Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the residents of Neptune, but I see the influence of Veronica Mars all over the new season, predominately in the new shows Terriers and Hellcats. It might seem odd to compare a quirky FX drama and a cheerleading show to the iconic Veronica Mars, but if you look at both shows carefully, there are plenty of similarities.
I’m not about to say that either show comes close to the very high bar Veronica Mars set, but fans looking for witty repartee, season-long mysteries and underdog sleuthing can find what they’re looking for.
Terriers, which has its first season finale tonight at 10pm on FX, is exactly like Veronica Mars, if Veronica was a 45-year-old recovering alcoholic. The California town of Ocean Beach is every bit as seedy as Neptune, and Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) is the scrappy PI who tries to get vengeance for his deceased friend. Sound like any perky blonde girls you know?
The show also has some of the most whimsical writing since Veronica Mars. Hank and his partner Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James) have the kind of effortlessly enjoyable banter that makes you want to spend a day with them. My particular favorite is when Britt called Hank “the whirlingest of dervishes.”
The first season followed the formula of Veronica Mars as the PIS had special cases of the week while also investigating a bigger mystery of a suspicious land deal related to the murder of one of Hank’s old friends. Like Veronica Mars, the Terriers season finale wraps up that story as Hank uncovers one final clue that, like Lilly Kane’s secret video tape hidden in the vents, has under his nose the whole time.
Overall, Terriers is a great show on its own merits with great writing and great performances, and it makes a suitable heir apparent for Veronica Mars fans still eager for more shady private investigations.
If you haven’t been watching Hellcats, you might wonder why in the heck a show about college cheerleaders would have anything to do with Veronica Mars. Let me enlighten you.
Sure, Hellcats has romantic angst flying around like a protons at CERN, but it also has a plucky blonde girl from the wrong side of the tracks investigating a season-long mystery. Yes, the cheerleading show is also about a teen sleuth.
Marti Perkins (Aly Michalka) is a law student who gets involved in a project to try and prove the innocence of a homeless man wrongfully convicted of a minor burglary. Much like Veronica would, Marti does her own investigating into the matter while trying to maintain her busy personal life. While this aspect of Hellcats often takes a backseat to cheerleading, it will undoubtedly surprise many who don’t watch that this CW series has more than just pom poms.
Unfortunately, while Veronica Mars left you guessing and featured multiple suspects, I’m fairly certain I’ve solved the Hellcats mystery. A number of people who helped frame the homeless guy are boosters for Lancer University, and anyone watching Hellcats has seen the ruthlessness of the school’s athletic director, Bill Curran (played by Battlestar Galactica‘s Aaron Douglas). While the reason is a bit foggy, I will wager dollars to donuts that he’s the real culprit.
Hellcats may lack the sophistication and ambition of Veronica Mars, but if you want teenage romance spiced with a dash of mystery, you could do a lot worse.
(Images courtesy of FX and the CW)