21. An Echolls Family Christmas - Veronica Mars, 2004
Photo credit: Warner Bros.
I recently tweeted (I know, so modern) that very few days go by without me stopping and thinking about how much I miss Veronica Mars at least once, and I stand by that statement. Bringing old school detective noir to high school in the form of a diminutive blonde with an acid tongue, sharp mind, and big heart was one of the greatest services Rob Thomas could've performed for the public, and I will be forever indebted. And let's not forget that, among many gifts, my beloved VMars gave me the magic that is Kristen Bell, who has since been criminally underutilized; Alona Tal, who is a supreme delight and impresses the hell out of me in literally everything she appears in; and Joss Whedon as a rental car agent.
Don't even try to dispute its excellence, because your argument is invalid.
Of the show's two Christmas episodes, the first season's, "An Echolls Family Christmas," was the one that didn't leave me sobbing quietly in a corner. This should not at all be interpreted as a lack of quality, but rather a simple difference in content.
The episode starts off typical, even tame, for our plucky but wounded adolescent investigator. After a couple intense reveals about the case that tore her life apart and possibly the real reason as to why her mother skipped town, a run of the mill case involving money stolen from an 09er (I miss saying that casually) poker game seems like small potatoes, even if our VMars does take it on in order to get ex-boyfriend Duncan's laptop back and ensure that any intimate details about their relationship stay safe within the confines of its hard drive.
Of course, things get real when Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin show up, furthering the theory that they have to appear together at least once on everything. Words are exchanged, infidelities are exposed, guys are stabbed...well, just one, but that's Christmas in Neptune for you - a nice reminder that all is not as shiny as it may appear behind the veil of the rich and famous.
What really drives this episode aren't either of the cases. It's the characters. The first season starts off as Veronica vs. the World, and that's important. Feeling her profound isolation not only drives the impact of the Kane murder home but also makes the people who do extend the hand of friendship - Wallace, Meg, Mac - seem all the more invaluable.
As the season gets underway, however, things are less cut and dry. Our first Christmas in Neptune helps us soften just a little toward baddest of the bad Logan Echolls and understand that behind the racist bully facade is a little boy with a jacked up family life, money or no money. Without this understanding, and the subtle shift in dynamic that comes with it, the show would not have been able to evolve.
"An Echolls Family Christmas." Not drowning in holiday cheer, but fun with a bit of poignant sadness thrown in. Sounds like a holiday party to me.
I give you one: the Heat Miser moment between Veronica and her dad right at the beginning. Their relationship will forever be the best of everything.