Four episodes in, Veronica Mars is the most unlikely good show on TV. I mean, how can a show about a high school kid who playes detective possibly be good, right?
Well, apparently, it can. It seems clever writing, an overall story arc, and especially good casting can take a stupid premise and make something good out of it.
At the top of the things that make Veronica Mars a good, occasionally excellent, show, is Kristen Bell, who may be a little old to play a high school kid, but seems to carry it off extremely well. She's bright, funny, charming, and engaging. In fact, she would make a better Buffy than SMG ever was. But that's water under the bridge, and this blonde has a show built to fit her. The supporting cast is uneven. Kyle Secor and Enrico Colantoni are always good, and it's nice to see Colantoni can do the drama as well the funny (though he's still better at the funny). Some of the younger members of the cast aren't as good, and the less said about Paris Hilton's guest appearance in the second episode, the better.
I've always had a soft spot for teen shows that show high school as the hell it really is, and VM does that quite well. High school is a crappy time in many people's lives, and shows about high school need to reflect that. But VM isn't really a show about high school, nor is it as light hearted as it may seem. Much like another succeful new show, Desperate Housewives, all of the events in the series, and most of the relationships, are impacted by a death, in this case, a murder.
One of my favorite things about the show is that it takes place months after the cataclysmic event that overshadows it – the murder of Lilly Kane, VM's best friend, and her boyfriend (at the time)'s sister. The actions taken by VM's father, who was the town sheriff, and everything that followed, are what set things in motion and put events on the path to where it is when the show starts – with Veronica as a formerly popular girl whose dad used to be the Sheriff.
Veronica Mars is a teen show, but it's a smart teen show. It's also a pretty decent detective show, but mostly for the mystery of Lilly Kane's murder, that is clearly the story, and less so for Veronica's weekly cases, that occasionally have large logic shaped holes in them. For right now, I'll keep watching.