Veronica Mars

Created by Rob Thomas

“A teenaged private eye. Trust me. I know how dumb that sounds.”
Veronica‘s first lines in the 2014 film.

VERONICA MARS was a seventeen year-old who helped her private eye dad solve cases on a UPN drama that made its debut during the 2004-05 schedule. And despite my initial pessimism it didn’t totally suck. In fact, to my pleasant surprise, it didn’t even partially suck. It was entertaining and smart, and it managed to stick around — without sucking —  for two more seasons, becoming a cult favourite — at least among smarter millennials (and grown-ups willing to give it a chance), whose status has only grown over the years.

The show was set in the snooty seaside community of Neptune, California, where the rich and powerful more or less owned the town, and would definitely prefer that their dirty little secrets remain secret. Imagine Peyton Place with beaches, and a lot of really good-looking teenagers.

Yep, that’s right — despite the promo spot’s hints at “grit,” Veronica Mars looked — particularly at first glance — suspiciously like a teen soap, along the lines of 90210 or Dawson’s Creek, another orgy of adolescent angst, with just a dash of the detective lite tossed in for flavor.

But it turned out to be something very different. Precocious Veronica wanted to be a detective just like dear old dad, who was the town’s sheriff until a scandal forced him to resign. Helping out is fellow high school misfit Wallace Fennel and a biker gang known as the P.C.H. Bike Club Boys. Needless to say, clearing her father’s name got top priority in Veronica’s book, though she’d also like to know who murdered Lilly Kane, her best friend, and find out where her mother disappeared to.

I was torn about this one, at first. On the surface, it sounded dreadful, but damn if it didn’t hook me from the first episode. In fact, it was actually often very compelling, with a nice noirish (or at least noirish for television) aftertaste. Each episode-length, self-contained mini-mystery (Who rigged the student elections? Who stole her friend’s car?) was usually satisfyingly resolved, while the over-riding, season-length story arc regarding her mom’s disappearance and Lilly’s murder (and the season-end solution) was handled deftly, and wrapped up all the complicated red herrings and twisted familial relationships with the sort of emotional pay-off one usually expected of a Ross Macdonald novel. And series creator and writer Rob Thomas gave us (and Veronica) a whole new spin on being a wiseass, replacing Marlowe‘s middle-aged, world-weary bruised romanticism with razor-edged teenage snark.

Who knows? It might have turned a whole generation onto the detective genre. Or scared them away for life.

Despite its piss-poor ratings for the first season, UPN took a chance on a second season (the over-riding story arc this time had Veronica and her father delving into a tragic school bus “accident”) and was successful enough to spawn a third season on the new CW network, with Veronica heading off to college.

And that was that. Three seasons and out.

Except fans, the cast and the creator, Rob Thomas, all wanted more. And so a Kickstarter campaign was launched, in an attempt to finance a feature film. And damn if it didn’t work. The film made its debut in March 2014, after busting pretty much every record Kickstarter had ever had, and Veronica Mars (2014, Warner Bros/Spondoolie Productions/Rob Thomas Productions) did quite nicely at the box office, as a digital release and as a DVD and Blu-Ray, thankyouverymuch.

Sure, it played to nostalgia, reuniting pretty much the entire cast and crew, slipping in some crowd-pleasing cameos, and not really pushing anything along too much, but if it pleased the fans, well, hell, they paid for it.

THE LATEST

Even better, though, it let the world know that Ms. Mars still had her mojo. A couple of original novels (written by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham) were released in 2014 in the months after the debut of the film, and best of all, in 2018, it was announced that Hulu would be streaming an eight-episode limited series in 2019, with most of the original cast back in the saddle as well as series creator Rob Thomas in the writers’ room. Among those joining him will be (allegedly) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, author of two well-received Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Joining the cast will be J.K. Simmons and Patton Oswalt. This time out, Veronica will be investigating the murders of spring breakers in her hometown of Neptune, California. The show will stream on Hulu in the Statyrs and Crave in Canada.

THE EVIDENCE

  • “This is my school. If you go here either your parents are millionaires or your parents work for millionaires. Neptune, California: a town without a middle class”
    — in the very first scene of the very first episode, Veronica nails all the divisions of class and caste the series would feed on.
  • Wallace: I thought being a private eye was all about shooting dudes and making out with sexy widows.
    Veronica: Sexy widows come later.
  • “Mark me down as skeptical”
    — Veronica in episode 1:3
  • High school student: I hear you do detective stuff for people.
    Veronica: I do favors for friends.
    Student: I can pay.
    Veronica: Sit down, friend.
  • “Can I get anyone anything? Water, coffee? A banana?”
    — Veronicagreets Sheriff Lamb when he drops by Mars Investigations in “Silence of the Lamb”.
  • “You lie down with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas.”
    — Veronica
  • “It’s all fun and games till one of you gets my foot up your ass.”
    — Veronica
  • “I love the smell of testosterone in the morning.”
    – Veronica
  • “I hope we’re still friends after I taser you.”
    – Veronica
  • “Well, actually, despite popular opinion you really can’t beat the truth out of someone.”
    – Veronica
  • Meg: You believe me, right?
    Veronica: You are the last good person here at Neptune High. I believe cartoon birds braided your hair this morning.

UNDER OATH

  • “… like an Archie comic gone really dark.”
    — Gillian Flynn for Entertainment Weekly in 2004
  • “Veronica Mars blows me away each week, with it’s bittersweet endings that fit right into the P.I. formula.”
    — Dave White
  • “Maybe I am a girly man, as my Governator Ahr-Nald might say, but I dig the Veronica Mars TV show. Tuesday nights me and my 16-year-old daughter Chelsea carve out some couch time and groove on this hip post deconstructionist Nancy Drew and her adventures in small town sleuthing. What makes this show work for me is not simply that its creator and exec producer, Rob thomas, draws on just enough of that Smallville by way of Dawson’s Creek vibe to hook the youth, but the subterranean current flowing underneath the over-arching storyline comes straight from Ross Macdonald.”
    — Gary Phillips in Mystery Scene

TELEVISION

  • VERONICA MARS
    (2004-07, UPN)
    60-minute episodes
    Created by Rob Thomas
    Executive producers: Joel Silver, Rob Thomas
    Starring Kristen Bell as VERONICA MARS
    and Enrico Colantonias KEITH MARS
    Also starring Percy Daggs III as Wallace Fennel
    Teddy Dunn as Duncan Kane
    Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls
    Tina Majorino as Cindy ‘Mac’ Mackenzie
    Chris Lowell as Stosh ‘Piz’ Piznarski
    Francis Capra as Eli ‘Weevil’ Navarro
    and Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas
    Also starring Kyle Secor, Amanda Seyfried
    Guest stars: Paris Hilton, Melissa Leo, Harry Hamlin, Steve Guttenberg, Ed Begley Jr., Paula Marshall, Kevin Smith, Jane Lynch, Patty Hearst, Paul Rudd, Joss Whedon, Dan Castellaneta

    • SEASON ONE | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Pilot” (September 22, 2004)
    • “Credit Where Credit’s Due” (September 28, 2004)
    • “Meet John Smith” (October 12, 2004)
    • “The Wrath of Con” (October 19, 2004)
    • “You Think You Know Somebody” (October 26, 2004 )
    • “Return of the Kane” (November 2, 2004)
    • “The Girl Next Door” (November 9, 2004)
    • “Like a Virgin” (November 23, 2004)
    • “Drinking the Kool-Aid” (November 30, 2004)
    • “An Echolls Family Christmas” (December 14, 2004)
    • “Silence of the Lamb” (January 4 , 2005)
    • “Clash of the Tritons” (January 11, 2005)
    • “Lord of the Bling” (February 8, 2005)
    • “Mars vs. Mars” (February 15, 2005)
    • “Ruskie Business” (February 22, 2005)
    • “Betty and Veronica” (March 29, 2005)
    • “Kanes and Abel’s” (April 5, 2005)
    • “Weapons of Class Destruction” (April 12, 2005)
    • “Hot Dogs” (April 19, 2005)
    • “Tit for Tad” (April 26, 2005)
    • “Up on the Roofie” (May 3, 2005)
    • “Leave it to Beaver” (May 10, 2005)
    •  SEASON TWO | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Normal is the Watchword” (September 28. 2005)
    • “Driver Ed” (October 5, 2005)
    • “Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang” (October 12, 2005)
    • “Green-Eyed Monster” (October 19, 2005)
    • “Blast From the Past” (October 26, 2005)
    • “Rat Saw God” (November 16, 2005)
    • “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” (November 16, 2005)
    • “Ahoy Mateys!” (November 23, 2005) 27. 2- 5 2T7205 26 Oct 05
    • “My Mother, the Fiend” (November 30, 2005)
    • “One Angry Veronica” (December 7, 2005)
    • “Donut Run” (January 6, 2006)
    • “Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle” (February 1, 2006)
    • “Ain’t No Magic Mountain High Enough” (February 8, 2006)
    • “Versatile Toppings” (March 15, 2006)
    • “The Quick and the Wed” (March 22, 2006)
    • “The Rapes of Graff” (March 29, 2006)
    • “Plan B” (April 5, 2006)
    • “I Am God” (April 11, 2006)
    • “Nevermind the Buttocks” (April 18, 2006)
    • “Look Who’s Stalking” (April 25, 2006)
    • “Happy Go Lucky” (May 2, 2006)
    • “Not Pictured” (May 9, 2006)
    • SEASON THREE | Buy this season on DVD
    • “Welcome Wagon” (October 3, 2006)
    • “My Big Fat Greek Rush Week” (October 10, 2006)
    • “Wichita Linebacker” (October 17, 2006)
    • “Charlie Don’t Surf” (October 24, 2006)
    • “President Evil” (October 31, 2006)
    • “Hi, Infidelity” (November 7, 2006)
    • “Of Vice and Men” (November 14, 2006)
    • “Lord of the Pi’s” (November 21, 2006)
    • “Spit & Eggs28 November 28, 2006)
    • “Show Me the Monkey” (January 23, 2007)
    • “Poughkeepsie, Tramps & Thieves” (January 30, 2007)
    • “There’s Got to Be a Morning After Pill” (February 6, 2007)
    • “Postgame Mortem” (February 13, 2007)
    • “Mars, Bars” (February 20, 2007)
    • “Papa’s Cabin” (February 27, 2007)
    • “Un-American Graffiti” (May 1, 2007)
    • “Debasement Tapes” (May 8, 2007)
    • “I Know What You’ll Do Next Summer” (May 15, 2007)
    • “Weevils Wobble But They Don’t Go Down” (May 22, 2007)
    • “The Bitch is Back” (May 29, 2007)
  • VERONICA MARS
    (2019, Hulu)
    Created by Rob Thomas
    Bassed (loosely) on The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
    Writers: Rob Thomas,  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    Directors: Scott Winant, Michael Fields, Rachel Goldberg, Michael Lehmann, Amanda Marsalis, Joaquin Sedillo
    Executive producers: Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, Diane Ruggiero and Dan Etheridge
    Starring Kristen Bell as VERONICA MARS
    and Enrico Colantonias KEITH MARS
    Also starring Percy Daggs III as Wallace Fennel
    Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls
    Francis Capra as Eli ‘Weevil’ Navarro
    and Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas
    Also starring: Frank Gallegos, Scott Vance, Patton Oswalt, Leo D’Amato, David Starzyk, Ken Mariano
    Guest stars: J.K. Simmons, Kirby Howell-Baptiste

FILMS

  • VERONICA MARS | Buy on DVDBuy this Blu-RayWatch it now!
    (2014, Warner Bros/Spondoolie Productions/Rob Thomas Productions)
    Based on characters created by Rob Thomas
    Story by Rob Thomas
    Screenplay by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggerio
    Directed by Rob Thomas
    Starring Kristen Bell as VERONICA MARS
    With Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls
    Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars
    Percy Daggs III as Wallace Fennel
    Tina Majorino as Cindy ‘Mac’ Mackenzie
    Chris Lowell as Stosh ‘Piz’ Piznarski
    Francis Capra as Eli ‘Weevil’ Navarro
    and Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas
    Also starring Jasmie Lee Curtis, Justin Long, Jerry O’Connell, Julie Gonzalo, Martin Starr, Justin Long, Sam Huntington, Luke Haldeman, Max Greenfield, Aaron Ashmore, Troy Vandergraf, Ken Marino, Teddy Dunn, Daran Norris, Ryan Devlin
    Cameos by James Franco, Dax Shepherd
    The Kickstarter success story finally dropped, with most of the original cast of the beloved cult classic returning. Veronica’s shucked her past, and is now a “big shot New York lawyer.” But she returns to her hometown of Neptune, California – just in time for her high school reunion – to help her old flame Logan Echolls, who’s a suspect in a murder case.

NOVELS

ALSO OF INTEREST

  • Thomas, Rob, editor, Neptune Noir (2007)Buy this book
    Collection of essays on the show, edited by its creator and executive producer, but evidently not authorized by the network.
  • Dunn, George A. (editor), Veronica Mars and Philosophy: Investigating the Mysteries of Life (Which is a Bitch Until You Die) (2014)Buy this book
    Part of the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, a weird combination of ching-ching marketing and a serious discussion of serious philosophical issues raised by various popular pop culture phenomena, from Batman to The Simpsons. Next stop, Neptune High.

RELATED LINKS

  • Veronica Speaks
    A collection of quotes from the snarky one.
  • Mars Investigations
    According to one of the creators of this site, “Veronica Mars is one of the best, if not the best, shows of this season. In an effort to help attract more people to the show, we decided to create a website to help introduce the show to new viewers… We share a common goal, our desire to see this show around for many seasons to come.”
  • The Temple of Veronica Mars
    A fan site.
  • Veronica in the FBI
    A twelve-minute trailer/teaser scripted by Thomas and starring Bell. It’s four years later, and Veronica is starting a new job as an FBI agent. Apparently cobbled together around 2010, it was an attempt to interest Warner in reviving the series. It didn’t work, but it is interesting.
  • Hulu Details New Season of ‘Veronica Mars’
    Announcement of a new season for 2019, from Rolling Stone.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Rachel Crane and Paul Guyot for the latest.

Talk to me...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s