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'Veronica Mars' nostalgia pilot recap: Welcome to Neptune

I have a confession. Until very recently, Kristen Bell was just the voice of Anna from Frozen and some actress who cried at seeing sloths. I also thought a marshmallow was just a confectionery treat. Then I watched the first episode of Veronica Mars, a show that has been repeatedly recommended to me for years. I began to finally understand why fans were so enthusiastic to fund the Kickstarter for a movie to this show last year. I’m over 11 years late to the game. So, longtime fans, be jealous as I get to experience the show for the very first time.

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Originally aired Sept 22, 2004

The first time we meet Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is at her high school during her junior year at Neptune High in California. As she walks across campus, she sees a boy duct-taped to the flagpole with the misspelled word “snich” written across his body. Other students are gathering around laughing at him, with one even taking a selfie with a digital camera (these were the days before smartphones). Veronica pulls out a knife and proceeds to cut the new guy down. This chick is sassy. I like her already.

Later, as she’s sitting down for lunch, she looks over at another table and narrates that she used to be part of the popular group. Veronica wasn’t rich, but her dad used to be the sheriff and she had been the girlfriend of Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn), son of software billionaire Jake Kane. Flashbacks are shown of the couple with Veronica looking totally different from how she does now, complete with longer hair and Uggs. For the record, Veronica’s current hairstyle and clothing choices are still enviable, even today. She also sees Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), Duncan’s best friend, who appears to be a total jerk.

Flagpole boy joins her at the table and thanks her for cutting her down. They are soon joined by a gang headed by a tattooed guy who goes after Flagpole. Veronica stands up to him and finds out that Flagpole, aka Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III), had ratted out members of the gang for stealing from the convenience store he was working at. Even though he tried to retract his accusation, the sheriff still got the tape of the robbery.

After school, Veronica goes to her dad’s office at Mars Investigation to find that Duncan’s mom has hired Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) to investigate her husband’s suspicious activities. Even though her dad’s job has him mainly out catching bail jumpers, somehow all the cases that come in still get handled. That’s because Veronica also works on the cases. High school student by day, private investigator at night. She goes to stake out Jake Kane while her dad is out in El Paso.

Through a flashback, she tells of how Kane Software has made half the town rich and him a billionaire. His daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried, fresh from Mean Girls) had been Veronica’s best friend and Logan’s girlfriend. She was found dead the day she told Veronica she had a big secret to tell her. The murder was heavily publicized in the tabloids. Her father believed that Kane murdered his daughter, but was unable to prove it. Six weeks later, someone from the sheriff’s office leaked the crime-scene video causing her father to be recalled from office. A disgruntled employee was later charged with the murder. Fallout from this also causes Veronica’s mother to leave her family.

Back in the present, Veronica follows Kane to a seedy motel where it appears he is having an affair. As she takes some pictures, the motorcycle gang from earlier surrounds her car. The leader introduces himself as Weevil (Francis Capra) and starts to try to mess with Veronica but between her dog Backup and a Taser, she shows she’s totally capable of taking care of herself. She tells Weevil to leave Wallace alone for a week. He tells her that he knows all about her.

Veronica reveals that her reputation comes from her going to a party after her dad’s fallout to prove to everyone she was okay. Unfortunately she saw Duncan with another girl, and things didn’t go as planned. She was slipped a roofie in her drink, and woke up to find out that she had been raped. She still has no idea who did it to her, and never told her father.

After processing the pictures from her stakeout, Veronica shows her dad the car and license plates from the hotel. He appears to recognize them and tells her to stop with the case, but won’t tell her why. After seeing already what she can do, we all know Veronica isn’t going to be stopped so easily. She runs the plates on her own and finds out the car belongs to her mother.

Meanwhile, she’s also trying to help out Wallace by:

  • Step 1: Secretly video-record activities outside the Seventh Veil club.
  • Step 2: Get someone to create a bong and place it in Logan’s locker to be found by the sheriff’s office during a routine locker search.
  • Step 3: Remotely activate smoke bomb inside the bong, which has been placed inside the evidence room at the sheriff’s department. This causes the fire department to come and then later give something to Veronica, because there are still folks who are loyal to her dad.

The last time Veronica had been to the police station was when she had gone to report the rape. However, Sheriff Don Lamb (Michael Muhney) acts condescending toward her and tells her he can’t do anything about it. This guy seems like a major word I cannot use right now, and I already can’t stand him. Back in the present day, she arrives in the courtroom, where he’s testifying against the gang members from the robbery. The security tape is played as evidence, but the tape has been switched. Instead, what’s shown is one of Lamb’s officers getting “serviced” outside of the Seventh Veil.

Veronica Mars Pilot

Veronica gives Wallace the real videotape. He is grateful and tells her that even though she has an angry woman shell on the outside, inside she’s a marshmallow. They’re enjoying their time at the beach when Logan shows up; he is not pleased because the bong incident caused his father to take his car away. He takes his revenge on Veronica’s car with a tire iron, but Weevil and his gang soon arrive to defend Veronica. Weevil takes the tire iron and smashes the headlight and hood of Logan’s friend’s car, and starts to beat up Logan for not apologizing. Veronica stops him, saying she doesn’t want Logan’s apology, but she does want Weevil to apologize to Wallace. She now has an ally in him.

She still has many questions, however, such as why did her dad lie to her, why he is still interested in the Lilly Kane murder, and what does her mom have to do with Jake Kane? The episode ends with Veronica going to the motel to start finding out answers.

Despite this episode airing over a decade ago, aside from technology, it doesn’t feel very dated. The writing is still fresh, the clothing isn’t out of style, and even the music seems modern. Well, I’m hooked, and looking forward to finding out the rest of the answers along with Veronica. See you next time, Marshmallows!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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