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Television Critics Question the "Gilmore Girls" and "Veronica Mars"

Yesterday's Television Critics Association event in Pasadena featured the first press session with the newly minted netlet, The CW (a phoenix rising from the ashes of the WB and UPN). And, while the network and president Dawn Ostroff trotted out all of the network's returning and new series, most critics' attention was sharply drawn to two of the network's returning series, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars.

Let's talk about Veronica Mars first as the news shared there excited me far more than anything teased at the Gilmore Girls panel.

The most important announcement: Mac is back.

Actress Tina Majorino, who plays Veronica's computer geek gal pal, has been locked as a series regular for next season. But don't expect the duo to be roomies. Among other characters making an appearance next season will be Stosh Piznarski, a roommate for Wallace (Percy Daggs III), and an as-yet-unnamed roomie for Mac. Creator Rob Thomas said of Mac's roommate, "She will be bubbly and effervescence and listen to a lot of Nellie Furtado in the room. And they won't hit it off right away, but she'll have a heart of gold." (Veronica will be still living at home with dad Keith.)

But no worries, Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen) will also be attending Hearst College next year, as will Wallace and Logan (Jason Dohring). (Whew.) Kendall Casablancas (Charisma Carpenter) will make "at least [one]" appearance on the show, but don't hold your breath for Duncan to make a cameo. According to series creator Rob Thomas: "We had two romantic possibilities for Veronica, and one sort of dominated the fans' interest. And it became clear that one suitor won out." (One guess who.)

The mystery surrounding the briefcase that Kendall brought to Keith will be resolved in the first two episodes of the season.

However, expect a much more streamlined third season of VM as Rob Thomas realized that this past season's mysteries were way too convoluted. The season's first mystery will consist of nine episodes, which will run straight through without pre-emptions or repeats, followed by a seven-episode mystery arc, and a final six-episode mystery. Um, doesn't that add up to 22 episodes? "That's spoken with the confidence of a man who thinks he's going 22 episodes," said Thomas.

Speaking of which, Veronica Mars is only currently picked up for 13 episodes this fall and has yet to receive an order on the back nine episodes.

What does that mean? If you're a fan of Veronica Mars, make sure that everyone you know is watching the series this fall, buy DVDs of the first two seasons for your friends, and speak loudly and articulately about how brilliant and well-written this series is whenever you get the chance. Veronica will only make it through the full season if it reaches the ratings requirements that Ostroff and the CW anticipate for it.

So get out there and spread the gospel of Veronica...

Over at the panel for Gilmore Girls, there was a lot of controversy and more than a little tension.

The behind-the-scenes drama was more interesting than the actual series announcements. Or that's the opinion of several entertainment journos who attended the event, including the San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman (he of The Bastard Machine column). So says Goodman with typical acerbic wit in his post, "The Gilmore Girls Are Dead, Long Live Veronica Mars":

"Gilmore Girls is on this planet for one thing only - to drive viewers to the better show, Veronica Mars. More people watch Gilmore Girls than Veronica Mars so this is sound programming sense. But the cold hard facts are that Gilmore Girls hasn't been very good for - being generous here - two seasons, the stars desperately want off the show (which they will be granted after the season) and the only reason Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel came YET AGAIN to another press tour is because the people who created the show in the first place and then ruined it are now gone, and the stars want to give new executive producer David Rosenthal a chance, despite his somewhat kooky and worrisome past. [Editor's note: that link will just drive you right back here, where I broke the Rosenthal history piece several months ago.]

Their session here was dismal. Graham couldn't hide her distaste for twists and turns her character has taken recently, though she fiercely defended Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator and writer whose artistic control of the series faltered so badly late in the game and who led Graham's character down a crooked path of false behavior. Bledel's disinterested approach to the proceedings reaffirmed long-held critical beliefs that her best personality trait is one someone else writes for her. Rosenthal? He did little to disprove the notion that he's been hired to steer the series away from the cliff it's approaching and into one of those freeway dividers filled with sand, which will contain as much damage as possible so that the show will finish the season and continue to funnel viewers to Veronica Mars.

Honestly, it was that bad. In summation: Two actresses who looked like they were trapped, one producer hired to put a tourniquet on a horse's head he found in his bed and a network that knows the end is near but would really love the haggard old veteran to help the spritely new kid."

But Goodman has got a point. While I am a longtime fan of the Girls, this past season was so painful, so ineptly crafted, that I'm rather considering turning my back on my beloved Gilmores. Can Rosenthal turn the rapidly sinking ship around? TV Guide's Michael Ausiello interviews the inbound Gilmore Girls showrunner here.

One tidbit from the Ausiello-Rosenthal interview:

"Ausiello: Are you aware of all the anti-Gilmore sentiment out there?

Rosenthal: I'm aware of it. I do pay attention to it, but I try to keep my eye on the ball. I try to keep focused on the long term and the arcs for the season and where we want to take these characters... and keeping the show alive and growing so that that it can go more than just this season. So this won't have to be the last season of Gilmore Girls, 'cause I do feel like there's a lot more life left in the show, but I think it's up to us, the writers, to make that a reality."

What do you think, gentle readers?

The CW will kick off its launch on September 20th with a two-hour season premiere of America's Next Top Model. Gilmore Girls is set to premiere on September 26th at 8 pm ET/PT; Veronica Mars will start its third season on October 3rd at 9 pm ET/PT.


Anonymous said…
Yay Mac!!

And Happy Birthday, Kristen Bell.

That GG article. Owch.
Anonymous said…
Very interesting news. As for "Veronica Mars" I am *very* excited about Mac joining as a full cast member and about next season. I just hope the mysteries don't get too dumbed down. (Alias, anyone?)

"Gilmore Girls" definitely seems to be getting hit hard which is sad because it used to be one of my favorite shows. But I have to say that I agree with most of the comments. I hate when a once good show goes south and no one has the decency to put it out of its misery.
Anonymous said…
First of all, Veronica Mars is pretty lame.

As for Gilmore Girls... I've been a huge fan since the beginning, and yes, last season was shakey and unappealing, but I think Amy and Daniel Palladino's decision to leave is a massive mistake. And an even bigger mistake is handing over the reins to David Rosenthal. He is just not right for the show, and I truly believe that he is a big part of why the show could very well be ending this season. Although I cannot stand David Rosenthal I'm sure I'll continue to be a loyal Gilmore Girls fan no matter how bad it gets. It's just sad to see misoginystic has-been for one of the greatest family dramas of my generation.
Anonymous said…
alright veronica mars isnt lame it has a very awsome story line unlike gilmore girls... i hope gilmore girls does plop.I once was a fan of gilmore girls to but veronica mars is much better and deserves a chance to prove it.

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