Another roar at Pride Rock
Guest Voices: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Mars is back and shining brighter than ever

I grew up a Nancy Drew fan. I graduated from the Berenstein Bears to Nancy's mysterious exploits at age seven, because my mom pulled down her box of canvas-bound editions and gave them to me. I was hooked, even if they used weird words I had to go look up like "titian" and Nancy was always getting captured and needed her boyfriend or father to save her. Hey, it was the fifties.

So when I say that Veronica Mars is the heir apparent to Nancy Drew, you should know that it's a high compliment.

I did not believe I was the target demographic for the show when it premiered, being significantly out of high school. And yet the strong writing, great acting, snappy dialogue and fun stories interposed with enough real drama to tug at the heartstrings kept me hooked all the way through the first two seasons. The third season stumbled a bit, and then came the axe of cancellation.

The movie was... disappointing. It was clearly a message to Hollywood that the fans raised $5.7 million to bring Veronica back to life, but I wish we had gotten a movie worthy of Kristen Bell and her compatriots. It says something that while I remember the season arcs of S1, S2 and S3 nearly perfectly, I had to go look up reviews of the movie, which at 107 minutes was barely long enough to count as a two-part episode.

So I'm happy to say that S4 is a wonderful return to our favorite detective. Veronica is working with her father again. Wallace is teaching at the high school. Logan has become James Bond - er, Naval Intelligence, swooping in and out of Veronica's life in a manner befitting their mutual social shortcomings. (As usual, played by the eternally underappreciated Jason Dohring. Someone give this guy a leading part, because he can burn down buildings.)

The sheriff is a pain in the ass. The rich people in town are obnoxious and corrupt. And there's a murderer afoot.

In short, welcome back to Neptune.

I found the season almost as compelling as S1, binging through it in a couple of days. And since S1 of Veronica Mars is practically the template for which binging was invented, that says a great deal. With Veronica, it's not often about whodunit, but how we get there, and there were just enough twists to keep me entertained even though I saw the villain coming (and the final twist, which apparently has people screaming). 

Flaws: I miss Wallace. Oh, he's there, but his role as a teen was to be Veronica's conscience, a snarky Jiminy Cricket to keep her from getting too deep in her own head and messed-up traumas. He's barely there in this season, and the role of Veronica's Conscience is played by... Logan? Okay, I actually prefer the James Bond Logan to the angry, scary-violent possessive jerk we've seen before, but Logan does not serve as anyone's conscience, ever.

Also, I didn't find it a flaw, but please remember that Veronica Mars is now a streaming-service show on Hulu. And boy, do they enjoy not being subject to network censors or the restrictions of underage actors. Bamp-chicka-bamp-bamp.

Fortunately, Keith and Veronica still have the single best father-daughter relationship on television. (Fight me.) They have the kind of loving, friendly, honest-with-flaws affection we'd all love to strive for with our offspring, once they grow up and become humans. I might add that Enrico Collatoni joins Jason Dohring in the "eternally underappreciated actor" field, as his ability to break my heart with facial expressions has not dimmed with the passing of years.

This season was so much fun that I found myself nostalgic for S1 again, and so I have been replaying the old episodes in my spare time. Now I've gotten my husband hooked, and I'll be restarting another binge, so I have to fun of watching him solve the murder of Lily Kane. (Shhh, nobody tell him.)

Some of the reviewers got a little snide, asking if we really need more Veronica Mars now that Kristen Bell isn't Nancy Drew age anymore. Shut up, reviewers. There is fun on the dark side of thirty, thank you, and if S4 is an example of what they can do with the grownups, I'd like to see several more, thank you. Welcome back, Veronica.

 

Elizabeth Donald is a freelance journalist, editor, author, photographer, grad student and instructor, as well as the editor of CultureGeek. In her spare time, she has no spare time. Find out more at donaldmedia.com.

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