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''Veronica Mars'': The college years

In the season premiere of ”Veronica Mars,” our heroine and all of her friends mysteriously attend the same local college

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Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars: Michael Desmond

”Veronica Mars”: The college years

And she’s back: Veronica Mars is in Neptune (still), now driving a Saturn. (RIP to her cute convertible LeBaron, but this works better for the whole multiple-planet thing she’s got going on.) After a long summer of reruns and a couple days with the season 2 DVD box set, I couldn’t be happier to say hello again to TV’s favorite teenage sleuth.

As usual, there was a lot going on in the first episode, so I’m gonna break it down:

COLLEGE

So, what’s the deal with everyone popping up at Neptune’s own Hearst College? I mean, I’m glad that Rob Thomas and crew aren’t going for a huge shakeup like, say, The O.C., which looks like it’s going to stretch its cast across the country for postsecondary — a couple in Providence, R.I., one in Berkeley, a few still back at the Harbor School in Newport Beach. But last I remember, Veronica was going to Stanford, not Hearst. Did I miss an episode where she changed her mind? There’s nothing wrong with her going to Hearst, but a smart girl like Veronica should be going somewhere amazing and Ivy-ish. Alas, I suppose it’s good for the story (no other location would provide the weirdness and all-the-time crime and intrigue that Neptune does), and it will keep everyone together for the mysteries that are sure to come.

On a somewhat unrelated note, why do all the characters look and act the same as before? Logan, Mac, and Wallace all are totally boooring! I mean, at least Veronica got a new crimped ‘do. C’mon, peeps, when you head to college, you change some things about yourself! You go crazy! You dye your hair! You start wearing totally ironic T-shirts and spiked belts! You’re newly angsty or overly perky!

NEW CHARACTERS

Piz and Parker — sounds like a match made in heaven. No, not really — they’re just the new characters, no new romance here. Wallace’s roommate, the emo-rific Piz, is obviously hot for Veronica. And with Logan being so not on campus (where was he most of this episode?), I could see things heating up between Piz and Veronica, especially after the scene with the two of them enjoying the fruits of Veronica’s sleuthing. It should have been sealed with a kiss.

As for Mac’s über-perky roommate, Parker, well, she came off as an insignificant character at first — just playing the hopped-up college girl (blasting some Pussycat Dolls from her dorm room, which was plastered with a poster of Colin Farrell). But the show ended with her in front of a mirror, screaming, apparently the latest victim of the college’s serial rapist and head shaver.

MYSTERIES

Truthfully, I was disappointed by this essential part of the show. First, you’ve got the Hearst Welcome Wagon mystery, where all of Piz’s belongings (plus those of a few other students) were stolen by a girl posing as a university helper. Simple for Veronica — she cut her teeth on mysteries like this in the first season. Hopefully, she’ll have something juicier to work with in the next few episodes.

She could start by looking into the dealings of her own dad. What the hell does Keith think he’s doing? Obviously he got a huge payout (whence Veronica’s new Saturn) from Kendall to help her skip town, but now he’s picking up her parolee boyfriend (and a member of the nasty Fitzpatrick family, no less!) and transporting him to her? And he slaps Veronica’s wrist for putting herself in danger. Practice what you preach, Keith!

From the looks of it, though, the season’s first major mystery will be the case of the campus rapist. Obviously, Veronica will be on the case, as this story line was set up last season when Veronica visited Hearst: She cleared the name of her old boyfriend Troy and along the way discovered a sex-obsessed frat house (remember that points board she photographed in the basement?), but she never fingered the actual sicko, who, apparently, has remained active. Our little detective will be all over this one, especially given her own history of victimization

.

LOVE LIVES

Mac’s love life is dead (literally, with Beaver out of the picture) and, ahem, always was, if you know what I mean. And it looks like Jackie is totally out of the picture for Wallace now, so I’m ready for Mac and Wallace to get steamy. This is college, after all. And this time, let’s not give Wallace a throwaway relationship. How about something, in the words of Logan, a little more ”epic”? Maybe Mac and Wallace are right for each other.

As for Veronica, she’s back in bed with Logan (oof). This was set up at the end of last season but is still unacceptable. Seriously, are there no other available men in Neptune? Get rid of his self-important ass. Veronica, I think Piz is your new (and nice) Logan. Heck, Veronica even talked about having made fun of girls who bring their high school romances to college. And now that Logan’s name has been cleared and his dad is dead, he’s not integral to the show anymore. See ya, man!

LOOSE ENDS

There’s a whole list of people and things I’d like to learn more about: Jackie. And Duncan. And Weevil. And what about the fallout from Aaron Echolls’ murder? But most important, Veronica, why are you still living at home? If it’s a financial thing, just talk to your moneybags dad. The show would be more interesting if you lived it up on campus with your friends. You and your dad’s cases could still overlap, and that’d make for some good story lines. My advice, Veronica: Move to campus, drop Logan, help your dad. And keep crimping your hair. It looks good.

But what do you think, fellow viewers? Has the show made a smooth transition to college? Why did Keith get involved with Kendall and the Fitzpatricks? Will he get out of his latest jam? And could Dick be the campus rapist, or at least a copycat criminal?

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