TV review: Veronica Mars season 4 is as good a revival as we could have hoped

The mystery series sets Kristen Bell's private investigator on the trail of a Spring Break motel bomber


VERONICA MARS: SEASON 4 (Rob Thomas). All eight episodes streaming on Crave July 19. Rating: NNNN


The question of whether the world needs more Veronica Mars was answered in 2013, when creator Rob Thomas, co-writer Diane Ruggiero and leads Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni and Jason Dohring reassembled for a feature-film continuation of the TV show that ran from 2004 to 2007.

The movie not only satisfied fans who’d demanded closure on a few of the show’s dangling threads, but it demonstrated there was still life in its core premise and relationships: Bell’s teen P.I. could grow up and still be a scrappy crusader, ultimately returning to her hometown of Neptune to join her hangdog dad Keith (Colantoni) in the professional investigation business and finally reconnect with her on-and-off beau Logan (Dohring).

Six years later, spurred by the corporate interest in rebooting or relaunching every recognizable TV property, Thomas and company have picked up the story again… and it’s still solid. The new fourth season of Veronica Mars – produced for Hulu in the U.S., and streaming in Canada on Crave – is as good a revival as we could have hoped.

Season 4 reintroduces Veronica as a disillusioned adult, still working petty infidelity and harassment cases among Neptune’s one per cent: the show opens on Veronica helping a divorcée (Eliza Coupe) whose smart home has been turned against her – a nice way of showing us how the passage of time has brought new potential to a pleasurable old formula. And, as is always the case in Veronica’s life (and her show’s season arcs), there’s a bigger mystery waiting in the wings.

The new season sets Team Mars on the trail of a Spring Break motel bomber, a master plot that introduces a handful of new characters – among them Patton Oswalt as a pizza delivery guy injured in the blast, and Bell’s Good Place pal Kirby Howell-Baptiste as a scrappy bar owner being pressured out by a wealthy developer – and a mess of new subplots.

Fans will be more invested in Keith’s medical issues: having survived being hit by a speeding car six years ago, he’s still walking with a cane but now he’s forgetting things and repeating himself. It’s a chance for Colantoni to make Keith even more sympathetic and vulnerable than usual, and the actor delivers a master class in underplaying the character’s fear: for all his paternal bluster, Keith knows Veronica is the sharper and more perceptive investigator, and he’s terrified he won’t be able to hide his condition from her.

And this is the genius of Veronica Mars as a drama: for all of its noir influences and complex mysteries, it always comes back to the back-and-forth between Veronica and her dad – a double act by Bell and Colantoni that, 15 years on, is feeling like one of the greatest pairings in the history of television.

It’s why the show suffered badly when Veronica went off to college in the third season, and something the movie corrected by putting them back together as quickly as possible. As long as the Marses are working together – Veronica’s barbed wit and casual hyper-competence balancing Keith’s indefatigable integrity – the show feels like its best self. Season 4 makes that count.

@normwilner

Brand Voices

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *