Idol Chatter

Tonight, “Veronica Mars“–the show that features a crafty, high school girl P.I.–moves to its new UPN time slot, 9 p.m. What has me excited is the potential implied in the title of this episode: “I am God.”

I fully admit to becoming a Veronica Mars “convert” during this second season. I’m in good company, too, since famous fans like Joss Whedon and Stephen King have voiced lavish praise for the show and its writers. Each week, as the latest episode comes to a close, I am eager to see the previews of next week’s scenes–yet I’m always left with the feeling that something is missing from the series as a whole.

There’s no doubt that “Veronica Mars” has become the new show of choice for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans–which is no surprise, given the similarity of its star, Kristen Bell, to Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) both in terms of looks and ability to fire off punchy, sarcastic dialogue throughout each fast-paced episode. But the characters of “Buffy” had a clear sense of a higher calling in this world and potentially the next–not just Buffy herself as the “chosen one” whose destiny was to protect the world from demons and vampires, but also the show’s other vampire characters, who struggled with their longing to kill while at the same time desiring to do good. “Veronica Mars” and its characters, on the other hand, lack soul and an overall moral compass.

For “Buffy” fans, the show’s popularity was not just due to the literal vampires-with-souls set-up; it was the fact that the show itself aspired to explore a higher meaning of life and purpose in the world.

Week after week, “Veronica Mars,” without fail, delivers incredible, snappy dialogue from all its quirky characters, yet there still is an emptiness behind these words and conversations. Veronica is a person to whom friends and foes alike come for help, and who always offers that help, even if reluctantly so, in much the same way Buffy patroled for vamps night after night instead of going out dancing with her friends. Yet fans never see that same sense of a higher calling from Veronica, which Buffy had as core to her character. And while on “Buffy,” we saw tremendous character development in Xander, Willow, Spike, and even popular girl Cordelia, on “Veronica Mars” we see a steady stream of rich boys who only seem out for themselves, an ethic of selfish laziness and apathy that never seems to change. Funny, sarcastic dialogue and a cool high school setting can only take “Veronica Mars” so far, and for this fan, that sense of emptiness I’m left with each week is starting to become a let down.

So I’m hanging my hopes on tonight’s episode, “I am God,” which has Veronica seeing visions. I am hoping that the show’s writers might begin to add some much-needed deeper layers to Veronica’s character and the show as a whole.

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