The Silver Lining | Veronica Mars discussion! PILOT

Well, Veronica season 1 used to be available on thewb.com for free, but they switched it to season 2. Which led to me buying the pilot on iTunes, but really, I should own it so it’s cool. I have the DVD somewhere, but like the location of my favorite black heels and my passport, it must be lost somewhere in my apartment. In other words, I won’t find it unless I hire Veronica herself to solve the case of the missing DVD.

So, while watching this episode, I couldn’t help noticing how much BACKSTORY there is. In a novel, that would probably never work, but the backstory is necessary for establishing the essential mysteries of the season: Who murdered Lilly Kane? How did Veronica lose her virginity? What really caused Veronica’s mother to join the ranks of other absentee parents in fiction?

I also found it interesting that they first established Veronica as an untouchable tough girl who only cuts down the victim of bullying because she just doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. And then throughout the episode, they make Veronica more and more vulnerable and sympathetic. She is by far my favorite fictional protagonist ever. 

I just adore the relationship she has with her dad. That’s something you don’t see very often in books because usually parents are kept in the background.

I love the visual effects on the flashbacks, how they appear overexposed and have some kind of Starglow effect applied to them. (I do these kind of effects in my day job and starglow is a plug in that easily creates the look of the flashbacks.)

I remember when I first watched that I REALLY didn’t like Logan at first, but I found myself sympathizing with him last night even if he was kind of a jerk and smashed Veronica’s headlights. It was the scene where he teared up over Lilly’s death. 

I still find the mystery of the week in this episode WAYYY too complicated. I’m not even entirely sure I get what happened or how Veronica solved two cases at once. I think the Loretta Cancun case needed another beat to really establish what was going on, but I also get that the mystery was more about introducing all the players and not about really getting into an episode-long mystery.

Fave lines:
"Be cool, sodapop."
"Who’s your daddy?" 
"Wanna know how I lost my Virginity?" Long pause. "So do I."

So what did you think? Please keep spoilers to a minimum because some new viewers may be joining us. And don’t forget to spread the word!

Also, check back here next Thursday for episode 2 discussion!

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36 Responses

  1. Oh no! I’m so bummed that season 1 is no longer available for free on the WB. I’m afraid we’ll lose some participants now. 🙁

    I’ve watched this episode twice now AND listened to Rob Thomas’ commentary — which can only be heard online.

    The thing that really grabbed me about this uncut pilot (and I’ve never seen the cut version) was the Noir feel to the show. So I was very pleased that Thomas talked about this in the commentary. He wanted to introduce VM as a Noir show (and later says he always thought of it more as a detective show than a high school show), and he’s proud that the pilot includes “6 of the 7 elements of Noir.” I only caught him mentioning four of those elements, however:

    — first-person voice over
    — neon lights, wet (reflective) streets
    — seedy side of town
    — disjointed time sequencing

    When I taught a film class to high schoolers, I always did a very long Noir unit. Noir protagonists are usually male, so this show really EXCITED me because our cynical, disillusioned hero is a woman in her teens. How refreshing! And like most Noir protagonists, she is continually betrayed and persecuted, but she soldiers on nonetheless. (Though as Shana said, we do get to see her moments of vulnerability. In the commentary Rob Thomas continually praises Kristin Bell for being able to cry on demand, take after take.)

    This show nails the Noir mood perfectly — fear, mistrust, paranoia, alienation. Ever since Lily’s death, Veronica’s world has turned upside down. She loses a parent, her best friend, her boyfriend, her status. She can’t trust anyone– not even her father, whom she knows is lying to her. Such a great setup! How will she sift through the lies and find the truth? Can she even face the truth?

    BTW, I have a question — did Duncan break up with Veronica before or after Lily’s death? I know WHY he does it, but I can’t quite remember when. I’m thinking it was before.

    And Logan — I’d forgotten what a bastard he is. I really hated him the first time I saw this show, and back then it was easy to miss his own moments of vulnerability, such as the one Shana mentions above.

    Can’t wait for the next episode!

    • Me again. I just can’t shut up.

      What do people think of Wallace in the pilot? In Rob Thomas’ commentary he said that during the ep’s testing, people commented that Wallace seemed weak. Thoughts?

      I just find them so lovable — and how cool to revisit the start of this very close, but very platonic, relationship.

      • I need to watch that commentary! Tonight! Thanks for pointing me toward it. And very interesting thoughts on the Noir. I can see that, but I don’t know the details of Noir so that was cool to point out.

        re: Wallace. I definitely feel sympathetic toward Wallace and feel bad for him because he doesn’t know anyone and gets picked on. But I’m not sure I really care about him and Veronica as friends just yet. It’s because right now it seems like they don’t even care about one another, they’re just hanging out because of necessity and convenience. I can sort of how Wallace is weak, he can’t save himself and needs to have a girl do it for him. But I definitely think Wallace grows as a character later and their friendship becomes more genuine so I care a lot more about him then.

        • I love the comment Wallace makes where he says that sure, he could try to hang out with the people who laughed at him when he was in trouble, or he could sit with the girl who did something about it. I think there’s courage in that (even though I get how people might see it as just hiding behind the likeliest protector).

    • I’m teaching a detective-themed course right now and I use the VM pilot to transition us from noir to contemporary TV drama – it’s perfect. Seeing how a teenage girl can be slotted into Philip Marlowe’s place drives home what I want my students to notice about the current era in detective fiction, without my having to say it!

      As with everyone, it took me a while to grow to like Logan, but I remember that I found him compelling from his first scene. There’s an intensity about him that, combined with his constant nervous movement, suggests immediately that there’s way more to him than you see on the surface. Jason Dohring can really act.

      • That’s so cool that you use Veronica to transition from Noir to Contemporary! What a good idea. I so want to take that class.

        I totally agree with your assessment of Logan.

      • Re: FYI

        Not at all – I had a panicked moment earlier in the week when I could only find my season 2 dvd set. (I just found season 1 now, of course, after I’d already caught the show.)

        Must get more Veronica icons – almost all of mine are spoilery! Will comment very soon, btw.

  2. Hmmmm..after reading this and sonia’s comment I’m feeling insecure about my “zomg isn’t Vmars the bestest lurve her” line that I default to.

    Sonia – he’d broken up with V before Lily died?? I think??

    And call me cuhrazy but I loved Logan from episode one. I think I remember Rob saying their relationship wasn’t necessarily plotted from day one? But thst the chemistry between them was undeniable. I remember watching the pilot when it aired. I had a few friends over and said they haaaad to hookup and everyone thought I was crazy….bwahahahaha! Victory is sweet

    Martha Flynn

    • Ha ha! I am all about the “ZOMG LURVE!!!” — I just had to get that Noir stuff out of the way.

      And call me cuhrazy but I loved Logan from episode one.

      That’s so cool! He is COMPELLING in his supposed evilness. He’s definitely a scene-stealer. But I can’t say I loved him from the get-go.

  3. I was looking for a way to procrastinate working on revisions! Maybe I’ll break out my Veronica Mars dvds and watch the pilot again. I was just thinking about what a great show it was the other day and how I needed to rewatch it.

    And yes, Duncan broke up with Veronica a couple weeks before Lilly died (maybe less). In later episodes you’ll see V asking Lilly why he dumped her and at first she’ll be encouraging but after she finds out why, she tells Veronica to find someone else (although not why, obviously).

    About Logan and Veronica, I know that Jason Dohring said that he learned in episode three that he had a thing for Veronica and I think you can really see it coming out then. It was one of those things where once they got together, you looked back at the earlier episodes and were like whoa, because he’s sneaking all these longing looks at her even when he’s not featured in the scene.

    • It was one of those things where once they got together, you looked back at the earlier episodes and were like whoa, because he’s sneaking all these longing looks at her even when he’s not featured in the scene.

      I’m going to be watching for these longing looks! Weeee!

      • LOL! The one I remember the most is in the 3rd ep, I think. When Veronica drops her books and Duncan helps her pick them up. When he walks away with Logan, who’s been waiting for him, Logan sneaks a peek at her over his shoulder and it’s like Awww.

        You can also tell in the flashback ep where they go to the dance. He keeps trying to film her with the camcorder instead of everyone else.

        Um… yeah, I have seen all the eps a few times. LOL I used to be a vidder in a past life!

      • Yes! Me too. I’m excited to scour for Logan longing looks. That’s something I never noticed before, but I think I only watched these episodes once. (Except for a select few faves like this one and A Trip To The Dentist that I watched a few times.)

  4. There’s so much that’s amazing in this episode, even though yeah, there is a ton of set up. While this is a lot of info for one episode to bear, I think they use the flashbacks brilliantly (as Sonia says) to really bring us the Noir tone. You have either the blissed out, sunny pre-murder flashbacks, or the dark, shadowy murder/rape party/parents marriage falling apart ones. Somehow the sunlight in the ‘present day’ scenes looks hard and cold. Maybe it’s the contrast to the birthday and happy love memories. Maybe it’s the fact that even in Southern California, everyone’s wearing long pants and jackets. (I’ve always wondered why that is. Isn’t Neptune supposed to be near San Diego?)

    I adore the dialog, especially between Veronica and her dad. They have such a lovely relationship – heartbreakingly so when she realizes he’s lied to her. “Tonight, we dine like the lower middle class to which we aspire!” “Wait, I’m thinking of a Springsteen song. I was never cool.” Then there’s Wallace’s bit – “underneath that angry young woman exterior is a slightly less angry young woman, just dying to bake me something.” And then the lawyer, Cliff McCormick – “I like this case. It’s tawdry.”

    I love Weevil (and wow, but it’s nice to see Francis Capra back before his health issues changed his appearance so drastically). You can see he’s got respect for Veronica’s guts, or whatever, when he starts hassling Wallace and then her, and she stands up to him. Felix might be ready to show off, but Weevil knows when to cool it.

    Oh, and her voice over. “Sooner or later, the people you love let you down.” It’s so noir, and so heartrending. “What does it matter? I’m no longer that girl.” “There are questions that need answers. That’s what I do.” Meanwhile, the Beatles “All You Need is Love” tinkles away in the background as week look at the seedy, dark Camelot motel. Wow.

    I remember how much I loathed Logan the first time I saw this. He’s such an odd, capering villain – I love the way he sort of minces about while the PCHers drive up, totally oblivious and totally magnetic. I don’t think I fully appreciated the pain in his eyes when he asked Veronica how she could be disloyal to the Kanes – her best friend, her boyfriend. He’s not thinking about what an untenable position she was in, but you can see that he’s genuinely vulnerable and hurt.

    What else? Lamb is loathsome and unforgivable. Veronica’s spiky hair is brilliant. How can so much character be conveyed by a simple haircut?

    • Speaking of haircuts, it’s funny how when I first watched the show I thought, “Wow, Kristen Bell looks SO much better with short hair, it’s amazing!” It wasn’t until she grew her hair out in season 3 that I realized it just looks terrible in the flashbacks because it’s a really bad wig.

      The spiky hair is amazing, though. There’s this one moment where they cut from her in flashback with long hair and a very girly outfit to her new look with these badass plaid pants and – I think a vest? It’s not subtle, but it’s a brilliant shorthand for LOOK WHAT LILLY’S DEATH DID.

      They really do establish all the minor characters brilliantly, don’t they? This pilot does so much. I’ve seen it – oh Lord, probably ten times at least, in various groups and settings – and it never ceases to impress me, from a screenwriting perspective particularly.

  5. The Pilot

    I really love love the Pilot. It was action packed and exciting. I too didn’t really understand the Loretta Cancun saga, but am willing to overlook that.
    Logan Echolls as the OPJ was awesome. I also liked all the Veronica-Weevil and Keith-Veronica interactions.

  6. BTW, Shana, that’s so cool to hear about the starglow plug. Also, I’m kind of with you on the mystery. I like it, but at the point where she says “now for step three of my plan” I couldn’t help thinking “wait, what were steps one and two?” I figured it out, sure, and I think that it probably hurts Loretta Cancun more than it helps her, but still, it’s fun. I like what all of it says about her relationship with members of the sheriffs office, and other people (like the fireman) who “remain loyal” to her dad.

    And Sonia, thanks for the commentary! I can’t wait to listen to that!

    • Hmm, see I thought it helped Loretta as well. I think what happened is that Loretta was going to trial for something I can’t remember and tipped off Cliff that the bar she got in trouble at was keeping their liquor license only by doing sexual favors for police officers. So Veronica stole the tape of Weevil’s friends robbing the convenience store and replaced it with evidence of the sexual favors, thereby solving both cases at once. The Loretta case had to be dismissed because of the evidence Veronica presented. And the Weevil case had to be thrown out because the evidence was gone.

      I think. It’s all so complicated and I’m still not entirely sure what exactly Loretta did!

      I agree though, the steps one and two and three were too vague to follow. But maybe that was done on purpose so we wouldn’t focus on that, we would focus on the characters.

      • I think Loretta smacked around a soda machine that ate her change. (Seriously.) I guess what I mean is that I thought originally Loretta wanted to trade info on the liquor license/sexual favors bartering as a bargaining chip – you know, I’ll tell what I know if you don’t drop the charges. But if she tells what she knows (or if Veronica spill the information), do the cops really have the incentive to let her off the hook? Especially since what she did wasn’t actually connected to the cops’ illegal behavior. Knowing Lamb he might go after her harder, just out of spite.

        Anyway, that’s what I was thinking when I said it shouldn’t help Loretta (even though presumably it does). And it certainly contributes to the noir feel, doesn’t it? Dirty and uncaring cops, strip joints, illicit activities…

        BTW, great noir poster:

        http://www.robthomasproductions.com/pictures/XL_VM18poster.jpg

        • I don’t think Loretta or Cliff have any knowledge of Veronica’s plan, but Cliff suggests that they might be able to use the “way the club keeps their liquor license” as leverage in Loretta’s plea bargain. By showing the tape in public, Veronica may be nixing that option or she may not – it depends on whether they would need the stripper’s testimony to corroborate what the tape seems to show.

          • See, wayyyy too confusing! I still have no idea what’s going on. During the trial for the robbery, Cliff raises his hand and says, “Would now be a good time to ask for a dismissal in the Loretta Cancun case?” Or something like that. I took that as Cliff’s way of latching onto Veronica’s plan and getting Loretta off scot free. Right?

            Or am I totally misunderstanding this?

            I think Veronica knew Cliff would be at the trial because he was representing both clients.

          • I think we’re supposed to assume that Veronica knew Cliff would be there, and that by embarrassing the police publicly she’s given him what he needed to get Loretta off. I don’t think this actually makes much sense, but truth be told, I’d never thought about it before. I just accepted from Cliff’s statement that this worked for him.

  7. Ok, I just watched it now and am clearly late to the squeeing, plus all the intelligent stuff has been said, so I’ll just say, this being the first time ever I’ve watched this, it has definitely potential to hook me. Actually, I’m refraining pretty badly from watching the next episode RIGHT NOW.

    Re: Wallace, I didn’t think he was especially weak, he’s a nice kid, and although he and Veronica seen to be hanging out because they need each other right now, I think Wallace hit the right tone when he called her a mashmallow. I could definitely see them as friends.

    Re: Logan. He does seem like the biggest jerk ever. If I didn’t know he was supposed to have a thing for Veronica, I’d say the show was set up for her to get back with Duncan, judging from the way he defends her, and being always serious and stuff. But then there’s the moment I started to like Logan, and it’s not when he tears up about Lily (although that’s a nice scene too), but when Weevil is hitting him and he refuses to apologize. I guess I have a soft spot for manly-man attitudes like that.

    • So glad to see you!

      But then there’s the moment I started to like Logan, and it’s not when he tears up about Lily (although that’s a nice scene too), but when Weevil is hitting him and he refuses to apologize. I guess I have a soft spot for manly-man attitudes like that.

      Oh my goodness — YES! Definitely! Good point.

      I really think you’re going to love this show. 🙂

  8. OMG. I watched the ENTIRE first season over the last couple of days. OOps. Almost posted a bunch of spoilers about my Logan love. But I do love him. Alot. Must watch the commentary now.

  9. Ok, so I got all excited about this and then didn’t get a chance to watch any of the episodes. But now I have Netflix instant view with all three seasons of VM, so I’m catching up and commenting. I need to get the DVDs with the commentary now too! The first episode had me hooked-it’s interesting to re-watch it too because I find myself looking for clues since I already know the outcome. But I still love each episode! Some pilots are somewhat rough and hard to watch, but I thought this show worked from the beginning-the cast knew the characters and I didn’t think they had to grow into them like in other shows. And it’s fun to watch Logan as a jerk in the beginning since I love him!

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