Neptune Noir (Giveaway)

(Long entry, but there’s a giveaway at the end!)

In 2004, I was working on a hurricane clean up crew in south Florida. One night, after my shift, I caught a television program unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was hip, dark, smart, funny, complex, fascinating. It was about a teenager in California whose life had fallen apart between one year and the next: her boyfriend stopped speaking to her, her best friend was murdered, her father, the small-town sheriff, blamed the best friend’s father for the murder and subsequently lost his job, her mother left them, her friends all stopped speaking to her because of the bungled murder investigation, and to top off a fabulous year, she was drugged and raped at a party. This all happens in the pilot. But did she crawl into a hole? No. She got tough. She got even.

This girl’s name was Veronica Mars.

Because of my work, I was unable to watch the show as it aired, but when the DVD of the first season came out, I caught up. The show blew my mind. They’d created a fan for life. Veronica Mars is Heathers meets Chinatown. It’s dark, it’s twisted, it’s funny, it’s brilliant. The characters are amazing, the plots well crafted. When the killer is revealed (at the end of season one) Sailor Boy had to pause the DVD because of my gasping and exclamations of disbelief. It’s the only television show I’ve ever seen that could supplant Buffy the Vampire Slayer as my favorite.

It’s the television show that made me love mysteries.

Tonight is the last episode of Veronica Mars. It had a three-season run. the second season was pretty good (though it couldn’t supplant season one), and the third season is having difficulty finding its footing with the triple bugbears of “main characters move to college,” “change in season-long mystery format,” and move to fledgling network the CW. I’m looking forward to the cliffhanger two-hour season (now series) finale tonight, but though I mourn the show’s passing, I don’t know how it could ever again become the show that so entranced me during the first season. For me, the show is about how Veronica soldiered on after her world fell apart and made everything right. I applaud Rob Thomas for not dragging out the mysteries past the end of the first season (cough cough, X-Files, cough cough) but at the same time, it made VM a better candidate for a 26 episode miniseries than an ongoing show.

That being said, I love this show, and in honor of the finale, today, I’m giving away two copies of NEPTUNE NOIR, Unauthorized Investigations Into Veronica Mars, which is the latest title in the Benbella Books’ Smart Pop line.* Neptune Noir is edited by none of than Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars, and he opens each critical essay with editorial notes that help give inside information into what the writers and producers were thinking (or not) when they included that element. I was so excited when I got a chance to review an advanced copy.


It’s an absolute must read for fans of Veronica Mars, but more than that, it’s a must-read for fans of storytelling. Contributors include novelists like Evelyn Vaughan and Lani Diane Rich, literary and film critics like Pulitzer Prize finalist Joyce Millman and Heather Havrilesky, psychologist Misty Hook, professors Amanda Ann Klein and Lynne Edwards, and Television Without Pity recapper John Ramos. The tone ranges from tongue in cheek rankings of VM’s noir factor to camp factor (Rich’s essay) to an in-depth analysis of the show’s take on class and race relations (Edwards’s), but each is insightful, mind-expanding and delicious. I devoured them all, as a fan of the show and also as a professional storyteller.

My favorites were Geoff Klock’s breakdown of story structure in the season one finale (I disagree with him on one of the acts, but still a fascinating read, especially if you’re a structure geek like me), Evelyn Vaughn on the power of narrative, and Joyce Millman on Veronica’s amazing and complex relationship with her father (which, IMO, kicks the Gilmore Girls’ asses when it comes to portraying the parent/child bond, and it isn’t event eh main focus of the show!) and how this relationship affects her romantic interests. I don’t know what Keith Mars would think about his similarities to Logan. (Cute picture, huh? Ah, LoVe.)

Inside the pages of Neptune Noir, you’ll find:
* Inside info into the casting choices
* The truth about the “plans” for Logan’s character
* A celebration of everything that so scandalously fabulous about the Casablancases.
* Buffy vs. Veronica
* Is Veronica the voice of a generation? How about of a time in American history?
* Why does Veronica appeal to conservatives?
* The role of the father — ALL the fathers.

And much much more. It’s the book equivalent of a dinner party with fellow fans and storytellers. I had so much fun reading it, and now I’m really pumped for the finale. The book will be released on May 28th, but you can win a copy here, today, by telling me in the comments section what your favorite episode of Veronica Mars was.

Farewell, Veronica, Keith, Logan, Wallace, Dick, Mac, Deputy Leo, Weevil (where have you been?), and all our dear departeds: Lamb, Cassidy, Aaron, Kendall, Abel Koontz, and of course, my favorite, Lilly.

I’ll remember you when.

PS: You don’t need exact episode titles. It’s enough to say: “the one where blankety blank happened.” You know what? Even favorite scenes will do.

UPDATE: Please see Wednesday’s post for winners.

* Full disclosure: I am currently under contract with BenBella books to write an essay f or an upcoming anthology.

Posted in giveaways, veronica mars

34 Responses to Neptune Noir (Giveaway)

  1. Celeste says:

    You just totally made me want to watch the entire show. I’m going to get it 🙂 Happy Tuesday!

  2. stephhale says:

    I didn’t catch on to the show until the second season. I loved it but it got pushed on the back burner and I never caught up. I’m going to have to buy them all on DVD and watch. I hadn’t heard of this book so thanks for the heads up. Is it me, or does Logan resemble a young Dana Carvey? I was always waiting for him to break into a Church Lady voice!

  3. ERiCA says:

    I second Celeste… guess a trip to Blockbuster is in my future! =)

    (Or I could rejoin Netflix…)

  4. phyllis towzey says:

    I’ve never seen VM — you’ve convinced me to go rent season one, which I’ll no doubt watch when I ought to be writing. 😉

  5. Bill Clark says:

    Count me in with Celeste and Erica, not to mention Phyllis. Like you and SB, I almost never watch TV, which means I’m missing out on much of what passes for “culture” in mainstream America. Can you believe I’ve never even seen “The Simpsons”? I know, I know, Bart has a word for me…some things you pick up just by osmosis. But VM (season one)sounds terrific, so off I go to find it.

    (Erica, do they really have Blockbuster stores in Costa Rica??)

  6. Katkat says:

    Oh no favorite ep.Only one!!
    Okay let me think…I love “Weapons of Class Destruction” because of the LoVe kiss of course.
    “I Am God” is one of my faves too.

  7. Crazy Chick says:

    I’m actually a big fan of “Ain’t No Magic Mountain High Enough”, because I think the comic writing is top notch (“Shooting into a clown’s mouth. Your future’s bright, Dick.”) and I liked seeing Ms. Hauser finally get hers. Also, “Happy Go Lucky” (also from Season 2) because the Beaver/Mac chemistry is delightful, despite, well, you know. But my absolute favorite episode has got to be “Silence of the Lamb”–Keith/Lamb teamup, interesting Mac-Attack centered mystery, all sorts of inroads on the Lilly Kane case. Pure VM genius.

    Also, if Logan and Veronica don’t get back together–or head that way–in this finale tonight, I’m never talking to Rob Thomas again. And I mean it.

  8. Gina Black says:

    eatrawfish made me watch season one. I liked it, I did. Not in love with it like you two, but since erf usually made a lovely pasta meal to go with it, the viewings were memorable.

  9. Gina Black says:

    Oops. I was supposed to tell you my favorite episode: Hot Dogs for the musical fight scene.

  10. Kristin says:

    Lord, I am so bad at knowing specific names of episodes…can I just reveal something I loved about the first (and best) season?

    When Veronica and Logan have that wild, crazy, hot first kiss. When they still hated/loved each other. Where they would meet up in the bathroom at school to make out, and Veronica despised herself for it.

    And, of course, anytime Logan came to Veronica’s defense. When he heard she was raped (pure devastation and anger on his face). When Beaver tried to hurt her and she though her father was dead (2nd season).

    The beginnings of Veronica’s relationship with Logan were always some of the best moments on TV.

    Oh, one more, when Veronica got back together with Duncan and he and Logan met in the hall…(this is when Duncan and Veronica were sleeping together). Logan made a biting comment about Duncan not being able to satisfy Veronica in bed.


    I will miss this show…the show that once was. Excellent TV.

  11. ramoore says:

    I must confess that I watched the two seasons in less than two weeks, so the episodes sort of run together in my mind. I’m going to choose season 2’s “Ahoy, Mateys!” – the one about the radio show.

  12. Amanda Brice says:

    Aw, man…I’m not sure I can pick a fave ep. They’re all really good!

    “Weapons of Class Destruction” was good.

  13. Heather Harper says:

    I’ve never seen VM, but you’ve convinced me to go buy season 1. And the book.

  14. eatrawfish says:

    Oh neat. I’ll be sure to get this book one way or another.

    Picking a favorite is rough, my heart goes to An Echoll’s Family Christmas (awesome ending) and Hot Dogs (yeah, that fight scene) but ultimately I have to say Ruskie Business. There was something about the pace of that episode and “I can’t escape Tom Cruise” that made my heart speed up when watching it. It was the closest a show has ever made me feel to being on a roller coaster.

    Ok, and since we’re near the end and it won’t be blogged on much more – I have to BRAG that I have a Veronica Mars poster signed by Rob Thomas, Francis Capra, Teddy Dunn and Jason Dohring. Got it in at the Comic Con the summer after the first season. I was the LAST in line to get one. It’s going to stay up on my walls for a long time. 🙂

    Ok. I’m done now.

  15. Rachel says:

    From your old college roommate: I have one favorite per season:

    Season 1- A Trip To The Dentist- sublime and also Rob’s favorite.

    Season 2- Not Pictured- the killer revealed and swirly kisses

    Season 3- Spit & Eggs- the only Season 3 ep to approach Season 1 goodness.

  16. emily says:

    Season 2: Not Pictured. Because I was SHOCKED (but yet not) who was behind the bus crash.

    Okay, I can’t pick one…

    Also, Look Who’s Stalking in Season 2 because of the altnera-prom, and I think that’s the one Logan confesses his love for Veronica is epic (awh…)

    I will admit that I LOVE them all (even this season, sorry Diana)


  17. Rachel says:

    ah yes- and standing alone- the Epic LoVe speech

  18. emily says:

    Okay…I just have to say to all of you up there that haven’t seen it yet…you need to. This is one of my all time FAVORITE SHOWS. And I’m going to miss it like crazy, even though this season admittedly hasn’t been as good as the first two. But it’s starting to pick back up for me.

    My husband REFUSED to watch this show with me on TV. We are talking Big Time Refusal. I had to break him down for TWO YEARS before he agreed to watch Season 1 of the DVDs we had. And when he finally watched it we had to watch all Season 1 and 2 in one weekend (which is ALOT), because he loved them so much. I got my Mom watching them too, and everyone else I put onto this show LOVES IT.

    So sad it’s going to be over…

  19. Janessa says:

    I love Plan B because we really saw Beaver unravelling. I also thought A Trip to the Dentist was nearly perfect.

  20. AprilJoy says:

    I always loved An Echoll’s Family Christmas, good snark, but just enough dark to counter it.

    From this season Spit & Eggs was amazing, as was Post-Game Mortem, when the show did dark it did it well. I’m really really going to miss it.

  21. Diana says:

    Favorite Episode, without a doubt or second thought, is “An Echolls Family Christmas.” Matching boxers! “Heat Miser”! Aaron gets what he deserves! Weevil in the 09! Veronica the card shark! I’m gonna miss this show so much.

  22. Dionne says:

    Difficult though it is to choose, my favourite episode is “An Echolls Family Christmas”. I loved how it continued to show just how screwed up the Echolls were as a family and the poker scenes were among my favourite in the series. It also had two great mysteries (who stole Weevil’s money, who was stalking Aaron) and furthered the Lilly mystery nicely. And it was very, very funny.

    My favourite scene, though, was from “Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle”. When Logan and Weevil, sitting at separate tables right next to each other so they’re not “seen together” ask Veronica to bug the church confessional, it’s everything I love about the show. Snark, buried feelings, real stakes, and the whole noir atmosphere. All set to the lead singer from Spoon singing “Veronica”. Absolutely perfect.

  23. tetewa says:

    Wow what have I been missing! Sounds like a great series I’ve never seen an episode, guess I’ll have to start.

  24. Anne Freeman says:

    Well what is sad is seeing all these people that now want to watch it after we have lost it. I wish they had known about it before hand. Anyway welcome to the wonderful world of Veronica Mars.
    As for my favorite episode it had to be the season finale in season 1. I had no idea who the killer was. Also seeing Veronica truly need someone was great. Her relationship with her Dad is wonderful.

  25. Melissa says:

    Favorite episodes(s)!

    Echolls Family Christmas, the ‘who stole the money’ mystery played out really well and the character interactions were great.

    The ep that concluded with Logan blowing up the stadium, where you realize Thumper is in there, and that Weevil ultimately put him there – that one gave me chills!

    The ep where Logan commented about Veronica – “she was blond… petite… smelled of marshmallows and promises.” He had the cutest smile.

    And I am God for the dream sequences and Veronica’s lack-of-sleep induced bitch haze XD.

    Actually I love them all. 🙂

  26. Claire says:

    Also going to say “An Echolls Family Christmas.” It’s probably the most well balanced IMO, between mysteries and character development and interaction.
    The “who stole the money?” mystery brings in Weevil/Veronica and Weevil/Logan, there’s Duncan/Veronica tension w/the laptop stolen, and Duncan/Logan tension when Duncan accuses Logan of stealing the money (not only Veronica accuses him of things?!) Keith is involved in the stalker mystery, which gives us a lot of insight into Aaron being a real cheater/liar, and Neptune is pretty prominent with the picture of parties in the 09’er zip, and the whole Christmas not really being all about “good tidings and joy” is very noir. Oh, and can’t leave out that Logan’s expression when Veronica starts dealing the cards is priceless!

  27. Vicki Pettersson says:

    I’m reading all these other entries and find myself seconding them all- ‘Yes, yes … omg, yes, that one, too.’ – so while my love for the episode where Logan and V kiss for the first time shows the twisted nature of my romantic side, I’m just going to Episode One, first season … because it hooked me hard, it reminded me of the pure magic that is good storytelling, and it made me think of my months-old baby girl sleeping in the other room and what kind of role models are out there for her. I actually can’t think of anyone better than Veronica.
    Oh, and the totally surprising and inapproprate Mrs. Jones-type fantasies I had about Logan probably did me in as well. {eg}

  28. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Oh, this is great y’all. I’m so nostaligc. YES the Echolls Family Christmas! I forgot about how much I loved that one. “Annoy like the wind!”

    Actually, one of the essays in the book makes the episode title “Leave it to Beaver” (Season one finale) so much more interesting to me. Because it’s not really about Beaver now, is it?

    One essayist said that the weakest part of the sow was the pretentious naming: Abel and Kane, Knight and Rook and Bishop, Dick and Beaver. I personally love it, but then, I’m a “name geek” as much as a structure geek.

  29. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Oops, What I meant to add is that I think the pilot might be my favorite episode too, Vicki.

  30. Anonymous says:

    what? ur not pushing a justine whatevername book 4 1-ce?

  31. Diana Peterfreund says:

    Well, hey, if you want me to, I’m more than happy to oblige. Justine Larbalestier’s books are great — wouldn’t have won a Norton award otherwise. Highly recommend the whole series: Magic or Madness?, Magic Lessons, and Magic’s Child, about a girl named Reason who is forced to make a terrible choice: resist the magic in her blood and go insane, or use it and die young.

    There, will that do?

  32. Jennifer Estep says:

    I have to say Weapons of Class Destruction was my fav episode because of the Logan-Veronica kiss. And because of Logan rushing to her rescue when he heard she was in trouble on the phone (something he did again at the end of Season 2).

    They were just fledgling friends at that point, but he still dropped everything to go and save her. That says so much to me about his character, even if he does act like an ass some of the time.

    Duncan never did anything like that for Veronica, which is part of the reason I never liked his character. He was just so wishy-washy and not nearly as strong as Veronica and Logan.

  33. Emily says:

    i have to say, a million moments of great comedy (or kristen’s fantastic sarcastic expressions which i rewind and rewatch over and over). but one of the most brilliant moments was in the season 1 finale, when our normally fearless, in control, wisecracking heroine is reduced to a panicked girl screaming for her father’s help. that’s what made the show brilliant- everyone (esp. veornica) was real, and allowed to be both fearless and terrified. that scene (well, the whole episode) had my heart racing and tears streaming down my face. God I’ll miss her.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Hi my name is Emma.I totally love this show. I didn’t find this show until the 3rd season. As soon as I could I rented the first 2 seasons and watched them all in 6 days. It was summer and I had nothing else to do. I’m happy I’m not the only Veronica Mars lover. This show has effected me alot. I want to be just like her when I grow up. Thanks for supporting the show. When I have kids I’m going to make them watch it. I can’t wait.