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TV Series Review

Seventeen-year-old private investigator Veronica Mars can do it all. Lost dog? Check. Missing relative? Check. Date with her slain best friend’s boyfriend? Check—but only after she has broken up with the guy who may be her half-brother. Back for a second season, UPN’s Veronica Mars chronicles the life of an oh-so-clever high school student out to crack down on crime, woo teen boys and keep her father’s life straight ... sometimes all in one day.

Last season, Veronica’s chief objective was to solve the murder of her best friend, Lily. Other cases have emerged along the way, such as the hunting down of a student trying to make the valedictorian’s grades slip. Sadly, Veronica’s actions (sabotage, lying, revenge) can be as corrupt as the social evils she’s out to thwart.

Drugs and alcohol make prominent appearances—from a boy with marijuana in his locker to a girl who gets her boyfriend drunk and sends him on a mission to buy Ecstasy. Investigating her own rape, Veronica discovers that someone drugged her and poured liquor down her throat. One teen (who hums “Here Comes the Bride” as he flops an unconscious Veronica onto the nearest bed) says he’s “not real big into sober chicks.” She wakes up traumatized and confused, only able to speculate about who assaulted her. Yet down the road, Veronica makes light of the events, joking to a male friend, “I was going to spike your juice box and have my way with you.” Clearly, the dialogue wasn’t written by anyone sensitive to the realities of rape.

With Joel Silver producing (The Matrix, Lethal Weapon), violence is expected. Sprinkled throughout the season are bloody reenactments of how Lily may have died. In the season finale, an old refrigerator is set ablaze with Veronica trapped inside, and when her father comes to save her, he’s bludgeoned and set on fire as well. Dad’s close-knit relationship with Veronica is one of the show’s few redeeming qualities, but he doesn’t do much parenting. In the affluent town of Neptune, kids rule and parents obey —a trait Veronica creator Rob Thomas popularized on Dawson’s Creek.

It’s no mystery why some viewers avoid following Veronica’s trail of clues. Though this heroine enjoys predictable success in her quest to clean up the town, families would be better served if writers would clean up the show—case closed.

Episodes Reviewed: April 5, 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10, 2005

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