Arabian (arabian) wrote,

Rob Thomas the Novelist vs. Rob Thomas the Showrunner

This struck me the other night and I may be totally off-base, but I thought it was an interesting angle. There were things that were glossed over in season one of Veronica Mars that we pushed aside because the overall product was so good. Other things were glossed over in season two, but since the overall product wasn't as good, we called Rob Thomas on it. Same for season three. Now, I got to thinking about how often we hear of how many scenes are cut to make time. And how often Thomas gives explanations for things in interviews that he wasn't able to get to in the show. Then there is how the relationships that turn a larger portion of the viewership off are played out and it all added up to the realization for me that Rob Thomas is a novelist.

I read both of his books and they were good. They were really good. There were twists and there were some leaps, but they worked in the context of the written word. Even though we didn't get the character motivation of every character, the situations set up, the characters we did get insight into to sold what was going on throughout the rest of the story. There weren't happy ends, there were real-life endings and they were the resolution to well-written, well-characterized, well-plotted novels in the cases of both Rats Saw God and Slave Day.

I wonder if some of the issues viewers are experiencing with the show can be based on the fact that Rob Thomas is a novelist and perhaps approaches each season as a separate book. Season one was contained and it was the introduction of these characters and this situation. Once Veronica laid down on her bed in Leave it to Beaver, her story in this "book" was effectively over. She had done what she had sought to do in "chapter one" a.k.a. The Pilot.

By treating season two as if it were a new novel, the story itself could have worked, the characters themselves could have worked ... but as different characters. For some reason, Thomas chose to practically disregard the emotional fall-out of so, so much that happened plot-wise in the first season instead of picking up those threads (and there were so many). By doing so, he handicapped the emotional capacity of the characters because he kept the same characters, but treated them mostly as if the events of the first season hadn't happened.

It's as if took the characters of A Time to Kill and put them in The Firm without doing much more than a cursory acknowledgment of all that had happened to the characters in the first novel. Obviously, it's not that simple or even remotely that bad. While I'm often down on season two and have not been overly enthusiastic about season three, I still think there are stand-out episodes and some excellent work done throughout both seasons. But the point is that, as a novelist at heart maybe, I wonder if he does treat each season as a separate novel and therefore doesn't feel the need to transfer too much of the fall-out of the events or emotions from the previous "books."

I was thinking of how the Veronica/Duncan story played out, and even the Logan/Hannah story and how if there had been the time to get into the character's heads, set up scenes and motivations, show a follow-through -- and, yes, not have the simmering, intangible, incredible chemistry between Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring getting in the way of the storytelling itself -- that on paper they very well may have played out much better. (Okay, maybe not the Veronica/Duncan story.) There are just moments and bridges that fill a novel (by a good writer and Thomas IS a good writer) that ease characters in and out of situations, even sticky ones, with a grace and an understanding by the reader that simply can not be achieved on screen with the amount of time given. These moments could have easily been filled out in a novel in a few paragraphs here or there throughout the text. Such isn't possible on an episodic television show. This is why in any book that has layers and levels of plots of complexity, aspects of that story are taken out in an adaptation because there isn't enough time. This very well could explain some of the issues that have arisen with Rob Thomas the showrunner because he's a storyteller, a novelist at heart.

I really can't come up with another explanation to explain how the man who gave us the emotional brilliance of the season one characters has been unable to replicate anywhere approaching that same brilliance with any of those returning or new characters in the subsequent seasons. Arguably barring Logan and frankly, I do give Jason Dohring much of that credit. And I did so even before I read this ...
It's like just naturally, when I read a scene and start thinking with it, it's hard for me to go straight into the evil stuff, because it doesn't make sense. You'd be like, "Didn't he just do all that [other] stuff?" It doesn't follow.
However, Dohring is one of only two characters who truly has the airtime and continuing arc to affect the perception of his character through his acting which is why he has had the opportunity to develop emotionally.

So, I don't know, but I do wonder if there is some validity to this.
Tags: tv, veronica mars

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