Saturday, 1 March 2008

Kidnapped by Veronica Mars

I'm back! For those of my regular Gentle Readers, I have been missing in action for a week.....but a word of explanation is in order. Two words. Veronica Mars. A U.S tv show, that was aired for the last three years, and sadly cancelled last May.
Yes, me, who can count on one hand the tv shows I watch regularly, was CAPTURED by this wonderful teen mystery/drama three weeks ago when I was home with a virus. I couldn't read, and needed something to let me rest in front of the tv mindlessly because I was too tired from the virus to do anything. I had heard friends talking about the show over the past year. So, I picked up season one on DVD from our local video store.......and from the opening episode, I was HOOKED. I watched the whole season in 3 days, late into the night, as soon as the kids were gone to school and daycare, any moment i had I was watching. Then came Season Two, as the virus spread to my glands and I had another week at home. By this time I was dreaming about Veronica, Logan, Lilly, the bus crash, the murder, Cassidy, Wallace. I would wake up and think Veronica and Logan HAVE to get together, and start wondering how the show would do it. Last week I watched Season 3....finished on Monday.....and then I had a day off from watching, where I went online to read about the show....then back to V.M. again on Thursday, this time to take it slower, to watch each episode carefully. Yes, I am hooked!
It is like the very best books - Veronica Mars has interesting stories, wonderful characters and setting, and witty dialogue. It's smart and topical without a hint of preachiness, the acting is superb, and best of all, it's like a modern Nancy Drew, with just a hint of Twin Peaks - a comment often seen in other reviews - it is good.
I can't rave about it enough, mostly because this show has everything - romance, mystery, death, desire, bad boys and good boys, friendships, alienation, set in the fictional town of Neptune California (where it NEVER snows! Ok, my secret is out, I need sunshine so badly that I'm watching a California based show!!). It's intense, and the characters are realistic, and it avoids formula anything for the most part; even with solving the episode mysteries, each relates to the greater story arc for the season. Characters move forward, and storylines connect. This is really storytelling at its best, and so for those of us who read, I can't recommend it enough as an example of really good - the best kind, of tv that can be done. And it's funny, and warm, too, with Veronica's relationship with her dad Keith, as well as her friends and boyfriends, at the heart of the show. I simply love it. I've ordered Season 1, and as soon as it arrives, I will be starting all over again. And I really wish Veronica Mars hadn't been cancelled!! The morning after I finished Season 3, I woke up feeling such a great loss that there won't be any more Veronica and Logan, no more Wallace, no more Neptune.

I have to explain also that there was a death in my family on Feb 17 and as is usual for me, I withdraw while I cope with the emotions. It was a distant part of my family, but someone connected intimately with my core family - my stepmother's mother passed away, and there are intense emotions and conflicts with this part of my family. So, I have been coping as best I can, while seeing my own beloved sisters (it was their grandmother who died) and attending the funeral.

Normally I would read to cope with loss, but Veronica Mars has been totally unexpected, and i have given myself over completely to absorbing this tv show. And one of the best things I am learning is watching the story develop, and applying that knowledge to my own writing. What do I like best about this tv show? Why? Are these qualities in my own writing? what writing moves me? There are the occasional flaws with Veronica Mars, too - but not many - and these also I examine.

So I have not abandoned my challenges, I am just behind! And still have not located Ulysses, so I will have to read Dubliners instead, for my February birthday month.

I am not quite ready yet to read - I am working my way through The Canadian Settler's Handbook, and have about a quarter of it left to read.

So, in lieu of any memes for the past few weeks that I have missed (and there are about 4 that I really want to do!), here is my question for my Gentle Readers: Have you ever been captured by a tv show or movie series? and why? And are there any books or writers that give you the same experience?

For myself, for books, I would have to say:
- the best of Stephen King - The Shining, It, are two of my favourites - and his new one is getting raves so it's now added to my birthday list! I have stayed up nights reading him, not able to put the books down, and have had times when parts of the books have haunted me long after reading it. The Shining is one of my all-time horror novels. It is one that scares me so much that I have to have someone around me, to be able to read it. Is this great writing, or what? And he does dialogue like no one else can.
- Gorky Park - Martin Cruz Smith - one of the best mysteries ever written. This is a book I've given to other people. And it's set in Russia, which at the time (mid 1980's) was still unknown territory. Setting, dialogue, characters, this is unputdownable.
-Anne of Green Gables series - as a child, I read the whole set - all 8 books - over and over again. I am still the only person I know who read Rilla of Ingleside and Rainbow Valley, the last two in the set. The first three, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island, were and are permanent books that went everywhere with me in my multitude of moves. Anne and her red hair, and Gilbert the love of her life, the wonderful Matthew and Marilla. This was my first exposure to small-town Canadian life, and still remains among the best for capturing Canada at the turn of the century.
- The Lord of the Rings. Once I start these, I cannot put them down! I have read these at least, at least, 5 times. And the Silmarillion at least 3. I am so counting down to when I can start reading The Hobbit to my children. This is among the standard-bearers of modern fantasy, and has a rhythm of storytelling that echoes the Norse myths it is based on. My only complaint has always been the lack of strong female characters, but since I love Aragorn and Frodo and Faramir, and Sam best of all, and Rivendell, and the evil of Mordor is so well-depicted, it is still the standard to beat, for me. And, I still stay up late in the night to read just one more chapter....
- Sorcery & Cecilia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede,
- Bellwether - Connie Willis
- Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
- Black and Blue - Ian Rankin
- In the Garden of Iden - Kage Baker
- Robin Hobb's Assassin trilogy
- Summon the Keeper - Tanya Huff
- Anne Frank, the Diary of a Young Girl
These are books that I have given copies to other people to read, that I have re-read, and still enjoy. It's not my permanent nor exhaustive list - my shelves are all double-rowed and piled in front with more books, so it's the list that first comes to mind when I think of books I can't put down. Each of the above books have powerful images (for me) that are now part of me, that the book evokes in me. I can't put them down, when I read them. And that for me is the very best way to read, and why last year was a disappointment because I didn't find a book that did that for me. So, here's hoping that in amongst my challenges I find an unputdownable book for this year! It is as rare as the very best of tv shows. It's actually nice to be able to say there have been things on TV that I love, that I have fallen in love with.

And, IT'S MARCH 1 today!!!! Hurray!!! 19 days to spring......I am ignoring the 10 +cm of snow that fell over night last night, after having the two coldest days and nights of the winter so far.....spring is nearer!!

Oh, and to finish my own quiz: tv series I can't live without, that I have bought the dvd set and do watch again and again:
- the new Dr Who from BBC in the UK
-Battlestar Galactica (the new version from the US)
-Veronica Mars
-Six Feet Under
-the Office (British and US versions)
-Original Star Trek (when the price drops)
-Babylon 5
-Twin Peaks
- House Season 1&2
- Lost Season 1

Looking at the list, I see that it is made up of science fiction mostly. Interesting. I wonder if it is the ideas that science fiction presents - speculation, what if? - or just that I like space travel and would give anything for us to be able to travel in space! - that makes it better than sitcom tv? I have watched Friends, Frasier (Frasier was a must-see for years), but I don't need to own the seasons - I don't need to watch them every few years or so. I will have to think awhile on this list. Maybe there is something I should be including in my own writing that I have missed....though I have an idea for a space opera/station story, which is currently big in the SF world, I would always make it less science and more people oriented, like Babylon 5 was. And how does Jane Austen fit into any of this?? H-m-m-m, a space station story with witty dialogue and romance between the rich and poor! Anyway, food for thought on this snowy March day. I hope you are enjoying whatever you are doing, today.


Eva said...

I'm sorry about the difficulties you've been going through. I just had to say that I've read Rila of Ingleside and Ranibow Valley too! I used to reread the whole series just like you. :) That and there are two sequels to Sorcery and Cecilia.
TV Shows I've gotten hooked on DVD:
Sex and the City (sophomore year of college, me and three good girl friends knew someone who had them all; it took us about two terms-or twenty weeks-to watch them all)
Lost (only Season 1-me and my entire family watched this in like three days; we kept running to Blockbuster to exchange them)
Scrubs (through Season Five-I own Season of my roommates in college last year borrowed the first three seasons, and we would both look at each other and say 'Just one more episode' far too often!)
Fraser (said roommate's fiancee was addicted to this show, so everytime she got another season on DVD, she'd run down to our apartment and we'd watch it)
The Office-US (I own seasons 2 and 3, and I watch them over and over, and I've seen all the special features, even the commentary)
Bones (I own seasons 1 and 2, and I watch it over and over)

I think that's about it. If I still had a membership in a movie rental club, I suspect I could easily get addicted to Alias (I looove Jennifer Garner), but that'll have to wait a bit!

Lady P said...

Hey good to see you back in fine form. Sorry to hear about Lucille, she was a fine lady and one of those people you thought would live forever. I'm sure the other side is going to miss her dearly.

I have never seen Veronica Mars. To be honest, I don't watch much tv except perhaps movies. Son likes to watch lots of movies and we saw a hysterically funny one tonight. It's British so you & hubby will probably like it: "Death at a Funeral". (a bit macabre, given what I just wrote in the paragraph above....) That is the kind of funeral I'd LOVE to have, if I have any at all.

Anyway, one tv show that I like to watch is "Two and A Half Men". Oh, it's bad, bad, bad - but I do let son watch it with me.

The only show I try to catch when I can is "Crossing Jordan". The series has ended but it is interesting. One that has caught my eye however, and might just be "the one" is...Dexter. Hubby can't watch it, neither can son - it's a bit gruesome.

Susan said...

Hi both Eva and Patricia - it's good to be back!
- Eva - I've read the first sequel to Sorcery and Cecilia, and I'm waiting for the second sequel to come out in paperback. I love the story and the characters. How cool that we read alot of the same books! did you cry at the end of Rilla when Kenneth asks her if she is his Rilla, and she says "yeth"? I always did.
I don't own Sex and the City, but my husband and I watched all of them.
How are you doing in preparing for sunny California?

Patricia - I've seen lots of Crossing Jordan, but it got weird with Woody and JOrdan, so it stopped being must see tv.....I haven't seen Dexter, just a clip, and it looks too gruesome for me - I can't watch really violent body parts and bloody things because then I dream about them, and I already have nightmares! But let me know how you like it.
Kristen might like Veronica Mars - it's out on DVD, so get her to check it out. It really is good.
I've heard about Death at a Funeral, so I'll check it out sometime.

Eva said...

Yes I did cry! I'm very excited about California; especially since it seems whenever I visit Whole Foods, all of the organic produce is from there. lol Other than that, sometimes I just look at my bookshelves and hope that my parents don't mind keeping them for awhile. ;)

Susan said...

Eva, we even get alot of our winter organic food from California too! I hope you enjoy the year-round availability next year! It's going to be interesting to see what books you decide to bring (ie need with you) and what you think you can leave behind while you study :-)

Bybee said...

I've never heard of Veronica Mars; it sounds entertaining.

I like Six Feet Under as well.

Glad you're back.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your back, I've really missed you, although really sorry you've been ill and had a hard time familywise. I understand precisely why you enfolded yourself into Veronica Mars, even though I don't know the series. When I was beginning to recover from a serious illness fifteen months ago someone gave me a full set of all seven series of Buffy. I'd not seen any of them but became completely engrossed and did exactly the same thing as you did.
I'm also someone who has read 'Rilla' and 'Rainbow Valley'. In fact, I was only thinking the other day that I'd like to re-read the full series. After reading this I'm even more sure it's something I want to do.

Susan said...

Hi Bybee and Tabletalk! It's good to be back.
Tabletalk: I am now officially surprised that two of you have read Rilla of Ingleside and Rainbow Valley! and equally delighted, because it is a wonderful series of books. Hmmm, it's too late to make a challenge up for this year (I cannot join another, I cannot join another....), but maybe we should set one up for next year? The Lucy Maud Montgomery Challenge, read one of her series, something like that....and I'm so glad you liked Buffy, it is one of my favourite shows - my eldest son and I spent the 1990's watching it every week devotedly! you will like Veronica Mars then - no monsters, but the same dark humour and strong heroine :-)
and Bybee, I hope you are enjoying your green green green and flowers! because we just had more snow today (read more on my entry today)!
I missed you both too.

raidergirl3 said...

Hope things are a little better now; my sympathies.

Rilla of Ingleside is practically my favorite of the GG series, and my Rainbow Valley edition is so old, I love it. We used to have an amusement park onPEI called Rainbow Valley and it was fabulous.

Absorbed in a book? I read The Stand in one sitting. I stayed up all night, got bed sores, and when I heard my dad was up, embarrassedly turned out my light, only to discover that the sun had risen and I could still read.

Series I read over and over as a kid: The Great Brain, and Little House.
great question.

trish said...

I don't get caught up in shows too often, as reading is a priority for me. However, I'm fortunate enough to have a DVR-type thing, so at this point I can get hooked on shows but don't have to be tied down to watch it on a specific date/time. Here's some shows I love (in order of most recent to oldest):

Battlestar Galactica, US version. Holy moly that show is good!



Charmed. I had to stop watching this because, as I put, I was "too emotionally invovled."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm embarassed to admit it, but since you can't see me blushing, no harm done.

On an ongoing basis I love Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, and Law & Order Criminal Intent. I'm slowly watching Criminal Minds.

I guess that's all I can remember right now. :-)

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