I just finished the first series of Veronica Mars, which I picked up because of several positive reviews from friends and a number of really positive internet reviews. I did a bit of research with it, looked up the soundtrack (http://veronicamusic.blogspot.com) was an enormous resource with the music of the show (which is outstanding set of music) and several transcripts of episodes. I wasn't 100% sold, but I knew that it would be enjoyable.
I was completely right - Veronica Mars is one of the best shows that I've seen on television to date. For me, it's right up there with Firefly, Battlestar, LOST and Prison Break, although at the moment, better than the last two, at least for now.
Several things really stood out from the pilot episode, and hooked me from the start. The writing, the plots, the cast, the camera work and overall feel to the show. Everything just seemed to click for me.
I've always liked mysteries, they were some of the first things that I read as a kid, and the interest has continued. The show is about mystery. The main story is centered around the title character, Veronica Mars. A year before the show starts, her best friend, Lilly, was murdered. Her father was the town sheriff and accused her father of killing her - something he was kicked out of office for. As a result, Veronica is shunned by her previous friends and comes to at a party with the impression that she might have been raped. Over the course of the season, she works with her father and various friends and classmates as new mysteries and problems as they arrive.
One of the big comparisons made with the show is that it's similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even more so, Joss Whedon, who created Buffy, has deemed the show the best show ever created and even guest starred in a season 2 episode.
There are quite a few parallels. Youngish, blond heroine, shunned by her classmates, works to solve some major problem, with a couple friends here and there. Minus the magic, mysticism and vampires, and we have the framework of the show.
However, there's more to it than a Buffy clone. The stories are much more structured - overall, there's the main story with Lilly's Death, and everything assosiated with that, and generally another couple mysteries that she works on as well.
In addition to stories, there's also a much higher attention to film work and camea movements. Flashbacks are indespersed throughout the stories everywhere, and they're usually accompanied by different shadings, as well as some extremely innovative slow motions, circling camera shots and angles. In addition, there's a huge noir influence to the stories and filmwork, which really helps with the mystery aspect to it.
The show also really benefits from it's fantastic cast. Most of all from Kristen Bell, as Veronica, who really carries the show. She's very cute, smart, sarcastic and funny. She's joined by Wallace, (Percy Daggs III) who's her best friend and helps her father, Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni). Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn), Lilly's brother, is Veronica's ex, best friend of Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), the smartass son of an actor. Weevil, the last of the title characters, is the leader of a motorcycle gang who's constantly in and out of trouble. The acting on the part of these guys is fantastic.
Bring all of these elements together and we have a great show, one that's lasted two seasons thus far, despite fairly low ratings, and has been upped for season 3, which will air this fall on the new channel, CW.