Veronica Marred?

Last week, UPN’s Veronica Mars featured a plot about gay high school students being blackmailed, and also a weird distraction in the form of guest star Kristin Cavallari. The only reason this Laguna Beach reality siren was found roaming the halls of Neptune High is that she was host of another UPN show, the extreme-makeover (rave edition) reality series Get This Party Started. The network is keen on inflicting its non-actor reality celebs on my beloved series, UPN’s one shining dramatic hour. (Previous examples: Kim and Naima from America’s Next Top Model turned up as a car-rental employee and a teacher, respectively.) I guess it was fitting that this type of casting coercion show up on a blackmail episode, but the real irony is that, in a fluke of timing, UPN turned out the lights on Cavallari’s Party last month after only two airings. (All that wasted synergy.)

It’s a testament to the greatness of Veronica Mars — still my favorite series on the tube right now — that these promotional intrusions never tar the show’s highly enjoyable mixture of troubled teen emotions, corruption intrigue, murder whodunit and lacerating wit. (When Veronica learned of the blackmailing scheme, she mused, “Why can’t the evil just get jobs like everyone else?”)

Cavallari had something more than a cameo, too, playing a cheerleader who decides to out herself rather than give in to extortion. But Veronica star Kristen Bell, ever a pro, never let on that she had to trade lines with a pretty shill, even as her scene partner always let on that she was just a lucky rich chick who won the cool guest-spot lottery. She even made her monotonal, withering snarl of a voice — like an O.C. Edward G. Robinson — worth replaying over and over again when she confessed, “I’m a lesbian, Veronica,” as if it were a linguistic variation of “Whatever.” Priceless.

But here’s a deal, UPN: Veronica Mars can obviously handle any casting stunts you throw at it, so why not mount a full-scale, no-holds-barred-since-we’re-merging-with-WB-soon-anyway campaign to get this show — its writing, the awesome Bell, the wonderful Enrico Colantoni — some much-deserved Emmy nominations? That would be a real occasion to get a party started.

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