On March 14th, after almost eight years off the air, Veronica Mars is coming back–this time on the big screens of AMC Theaters across the country (and cinemas across the globe). If you are a “Marshmallow”, subscribe to Entertainment Magazine (where the show’s stars graced the cover last month), or frequently check IMDB news, then you know of the brilliant TV show of which I speak. Even if you haven’t [yet] watched a single episode, you may have heard of the unorthodox means by which its follow-up movie came to be conceived. While many prematurely-canceled programs have dreamed of such a chance to return (Pushing Daisies), few have actually attained it (Arrested Development, after many false alarms). Thanks (truly) to the fans, Veronica Mars is happening and I couldn’t be more excited.
In recent years television has become infamous for making the likes of Snooki famous. At the same time, the late twentieth century onwards has been one of television’s brightest stretches, an ongoing era of narrative that consists of more than arguing about a show’s romantic leads, chuckling at stereotypes played for laughs on sitcoms, and listening in awe to a wise, loner detective solve his case in the final ten minutes. All of a sudden, viewers have to remember what happens from week to week, look up charts online to keep track of characters and their allegiances, feel compelled to buy t-shirts with quotes and logos plastered on the front. New technology has made that kind of commitment viable but it is these narrative shows that deserve all the credit for generating such strong fandom responses. The industry is taking notice, too, realizing the profit and loyal audience that comes from airing programming with a little more depth than the typical standalone-episode dramas or comedies. Paid cable may have gotten there first, when the widely considered leader of the pack, The Sopranos, first premiered in 1999, but now basic cable and network channels are moving in pursuit of this growing television trend. The question is, what exactly makes up this elusive narrative format, and why does it reap so much popular and critical appeal?