An appeal on behalf of “Veronica Mars”

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What rose-scented antidote is this? What flash of Hera’s bosom? What bellow from Heaven, startling jumpers back away from their ledges? What feminine hand, throwing funds into the cups of the spiritually destitute? I see a forgotten vision of neon beams cutting through the dark; seven years’ rainfall stops, and the last teardrop streaks down the windows of my eyes. Finally—the “Veronica Mars” movie is coming out.

It’s coming out Fri., Mar. 14, the Fri. after publication of this paper. The movie is showing at Essex Cinemas, a 30-minute drive if you remember what you’re seeing.

“Why do you call it ‘the “Veronica Mars” movie?’” someone says. Because it follows the TV series “Veronica Mars.”

“I’ve never seen it,” that someone replies. Not enough people have. See it now, in my words, and be damned if the movie doesn’t call to you.

“Veronica Mars” aired from 2004 to 2007. Total episodes: 64. The first two seasons aired in UPN’s last years. The last season aired during the CW’s first year.

Veronica Mars is a private detective’s daughter. She’s in high school when the series begins. She lives in Neptune, California, home of the rich and famous. Her family isn’t rich or famous. But her father becomes infamous after Veronica’s best friend, Lily Kane, is murdered: Mr. Mars, the local sheriff, suspects Lily’s father, a software magnet.

The rich band together, and Keith Mars is fired. His wife, Veronica’s mother, disappears. Keith begins working as a private dick. Veronica loses her friends: her boyfriend, Duncan, Lily’s brother; Duncan’s best friend, Logan, son of movie star Aaron Echolls (played by Harry Hamlin); and, of course, her best friend, Lily, the Town of Neptune’s own Laura Palmer. (The show was pitched as “The OC” by way of “Twin Peaks.”)

“Is it kid noir?” the Someone asks. No: it’s not dumbed-down. Its world includes murder, with all its apocalyptic cancer; rape; amorality; betrayal; impulsiveness; all those traits of the hardboiled world. Raymond Chandler is grinning; the show is teaching Dashiell Hammett to smile; Ross MacDonald prefers “Veronica Mars” to whiskey; Robert B. Parker is in love; and Mickey Spillane wonders why there aren’t more men in the show.

“Veronica Mars” belongs alongside “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” not the revamped “90210,” which was the CW’s replacement for this show; “The Vampire Diaries” looks like restroom scrawl in comparison.

Joss Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” and “Firefly,” of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” of “Serenity,” “The Cabin in the Woods,” and “The Avengers,” said: “Mysteries are [the show’s] central metaphor; Veronica solves little puzzles because she, like all of us, cannot unravel the bigger ones.”

Kristen Bell is now known for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (she was Sarah Marshall), “When in Rome” (with Josh Duhamel), “House of Lies,” and for being the voice of the “Gossip Girl.” But Veronica Mars is her role. She’s a symphonic performance: few TV characters have ever sung so many notes. A high note: charming security. Inconquerable wittiness. A low note: existential shock. A straightjacket of confusion.

Bell can hit both notes with Miles Davis savvy in a thirty-second scene. Veronica is a tsunami; Veronica is a glinting tide. She is us: a constant clash of positive and negative, certainty and confusion, lost and found. She has one constant: curiosity.

The mystery of season one is Lily Kane’s murder. The mystery of season two: a school bus takes a dive off a cliff, killing half the senior class. The mystery of season three, Veronica’s first year in college: a series of on-campus rapes, then little mysteries, a new one each episode.

“Veronica Mars” was always a muscle twitch from the guillotine. The writers were frantically trying to save the show during season three. A solution that worked neither for the show nor in attracting new viewers was to disregard the season-long mystery arcs in favor of beginning anew each episode.

The CW’s president, Dawn Ostroff, axed “Veronica Mars” after its first year on the network. She said she wanted new shows that would appeal to teenage girls. (What could possibly have appeal to teenage girls than a witty, sexy, carefully soapy mystery show about a damn smart, damn tough, damn cool teen female?)

Fans launched a campaign. Mars Bars were imported from England and sent to Dawn Ostroff. I imported $30 worth. Even if Dawn Ostroff properly digested each and every one of those bars, she gave no shits about “Veronica Mars.”

I was 16; the end of “Veronica Mars” was my first heartbreak.

Where else was there so much security in darkness? The shadows were like blankets. Visiting Neptune was like walking through the wardrobe to Narnia: a world so distant we couldn’t carry our tensions there if we tried, a world of rolled-up-sleeve cafes, convertibles, beaches after school, of private trysts in $1,000,000 homes.

Who would solve our mysteries if not Veronica Mars? We’re too busy living to tackle them ourselves, and she worked for free. All we had to do was keep our 8 p.m. appointment on Tuesday night. Who could make us laugh like Keith Mars (To a client: “I don’t know if you looked up ‘PIMP’ in the phone book and stopped after ‘P.I.’…”)?

What friend was more fun than rambunctiously righteous Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring)? What friend more loyal and trustworthy than Wallace Fennell (Percy Daggs III)? What exorcism of despair is sweet like “Veronica Mars?”

None. And they killed her.

But she came back. The series’ creator, Rob Thomas, a former high school journalism teacher and not the singer from Matchbox 20, pitched a total renovation of the series’ for a potential fourth season. The network killed it. Thomas pitched a movie to Warner Bros.: they said there wasn’t enough interest. He pitched a comic book continuation: the deal couldn’t be locked down.

Then Thomas and Kristen Bell put the movie on Kickstarter, the crowd-funding website. They asked for $2,000,000. They got it in 10 hours. They raised over $5,000,000. It was the most-funded project in the website’s history. For the first time, the Motion Picture Gods gave the power to the people: and we bellowed that we wanted a goddamn “Veronica Mars” movie.

We got it. It’s playing in Essex. I’m dusting off my Bible. Turns out there is a God.

 

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