Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): July 2019

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Papa's Cabin" (season 3, episode 15)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on February 27, 2007/written by John Enbom; directed by Michael Fields): Just six episodes later, we have another climax: the Dean's true murderer is found. And then found again. And again. When Keith turns the screws, Hank and Mindy turn on each other, declaring that it was the other one who killed the Dean. Veronica and Tim team up to vindicate their professor, and a very femme fatale shot of Mindy coldly donning shades as she collects her insurance payout leads us to suspect they're on the right path. They track down a woman (Dendrie Taylor) whom he encountered outside a convenience store at the time of the Dean's death. But his alibi falls through when they learn that Hank called her from a burner phone to set this up. By then Hank has been released and, like Mindy, he vanishes, but Tim's and Veronica's sleuthing, now turned against their professor, reveals that they fled to Mexico. And there Keith finds the shaken Hank on Mindy's boat, confessing not the murder of the Dean - Hank still firmly believes Mindy killed her husband - but to the accidental slaying of Mindy herself. Hank, of course, is arrested and charged with both crimes. And Tim, who learns from Hank's phone (ostensibly bugged by Steve Batando) that the professor had declined to recommend him to a colleague, is now promoted to teaching the prestigiuos criminology course with Veronica as his de facto T.A. It's almost heartwarming to see the two rivals come together like this, bonding over an investigation into their mutual mentor. Almost.

As Tim lays out the case against Hank for the hyper-curious class, something starts to dawn on Veronica. When she pulls apart her phone in her seat, she discovers a bug and realizes that Tim knew some key information he could have only learned by spying on her. It was all a set-up, every last bit: the initial suicide cover story, the incriminating evidence, the reliance on the two suspects turning on each other and clumsily trying to cover their own trails (it's actually Hank who switched the Dean's and Steven's keyboards), even the stumbling into Veronica's office at night and begging for her help. Veronica openly confronts Tim in the middle of his lecture, offering only one cold comfort for the perfect murder-plotter. At least the professor won't disrespect his intelligence ever again.

My Response:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Mars, Bars" (season 3, episode 14)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on February 20, 2007/written by Phil Klemmer & John Enbom, story by Phil Klemmer, John Enbom & Joe Voci; directed by Harry Winer): What a reversal! The Dean's supposed suicide is more clearly than ever a murder, while the Coach's murder turns out to be a suicide. Thanks to a peanut allergy, Josh escaped from jail and kidnapped Mason, whom he shows Veronica gagged and bound in the back of his car. But Mason's gun does not match the "murder" weapon, Mason is freed, and Veronica convinces Josh to meet with her again in twenty-four hours so she can help him flee the country. Cashing in his rare coin collection, he finds a DVD in a safety deposit box that he wasn't supposed to access until he was 21. On it, Coach Barry movingly tells his son that he's suffering from a fatal illness (information Keith tracked down earlier earlier in the episode) and that he's going to make his suicide look like a murder so that the family will be able to get his insurance payout. And so Veronica, initially unsure if she would set a trap and turn Josh in, helps another fugitive with a desperate family situation cross the Mexican border. It's a good thing her father finds out when he does because a few minutes later he might be professionally bound to turn her in or be complicit in a police cover-up: he's about to become sheriff again.

One of the biggest plot developments in the entire series occurs as part of of the Dean O'Dell case. Veronica realizes that the time of death was wrong: a gunshot was heard after Mindy's car had returned to the hotel, not while she was out. However, Weevil finds a shirt with Hank's initials stitched onto them in an old, non-working incinerator, pointing suspicion back in her and her lover's direction. Nor does her ex Steve come off clean; Lamb picks him up after his fingerprints are found on the Dean's keyboard, Cliff gets him out on a technicality, and then he breaks into the O'Dell house. Lamb, ever incompentent - tragically rather than comically this time - fires at his own reflection and then is blindsided by Steve before a deputy shoots him down. Lamb bleeds out as Keith arrives to call in medical care, and when the county commisioner delivers the news that Lamb has died in the hospital, Keith is assigned to be acting sheriff. In that capacity, with the full weight of the law behind him now, he confronts Mindy with the monogrammed piece of clothing and demands answers.

My Response:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Postgame Mortem" (season 3, episode 13)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on February 13, 2007/written by Joe Voci; directed by John Kretchmer): Despite dipping even further into death, the heart of the episode is with Logan and Heather Button (Juliette Goglia), a bright-eyed, hyperactive 11-year-old whom he's forced to babysit. They make quite an amusing odd couple, the college student (who's on the verge of failing his classes) barely able to get up from the couch, unshaven and perpetually clad in his bathrobe, peppered with questions and offered unsolicited advice by the cheerful, chatty little girl. She's there because Dick invited her big sister Melinda (Lisa Jay) to a party, which turns into a trip to Vegas, which turns into into a drunken marriage, which turns into a honeymoon, which turns into a miserable ride back to California. Heather seems unconcerned, maybe even relieved to have nowhere to be and nothing to do, and she quickly preoccupies herself with teasing out and attempting to resolve Logan's love life. When Veronica, looking into the Dean's case at the Grande, finds herself in the same space as Logan and Heather (how many awkward trips has she taken in that elevator?) the pint-size matchmaker can barely contain herself. Finally Logan snaps and makes her cry, before learning from Melinda's sister that Heather - who seems so infinitely delighted by life, thrilled with Logan's taken-for-granted luxuries and convinced that he's living the dream - is actually on Prozac and has experienced wild mood swings since her father left the family. Logan and Heather reconcile over ice cream and the next day he's sufficiently recovered enough to show up for school.

That school, by the way, has become murder central over the past few months. The students are safe now that the serial rapists have been apprehended but two prominent staff members have died: Dean Cyrus O'Dell and, now, Coach Tom Barry. And in both cases, the very family members who ask Mars Investigations to look into the case are prime suspects. Keith's investigation of the Dean's "suicide" proves definitively that Mindy's car left the Grande and that two men were arguing in her room that night (as we already know, given what we saw of an armed Cyrus approaching). Mindy resists his initial request to end the investigation, even chuckling about his suspicions of her, but he keeps pressing and she keeps insisting that she and Hank, and no one else, were in the room together all night (save for a few minutes when she went down to get a toothbrush, which Hank convincingly verifies). Finally she gets fed up and fires Keith but it's too late; after reading the Dean's heartfet recommendation letter for Veronica, he is committed to finding the real killer even if it's free of charge and unwanted by the fickle, evasive widow. Keith's other clients are Kathleen and Josh Barry (Tracey Needham and Jonathan Chase), desperate to prove that Josh didn't murder his dad after quitting the basketball team in rage. Veronica - who suspects Wallace's friend Mason of killing the coach and trying to pin it on Josh - sympathizes with the coach's son, even delivering concealed cookies when he's locked away in the sheriff's cell. Somehow she ends up handcuffed in Professor Landry's classroom, informed by Lamb that she helped Josh escape. Does Josh, or his cellmate, have allergies (the cookies look like peanut butter) that helped him stage a jailbreak?

My Response:

Monday, July 15, 2019

Veronica Mars - "There's Got to Be a Morning After Pill" (season 3, episode 12)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on February 6, 2007/written by Jonathan Moskin, Phil Klemmer & John Enbom, story by Jonathan Moskin & David Mulei; directed by Tricia Brock): Terrorized by visions of Logan having sex with her mortal enemy Madison (who accidentally roofied and very purposefully slut-shamed her at the Casablancas party sophomore year), Veronica breaks up with Logan yet again. Ignoring his voicemails and Dick's admonitions (although Dick also is pissed to find out Logan slept with his ex), she sticks to her decision and even plots revenge against Madison. Watching the spoiled brat get a new Mercedes for her birthday, Veronica plots with Weevil to crush the car up into a little cube with the vanity plate placed atop it in her driveway. Only the intersection of a pregnancy crisis, an overreaching best friend, and a Christian preacher eventually change her mind. Bonnie Capistrano (Carlee Avers), whom we met as Tim's - and Dick's - girlfriend in previous episodes was secretly administered RU-486 and she hires Veronica to find out who terminated her pregnancy for her. This search leads Veronica to Capistrano Ministries, where she meets Carlee's father Reverand Ted (Chris Ellis), a staunch traditionalist who nonetheless rejoiced at the opportunity to become a grandfather - and grieved when he learned that his daughter miscarried. Veronica suspects his assistant Thurman Randolph (Vince Grant), who runs a pro-life snoop shop that sends pictures of women visiting the clinic to their family members. Thurman also wants to start his own ministry and would like to avoid a scandal. But it was Bonnie, not her father, who was betrayed by someone close to them: long-time pal and current roommate Phyllis (Toni Trucks) snuck the drug to Bonnie, fearing that her future would be compromised by a child. Ted holds Bonnie close and gently shushes her as she flies into a rage at her (former) friend, advising her that anger only makes things worse and forgiveness is all that can heal. And so, umbrella and second thoughts in hand, Veronica treks over to Weevil and asks him not to destroy Madison's car after all. Although he does have her permission to ventilate some tunafish through the A/C vent before he returns it.

My Response:

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Thieves" (season 3, episode 11)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on January 30, 2007/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by John Kretchmer): Taking a break from selling cheat aids to Neptune's desperate students, Max (Adam Rose) has a strange case for Veronica. A while ago, he fell in love with a beautiful woman at ComicCon - they established a deep connection without ever sleeping together, and she left her contact information in his hotel room but when he returned the cleaning service had already come through. He never heard from her again, and then he received a text from a random number saying she'd given up trying to reach him and was about to get married. Veronica gets to the bottom of this quickly: Max's friends (Nathan Frizzell and Richard Keith) hired a prostitute to take his virginity and felt bad when he took it too seriously, so they sent the text themselves (from a co-worker's New York area code). Max is still determined to track her down and when Chelsea, actually Fiona, actually Wendy (Brianne Davis) shows up, to Veronica's surprise she really does seem to be truly in love with the nerdy young man. They spend the following night together but when she's forced to leave abruptly the next day (another sex worker shows up with a fake black eye, demanding she return) and Max forks over some money to help her, Veronica asserts that he's been scammed. They decide to blackmail a prominent judge, one of her top clients, but her madame (Jackie Debatin) intervenes to inform them that no, Wendy really did love him but really is deep in debt. Max pays the $10,000 she needs, but the spell is broken and he can't look at her the same way. So Wendy leaves him again, this time with a note and payment for Veronica's service - in folded cash notes she got from returning to her old strip club job.

Veronica's own love life becomes complicated again when she and Logan share secrets in bed: he admits to sleeping with the surfer girl, and denies ever visiting a prostitute. Later Veronica runs into good old Madison Sinclair - with a brand new hairdo and look - at Victoria's Secret. It turns out when she showed up at Logan's door for a booty call earlier in the episode, she did not expect to find Dick there, as Veronica assumed. No, she was looking for Logan, whom she'd hooked up with during the brief break-up. As Veronica frets about sex and lies, Keith explores possible suspects in the O'Dell investigation, focusing on the Lilith House members who egged the Dean's office and car the night before. Except it turns out his car shouldn't have been there; either Nish is lying about egging a Volvo or Mindy (who traded cars with her husband earlier in the day) chose not to mention paying the Dean a visit...right around the time he was killed. Maybe she found him dead (or even saw the killer), freaked out, and came to Keith hoping he could discover who really did it without exposing that she was there? No picture is forming yet - too many missing pieces.

My Response:

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Show Me the Monkey" (season 3, episode 10)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on January 23, 2007/written by John Enbom & Robert Hull, story by Robert Hull; directed by Nick Marck): Despite the big ending of "Spit & Eggs," this follow-up slows things down. Six weeks have passed, and the Dean's death has been ruled a suicide but Mindy has her doubts. She frankly acknowledges that at issue is her life insurance payout but also tells Keith that Cyrus wouldn't have gone out like that. When Veronica hears the circumstances - a very cliched note on his computer screen - she's suspicious too; not only does it seem too bland for so colorful a character, it's the exact scenario she described in her "How to Plot to Perfect Murder" paper for Professor Landry's class. What clinches it for Keith though is, sure enough, that bottle of scotch Cyrus was saving for years. It's unopened. Veronica is mostly preoccupied with literal monkey business as some animals have been stolen from a school lab. Pauline Elliot (Linara Washington) is convinced that the animal rights collective P.H.A.T. kidnapped "#24", as he's known (the scientists don't name their test subjects lest they get attached) but ultimately the culprit is her own partner Gil Thomas Pardy (Eric Jungmann) who grew attached and couldn't bear to kill the little creature. Veronica decides to cover for Gil, although she's troubled to hear that it only takes six days for "another one" to arrive. On a more upbeat note, Parker encourages Veronica and Mac to get out there and meet guys with her. Mac lands Bronson Pope (Michael Mitchell), the leader of P.H.A.T. (a group she and Veronica prove themselves to by tricking a right-winger country singer - originally to be played by Ted Nugent!! - into wearing a "Meat is Murder" t-shirt). As for Veronica, after a pep talk from Piz in which they agree about pursuing what you want, she ends up with...Logan.

My Response:

Friday, July 12, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Spit & Eggs" (season 3, episode 9)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 28, 2006/written & directed by Rob Thomas): Where to begin? "Spit & Eggs" reveals the result of Veronica's serial rape investigation, sets up an entirely new mystery arc, dives into the fraught tension between the Greek system and its opponents on campus, centers the simultaneous collapse of Dean O'Dell's personal and professional lives, and resolves - if that's the right word - Logan's and Veronica's relationship crisis. Let's take the last first; after a few days of tension, Logan tells Veronica he's been doing a lot of thinking. Things aren't going well between them because they have such different needs and neither one is going to change. Veronica always needs to be the star of her own show (literal or otherwise) and Logan doesn't want to be on the sidelines. Logan is distressed to be delivering this recognition but understands that sharp, immediate pain is better than something far more devastating if they cling to each other for longer. Veronica is stunned but seems, initially, unflustered. It takes hours for the full weight of the break-up to make her break down. From here on, for now, she'll be going it alone. Sort of.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Lord of the Pi's" (season 3, episode 8)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 21, 2006/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by Steve Gomer): Generally a lighter episode than the previous one, "Lord of the Pi's" ends with a bombshell...maybe two. Until then the focus is on two mysteries and a relationship crisis. The lately divergent Mars squad teams up for a cheeky caper involving a trustee who's about to vote on banning Greek life from the school. One of Hearst College's primary benefactors, descendant of the powerful family whose bequeathed the institution their name, she is a wealthy heiress who achieved political notoriety in the seventies...no, no, of course it's not Patty Hearst! This is a fictional character named Selma Hearst Rose. And she is played by...um, Patty Hearst (just in case you thought Paris Hilton was the most infamous real-life heiress this show could summon forth as a guest star). In an unapologetic homage to The Big Lebowski, including at least one directly quoted and re-staged scene, Selma's wheelchair-confined husband Budd Rose (Charles Shaughnessy) - serviced by an overly devoted sycophantic assistant named Brant (Brian Kimmet) - plots her fake kidnapping. Keith and Veronica, discovering that she's being blackmailed for having an affair with her dog-walker Hallie Piatt (Keri Lynn Pratt), whom we met in the sorority episode, help her turn the tables in clever fashion. Budd will not be able to financially exploit her in their divorce nor put through a corporate deal she opposes.

Veronica's solo investigation explores why Chip Diller (David Tom) was found lying nearly naked on the quad, his head shaved, sodomized by an egg with mysterious Roman numerals. When Veronica realizes the numbers form a date, she looks up the campus newspaper and discovers that three years earlier, freshman pledge Patrice Pitrelli "fell" off the roof of the sorority. In fact, she walked off, deep in despair because of how the sorority sisters and fraternity brothers tormented her, drawing on her body in permanent marker and mocking her for weeks afterwards. It all comes together for Veronica when she discovers Claire was a pledge that year: her "Lilith House" crew has been staging up the "rapes" (which have not provided any forensic evidence) - or at least they don't deny it when Veronica confronts them. They wanted revenge on the Sigma Pi for what they did to Patrice, who now resides in a mental health facility, and this is their elaborate plan to get them booted from campus. That's bombshell #1 although it remains officially unconfirmed. Bombshell #2, although it's more of a ticking time bomb right now, involves Logan and Veronica. Worried sick about her safety, he demands that she step away from the rape cases (she of course refuses) and then he hires a hulking bodyguard to keep an eye on her. Infuriated, she demands that he stop acting like this but he claims they are who they are and can't change each other. They both profess their love for each other, embrace, and assert that they're okay now, but when Logan calls Veronica at the end of the episode she decides not to answer...not knowing that he's standing close by, watching her, his heart sinking as the truth sinks in: this thing that means so much to both of them is probably not going to make it.

My Response:

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Of Vice and Men" (season 3, episode 7)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 14, 2006/written by Phil Klemmer; directed by Harry Winer): Veronica is feeling betrayed by the men in her life. Her boyfriend refuses to provide his and Mercer's ablibi for the night of one of the rapes, and then finally admits that they burned down a hotel in Mexico and ran away with waiting to see if everyone was okay (Veronica, as it turns out, doesn't need this explantion; Mercer is cleared by the logs of his radio show.) She's seen her would-be-mentor heading to the Dean's wife's hotel room with a bottle of champagne, and now he's apparently trying to buy her off by hooking her up with a summer internship at the FBI. And her father is carrying on an affair with a married client, and when she confronts him he offers every lame rationalization that they've heard a million times from the other side. Actually, Keith gets to hear it from both sides in this episode because Vinnie shows up with an envelope of photos; he's been hired by Harmony's husband to prove she's having an affair. He offers to destroy the evidence for $4000, double what Mr. Chase would pay him for it and Keith resigns himself to the cost and breaks up with Harmony as much due to Veronica's admonition as Vinnie's blackmail. Actually, Vinnie shows up with two requests - the first is that Keith tell him where Kendall is hiding, so that they can split the Fitzpatricks' money (although the clan also wants to know where Keith is keeping what she paid him). Keith denies any knowledge, but Vinnie and the Fitzpatricks intersect with the Mars clan elsewhere in "Of Vice and Men" when Veronica, quite against her will, ends up back in the River Stix bar. Liam torments Veronica, lifting and swinging her around from behind, until Vinnie pretends to drunkenly take and text a photo to Keith, forcing Liam to back off.

Veronica is there to help Meryl (Amanda Walsh), an out-of-towner checking up on her absentee boyfriend Sully (Michael Grant Terry). All the evidence suggests that he is cheating and purposefully avoiding her to facilitate a break-up, but in fact he was just taking advantage of the Fitzpatricks when he stumbled drunkenly into the wrong bar the other night and wound up sleeping it off in jail. Meryl never doubts him - even preferring to believe he was on the run with a top-secret space laser rather than the more obvious answer. When Veronica apologizes for assuming the worst, Meryl forgives her by noting "If I'd never been in love, I wouldn't have believed it either" which is certainly chastening. Before she can reconcile with Logan, however, Veronica takes a routine trip to the cafeteria and discovers a hair in her food. When she exchanges the dish, the camera lingers ominously on her soda, and when she returns to takes prominent sips, well...we know what's coming. She begins to hallucinate, recognizes the feeling from the first time she was given GHB, and stumbles into a parking garage before collapsing when she sees a black-clad figure approaching. With barely enough time to activate her car alarm, and with the extreme good fortune for Logan to be randomly passing by, she is saved before the would-be rapist can do more than clip a few locks of hair. She ends the episode back at the Mars homestead (she'd been staying in Wallace's room for a few days), with Keith and Logan taking care of her.

My Response:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Hi, Infidelity" (season 3, episode 6)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 7, 2006/written by John Enbom; directed by Michael Fields): The lingering question at the end of the previous episode is dealt with right away: Claire lied to create a rape hoax, Veronica has proof, Claire is expelled. And Nish - who is removed as editor of the school newspaper for declining to publish Veronica's report - is none to happy about any of this. For that matter, neither is Veronica, even if she's convinced justice has been served. Her investigation of the Parker incident, however, continues; Parker recognizes the cologne of Mercer Hayes (Ryan Devlin), the guy who runs the student casino, and when Veronica infiltrates his room, she finds clippers. And for once, Lamb doesn't give her grief when she comes to him with information...he recalls that mixed in with the cash stolen from Mercer in the previous episode were samples of a date rape drug (the same that both Veronica and Duncan drank at the infamous Casablancas party). Only one person seems to disbelieve Mercer's guilt: Logan, who informs Veronica that he was with Mercer when the crime supposedly occurred...but he can't tell Veronica what they were doing together. Once again, an episode ends with a cliffhanger.

Veronica is mostly consumed with her own personal problem throughout "Hi, Infidelity": highlighted as the star pupil by Professor Landry, who wants to become her mentor, she's framed for plagiarism. Sleuthing through school and hotel alike she finally realizes the name used on the email belongs to the professor's alias: he stays in the hotel a few times a month as "Rory Finch" with various women - the latest being the Dean's wife. And it turns out that jealous and/or concerned T.A. Tim set up this little mystery to warn Veronica of what his own former mentor was really like before she replaces him as protegee; should she be grateful? Wallace's storyline turns out ot be less minor than it originally seemed: he chooses his desired career of mechanical engineering over basketball when increased study time cuts into his readiness for practice, taking the season off from sports so he can pursue his dream despite the professor's admonition that he's not cut out for this work (he and Veronica have an alternately heartfelt and amusing interaction around this dilemma). Keith meanwhile lends the episode its title by nervously socializing with Harmony, his client from a few episodes back, while her husband is out of town. They attend a noir festival and sip martinis in the hotel lobby but when she outright tells him that she got a room, he leaves. Then he gets into a (genuinely shocking) accident. He laughs with amazement at being alive, at the fact that had he said yes to Harmony he wouldn't have nearly died, at the randomness of the universe, or perhaps at all of the above. And he returns to Harmony's room, passionately kissing her the moment she opens the door.

My Response:

Monday, July 8, 2019

Veronica Mars - "President Evil" (season 3, episode 5)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 31, 2006/written by Jonathan Moskin & David Mulei; directed by Nick Marck): The off-campus culture of Neptune bleeds into Veronica's Hearst case of the week, while a prominent character from the college becomes the focus of Keith's work in "President Evil." Having helped Weevil get a job at her school, Veronica also uses him as part of a class project to analyze how socioeconomic factors can draw someone into a life of crime. He mentions that the gang life still appeals to him, although he's trying to live straight; walking out together after the bell, he and Veronica discuss the dorm room "casino" she's accompanying Logan to on Halloween and he notices that Veronica is wearing Lilly's necklace. So when the casino is robbed and Veronica's necklace is stolen by two masked, gun-wielding men, one of whom shares Weevil's stature and has drywall dust on his shoulders (signifying that he's spent time in the area where Weevil is working)...who is she going to suspect? Lamb arrests Weevil based on his own evidence - he received a pizza delivery ordered on one of the stolen cards - and Weevil is stung by Veronica's distrust. Eventually she discovers the real culprits are campus police (Blake Shields and David J. Lee), who stole props and costumes from the film department and tried to frame the new employee with a criminal record. Veronica even discovers her necklace on the cop's smart-mouthed little daughter (Rachel Rogers), and she rips it off of her in a hilariously abrupt and wonderfully played gesture.

Keith is preoccupied with the Hearst Dean's request for help; he even converts his investigative office into a faux-casting studio to lure Steven Batando (Richard Grieco), a voice actor, into a meeting with Dean O'Dell and his wife Mindy (Jaime Ray Newman), whose son (Sean Rose) needs bone marrow that only his deadbeat birth father can provide. Steven refuses and so the O'Dells kidnap him, leading Keith on a wild goose chase to Mexico and back, buying time for the operation to proceed. Steven is paid off handsomely for enduring their violation and Keith is convinced to keep quiet so the boy can live ("What would you do if it was Veronica?" the Dean pleads). Wallace gets his own fairly minor side story, in which he struggles in his mechanical engineering class. His new buddy Mason (Robert Ri'chard) convinces him to cheat by buying a copy of the test, only to get "Busted" as the Isley Brothers croon on the soundtrack (juxtaposing various comeuppances across the episode climax). As for Veronica's primary investigation, it stalls as she waits to identify the Asian man standing behind Claire in the ATM photo, even looking into the summer camp logo on his shirt. Claire says she doesn't recognize him, but when Veronica tracks down his house at the end of the episode she's told that he's Claire's boyfriend. The plot thickens but we won't know how or why until next time.

My Response:

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Charlie Don't Surf" (season 3, episode 4)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 24, 2006/written by Diane Ruggiero & John Enbom; directed by Jason Bloom): Veronica reconciles with Parker, revealing her own past trauma, but the reconciliation doesn't last the episode. Soon after, Dick hilariously shows up at the Mars apartment in one of those delightful "oh yeah, we've never seen this character in this place"-type interactions that can only occur on a show we've been following for a few years. He's there to hand Veronica exactly what she's been looking for: an excuse to openly infiltrate the Pi Sigma fraternity, poking around to narrow down the who, where, and when of Claire's rape. Dick offers this opportunity in the belief that it will prove the brothers' innocence and Veronica is more skeptical (she justifies her role to Nish and Parker by claiming she's there to pin them down). Ultimately, she finds an ATM photo of Claire with a non-frat dude hours after the haunted house where the Pi Sigma brothers got their gropey hands caught in rat traps - so it looks like they weren't the culprits. Turning away from the cheerful guys, Veronica is confronted by "the Greek chorus of angry feminists," as she describes them, scowling beneath their shaved heads. She insists to Parker that finding the real rapist is the only path to true justice but most people feel like Veronica is taking sides in a culture war, not just asking questions.

Keith meanwhile has a fairly routine "cheating spouse" case onhand; old acquaintance Harmony Chase (Laura San Giacomo) hires him to spy on her husband, explaining that their marriage is loveless but she needs a real reason for divorce and he's been acting strange lately. Keith does eventually spot him embracing a woman, but surveillance shows that he rejects her approach and does not want to have an affair. This is as hard a pill to swallow for Keith as for Harmony, because this investigation isn't so routine after all...it's clear that both are very attracted to one another and perhaps looking for any rationale to start their own affair. Instead, Harmony walks out of the Mars office with a look of embarrassment and Keith watches her go with a sense of regret. No one, however, feels more regret than Logan. Early on, we see a family dinner involving Keith and Logan, overseen by an amusingly high-strung Veronica who tries to mediate the conversation as it quickly turns toward Aaron as well as Logan's possible upcoming appearance on Larry King. When Logan hires Keith to find out why his trust fund is drying up, Veronica digs a little deeper to discover that the "Aaron's Kids" charity, to which some of the funds are diverted, is literal: the money goes to Logan's unknown half-brother Charlie Stone, a schoolteacher. Logan quickly bonds with the long-lost "Charlie" (Matt Czhuchry) until Veronica reveals that this man is actually Norman Phipps, a Vanity Fair reporter looking for access to Logan. Blaming his real brother (Ryan Eggold) for throwing him under the bus, Logan blows his cover only to find out that this isn't true; Norman had Charlie's phone tapped. One last time, Logan leaves an apologetic voicemail for the missing Echolls with little expectation that it will be returned.

My Response:

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Wichita Linebacker" (season 3, episode 3)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 17, 2006/written by Phil Klemmer & John Enbom; directed by Harry Winer): Veronica's is forced to put the Parker case on hold in "Wichita Linebacker" (neither Mac nor Parker appear) but its impact is still felt throughout. The episode is bookended by a school newspaper's coverage of a provocative feminist campaign ("Rape Me" the nude activists proclaim via handwritten signs) and another assault reported by one of their members (whom frat boy comedians jokingly threatened in the campus Lampoon). Veronica will probably be following up with Claire Nordhouse (Krista Kalmus) now that she's overheard the revelation on Piz's new radio show ("It's like Jon Stewart meets Crossfire," he declares, "if Jon Stewart didn't hate Crossfire"). Until then, however, she's preoccupied with four separate, ingeniously intersecting matters. Fallen football star Kurt Fenstermacher (Armie Hammer) lost his team's playbook and needs to make sure he doesn't lose his scholarship; Dean O'Dell (Ed Begley, Jr.) wants to expel Veronica if she doesn't turn in her sources on the pot story; Logan's partying, gambling, and traveling habits - but, mostly, female students' interest in him - encourage Veronica to break out her spy skills; and Weevil, who plea-bargained down from murder to assault, can stay out on parole as long as he holds a job...except, unfortunately, he can't hold a job.

Veronica's answer to that last issue is brilliant if risky. She convinces Keith to hire him as an assistant and Weevil proves a natural detective. Unfortunately he's also quick to intervene with fists when stealthy surveillance is preferred, so Keith has to let him go. In the end, though, Veronica gets Weevil to fix the dean's car (fake-vandalized by his son to cover up an accident and make it look like angry feminists did it), leading him to hire Weevil to a maintenance position and let Veronica off the hook. Her discovery of Logan at a makeshift blackjack table leads her to a gambler who (helped) steal Kurt's playbook although his too-zealous girlfriend Trish Vaughn (Lindsey McKeon) is the prime culprit. And Trish's sad epiphany - her obsession with helping Kurt get out of the team he hated led her too far - triggers Veronica's own circumspection as she decides not to bug Logan's car before he heads to Mexico and the two get all kissy in the library where Veronica now works at the information desk. With trouble on the horizon, these two at least have learned to settle down.

My Response:

Friday, July 5, 2019

Veronica Mars - "My Big Fat Greek Rush Week" (season 3, episode 2)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 10, 2006/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by John Kretchmer): Athough I noted last time that it doesn't quite fit the out-of-nowhere murder mystery mold of previous full-season storylines, so far Veronica's hunt for Parker's rapist (or rapists) is being treated as if it will be the ongoing case for season three. Certainly Veronica's episodic investigation stems from this: she goes undercover as a wannabe sorority girl for the school newspaper. Theta Beta has all the markings of precisely the sort of scene Veronica despises, but as she gets to know some of the girls, she sees beyond their prim-and-proper facade and beyond the party-hard image just below that surface. In fact, she learns one crucial detail - about the benevolent den mother Karen's (Mary Chris Wall's) cancer treatment - too late, after she's already photographed a room full of marijuana plants and handed these snapshots over to her editor Nish Sweeney (Chastity Dotson). Although she's able to warn the sorority quickly enough to destroy the evidence, she is deeply troubled by what she's done and thus ends her journalism career, over - she narrates for us - before it began. As for Parker, she's almost pressured into abandoned her college career before it began, but Mac sympathetically advises her to stick it out. After Parker's superficial buddy-buddy chatter in the premiere, the two begin to genuinely bond.

Wallace and Logan participate in a variation of the classic "prison guard" sociology experiment, which has - in reality - been decried as both abusive and poor science. Although on opposite sides, they are united both by their use of clever mind-tricks and their discomfort with the Lord of the Flies-esque sadistic relationship between Rafe and Samuel Horshack. Those two, by the way, are played by notable guest stars Rider Strong, of Boy Meets World, and Samm Levine, of Freaks and Geeks - switching roles from his domineering frat overlord in the also Judd Apatow-produced Undeclared a few years earlier. Meanwhile, Keith is able to escape through the desert as much by wit as perseverance, baiting Cormac with the bugged pen-cap and then slicing his leg with a hidden trap. Turns out Cormac was definitely not working with Liam, who shows up to gleefully execute his sibling now that Keith has helpfully set him up. Back in Neptune, Keith breaks down in Veronica's arms, realizing that he has screwed up. And we learn that what Kendall offered him in the season two finale was actually a highly valuable painting, not cold hard cash. He donates the proceeds of its sale to the South Neptune food bank rather than take it for himself. If anything can be salvaged from this bloody mess, it's that gift.

My Response:

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Welcome Wagon" (season 3, episode 1)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 3, 2006/written by Rob Thomas; directed by John Kretchmer): Veronica's college career kicks off satisfactorily: by resolving a mystery game in a record six minutes, she impresses her criminology Professor Hank Landry (Patrick Fabian) and stumps his pompous TA Tim Foyle (James Jordan, who - bizarrely - also played Lucky); she fools around with Logan, now her serious boyfriend once again; and she helps Wallace's roommate Piz (Chris Lowell), who clearly has a crush on the young sleuth, recover lost gear. His worldly possessions were stolen by a "Welcoming Committee" scam involving another criminology major - appropriately dubbed Donald Fagan (Josh Harto) - and the band of young ne'er-do-wells he was supposed to be mentoring. Some of the other incoming students don't fare quite as well. Mac is exhausted by the libidnal escapades of her roommate Parker Lee (Julie Gonzalo), Dick is a disaster veering between hitting on and getting beaten up by everyone in sight, and a women's movement on campus is protesting a rapist who shaves the heads of his victims, as well as the administration that isn't doing enough to stem the attacks or discover the perpetrator. The episode ends with Mac and Veronica being shocked by screams emanating from Mac's room: Parker, head shaven, appears to be the latest target. Does this particular incident have anything to do with Dick, whom we saw knocking on Parker's door a few nights ago and collapsing, weeping, in best friend/bitter enemy Logan's arms just last night?

Keith finds himself on the other side of the law as he assists a bail-jumper: Cormac is out of prison and reuniting with Kendall. The two lovers are planning a future on some tropical island with Kendall's millions and Keith has been happy to help them along the way thanks to the former Casablancas' generous payments. Before Keith left Neptune, Vinnie dropped by to annoy his erstwhile rival and occasional collaborator and only in the middle of the night, checking his car outside the lonely desert hideaway, does Keith realize he fell for the oldest trick in the book: Vinnie planted a pen-bug in his bag. Does this mean Vinnie is working for Liam and they are about to be attacked? In a whiplash-causing instant reversal, though, Keith races back inside to warn the runaway duo only to witness Cormac ruthlessly shooting down Kendall and turning the gun on Keith. Hiding behind a rock in the freezing cold night, it looks like Keith may have made as fatal a miscalculation as Kendall. Whether for his own greedy purposes, or on behalf of the Fitzpatrick family, Keith's passenger is determined to become his dispatcher. Will Vinnie come to the rescue in time?

My Response:

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Not Pictured" (season 2, episode 22)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on May 9, 2006/written by Rob Thomas, John Enbom from a story by Rob Thomas; directed by John Kretchmer): Veronica wakes up bright and early the morning of her graduation. She's headed for San Diego State, a reasonable, affordable, and relatively local option. Not too upsetting, not too exciting, just right...like everything else in her life, it seems. She has a pleasant breakfast with Mom and Dad (already in his sheriff's outfit for the day, chuckling about Deputy Lamb's degrading duties at the office). At school where she hangs out with her 09er crew - Duncan, Logan, and Dick, all smiles in their unworried lives - the only crisis she faces is a mix-up with her cap and gown. It seems the officials switched her outfit with another student's, so she meets up with this stranger Wallace Fennell to trade packages, their paths crossing ever so briefly before they carry on with their very different lives. And then Veronica sees one more friend, standing beside a fountain. It's Lilly, back from college! Laughing about her escapades, neither seems to have a care in the world. Well, maybe one or two. Why is this fountain called the "Lilly Kane Memorial Fountain"?! And why does it smell like bacon?

And with that, Veronica actually wakes up on the morning of graduation.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Happy Go Lucky" (season 2, episode 21)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on May 2, 2006/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by Steve Gomer): If it's truly darkest before dawn, then the next episode better open with a sunrise. This one opens with a school shooting and ends with a gut-punching acquital, and there's hardly a moment of relief or redemption in between, aside from the satisfaction in (probably) solving a big mystery (as long as an abstract answer and not, you know, actual justice is the primary concern). Even our most positive developments - Weevil acing his algebra exam so that his grandma can watch him graduate, and Lobo providing cover so that Terrence's charges will be dropped - are accompanied by offsetting factors, especially in the first case. It's unsurprising that Lobo is now impressing Terrence into indentured servitude to pay off his debt, and we expected Jackie to ditch Wallace as she jetted off to Paris (even if it looked like she was going to hang out in California a little longer than expected). But a couple kids coming out of nowhere to identify Weevil as a murderer? That's a harsh blow. Ultimately, perhaps the only, single, lonesome unqualified positive development of "Happy Go Lucky" is that it looks like Mac and Beaver (sorry, we're all supposed to call him Cassidy now, arent' we?) are back together. ...Yay?

As for the rest? Woody is a child molester who quite possibly bombed the bus to murder two of his former victims and is now on the lam. Lucky, Woody's third victim (and blackmailer) commits said school shooting, terrorizing the heroic Wallace who tackles him when he threatens Jackie, and is shot down by very real bullets; his own gun was loaded with blanks. Perhaps worst of all, though that's a tough call given the competition, the first season's ironclad resolution is miraculously undone. Aaron Echolls's jury registers a verdict of "not guilty" of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and - just to rub in the absurdity - even statutory rape. Guess Logan shouldn't have destroyed those tapes, huh? (If it wouldn't utterly undercut two full seasons of character development, one would have to wonder if Logan wasn't secretly working to vindicate his dad.) The snide defense attorney (John Prosky) doesn't just get his wealthy, flagrantly guilty client off, he does so by implicating Veronica as the grand conspirator, a jealous girl who blackmailed Aaron, manipulated ex-boyfriends into destroying evidence that would have exonerated him, and lied to everyone about Aaron's attempt to kill her. He even exposes her recent treatment for a symptomless STD, such a seemingly minor plot point in a previous episode that I forgot to mention it! Veronica says early on that she wants to be there in court (she even skips a scholarship-confirming final after receiving a text that the verdict is in) so she can see the jury wipe that smirk off Aaron's face once and for all. Instead, she gets to watch the man who murdered her best friend, and tried to murder her, walk out of court a free man. If her previous episode-ending expression (thanks to a younger Echolls), was pretty devastating, it was just practice for this one.

My Response:

Monday, July 1, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Look Who's Stalking" (season 2, episode 20)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on April 25, 2006/written by John Enbom; directed by Michael Fields): The Goodmans step up their demands on the Mars' attention as Gia hires Veronica to identify a stalker and Woody calls Keith to a motel for the most archetypal scandal one can imagine: the phony family man politician is sitting on the edge of his bed next to a prostitute who overdosed during a tryst. Keith drives her to the hospital and is caught on camera by motel security so Woody tries to throw him under the (metaphorical) bus and Keith strikes back - a war of words unfolding over several days in a newspaper. (Another headline will stir up trouble by episode's end when Terrence's thrown ballgame is exposed and Jackie, who has been visiting him in his hospital room each day to read him the sports page, tries to hide the bad news from her father.) Gia's crisis involves a man waiting outside of her house, and the situation only grows more complicated the deeper they dig. First the culprit appears to be good old ex-Deputy Leo, but he works for private security now and is only trailing Gia at the behest of her dad. When this protective force is called off, another threat emerges: just as Woody received creepy video footage from inside his house, so Gia gets a DVD of her brother's soccer game. Through some clever observation, Veronica tracks down another perspective of the sidelines and identifies the figure: it's Lucky, the veteran, Meg courtier, and school janitor. When encountered, he waves a serrated knife in the girls' faces before Keith leaps in to tackle him...followed rapidly by Lamb whom Woody called to take care of the situation more officially (or, perhaps, more evasively). Keith handcuffs himself to Lucky in a desperate move to extract more information while they share a cell but Meg's dad bails Lucky out just as he's about to explain why he doesn't like Woody.

On the lighter side of Neptune, when school officials call off the prom, Logan and Dick decide to throw an "alterna-prom" in Logan's suite (somehow the hotel doesn't seem to mind a flock of underage drinkers pouring into their facility). Several characters make cracks about the rich wanting to privatize everything these days but their revolutionary instincts - or, more likely, the desire to get drunk, laid, and have fun - lead many to crash to the joint, resulting in a humorous elevator ride, some awkward moments between Butters and his "forced date" Mac, and a super-awkward but also genuinely smoldering reconciliation between Veronica and an apologetic Logan. Their near-kiss is captured quite effectively by Fields, an especially strong moment in a particularly well-directed episode (a number of long takes let us sit with characters in a way that zippy network shows don't always allow). But when Veronica returns to the suite that morning, having run away before getting carried away the night before, she's greeted by a barechestered, hungover Logan. He is obviously mortified that she's ready to give him another chance. Sure enough, Kendall pops up behind him and the episode ends with a heartstricken Veronica staring out at a remorseful Logan as the elevator door closes between them. "Longest elevator ride everrrr," Madison sneered when forced to share the lift with her unwashed classmates - but the one facing Veronica is even longer.

My Response: