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VERONICA MARS
The Complete Second Season

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Kristen Bell, Percy Daggs III, Teddy Dunn, Jason Dohring, Francis Capra, Enrico Colantoni
Creator:  Rob Thomas
Audio:  Dolby Surround Stereo
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  Two Featurettes, Gag Reel, Additional Scenes
Length:  929 Minutes
Release Date:  August 22, 2006

“This is Neptune…NOTHING happens accidentally.”

Shows ****

If Veronica Mars isn’t the best show on television right now, I don’t know what is.  Sure, I’d bet on Jack Bauer as the most likely to do whatever’s necessary to get his man, or Tony Soprano most likely to get his way.  But for the coolest, sharpest and most unflappable?  My money’s on Veronica.

The character was originally conceived by creator Rob Thomas as the heroine of a series of detective novels, which, in my imagination, could have been the next best thing to Harry Potter.  But as he got into television, it turned into the idea for a new kind of teen show:  one that didn’t play down to audience expectations, but raised them through the roof so that everyone in the audience, regardless of age, would be taken along for the ride.  I’m living proof…I’m 36 years old, and hopelessly hooked.

Described by The Village Voice as Heathers meets Chinatown, it would be too easy to dismiss Veronica Mars as a show about a girl detective.  It’s an intelligent, tightly written, funny, dramatic and suspenseful series that has remained constantly surprising for two years running.  If I had a nickel for every time something in the show rocked me back in my seat with gleeful surprise…well, I’d have a butt load of nickels.

The concept of season one continues through season two…less of a formula and more of an organizing principle.  There are ongoing threads that propel the series throughout the entire year, including ones that were introduced the year before.  But each show has its own dramatic arc, with conflict and resolution.  And many of them are more than mysteries in neat, tidy packages…some of the surprises of the show include how many ‘little’ things turn out to be not-so-little.

I wish I could delve into Season Two’s mysteries and crux, but to be honest, I don’t even want to tell you what the jumping off point is…it was the first of those many surprises I mentioned.  As creator and head writer, Rob Thomas has many tricks up his sleeves.  For me to give any of them away?  That would be more than wrong, it would be cruel and inhumane.

I will, however, refer back to my review of the first season, where I said the pilot was an instant classic and the finale was a ‘wow’.  The second season built on that and delivered better than ever.  The first episode reeled me in from the get-go.  And I’ve rarely seen a finish as suspenseful, mind blowing and emotionally powerful as the year’s last show.  For me, there were laughs, tears, and knuckles turning white from gripping my seat cushion too tightly.  Sometimes all at once.

The characters are solid, fully dimensional, and propel the drama with style and gusto.  Veronica is, of course, my favorite.  Tough, smart, sweet and fiercely loyal, she has to be one of the best television creations ever.  Kristen Bell is absolutely perfect in the title role, bringing beauty, brains and relentless determination into one electrifying package.

My other favorite character has to be Logan Echolls…introduced in Season One as “the obligatory psychotic jackass”, he turned out to be one of the show’s most intriguing regulars.  That continues into Season Two.  Jason Dorhing plays him with intelligence and depth in a frequently funny way that keeps audiences guessing. 

I was pleased to read that a number of prominent national critics spoke out against the lack of recognition for Veronica Mars at the Emmys.  Many felt that the show itself deserved a nod for Best Dramatic Series, as well as acting nominations for Ms. Bell and Mr. Dohring.  May I just say I’ve comfortably taken a seat on that bandwagon?

And yet, as hard as it is for me to believe, the future of Veronica Mars is in doubt.  Fans hung on in limbo for most of the year wondering if the show would die prematurely and cruelly on the chopping block of cancellation.  The good news is, it will be back in the fall.  The bad news is, the network will re-evaluate it mid season and may decide to pull the plug midstream.

I can only hope that word of mouth and the release of the first two seasons on DVD will bring the show the audience it deserves.  Mars fans are a fiercely loyal group, and if you become one of us, you’ll understand why.

So please…and I rarely use our website as a begging platform, but please…if you like intelligent television, if you like great writing, if you like stories that genuinely surprise and delight, then give Veronica Mars the chance it deserves.  Pick up these sets.  Rent them if you must.  Start with Season One, Disc One if you really want to be cautious.  I guarantee you by the time you watch the pilot, you’ll be hooked.  And it’s a healthy addiction.

Video ***

For a television program, Warner’s anamorphic widescreen presentations are solid.  A little grain here and there, occasional softness, but for the most part, images render clearly in both bright and low levels of light and colors are quite good.

Audio **

It’s mostly the music that gives the stereo surround track its kick…Veronica Mars has to boast one of the best song collections on the tube.  Dialogue is clean and clear throughout, and the rear signal is used sparingly but effectively.

Features **1/2

There are more extras this time around…each of the six discs has deleted or extended scenes to peruse.  Disc Six also contains a featurette, a behind-the-scenes look hosted by Kristen Bell and her own video camera, a gag reel, and a preview of the upcoming third season.

Summary 

My track record with television leaves something to be desired.  I proclaimed Ned and Stacey the best show of the 90s only to have it vanish after two years.  I now declare Veronica Mars the best show of the double-aughts, and at least it has a chance to beat my previous pick by one season.  But it deserves more.  Try the show, friends.  You’ll thank me.

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