If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that Veronica Mars (2004) fans are some of the most loyal and patient people on the planet. After three stellar seasons, spanning 2004 to 2006, Marshmallows were forced to not only wait an excruciating eight years before the next snippet of their snarky protagonist landed on screens (via the Veronica Mars (2014) movie), but they even ended up having to fund it themselves. Then, just as it looked like everyone's favourite P.I. might hang up her long-lens for good, there came news that Hulu was looking to bring her back for a fourth season. Cheers erupted, fists were punched into the air and all finally seemed right with the world. That was, until the rebooted *edgier* episodes dropped this weekend and sent everyone spinning. Not because we'd received such a glorious gift a week earlier than expected. But because the more episodes you watched, the harder it was to deny that we'd been given a trash-fire, soul-sucking season, constructed with the sole purpose of destroying the sophisticated, stylish, smart and stereotype-bending show we had all come to know and love. And if you have any doubts about that statement, simply check out the supporting receipts below.
Part of what made the original run of Veronica Mars (2004) so damn good, was the whip-smart dialogue and perfectly planned cases our titular teen hero found herself embroiled in. I mean, that bomb-on-the-bus storyline that tied heartbreakingly into Veronica's own rape was a work of pure genius. The twists and turns were as well-crafted as they were impossible to spot. And the running jokes of the father-daughter relationship were honestly the heart of the series. But come 2019, while there were still plenty of the series' classic sarcasm-induced spiels, just as many quips seemed to fall particularly flat (point-in-case the whole 'cussing' gag, which would've been great had there been a pay-off where swearing actually happened). Similarly, there were many, many points where the writers just seemed to forget major plot elements from the show's past. Like Logan and Leo knowing one another. The latter sold the original Lily Kane tapes to the former back in series one and was also the person to arrest him following his brawl on the bridge back in season two. So why do they act like they were just meeting for the first time at V's apartment? Then there's the fact that Veronica has like zero friends this time around. Weevil is in the bad books for taking some sort of a deal we never get the full picture on, Wallace is off being married and appears for like two seconds, Mac is mentioned once (she's in Istanbul for some vague reason), and the only person Veronica seems to have any sort of gal-pal relationship with, Nicole, is brought in almost exclusively to end up disappearing into the night (I mean, did we ever get a real answer as to why she sold her company to Dick just days after saying she hated the NUTT's?) And what about the slow, emotional build of Keith forgetting things, only for that to PSYCH be the medication he was on. So many let downs. So few episodes to fuck it up in. And yet, here we are.
Speaking of great writing, whatever happened to those pay-offs of old? The ones where you never saw the killer coming until the final act and there was a jaw-dropping moment where all the clues and motives just fell into place? Well, I for one don't know, because it sure as shit wasn't present here. The villain was... the Pizza guy? The one who turned out to be a copy-cat bomber, who just hated spring break after a bunch of kids once tried to drown him? So why exactly did it take him three years to exact his revenge then? And when he did, why was it on a whole bunch of randoms rather than the original perpetrators? Or was it because he wanted the notoriety that came from the many media appearances and memoirs he would publish, which is a concept that is about as original as peanut butter on bread. Even stranger is the contingencies for his contingencies he made such a big deal about. Because aside from the bomb left in Veronica's car absolutely nothing more was said on the fact. A bomb that was clearly alluded to multiple times throughout the episode, and lead the writers to play down Veronica's smarts just so they could kill Logan off. So yes, I will never not be over how stupid this storyline was.
Speaking of stupid, I am calling it right now. #JusticeForLogan. There's a lot to complain about with this season, but above all is the fact that after having his father sleep with - and then murder - his girlfriend, being put on trial twice for killings he didn't commit, healthily working out his anger and trust issues, joining the navy and becoming a decorated intelligence officer and FINALLY finding happiness with his true love, Logan Echolls was just callously killed off. Like WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. We get this is the real world and everything isn't always rainbows and unicorns. But that man deserved better than the tacky, half-arsed, rushed attempt at drama the creators wanted to imbue from him being literally ripped away from Veronica. And while there is the potential that this wasn't a true death (the old no body = no death rule), bringing him back after this would be just as underwhelming. Veronica has clearly moved on, is sans wedding ring, and is now more damaged than ever. It's no wonder really that Jason Dohring relatively disinterested throughout this season. I would too if I'd read the finale and realised they did my character dirty like that.
We get it, Veronica has to go through a lot of shit to make her a great detective. We've seen it a million times in the 'are they / aren't they' relationship of her and Logan, the constant desire she has to return to a job that clearly damages her psyche, and her blatant trust issues. But this season makes it very hard to agree with actress Kristen Bell, when she claims she returned to the show to provide a strong, female character for her kids to look up to. While past seasons have shown Veronica going through hell only to emerge victorious (For example; Veronica deciding she should embrace becoming a P.I. because that's what she wants for herself, rather than sticking with everyone else's opinions on what she should be doing with her life), this time around there is very little growth to be seen. Veronica drinks excessively, does drugs, rails on her boyfriend for trying to become a better person, and almost cheats. How exactly is it 'empowering' for women to basically claim their gender can't be strong if they are in a healthy relationship?
Basically, as the theme song goes: "A long time ago, we used to be friends. But I haven't thought of you lately at all". Only time will tell whether this latest run will be the proverbial nail in the coffin for the show, or whether fans are eager enough to see Hulu renew a new Logan-less series. My money is on the former, judging by the variable shitstorm that is Twitter at the moment. Boy am I glad I am not Rob Thomas right about now.
STAGE ONE - THE CHOICE
Step one in watching any great television series, logically, must start with finding it. Now, while you may think this might be simple, what with access to content never being easier (thank you Netflix Gods), this step is actually the hardest of the bunch. Why you ask? Well, because if like me you work a soul-crushing nine-hour day before returning home to cook, clean and contemplate life, you find you have just two to three measly hours to yourself. And most of that is spent either wallowing in self-pity, scrolling through Facebook or watching funny animal videos. So, devoting that precious time to a television show means it really needs to stack up. Like – will it be so awful that just five episodes in you’ll be wondering why you already want to hit your head against a wall? Or will it be the diamond in the rough that goes on to top your favourites list for years to come (here’s looking at you Gilmore Girls). Unfortunately, at this stage it’s hard to tell which is which, so the only tools you’ll have will be a strange nagging feeling in your gut and maybe some hilarious Rotten Tomatoes reviews.
STAGE TWO - DOUBT
Okay, so you’ve found the latest binge-worthy epic, hilarious comedy or trashy romance to keep you hooked. Or at least you think you have. Now comes the part where you play it cool. Sometimes it’s because you don’t know how much you love the series yet and aren’t sure whether you should get attached to it. After all it could be a Grey’s Anatomy or a Game of Thrones, where it spans seventy-five seasons and multiple, tragic, all-consuming deaths. Or, sometimes the series has yet to get off its feet or earn a cult-following, so you aren’t sure whether there will be anyone to talk about it with. Or perhaps the show is simply on its very first season, meaning it could wind up axed two months in by network heads who couldn’t tell a good series from a flop if it hit them in the face. So, you keep it at arm’s length, watching an episode here and another there, trying not to become the clingy girlfriend. After all, you ended up in a dark hole the last time you watched something and you sure as hell won’t be making that mistake again…
STAGE THREE - PURE, UNADULTERATED JOY
This is officially the point of no return. And, like The Doctor, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry because it’s all downhill from here. You’ll know you’re here when you find yourself falling for the characters, smiling at the slick writing and wondering why on earth you didn’t watch the show sooner. Common side effects of stage three include girlish giggling when characters finally get together, sighs of relief when your ‘favourite’ character doesn’t die and screaming at the television when people do something unbelievably stupid. Try to hold onto this excitement as long as possible as you tell yourself ‘just one more episode’ until 3am or ‘I won’t click on those spoilers’ because you’ve declared yourself a true fan. Naivety is everything right now.
STAGE FOUR - OBSESSION
This is the part where it is all TV, all the time. It is often hard to tell the difference between stage three and four, because often they occur simultaneously. Most of the time it starts without you really knowing it has – with a quick IMDB search of the actors or a perusal of an online article. Then it becomes about the endless behind the scenes videos or interviews where you gasp as you discover the actors are way too old to be playing teenagers or are actually Australian/British/Canadian/Insert non-American-nationality-here. And then there’s the gag reels that help get you through work when all you want is to be watching another damn episode. Eventually you start discussing the show in phone calls with your family and by that time it’s too late because you’re ready to drag everyone else down with you just so they can experience the same feels as you. Like House Stark you know that winter is coming and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it. So, store up your character ships like squirrels do their nuts, because famine is coming. And it’s coming fast.
STAGE FIVE - FALSE HOPE
Okay, by now things are starting to crumble. There are cracks and resentments forming because you’ve realised that despite having five/seven/ten seasons left to watch nothing really lasts forever. You were so keen to see the characters reach #endgame, but you never thought it would happen so fast. Twenty episodes is becoming 10 at an alarming rate and by now you can recall every word or note of the opening credits song as if conducting your own orchestra. But there’s still time, right? The main characters haven’t made up yet. The final climactic fight hasn’t happened. There’s a damn killer on the loose. There’s still a season to go, right?!? But any delight you had is short-lived because suddenly the finale is here. Shit is about to get real, feels are about to be had and you’ve made it to the culmination of hundreds of hours of viewing.
STAGE SIX - DESPAIR
Your grief is overwhelming. You’ve entered a void and it can’t be filled. No more episodes, no Netflix mini-series and no talk of a spin-off. Your beloved characters have officially ridden off into the setting sun of your glowing television or computer screen, and while you want to feel happy for them you just can’t. Because they’ve deserted you and left you with a thousand lingering questions. Your spiral is so deep that you start re-watching your favourite episodes for some glimmer of the happiness you felt, but even that leaves you empty. Like Sherlock you start working the problem but there is no Moriarty to find. So, you become a mopey, gloomy, despondent shell of a person as you deal with the jet-lag of a fantastic series.
STAGE SEVEN - ACCEPTANCE
Eventually you leave your apartment, stock up on real food and start talking to your friends about something other than the series. After indulging in a bit of reality television to cleanse your palette (and your brain) you might even – gasp – be ready to move on. And there you are – right back at step one and ready to embark on a new adventure. The circle never ends. The carousel never stops spinning. And like the Winchesters – nothing ever really dies. And strangely, you’re okay with that.
The Art of Thinking About Films
What makes a great film? How do you survive a horror film? Which movies deserve to be in Top Ten lists? This is the place to discuss that.
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