Space Ramblings

Veronica Mars: Unamerican Graffiti

Veronica MarsIt seems that as some shows are dying, they do everything possible to make certain that fans don’t regret their passing in the least. Firefly certainly managed that trick churning out such stinkers as “The Message” and “Heart of Gold” for its farewell– and then bottling the cap with Serenity, the cinematic equivalent of taking every Firefly episode, pouring gasoline on it and setting it on fire and then dancing goofily around the flames.

Certainly some of Veronica Mars’ third season blues have been caused by the network, especially the lack of arcs which almost makes VM feel pointless. But it’s hard to justify Unamerican Graffiti by pointing to the network, unless Dawn Ostroff ordered Rob Thomas to do one of those post 9/11 episodes about Muslims and Arabs and make certain that people know discrimination is really wrong. Also terrorism. And underage drinking.

That’s the episode in a nutshell. Yes as in a typical Veronica Mars episode there are twists and turns, but most of them are telegraphed and each one is more politically correct than the next. Veronica Mars has been justly praised as a smart and edgy show that feels real– despite the fantastic material, but when it goes P.C., the series becomes painfully self-righteous and unreels every cliche in the book. That was One Angry Veronica, that was every episode and scene in which we were supposed to feel sorry for Weebil. It goes 300 percent for Unamerican Graffiti which ups the political correctness and the self-righteousness all the way up to 11.

And then there’s the underage drinking subplot. At least part of the appeal of Veronica Mars has been that it was subversive and that Veronica herself subverted a lot of norms and saw through the social hypocrisy. And then Unamerican Graffiti goes and presents the equivalent of that GI Joe episode where GI Joe and Cobra team up to fight drugs– because drugs are the real evil.

So a 19 year old college student gets drunk in a bar with a fake ID, stumbles out into the street and gets hit by a car. This sets off Keith Mars on a crusade against bars that cater to the college crowd. Now said college student could easily have stumbled out into the street at 21. But apparently in those 2 years, he goes from having no responsibility for choosing to drink or being able to handle alcohol– to being fully responsible. At 19 he’s supposedly a child and his accident is really the blame of the bar owners.

The self-righteousness hits really toxic levels when Keith confronts Veronica with her fake ID’s and she apologizes for letting him down. Seriously, I know Barry McCaffrey, Bill Clinton’s drug czar wanted script supervision in exchange for pulling compulsory ads, but is the Bush Administration doing the same thing? The entire scene is out of character for Veronica, tedious for Keith and downright silly. College students spend a good deal of their time drinking. The original drinking age Pre-MADD hysteria was 18. The episode’s hysteria on the subject is misplaced and stupid. Yes accidents will happen. And under 21ers are old enough to fight and die, which means they’re old enough to drink too.

Unamerican Graffiti was Veronica Mars’, Heart of Gold– the worst episode to date and not exactly giving anyone hope for a fourth season.

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