should have during its time on TV, but warrants a watching now. It is non-stop entertainment, with clever writing full of allusions that will make the knowledgeable pop culture junkie happy. Even having gone through the series several times, I still find myself enjoying the show, the quips, and being more knowing and involved in the mystery.

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Book Review)

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Book Review)

I think we have found a great beach read here, in the mystery novel based on the characters created in the cult TV show Veronica Mars. Originally meant to serve as the basis for the film version that was released earlier this year, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line now works as a sequel to the movie.

The story revolves around Veronica, who is now back in Neptune after her adventures in the film, waiting for her boyfriend, Logan Echolls, to come back from his overseas tour of duty, and working a little bit for her dad, as she tends to do.

mars2It is set during spring break, where Neptune is invaded by drunken hordes of college age students, ready to blow off some steam. All is going normally, until a couple of co-eds go missing. From here, the mystery unfolds, and Veronica investigates the disappearance, or possible kidnapping, or possible murder, of the two missing girls. It leads her all over Neptune, to large spring break parties, to run ins with the most dangerous drug cartel on earth.

The book is co-written by VM creator Rob Thomas, which allows an in-depth knowledge of the characters in the story. We don’t need the backstory on everybody, like her friends Mac and Wallace, but instead are expected to know about them. That being said, this novel doesn’t need to be only for fans of the show. It is independent enough that the regular reader could get on board as well, because at its core, this is basically just a good mystery read. There is nothing incredible about it, but it reads just like an extended episode of the show. The mystery itself is solid, it keeps the reader guessing for the majority of the story, and it is a pretty fun read.

Credit goes to Kristen Bell, who so perfectly portrayed Veronica on the small and silver screen, that whenever Veronica is speaking, it is impossible not to read it in her voice, with her inflection and nuances to the character. Bell did such a wonderful job in becoming Veronica, that her performance transcends to text as well.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line is definitely not high end literature, but it will keep you entertained until the end. It is fairly well-written, all of the characters we have grown to love are in the story, and Veronica does what she does. She is still the witty, and edgy, and intelligent, and risk-taking girl that we grew to love on TV.

For fans of Veronica Mars, this mystery novel will be a must have for your summer reading list. Enjoy.

Veronica Mars (Film Review)

Veronica Mars (Film Review)

The largest Kickstarter campaign ever comes to fruition in the film version of the TV show that quickly became a cult classic during its three-year run on the air, the Veronica Mars movie leaves no disappointment for fans of the series.

Ten years after leaving Neptune, Veronica has left her private detective life behind her, and is on the verge of becoming a high end lawyer in New York. Her life has been a success, as we all knew that it would be. She has a degree in psychology, and is weeks away from taking the bar exam. She is interviewing with top firms in NYC, on the cusp of a great career.

Until the call comes in.

“Veronica? I need your help.”

marsDrawn back to Neptune to help out Logan Eckles, her ex-love, who is again facing a murder rap when his former girlfriend and pop singer is found dead in her bathtub (Carrie Bishop, from the original show, although she is no longer played by Leighton Meester, one of the few disappointments in the movie). Of course, Veronica begrudgingly accepts to help him out with finding a lawyer, which turns into a much longer stay than she had intended.

Veronica Mars has everything one could want in a YV series-turned feature film. This was, after all, mostly funded by the fans, who raised millions of dollars to see this made. That is a dedicated fan base.

All of our favorite characters are back, and Kristen Bell, as Veronica, is in her finest form. She is as sharp and witty as ever, now able to say some of the things that she couldn’t on TV (I always enjoy hearing TV characters swear, it is partially unnatural, and partially awesome, because we know it’s what they would have really said, anyways). Even ten years after the first season began, we still love Veronica. She is still the underdog, despite the success in her life. And she continues to fight for what she believes to be right, which is the part of her character that we probably always admired most, even if we didn’t realize it.

There are great nods to the fans, even mentioning the cancelled fourth season where Veronica was to be an intern at the FBI. In the opening minutes, she even calls herself a Marshmallow, the name Veronica Mars fans have adopted for themselves. These subtle nods are fantastic, as they are not punch-you-in-the-face obvious, and it would not detract from a person watching the film as their first exposure to the character. In fact, this film does a good job of being a somewhat stand-alone production, in that you could watch it with someone who was not familiar with the series, and they would easily be able to follow along and enjoy it.

As for the story, and the mystery, it is as solid as always. There are some twists, and it is a good murder mystery, as was nearly every episode of the show. There is no let down here. At an hour and 45 minutes long, it is basically watching two back-to-back episodes, with an entire murder plot crammed in. But it doesn’t feel to rushed. And for fans of the show, watching back-to-back episodes is something that we have all done. Probably more than once. Ok, maybe some of us have managed to watch an entire season in one sitting (that’s a lot of sitting, but it got done!).

Not many actresses really own their character in the way that Bell owns Veronica. She is her. And even though she continues to act, and hasn’t been pigeon-holed due to the success of this show, there will always be a part of Kristen that truly is in a part of this character. We want to see them as the same person, because she is so good as her. Veronica Mars is the girl with the smart answer to everything, but who can also be fiercely loyal and loving at the same time. She uses her sarcasm as a mask, something too many of us are able to identify with. She is the outcast who never should have been the outcast in the first place, but wears her letter with pride, and always manages to hold her head up high, not ashamed of who she is. She is a true television hero.

One of my favorite things about the film is that they did not deviate from the formula of the show. This is exactly what people wanted to see. And they got it. They did not try to go crazy just because there was some more money and a built-in audience. They knew how Veronica Mars worked, and they stuck with it.

As usual, Veronica narrates the film, as the did on the series. She compares her need to help, to be near Logan, near Neptune, as an addiction, something that she dealt with in her life with her mother, and the various issues that floated around the elites of Neptune. It is a clever under-current to the story, the tale of a girl who wants nothing more than to get away, and stay away, but can do nothing of the sort. Another layer to the story, that is great entertainment.

For any fan of Veronica Mars, this movie is an absolute must-see. For those who never watched the show, you can count on a pretty solid murder mystery with some good comebacks and wit.

Just as the show always was.