“Veronica Mars” Season 1 (2004-05, UPN), episodes 1-9 – “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” get the magazine covers, but “Veronica Mars” (8 p.m. Tuesdays on UPN) is my favorite new show of the season. Created by Rob Thomas — soon to be more famous than the matchbox twenty frontman of the same name — the show features a teen detective so calm and collected she makes Gil Grissom look like Adrian Monk. Veronica (Kristen Bell), in addition to being a photographer at her school paper, is a private eye at her dad’s (Enrico Colantoni) firm in the San Diego suburbs.
Bell is the season’s best new actress, playing the 17-year-old sleuth so smoothly that a viewer reared on “My So-Called Life” and “Dawson’s Creek” is tempted to label her portrayal as unrealistic. There’s barely an ounce of angst to be found, despite catalysts in the back story: Veronica’s best friend was murdered, her then-sheriff dad was fired for bungling the investigation, her mom bailed out on the family and her boyfriend mysteriously stopped talking to her.
But if Veronica isn’t representative of a “real” teen, she’s still loads more fun to watch than, say, “The O.C.’s” Marissa. And “Veronica’s” neo-noir visual style is equally cool, blasting the frame with SoCal sunniness then scaling back with washed-out, voiceover-laden flashbacks. A-
“Veronica Mars” Season 1 (2004-05, UPN) – “Veronica Mars” was easily my favorite show of the year. Its writers know how to unspool a mystery: Give us so much stuff to think about (Is Duncan Veronica’s brother? Is Keith Veronica’s real dad? Can we trust Logan?) that the answer to “Who killed Lilly Kane?” could be right under our noses and still be a surprise.
I even popped in my “Veronica” tape before my “Gilmore Girls” tape after work on Tuesdays, and that’s saying something.