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Rights trampled on in ‘Veronica Mars’



 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

Does the Bill of Rights still matter? Not on television. The gang on “Law & Order” may quibble about rights and procedures, but that’s so 1989. The drama on “24” seems so much more up to date. That’s the show where “the good guys” consider torture the policy of first resort.

Granted, “24” is an extreme case. It’s set during the worst day in American history.

How about a more carefree environment, like high school?

Much like “Buffy” and other shows, the teen detective series “Veronica Mars” (9 p.m., UPN) uses high school as a dark metaphor for a cruel society. But it’s Veronica’s methods of coping that set her apart from, say, “Kim Possible.”

In tonight’s episode, perky Veronica (Kristen Bell) is beset by crises on all sides. Her dad has decided to date his best friend’s mother, despite the fact that Veronica’s long-lost mother has promised to return home after her long-needed rehab.

Meanwhile Veronica is still searching for her friend’s killer.

If this weren’t harsh enough, Neptune High is beset with a series of bomb threats. The administration tries to cover up the threats with a number of “routine” fire drills, but Veronica will have none of it.

In addition to her freelance detective work, she’s also the ace reporter on the school’s paper. She blows the lid off the principal’s subterfuge and then discovers that a creepy newcomer and a longtime bully might be behind the threats as well as an ominous Web site with a ticking clock counting down to something truly, deeply dreadful.

While the “Veronica” story line is creepy enough, the show seems to celebrate our heroine’s dubious tactics. And they appear to be adapted from the KGB’s teen division.

The brassy blond thinks nothing of spying on her classmates, listening in on their phone conversations, and stealing their confidential school records.

It’s well known around Neptune High that Veronica has a file on everyone. She’s Nancy Drew meets J. Edgar Hoover on WiFi! But apparently that’s cool, because she’s pretty and hip and laces her conversation with pop cultural references. If only Big Brother were that groovy.

“Independent Lens” presents “Keeping Time: The Life, Music and Photographs of Milt Hinton” (10 p.m., KSPS). A jazz bassist, Hinton took more than 60,000 photos of fellow musicians, including Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin.

Only eight remain on “American Idol” (8 p.m., Fox). For the record, Nikko Smith gave the best performance last week. As a reward, he was evicted.

Other highlights

Vows are renewed on “Gilmore Girls” (8 p.m., WB).

Longitudes and attitudes on “The Amazing Race” (9 p.m., CBS).

A political candidate struggles to survive on “House” (9 p.m., Fox).

“Frontline” (9 p.m., KSPS) profiles presidential adviser Karl Rove.

A birthday distraction on “The Office” (9:30 p.m., NBC).

A hardened case is accused of battering his mother on “Judging Amy” (10 p.m., CBS).

Preying on the weak on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (10 p.m., NBC).

A costly oversight on “Blind Justice” (10 p.m., ABC).

Cult choice

Patrick Swayze stars as an NYU philosophy major who makes ends meet by cracking heads as a juke joint bouncer in the 1989 guilty pleasure “Road House” (9 p.m., Spike).

Series notes

An outpatient suicide on “Navy NCIS” (8 p.m., CBS) … Kristin Davis guest-stars on “Will & Grace” (8 p.m., NBC) … Out to lunch on “My Wife and Kids” (8 p.m., ABC) … Bobby’s special needs on “All of Us” (8 p.m., UPN).

On back-to-back episodes of “Scrubs” (NBC), a move on Molly (8:30 p.m.), and Turk finds out about Carla’s kiss (9 p.m.) … Quite a sister act on “George Lopez” (8:30 p.m., ABC) … Kung fu fighting on “Eve” (8:30 p.m., UPN).

Running out the clock on “According to Jim” (9 p.m., ABC) … Wedding bell blues on “One Tree Hill” (9 p.m., WB) … Mr. Moonlight on “Rodney” (9:30 p.m., ABC).

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