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Guest Stars Galore Rush to "Veronica Mars"

Is it just me or are you also excited when the most random of guest stars pop up on your favorite series? Especially when they're delivering low-key performances rather than Will & Grace style stunt casting hamminess.

For this reason (and a whole lot more), last night's episode of Veronica Mars ("My Big Fat Greek Rush Week") was an absolute treasure, featuring the sort of random casting that this show always succeeds so well at pulling off. So who was playing who?

Samuel Horshack, that poor tortured prisoner who wet his pants during a more than stringent psych experiment, was played by Samm Levine... who will always be Neal from Freaks and Geeks to me. But he's also appeared on Undeclared, Life As We Know It, My Name is Earl, How I Met Your Mother, Still Standing, and Entourage. Busy guy, that Samm Levine. I say, if Rob Thomas can't get Arrested Development's Michael Cera back for the season, let's keep Samm around for a bit. And, oh, he also appeared opposite Veronica herself, Kristen Bell, in the recent film Pulse.

That draconian student, assigned to "play" the part of a jailor in that psych experiment who seems to relish going a little too far in his role, was none other than Rider Strong, from Boy Meets World, um, fame. Strong has also appeared in Pepper Dennis and feature film Cabin Fever, and has lent his voice to Kim Possible (he voiced Brick Flagg) and Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles.

Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellaneta, played the psychology professor and it was wonderful to both see him in the flesh and for him to play such an understated and controlled part. I saw him on stage in Steve Martin's adaptation of The Underpants last year and he was brilliant. Beyond The Simpsons, Castellaneta has appeared in nearly a zillion things, including Arrested Development, Stargate SG-1, Frasier, Reba, and Everyone Loves Raymond, as well as lent his voice to dozens of animated programs and films.

Friendly sorority girl Marjorie was played by Rachelle Lefevre, whom some might remember from Fox's short lived Victor Fresco-created comedy Life on a Stick. (Not ringing any bells?) She has also appeared in What About Brian, Bones, and Charmed, as well as made-for-TV movies Picking Up and Dropping Off and See Jane Date. But for me, I'll remember her best as Hyacinthe Marquez in Canadian comedy feature Hatley High. Give this girl a show of her own already... or have her stick around on Veronica Mars. I like the cut of her jib.

The episode itself was a fantastic blend of bubblegummy sunshine and dark noir plot lines. Joining the staff of Hearst College's student paper (apparently operating under the assumption that it's as self-important as the Yale Daily News on Gilmore Girls), Veronica is assigned to go undercover at a sorority house during Rush Week. (Side note: how good did V. look in that floral dress?) Veronica's tasked with uncovering what really goes on behind closed doors at the sorority and believes that she has uncovered a possible link to the serial rapist currently stalking the campus (and who raped Mac's roomie Parker and shaved her head). But instead, she discovers a secret grow house that would make Nancy Botwin (a.k.a. Lacey LaPlante) green with envy.

I'm digging that, while Veronica and Logan are still an item, producers are giving them a little space to themselves, at least for the first few episodes, so we don't grow tired of them as a couple too quickly. In fact, last night's episode only had one scene between Veronica and Logan, but it was just enough. Especially since Logan was so good at marshaling the forces of the prisoners in the psych experiment, even if he took a little too much glee in streaking through the psych lecture after losing his challenge to Wallace. (Kudos to Wallace for arranging the time shift, as well.)

And we finally learned what Kendall Casablancas (Charisma Carpenter)--I miss her already--had in that suitcase: a priceless work of art. Which Keith promptly sells at the end of the episode, donating the proceeds to the Neptune Food Bank. Good on you, Keith, it's dirty money and you've been through enough already what with the gunshot, dehydration, walk through the desert, and a disbelieving sheriff's department. (What is it with the Mars family and sheriffs who won't believe them?)

Next week on Veronica Mars ("Witchita Linebacker"): Veronica is hired by a Hearst College football player to find his stolen playbook before the next practice, but Veronica uncovers a huge betting ring operating within the school... and gets threatened with expulsion by Dean O'Dell (Ed Begley Jr.). And they say college is where you can break away from your high school identity...

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); 30 Rock/Twenty Good Years (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Dancing with the Stars (ABC); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); The Biggest Loser (NBC); One Tree Hill (CW); Lost (ABC); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Kidnapped (NBC); The Nine (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: 30 Rock.

It's the premiere of NBC's new comedy 30 Rock from Tina Fey and, while I reviewed the original pilot (sans Jane Krakowski) here, I'm interested to see how they've changed things since then. On tonight's episode ("Pilot"), the head writer at a comedy show (that would be Fey) finds her entire world turned upside down when a new studio exec (Alec Baldwin) interferes with her show and forces her to add a highly unpredictable and rather eccentric movie star (Tracy Morgan) to the cast. Oh, yeah, and Rachel Dratch is around there somewhere too!

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

Okay, I'll admit it: I've gotten hooked on this cycle of ANTM. Maybe it's the proximity of the show to Project Runway on the schedule, but I can't get enough of this model reality show (heh). On tonight's episode ("The Girl Who Joined the Circus"), the models are forced to come up with rather extreme poses when working with a contortionist and are styled as circus freaks at a photo shoot. No, Monique won't be participating.

9 pm: Lost.

Thank God it's Wednesday! On tonight's episode ("The Glass Ballerina"), Kate and Sawyer work together to plan a daring escape, Sun and Jin find themselves under fire, and Ben makes Jack a rather tempting offer. Is it to join the circus? 'Cause I hear the ANTM girls are all over that.

10 pm: Project Runway on Bravo.

Finally, the two-part Project Runway season finale kicks off tonight as the final four contestants (that would be Michael, Uli, Laura, and Jeffrey) prepare to present their collections for Olympus New York Fashion Week. Come on, Michael!


The casting on "Veronica" is always fantastic (with the exception of Paris Hilton in the first season). I would love it if they kept Rachel Lefevre around. I think she's a great actress with a lot of potential. And I'm always happy when one of the guys from "Freaks and Geeks" pops up in something.
rockauteur said…
Best line of the season (so far): "vomiting is the new Mace"
Brock said…
I really hope they keep Horshack and Rider Strong's character around for the full season... And the sorority girl/leader... they all really did add to the episode and created a larger world within Hearst College.
McGone said…
Side note: how good did V. look in that floral dress?

Allow me... she looked very good. Very, very good. But then again, she always does. I have an obsession with that woman, I tell ya.

Anyone else catch Dan Castellaneta's "d'oh!" when the guards screwed up the first time? I noticed he also snuck one in on his appearance on the late great Arrested Development.
Reel Fanatic said…
Last night's episode was simply flawlessly entertaining .. I laughed so hard at poor Samm Levine, who I've missed ever since his Freaks and Geeks days ... Keep your eye out for Patricia Hearst, who will apparently soon guest star as a trustee of, of course, Hearst College
Unknown said…
You forgot to mention Keri Lynn Pratt, who played sorority girl Haley.

After starring in JACK & BOBBY, she's appeared in episodes of C.S.I., HOUSE, and BONES.
The CineManiac said…
As soon as they cut to Wallace in class I lloked at my wife and said "That looks like Rider Strong in the background" and I can't say how excited I was that he was in the episode, Rider will always be Shawn to me, having watched Boy Meets World from the time I was in 5th grade (i believe they were too) until I graduated from high school (somehow magically they got ahead of me by a year)
Also being a HUGE Freaks & Geeks Fan (It's simply one of the best television series EVER to air, to bad it was cancelled) I was super excited to see Sam Levine, I'm glad that all the F&G gang keeps getting work, and I, too, hope that Levine and Strong stay on they show throughout this season.
Also I immediatly went from watching VM to watching the What about Brian from the night before and was suprised to see "Majorie" as a stripper on it.
Also does anyone know what VM's ratings mean for the show, should CW be excites, will it live to investigate another season (ar at the least another 9 episodes beyond the intial 13?)
Anonymous said…
it was a great guest star ep, especially Samm.

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