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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

"Veronica Mars" : It’s No "Buffy" - At Least Not Yet

Thursday 13 April 2006, by Webmaster

Tonight, "Veronica Mars"—the show that features a crafty, high school girl P.I.—moves to its new UPN time slot, 9 p.m. What has me excited is the potential implied in the title of this episode: "I am God."

I fully admit to becoming a Veronica Mars "convert" during this second season. I’m in good company, too, since famous fans like Joss Whedon and Stephen King have voiced lavish praise for the show and its writers. Each week, as the latest episode comes to a close, I am eager to see the previews of next week’s scenes—yet I’m always left with the feeling that something is missing from the series as a whole.

There’s no doubt that "Veronica Mars" has become the new show of choice for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans—which is no surprise, given the similarity of its star, Kristen Bell, to Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) both in terms of looks and ability to fire off punchy, sarcastic dialogue throughout each fast-paced episode. But the characters of "Buffy" had a clear sense of a higher calling in this world and potentially the next—not just Buffy herself as the "chosen one" whose destiny was to protect the world from demons and vampires, but also the show’s other vampire characters, who struggled with their longing to kill while at the same time desiring to do good. "Veronica Mars" and its characters, on the other hand, lack soul and an overall moral compass.

For "Buffy" fans, the show’s popularity was not just due to the literal vampires-with-souls set-up; it was the fact that the show itself aspired to explore a higher meaning of life and purpose in the world.

Week after week, "Veronica Mars," without fail, delivers incredible, snappy dialogue from all its quirky characters, yet there still is an emptiness behind these words and conversations. Veronica is a person to whom friends and foes alike come for help, and who always offers that help, even if reluctantly so, in much the same way Buffy patroled for vamps night after night instead of going out dancing with her friends. Yet fans never see that same sense of a higher calling from Veronica, which Buffy had as core to her character. And while on "Buffy," we saw tremendous character development in Xander, Willow, Spike, and even popular girl Cordelia, on "Veronica Mars" we see a steady stream of rich boys who only seem out for themselves, an ethic of selfish laziness and apathy that never seems to change. Funny, sarcastic dialogue and a cool high school setting can only take "Veronica Mars" so far, and for this fan, that sense of emptiness I’m left with each week is starting to become a let down.

So I’m hanging my hopes on tonight’s episode, "I am God," which has Veronica seeing visions. I am hoping that the show’s writers might begin to add some much-needed deeper layers to Veronica’s character and the show as a whole.

9 Forum messages

  • "Veronica Mars" : It’s No "Buffy" - At Least Not Yet

    13 April 2006 22:54, by mirandajane
    Well put. I agree commpletely. The characters on "Veronica Mars" live on this shiny superficial surface. Soulless materialistic people in a soulless materialistic setting. Because the show has been praised so highly by people whom I respect, I watch it week after week, expecting to see some hint of depth—but I never do. The "Veronica Mars" characters seem to live in a world without dreams or mystery or imagination.
  • "Veronica Mars" : It’s No "Buffy" - At Least Not Yet

    14 April 2006 19:35, by V-Meezy Fan
    I’m right with you...."V-Mars" has a long way to go before we can say "Veronica Mars: the new Buffy." However, lets not get too down on Veronica just yet. When’s the last time you checked out season 1 and 2 of Buffers on DVD? Let’s just say Buffy and the Scoobies aren’t overly worldly in the first two seasons. Aren’t we just expecting too much out of "V-Mars" in the post-Buffy era? I think so. If we compare the first season of Veronica Mars to the first season of Buffy, I would argue that "Veronica Mars" is ahead of the competition. That being said, we are approaching the end of season two of "V-mizzle" and I don’t see any Buffy-kills-Angel moment in the near future. But lets give it time people, its only season two.
  • "Veronica Mars" : It’s No "Buffy" - At Least Not Yet

    14 April 2006 20:56, by wittyname

    If you haven’t rented the first season yet, you should. That higher purpose is felt more in that first season with Veronica needing to find out who murdered her best friend.

    By the way the show has officially moved to Tuesday nights now.

  • "Veronica Mars" : It’s No "Buffy" - At Least Not Yet

    14 April 2006 20:59, by Harrison Scott
    Why do people with obviously no time on their hands write meaningless blogs about 2 shows that ARE NOT THE SAME!!!!!! It is irrelevant what happened on Buffy - because it was not created by the same people. If you don’t like it, don’t watch - but don’t try to ruin it for the rest of the viewing audience who finds the show well-written and spot-on. And BTW, Buffy was a show about vampires - V.Mars is NOT ABOUT VAMPIRES - how come you didn’t include that in your analysis. Why do "so-called" fans always feel the need to tear down every good show b/c it does not meet up to their ridiculously unrealistic standards? How can any show measure up to the constant criticism??? V.Mars is well-written, well-acted, well-directed, and I LOVE IT! If you don’t like it, please spare us - b/c you have NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!!11
  • "Veronica Mars" : It’s No "Buffy" - At Least Not Yet

    16 April 2006 00:40, by Anonymous
    u got to be freakin’ kiddin’ me, right? Buffy (and cast) is a lot deeper than Veronica Mars, et al. So let me get this straight... killin’ vampires is deep but dealing with real teenage issues (ie. racism, segregation (rich vs. poor kids), gays, suicide, broken families, peer pressure, etc, etc,) is NOT. Let me guess who wrote this article... probably someone who has absolutely no friends and consider staying home with their computer in a dark room is their idea of a good time. Get out once in awhile and maybe you will realize Veronica Mars is as real and as deep as it can get when it comes to TV shows nowadays. Oh and by the way... when you talk about those rich kids character on the show, who are not "deep" and have no ethics or morals... consider this... there are rich prick kids out there who are not deep, have absolutely no personality and really are as shallow as you can get. Ever hear of Paris Hilton... you really think she cares about world hunger, aids epidemic... no i don’t think so. She has "deeper" things to worry about, like making sure her shoes match her car. So in conclusion... you are talking out of your ass... give specific examples next time and maybe you’ll be able to make 1 decent point.
  • "Veronica Mars" : It’s No "Buffy" - At Least Not Yet

    16 April 2006 08:44, by Anonymous

    I think you mistake genres. VM while set in a High School is vastly different from Buffy (it’s better mostly) in that it does not back off about social commentary based on it’s genre. VM is "Hard Boiled Detective Story" (yes, JUST like Brick) set in a High School. Veronica might as well be Jim Rockford or Phillip Marlowe. So yeah the bad boys exhibit no moral growth because that’s what they are. Rich bad boys who are jerks. They have to be in order for the story to work.

    Raymond Chandler wrote that the essence of the Hard Boiled Detective Story is a hard but good man who undertakes a journey to figure out who-dunnit and put the wrong to rights. As part of this journey he moves all over the city, meeting the rich folks and middle class folks and the criminal element. Making social commentary about the kind of society that exists to produce both the crime and the solution. And it’s this journey itself and city as character that’s the important one, while the solution to the crime is secondary. Veronica is exactly about this kind of journey.

    Buffy was (particularly at the end) a bunch of good stuff mixed with utter clap-trap; the vampires themselves destroyed the show because IMHO audiences could only accept them if they put aside fundamental notions of right and wrong which most people cannot do much less want to. Buffy and Spike are Exhibit A in this falling-apart narrative. Buffy early on was more about personal growth in a fantasy setting. Social commentary was almost non-existent, with a High School setting without a High School, and all the cliques and Lord of the Flies social dynamic that exists when authority abdicates. Buffy in the end resembled both the Vampires she used to fight (and ended up mostly screwing) and the tormenters that everyone not a HS superstar remembers. Buffy was all about being superior to everyone else.

    Unlike Buffy, Veronica really is a High School student who struggles with getting into a good College, figuring out paying for it, the rivalry with the Upper Class snots, and so forth. Overall it’s a better show because the HBDS is a more robust and uniquely American genre, and Veronica is more "real" since her HS resembles most people’s. As opposed to Buffy who ended up a cold and nasty individual.

  • I think the main difference is that Buffy sucked and Mars doesn’t.
  • Buffy was NOT just "a show about vampires"! Those of you who are saying VM is more realistic because it deals with gays, suicide, broken families, etc... "Buffy" dealt with ALL of that! The whole premise of Buffy was a girl dealing with regular teenage problems, who happens to slay demons too.
  • VM is not that great - that’s why it’ll prob be cancelled in the near future...