Sailor Boy and I have been re-watching the second season of Veronica Mars. I have long maintained that the first season of VM is my favorite season of any television show. However, I did recently watch season one of Dexter. What do these two shows have in common? (Besides being smart, witty, expertly written and crafted, with compelling characters, luminous dialogue, and amazing pacing?)
They both started out as novels.
Veronica Mars was a novel that was never written. Rob Thomas wrote several YA novels before turning to television, and VM was, at one time, “untitled girl detective story.” I think part of the reason VM struggled to find its footing after that first season is because so much of it was designed for that first season story. The first season of Dexter follows the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter. After the first season, I hear, it deviates from the rest of the novel series. (I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet — don’t spoil it!)
It’s an interesting formula, and one I think works better with mysteries. Each episode of Dexter and VM is a mini-mystery, and the big mystery weaves through it all and occasionally interacts with the little one. So well done. I don’t think you could make an entire season of television out of the SSG books. However, I do think that novels, in general, are better suited to the TV or miniseries format than to film.
Anyway, back to Season two of VM. I do remember, when first watching it, how hard the writers were keeping us LoVe (that’s Logan and Veronica) fans on the hook. Their embittered past seemed to permeate every moment of their screentime, and it was magical! However, watching it again, I’m struck this time around and how Kristen Bell plays the love triangle. I don’t think I noticed how many of her reactions to Logan are motivated by her feelings for him. Her responses to Duncan are so incredibly tame and surface/cynical, by comparison.
It may be the reason I never bought her whole tearful “and we can never email or call each other again” act in “Donut Run.” I never, ever, ever got what she saw in Duncan. Yeah, he’s “nice” (though have we come down on the side of he slept with Kendall or not?) But I came up with a new theory last night. The reason she goes to these ridiculous, elaborate lengths to get Duncan out of town — rather than just letting him use his significant financial power to lawyer that baby right out of the Manning’s hands — is so she can have a guilt free way to get him out of her life. Duncan is a constant reminder of the “old” (pre-Lilly’s murder and life falling apart) Veronica. Until she gets rid of Duncan, and not in a way that means he’s hanging around like, oh, DUMPING him — she will not be free of her ties to her old life.
I do find it interesting that when she dreams of “what might have been” in the last episode of the season, where her father is sheriff and she’s an ’09er and things are grand, she is dating Logan and Duncan is being a jerk. Hmmmmm…
My point is… um, point? Right. My point is that it must be really hard to show a relationship wherein the two characters are not only in social positions that require them to keep their distance (i.e., ex lovers and friends of ex lover’s current lover), but also have so much anger and bitterness toward each other, and STILL manage to give off love vibes. And considering that I love that relationship so much, and it’s a TV show, and the actors involved are fabulous, and it still took me several watchings to “get it” — wow. Can you imagine if that tried to be a book?