Sunday, March 23, 2014

Veronica Mars: You Can Go Home Again

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars, now in theatres (Photo: Robert Voet/Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Last Friday, the much-anticipated Veronica Mars film appeared in movie theatres, Video on Demand, and for direct download on iTunes and Amazon. Last March, when series creator Rob Thomas' famous Kickstarter campaign was in full swing, I expressed some mixed feelings about the project: both because the strength of the TV series was always so dependent on the television format, and because its third (and final) season had demonstrated some real signs of decline. Still, whatever reservations I may have had, I eagerly marked March 14, 2014 on my calendar, and, with my expectations not-so-firmly in check, couldn't help counting the days until the film's release. The verdict? As neo-noir filmmaking goes, this isn't The Usual Suspects; despite the ten-year high school reunion plot element, it isn't even Grosse Pointe Blank. What it is is Veronica Marssimpliciter. And for this long-time fan, that turned out to be more than enough.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mind Games: Third Time's Not the Charm for Kyle Killen

The cast of Mind Games, now airing on ABC

Kyle Killen's career as a television writer and creator is odd, even by Hollywood standards. In 2009, despite almost unanimous acclaim by the critics, his first creation Lone Star was famously cancelled by FOX after its second episode. He moved to NBC and put out Awake in 2012. That time around he got to air the show's full 13-episode first season, but the network officially pulled the plug long before its finale  earning the show first place on my brilliant-but-cancelled list for that year. I wrote at length about Awake at the time, but even two years later it still continues to represent for me one of the best examples of what can be done within the American network television model. A fantasy crime procedural, Awake was ambitious, innovative, smartly written, subtly acted, and always deeply human  all within the frame of what was still a traditional format.  It was a show that did everything right, except of course finding an audience. Two years later, Killen is back with Mind Games, this time on ABC. Mind Games is Killen's third series and third network, and I had medium-sized hopes for the series. Unfortunately, it looks like the third time is very much not the charm for Killen.