While games shows like Deal or No Deal and American Idol continue to get high ratings as Americans tune in and turn off their brains, shows like Veronica Mars suffer the slings and arrows of bad ratings, despite high praise from critics.
Started three seasons ago on the now defunct UPN, Veronica Mars is a student, progressing from her junior year in High School to freshman in college this past season, who is also a part-time detective. The show balances murder mystery, school drama and social commentary wrapped together with sarcasm, tons of offbeat humor and pop culture rants.
The series survived for two seasons on UPN, despite low ratings -as it came in dead last each week - but the network was pleased with the fan base it was generating, plus it was also the time that the mini-network was shifting it demographic more towards women, and the show had some great girl power going for it. Series star Kristen Bell also had a similar look to Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Geller, which the series was said to be compared with tone wise.
When it shifted to the CW this past fall for season 3, the show was paired with established hit, Gilmore Girls from the WB. To help initiate a bigger fan base, series creator Rob Thomas made the show more easily accessible, as the previous two seasons had a season long, continuing mystery. But sadly, the show has not performed as well as it should, despite that the writing has remained true, with its witty dialogue and engaging characters and its stylish noir look. So, it mystifies why the show is not more successful.
And its fate might now be sealed, after the show was put on hiatus after its February 27th episode. On March 6, the mini-network aired the new game show Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, which scored a higher rating than Mars (though on its second airing, the show stumbled, losing a good chunk of its viewing audience). On March 15, E’s Kristin Veitch reported that Veronica Mars was cancelled, but it was quickly retracted by request of the CW, which says its fate remains unknown. But series creator Rob Thomas still wants his show to remain on the air and is expected to create a trailer for a retooled version of Veronica Mars, set several years after the end of season three, where Veronica is now in the FBI Academy.
But I believe its fate hangs, also, on the future of Gilmore Girls. Now in its seventh season, if the CW wants an eighth year it will need to renegotiate the contracts with the series stars, as everyone’s expires at the end of filming this April. And that could be costly.
In the meantime, Veronica Mars will return on May 1st for its final batch of new episodes. And by this time in May, we’ll also know if it will be back for season 4.