|Veronica Mars: The Complete Second Season (2005)
Starring: Kristin Bell, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring, Francis Capra, Enrico Colantoni, Teddy Dunn, Ryan Hansen, Kyle Gallner, Tessa Thompson
Sometimes, you really need to be repeatedly beaten over the head before you take a chance and watch a show. Such was the case with me and “Veronica Mars.”
There are only so many hours in the day, and so many shows you can watch on a regular basis…and, for whatever reason, I missed out on “Veronica Mars” when it premiered. As such, even though people kept screaming how “it’s the new ‘Buffy’” and how “the dialogue is totally Whedon-esque,” I just couldn’t bring myself to come into it late. When Season 1 came out on DVD, I was tempted to pick it up and play catch-up…but I already had about a half-dozen other full-season sets to watch at the time, so it just didn’t happen.
Somewhere during Season 2, however, it became obvious that I was really missing out on something. It wasn’t Kevin Smith showing off his acting diversity by playing a convenience store clerk; I love the guy, but if he couldn’t get me to watch “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” he’s not going to get me to watch “Veronica Mars.” Nor did Stephen King’s comment in “Entertainment Weekly” that “it bears little resemblance to life as know it, but I can’t take my eyes off the damn thing.” (King’s put his stamp of approval on too many sub-par products in the past.) No, what made me certain that I needed to check out this show was the appearance of the man whose dialogue-writing ability was referenced above – Joss Whedon – as a car rental clerk. If Whedon himself was offering some semblance of a torch-passing, who was I to refuse the charms of “Veronica Mars” any longer?
Even if you haven’t seen Season 1, you’ll be able to walk into Season 2 with relative ease, just as long as you can prevent yourself from asking aloud things like, “Who’s that dude?” Trust me, any reference that’s made to any character or occurrence from the previous season is eventually explained via the succeeding dialogue that, as long as you hang tight, you’ll be able to follow along. The show’s basic premise in a nutshell is that Veronica Mars is a teenaged female version of Sherlock Holmes…although Season 2 begins with her claiming that “I don’t do that kind of work anymore” and suggesting Encyclopedia Brown might be able to help out instead. (“I hear he’s good!”) Of course, that doesn’t last for even five minutes; Veronica’s soon back to solving mysteries…and she spends most of the season on one really big one: who set off a bomb on a Neptune High School bus, killing the driver and eight students?
Since the show takes place during Veronica’s senior year of high school, there’s plenty of teen angst going on. Veronica’s best bud, Wallace (Percy Daggs III), falls for the new rich girl at school (Tessa Thompson), just as Veronica herself has a romance with Duncan Kane even as her ex, Logan Echols, deals with not being over her. The class wars – rich versus poor – are a regular plot topic, and there are also brief detours into sexuality, from sexual preference to promiscuity to…gasp!...sexually transmitted diseases. Two of the rich kids at school, Dick and Cassidy Casablancas (the latter nicknamed Beaver), may well have received their names solely so that Logan can arrive at the house to see their incrrrrrrredibly hot stepmom – played by Charisma Carpenter – and ask, “Can Dick and Beaver come out to play?” (I actually had to rewind the moment to be sure I’d heard right.) The best back-and-forth dialogue, however, is invariably between Veronica and her dad, private detective Keith Mars, played by Enrico Colantoni; you may remember Colantoni from playing Elliot on “Just Shoot Me,” where he was all too often outshined by David Spade, but he’s definitely got the best comedic delivery on this show.
The claims that the dialogue is Whedon-esque are in no way false, by the way. There are more pop culture references going on than you can keep up with, and they’re all over the place, covering music (“What's wrong? You've been listening to Radiohead, haven't you? That's it. I'm putting you on a strict Nelly diet.”), TV (there’s a character named Butters, and it’s very quickly clarified that it is indeed a “South Park” reference) and movies (when someone says “it’s not your fault,” Veronica responds, “I'm afraid that line only works in ‘Good Will Hunting’”). And if any of those made you laugh but you’re scared it’s nothing but a steady stream of such references, worry not. The scripts are consistently clever and regularly inspire the viewer to laugh out loud…such as when Wallace is in the Mars’ bathroom, trying to produce a urine sample for a drug test, and Veronica’s dad suggests, “You try turning the water on? Also, pinching your own nipples can sometimes work.”
Plot-wise, having the mystery dragged out over the course of the entire season may be a bit much, but it evolves so much over the course of time that it undeniably keeps you guessing. Fortunately, there are plenty of other mysteries and subplots going on during the course of each individual episode to keep people entertained. Suffice it to say that I was sufficiently impressed by the show to run out and buy Season 1; you might want to do it in numeric order yourself, but don’t be surprised if Season 2 ends up in your collection almost immediately thereafter…and don’t forget: Season 3 is on the CW right now.
There are many deleted scenes to be had, along with a gag reel and two featurettes (“A Day on the Set with Veronica Mars” and the semi-retrospective “Veronica Mars: Not Your Average Teen Detective”). Certainly, the deleted scenes will be the big seller for the fans, but their excitement will no doubt be tempered by the lack of audio commentaries.