Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Big TV Haps This Week

VM Canceled

According to insider blogs, Veronica Mars is canceled. Canceled, you say? But that’s old news. Well, sort of. It was canceled last month and revived (in a new spinoff-y incarnation) only to get the ax for good this week. Unofficially, anyway. No network, to my mind, gives the runaround quite like The CW. Perhaps they’re bitter that the merger was essentially a failure in its inaugural year. (Could it be karmic retribution for canceling Everwood in favor of that show that proves there is no God, 7th Heaven?) Perhaps that bitterness was compounded by the loss of the one scripted WB staple they could be proud to call their own, Gilmore Girls. Or maybe, president Dawn Ostroff is scared witless that her name and network are quickly gaining infamy as examples of what not to do in show business. These are the only possible reasons behind the standoff that is currently happening between The CW and the fans regarding Veronica Mars.

Everybody and their brother knows VM is not coming back next fall and as such, everybody and their brother has started reporting it. Or they were yesterday prior to any official statement from the network. TV's Upfronts are this week and fall lineups are consistently being leaked all over the web. According to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, VM is nowhere to be found- not even the completely overhauled version creator Rob Thomas slapped together in a last ditch attempt to save his show. Almost immediately following these reports, The CW came back to reaffirm that as of yet, nothing (re: cancelation) has been made “official.” This exact situation occurred not a month ago when Kristen Veitch reported VM’s end and hours later, retracted the news. I personally am ambivalent about VM coming to a close since I would no longer consider myself a “fan.” The “fans” however are having a collective, virtual stroke enduring this back and forth.

The fact is, for all intents and purposes, VM should be canceled by the network. It was a small miracle that it was even renewed last year and permitted to transition to the burgeoning CW. However, it has been hemorrhaging viewers since its third season premiere and the May 8th episode was the lowest rated airing ever with less than two million viewers. Even on a fledgling, lesser network less than two million is intolerable. And lately the critical acclaim and rabid fan devotion that salvaged VM in its first two seasons has begun to drop off as well. For every viewer that is actively trying to save the show, there are two more who’d like to see it fail. The anger is palpable. Some of it is directed at the network for undermining the program’s success by imposing structural changes to its content (season long mystery arcs were first abbreviated to mini mysteries lasting the course of a few episodes before being abandoned altogether.) IMO, this is a valid criticism- the show that had Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon wondering who killed Lily Kane, dropped the ongoing mystery angle completely. Other (anti) fan hate focuses on Thomas who agreed to said modifications and in so doing, shifted the show’s M.O. to teen relationship melodrama. And in a bizarre (if not uncommon) example of fangirl misogyny, virtual accusations have been lobbed at eponymous star Kristen Bell for any number of alleged sins including sabotaging the program by not publicizing it enough and campaigning to get certain male costars less screentime.

Curiously, the fans who are doing everything in their (limited) power to assure VM’s renewal have many of the same complaints which begs the question, why bother with renewal at all? If even the diehard cheerleaders see more bad than good in the latest episodes, why not let it go? I harbor none of this resentment (which is not to say I’m above it; put simply, VM is not my drug of choice.) Once upon a time, Veronica Mars was both a smart, confident, television noir and a diminutive heroine with the weight of the world on her shoulders. With abundant snark (overused but appropriate here,) tightly plotted mysteries, and just enough moral ambiguity to keep it interesting, the first two seasons of VM are some of the best television you'll ever see. Sadly, these qualities have been scrapped to focus instead on the romantic relationships of Veronica and her cohorts which would not be such a bad thing were they imbued with any thematic significance. (See: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer) Really relationship melodrama is not always a recipe for disaster. In fact, it's the bread and butter of most scripted CW progamming. But VM was crafted to be more than that, to be smarter and riskier than that and this inauthentic move on the part of the network, Thomas, and much of the cast? Looks a lot like phoning it in. At this point, it probably is best to let her go.

In honor of its demise, the Veronica Mars Playlist- Five Songs You Must Hear: I Hear the Bells (Mike Doughty,) I Know I Know I Know (Tegan and Sara,) Adelaide (Old 97's,) Lily Dreams On (Cotton Mather,) Run (Air)

1 comment:

Whitney said...

What are the other 4 things happening on TV this week?