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''Veronica Mars'' In Real Time (With Notes About Tonight's Episode)

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 12, 2005

So I'm sitting through tonight's episode and wondering if we are really going to learn much about the bus crash, although I can forgive some digression.

As the show does so well, having established a big mystery, it still draws us until a little one. And even the little one has layers of character and scandal: Logan's dalliance with Kendall is not only found out but is interwoven with a scandal that takes down the Casablancas real-estate empire (and in the process ruins a sweet business instructor who is naive about the way the game is really played). Wallace's new girlfriend is, as I feared, big trouble -- as Veronica knows better than Wallace -- but Wallace's mother has a mystery of her own.

And then, wham. In the final moments, we finally get to the scene that was in the promos, and we know that the bus crash is a far more sordid act than we at first thought, that Veronica may have been the target -- and that either we have not heard the last of Aaron Echolls or he has friends with power and ruthlessness on a par with his own.

All this, plus ''Pride and Prejudice,'' (And fans can feel so much smarter if they start thinking of Veronica as a modern Jane Austen character instead of as a glibber, more troubled Nancy Drew.) What a show. Can't stand the idea of waiting an entire week between episodes, but neither can I imagine delaying my viewing until I have all the episodes together for one self-indulgent marathon.

Now about that real-time viewing: Tonight was a relative rarity, a night when I could actually sit at home and watch a program as it aired. I've spent far more time lately plowing through recorded fare, including a run today through ''Commander in Chief,'' ''Joey,'' ''Will & Grace,'' ''Everybody Hates Chris'' and ''The Office.'' So I nearly went nuts during ''Veronica'' because I couldn't skip through the ads. (Spare me from any commercial with Britney Spears.) We all know how excruciating commercial breaks can be, but they're even worse when they slow down a show you love -- and one you know is going to take you somewhere cool.

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