The Veronica Mars Movie: Why You Should Care
A long time ago, we used to be friends. . .
I’ll admit, I once took part in flooding the CW offices with bizarre mail in order to try and make my voice heard about a TV show. Before Feathers for Castiel (you can stop now, guys, we’re getting our angel back) there were Cloud Watchers flying planes with messages over the CW offices, and there were Mars Bars and marshmallows from the dedicated fans of Veronica Mars. I dread to think of how our efforts turned out, once they were taken out of their envelopes. . . they were probably a melted mess. I almost feel bad. Almost, but not quite. I’ve put together post cards, fliers, participated in online campaigns, and made friends through our dedication to fandoms.
After all, I’m old hat at loving TV shows that were canned before their time. I was a Browncoat before I was a Marshmallow, and just as active in the Firefly fandom. After that came The Black Donnellys and Sarah Connor Chronicles and. . . actually, it’s a little depressing to go through the list of all of the TV shows I love that were off the air too soon.
So, I’m of the firm opinion that the Kickstarter campaign for bringing Veronica Mars back in a movie, put together by the stars and the original creator is an amazing idea. Considering in 12 hours’ time that fund has raised over $2M in funds, clearly I’m not alone.
Why does this matter?
Well, most significantly for the thousands of people who have now donated to the Kickstarter campaign, it’s the fact that it will be getting us back into an amazing world and a story that Joss Whedon called the “Best. Show. Ever.” and “the Harry Potter of shows,” that Kevin Smith called “proof that TV can be far better than cinema,” and Steven King called “pure nitro.”
More importantly for all fandoms, though, it’s a huge step in the direction of creator and fandom control over material.
It’s the lack of that control that killed Veronica Mars in the first place.
Seasons 1 and 2 of the original show were hard-hitting, amazing, fast-paced television that unraveled a mystery across an entire season. The writing made you love the characters, left you guessing for the next plot twist, and it sizzled with wit and verve and life. Rob Thomas and his amazing group of writers didn’t dumb things down and they didn’t shy away from the very dark, very adult themes of the show. Veronica Mars dealt with murder, with rape, with abuse and poverty and racism and infidelity, and it did it all without ever cheapening the true horror of these situations. Most of the popular shows lately give us monsters, something other to blame terror on or some superhero to handle things: Veronica Mars looked at the monsters that humans can become, and gave us a very human protagonist.
And then the studio interfered.
Season 3 of Veronica Mars was its weakest, and it killed the spirit of the show long before the network pulled it off the air in favor of Pussycat Dolls Presents (. . . no, really, it was a Pussycat Dolls reality show they replaced us with). Now, understand that I still love the CW. My absolute favorite show is a CW mainstay — I bet the Castiel reference already gave me away — but they ham-handled Veronica Mars painfully, stripped it of its mystery and its edge and turned it into Nancy Drew.
Nowadays, we fans live on Twitter and Facebook: we can interact directly with stars, writers and producers of our favorite TV shows and tell them what we think. We have direct access to The Powers That Be, and everything from the introduction of Best Fandom into the PCAs to the perpetual polls that every site tosses up to mobilize us proves that fandom has more influence than ever on the creative choices of the shows we love. However, every year we still wait for the cancellation and renewals nervously and hope that the shows we love make the cut.
The Kickstarter idea is ingenious, because it allows the writers and the fans to determine when the story is done. I think this is a natural progression from what Joss Whedon showed us during the 2008 Writer’s Strike, when he put together Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog on a shoestring budget and released it directly to the internet: you can bypass the studios, give the pure vision of the artists directly to the fans, and then allow them to decide its success.
The Veronica Mars movie had this same thought process in place, but involved the fans immediately, allowing them to take part not only in the funding but in the groundswell to bring new fans into the show, to get the word out and to donate funds. In return, the creators directly offer to give back with digital scripts, t-shirts, DVDs, autographs and so on. These are a small price to pay to rebuild a fandom. It’s ingenious, a better answer than hoping Netflix picks up these cancelled gems as they did Arrested Development, because it puts control in the hands of the viewers.
How many beloved shows could this have saved?
What other shows would you like to see revisited, like Veronica Mars will be? We’d love to hear from you!