On Veronica Mars
Introduction: Neptune Noir
Digressions on How Veronica Mars Saved My Career and, Less Importantly, My Soul
By Rob Thomas
I taught high school during my mid-twenties in Austin, Texas. I have clear memories of sitting in my living room watching TV and wondering how clearly god-awful programming made it on the air. Unfunny comedies. cheesy dramas. Why can’t every show be Seinfeld or Northern Exposure or Moonlighting? Surely there are smart, well-paid, well-intentioned people involved in the process of creating these shows, i’d say to myself. And even if there aren’t, doesn’t someone at the network watch the show and say, “This is bad television; let’s fix it or get it off the air!”?
They’re spending tens of millions of dollars on something that is by almost any measurable standard bad. Do they know? How can they not know? Do they care? How can something this bad happen?
I moved to Los Angeles for good nine years ago at age thirty-two, and here’s what I learned in the TV/film business: it’s a minor miracle when any finished product doesn’t suck.
I learned this particular lesson the hard way. It’s possible to have a collection of talented people all working together on a project, all with the best intentions, working hard, and it still be far, far easier to fail than to succeed. It doesn’t take much to destroy a project: one bad piece of casting; the wrong director interpreting it; a “gotcha” ending that doesn’t “getcha”; one belligerent person in a test screening; one bad network “note.”
The list is a long one. A television show is a house of cards, …