This is not as severe as it sounds. (See the O.C. for a real sophomore slump.) But any show with a great first season is more than likely to falter a bit the second time around (see Lost).
Season two started out strongly. Uhm, kind of. The fake drug results mystery was lame; it was the reason she got back into the P.I. business, but it would’ve resonated and made more sense if a BUS THAT SHE HAD JUST BEEN ON CRASHED INTO THE OCEAN did the trick. Other than that, all the episodes leading up to One Angry Veronica dealt with the bus crash, whether directly (Keith finds a rat) or indirectly (a dead victim’s parents are being harassed).
Then the comababy.
I wanted to keep an open mind, but the more I thought about it, the more contrived it became. And when it’s a show like Veronica Mars, then that’s really saying something. Think about it: Meg is the only survivor of the bus crash, but remains in a coma for months as her little hatchling, who also miraculously survived, grows. She wakes up around the time the baby is born, yet no one questions her on what she remembers before the bus crash. Too late, because she dies of a blood clot, but the baby is okay so Duncan can have a reason to run away with it, despite the fact he’s the biological father and could probably crush the Mannings in court. But let’s say the last two things have no credence, since crazier things have happened. Like everything I just said. All that stuff was just a convoluted way to kick Duncan off the show. Poor Kanes: their daughter was murdered and their golden child is a fugitive. Remember in 1×06 when all Duncan wanted to do was not be student body president?
You’d think after the discovery of the illegitimate child, that’s as low as you can go. No. Then we get the abomination called One Angry Veronica. The concept (Veronica has jury duty) sounds sassy and/or fun, in theory, but so did communism. I think I was so anxious/excited liveblogging for the first time during an entire episode of anything that I couldn’t truly comprehend the suckiness, as I was too busy trying to pay attention and type coherent sentences (as opposed to “OMG!” and “Oh-ho!”). Did we really need that episode? Couldn’t she fall down the social ladder in some other way? That wasn’t a total piece of crap?
Another huge problem were the not believable misdirections (fakeouts), including the mama of all misdirections, Donut Run. It’s not the fake, public breakup and everything that followed that bothered me, it’s that Kendall showed up just to give Logan a show (and the audience, too, but don’t acknowledge the audience with a cheap trick). Immediately in the next ep, we see Veronica apprehensive about entering a black fraternity, so Wallace goes in on his own — or so we think. Turns out her once archnemesis, Jackie, was in on it the whole time. After it’s over and done with, does it make sense? No. Veronica pretends to be wary just for the sake of the audience. Finally, in Nevermind the Buttocks, Veronica gives the performance of a lifetime when she’s afraid someone will get shot… even though she later admits she herself removed the bullets. What? The only fakeout that did not feel cheap in S2 was in the premiere — the infamous boyfriend switch. Oh, those days! After all the misery it made, it turned out to be the best execution.
Unfortunately, Cassidy’s reveal was also not believable, but probably not for the reasons you think. If he had only accidentally sent his father to flee the country, I might be more inclined to believe. But I guess that’s what sociopaths do, they plan? Couldn’t he just take advantage of the situation (of his dad running away)? That could be good, too.
But wait, there’s more! Remember when Duncan was actually interesting? Now he did nothing but wait in the wings until he read Meg’s e-mails and then stood not so idly by plotting with V to run away with his baby. Remember when Wallace was pretty much the sidekick? You’d think it’d be a step up for him to get his own storylines, but not when they get dropped (his real father) or when he turns into a whiny, little bitch (pining for Jackie… again).
Speaking of dropped storylines, what happened to Grace Manning? What happened to Keith’s distrust of Veronica? Why were the bus crash victims faceless until the eighteenth episode? Sure we found out about Ed, Marcos, and Peter throughout the season (and knew Meg from S1), but a human face can be very powerful. I didn’t care, not because Veronica didn’t seem to care (another problem), but because, to me, they were just a bunch of faceless nobodies, and who cares about faceless nobodies? The real tragedy was that we got such an excellent episode (I Am God) that was completely out of place.
It was too ambitious, with too many things going on. Besides losing track of things, the bus crash mystery literally had to stop just for the preface of Duncan running away, and Duncan actually running away.
Rather than the dark, stormy sky of the S1 box set, we seem to get the bright California sun shining through our characters’ tresses. Might as well, since, although there were definite noir elements, as a whole it was nothing compared to the first season. At least the artwork is consistent. ::cough::Simpsons::cough:: But… did the discs have to be so girly? Forgive me if I laugh when Weevil is next to one-third of solid pink. Actually, don’t forgive me. I’ll laugh at him just the same anytime.
There are no English subtitles, which I don’t mind, because on the S1 set the English subs were constantly omitting words and changing the sentence structure, and I hate it when they do that, so if they were going to do it again, I’m glad they didn’t try (it has closed captioning). Another thing that’s missing are the recaps before each episode. Why? I thought the WB made very little effort on the VM DVDs (including, but not limited to, the Eng subs deal; I could make a whole ‘nother entry about their lack of effort) because doesn’t it take more effort to cut them out than to leave them in? Sometimes the episode starts in the middle of a musical cue, while the whooshing sound effect is the first thing we hear, instead of being the thing that leads us from recap to episode. (I think it’s the same whoosh they use for the flashback sequences, so it makes audio sense.) Now I have a reason to keep all my S2 VHS tapes, because it has the recaps on them. Oh, I know I always fast forward through recaps of TV shows that are on DVD or tape… I just like having them there.
Since I’ve written about 17 of the episodes already, I thought it’d be fun to criticize the deleted scenes. The ones that I actually have something to say about, that is:
Logan Confronts Veronica and Duncan. Partly seen on commercials, Veronica requests Duncan to go Tom Cruise crazy to prove his love, and he agrees. (Sad.) He jumps around and does the fist pump and basically acts like a guy who forgot his epilepsy medication (or took too much), before bumping into his ex, Meg. Logan sees all of this and remarks sardonically, “Ah, young love.” Very different tone, since in the aired version, it looks like he sees VD together and then says with the “love” line. The whole scene stinks of cheese, I’m glad it’s gone.
Duncan Creates Mock Euro-Rail Trip for Veronica. Precursor to the sex scene, this is doubly awful, because: (1) it is more cringeworthy to watch than the sex scene and (2) the fact that this exists saddens me. (I had heard of the scene, but I figured they just cut it out, not knowing it was actually filmed.) Just as cheesy as the previous scene, if not more so, Duncan blindfolds Veronica so he can feed her a scone in “London.” Then he takes her over to “Paris” to see a mini-Eiffel Tower, then to “Spain” to see toy bulls run, and finally “Italy,” his bedroom. This would’ve been cute… if they were 13 and if he weren’t, I dunno, the heir to a TECHNOLOGICAL FORTUNE. It made me want to beat him with a sack full of doorknobs. And Veronica, too, for being so impressed, even if she was horny.
Veronica and Keith Regroup as Lamb Glad-Hands His Support. It adds nothing really, basically they are reiterating that Lamb is being an asshole and that Keith doesn’t want to win the dirty way, but I didn’t realize that Lamb could actually be making up the report that, as a deputy, Keith drove an inebriated Ed home instead of reprimanding him (thus, without a record, was able to become a bus driver and then allegedly drove the bus off the cliff).
Logan and Duncan Play Video Golf, See Veronica on TV. I like this scene, because, if anything, we need more Logan and Duncan scenes. They’re supposed to be BFFs!
Gia Gives Keith Information about Bus Crash. Heh? Why does Gia visit Veronica’s place? The scene was weird and out of place, because it seemed really forced just so Gia talks to Keith. Glad they cut it and redid the scene into other little scenes that gave out the same info.
Mrs. Oliveres Hears Her Son’s Voice on Car Radio, Keith Listens. I would’ve like for this to be in, because I thought Mrs. Oliveres had too little screen time. Mr. Oliveres was such a screen hog.
Alternative Ending for AOL for My Mother the Fiend. I once said it was sucky, but in retrospect, think how different the season would’ve turned out: much more noir. More noir! More noir! Wouldn’t this have been a great reason for Veronica to return to her S1 social status, instead of One Angry Veronica? Sure, it was soapy, but think about all the other soap opera tricks they’ve done and how well it turned out. Originally, V just finds Meg pregnant and leaves. Alternately, Veronica hides in the bathroom as Meg’s mother comes in and smothers her. V comes out when she leaves and lifts the pillow, when the nurse walks in and sees her. Ooh! Then she’ll be hated because they think she killed her boyfriend’s pregnant ex who survived the bus crash. Great. I don’t know why I’m getting so excited about this.
Veronica Meets Mann Family and Collette. This was cute, only because of Jane. Collette seemed a little too plastic (her attire, not her personality), though, and that’s the only problem I had with it.
Veronica and Marcos Talk on the Bus in Dream. Why is Veronica wearing a Girl Scouts uniform? This dream was kinda lame compared to the other ones that aired.
Gia Sifts Through Mail and Discovers a DVD. The DVD is the stalkery one of her cheering at her brother’s soccer game. The drawing of the eye as the cover was cool.
Logan Dials a Nightcap. Welp, guess now we know why Kendall was there.
Despite my wishes for it to end after one season, I’m still a fan. I still want to watch it, although I am noticeably less excited for the new season than I was last year. Honeymoon phase over? Realization that season 2 curtailed my libido for VM? This extension is painful, because I want to know what will happen to the characters in the end, because I care about them. Or, almost all of them.
Okay, now I actually have to go watch the episodes, because I wrote the above mostly from memory. Which is kinda scary, but I guess that’s what happens when you blog about almost every episode. (I needed help for the middle eps, from 2×09 to 2×14, because they are my least favorite. Just like in a three-child family.)