Veronica Mars is an American teen noir mystery drama television series created by screenwriter Rob Thomas. The series is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and stars Kristen Bell as the eponymous character. The series premiered on September 22, 2004, during television network UPN's final two years, and ended on May 22, 2007, after a season on UPN's successor, The CW, airing for three seasons total. Veronica Mars was produced by Warner Bros. Television, Silver Pictures Television, Stu Segall Productions, and Rob Thomas Productions. Joel Silver and Rob Thomas were executive producers for the entire run of the series, while Diane Ruggiero was promoted in the third season.
Veronica Mars is a student who progresses from high school to college while moonlighting as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. In each episode, Veronica solves a different stand-alone case while working to solve a more complex mystery. The first two seasons of the series each had a season-long mystery arc, introduced in the first episode of the season and solved in the season finale. The third season took a different format, focusing on smaller mystery arcs that would last the course of several episodes.
Thomas initially wrote Veronica Mars as a young adult novel, which featured a male protagonist; he changed the gender because he thought a noir piece told from a female point of view would be more interesting and original. Filming began in March 2004, and the series premiered in September to 2.49 million American viewers. The critically acclaimed first season's run of 22 episodes garnered an average of 2.5 million viewers per episode in the United States. The series appeared on a number of fall television best lists, and garnered several awards and nominations. During the series' run, it was nominated for two Satellite Awards, four Saturn Awards, five Teen Choice Awards and was featured on AFI's TV Programs of the Year for 2005.
Following the cancellation of the series, Thomas wrote a feature film script continuing the series. Warner Bros. opted not to fund the project at the time. On March 13, 2013, Bell and Thomas launched a fundraising campaign to produce the film through Kickstarter and attained the $2 million goal in less than eleven hours. They accumulated over $5.7 million via Kickstarter. The film was released on March 14, 2014. As of August 2018, a revival of the series is in the works at Hulu.
Season 1 revolves around Veronica Mars, a high school student and private investigator in the fictional Southern California seaside town of Neptune. As the daughter of well-respected County Sheriff Keith Mars, Veronica's biggest problem was getting dumped by her boyfriend, Duncan Kane, until the murder of her best friend Lilly Kane. After Lilly's murder, Veronica's life falls apart. Keith accuses Lilly's father, popular software billionaire Jake Kane, of being involved in the murder. This provokes Neptune's wrath and Keith's ousting as sheriff in a recall election, replaced by Don Lamb. Veronica's mother, Lianne, develops a drinking problem and leaves town. Veronica's "09er" friends—wealthy students from the fictional 90909 ZIP Code—force her to choose between them and her father; Veronica chooses her father. After being voted out as sheriff, Keith opens a private investigation agency, Mars Investigations, where Veronica works part-time. Veronica helps her father solve cases and conducts her own investigations on behalf of friends and acquaintances at school.
Veronica discovers new evidence which suggests that Abel Koontz, the man imprisoned after confessing to Lilly's murder, is innocent. As Veronica delves deeper into the murder case, she also works on other investigations, seeks her mother's whereabouts and deals with the aftermath of being drugged and raped during an "09er" party. Veronica, no longer part of the school's wealthy in-crowd, makes some new friends: Wallace Fennel, Neptune High basketball star and new student; Eli "Weevil" Navarro, leader of the PCHers, a Latino biker gang; and Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie, Neptune High's resident computer genius. Using her friends' resources, as well as those provided by her father and his contacts, Veronica gains a reputation for sleuthing and finds her skills in increasingly high demand at her school and in the community. Things get more complicated when Veronica falls into a relationship with Lilly's ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls, who for a time held Veronica partly responsible for Lilly's death and went out of his way to harass her.
The second season begins with the introduction of two new cases: a bus accident that kills several of Veronica's classmates, and the death of PCH biker gang member Felix Toombs. A school bus carrying six Neptune High students and a teacher plunges off a cliff, killing all but one passenger. Veronica, who was supposed to be on the bus, makes it her mission to discover why the bus crashed and who is responsible. Logan picks a fight with Weevil and the PCHers and ends up accused of killing Felix (a charge he denies). Partway through the season, Weevil becomes convinced of Logan's innocence and they team up to find the real killer. This season shows Veronica's life returning to much the way it had been before Lilly's death: having broken up with Logan during the summer, she reunites with Duncan and is somewhat accepted by the '09ers. However, her private-eye sideline and tough persona keep her from being truly assimilated back into the rich crowd. '09ers Dick Casablancas and Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas deal with a gold-digging stepmother, Kendall Casablancas, with whom they are left when their father flees the country while under investigation for real estate fraud. Wallace discovers that his biological father is alive, and takes a romantic interest in Jackie Cook, the daughter of baseball legend Terrence Cook who is investigated for the bus accident. Veronica discovers that the town mayor, who years ago coached a little league baseball team, sexually molested several team members, including Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas. In the finale, it is discovered that Beaver is responsible for the bus accident and Veronica's rape, as well as a plane crash that kills the mayor (Veronica's dad was supposed to be on the plane, so she thinks he is dead). Veronica confronts Beaver on the roof of the Neptune Grand hotel, where he tries to kill her. Logan saves her, but Beaver commits suicide by jumping off the roof.
In the third and final season, Veronica, Logan, Wallace, Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie and Dick are freshmen at Neptune's Hearst College. Two new regular main characters are introduced: Stosh "Piz" Piznarski and Parker Lee, who are the respective roommates of Wallace and Mac. The first mystery is established when Parker becomes a victim of the Hearst serial rapist, a storyline begun in the second season. Feeling guilty for not helping her, and remembering her past rape, Veronica sets herself the task of catching the rapist. The next mystery, the murder of the College's Dean, commences in the same episode the rapist is caught. During the season, Keith begins an adulterous affair with a married client, Wallace struggles to balance academics and sports, Mac begins dating again after previous failed relationships, and Dick has a breakdown and appeals to Logan for help. The season also chronicles Veronica and Logan's failing attempts to maintain their relationship in the face of Veronica's increasing mistrust.
Cast and characters
The first season had seven regular characters. Kristen Bell portrayed the title character Veronica Mars, a high school junior and skilled private detective. Teddy Dunn played Duncan Kane, Veronica's ex-boyfriend and Lilly's brother. Jason Dohring played Logan Echolls, the "bad-boy" 09er, the son of an A-list actor. Percy Daggs III portrayed Wallace Fennel, Veronica's best friend and frequent partner in solving mysteries. Francis Capra portrayed Eli "Weevil" Navarro, the leader of the PCH Biker gang and Veronica's friend. Enrico Colantoni played Veronica's father Keith Mars, a private investigator and former Balboa County Sheriff. Sydney Tamiia Poitier played Mallory Dent, Veronica's journalism teacher at Neptune High. Although she was given series regular billing, Poitier appeared in only four episodes, but was given credit for seven. Poitier's removal from the series was rumored to be due to budget issues.
Thomas, who said he "conceive[d] the show as a one-year mystery", decided that he needed to introduce and eliminate several characters to be able to create an "equally fascinating mystery" for the series' second season. Thomas felt that he could not bring back the Kanes and the Echolls and "have them all involved in a new mystery"; he needed "new blood". The second season saw the introduction of Tessa Thompson as Jackie Cook, a romantic interest of Wallace and daughter of a famous baseball player. Previous recurring characters Dick Casablancas and Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas were upgraded to series regulars. Dick, played by Ryan Hansen, was an 09er friend of Logan, a womanizer and former high-school bully turned frat boy. Kyle Gallner portrayed "Beaver", Dick's introverted younger brother. Dunn, who portrayed Duncan Kane, left the series midway through the season, although was credited as a main cast member for the remainder of the season. Thomas explained that the Logan-Veronica-Duncan love triangle had run its course, and to keep the series fresh, there would need to be "other guys in her life". He attributed Dunn's removal to fan interest dominating the Logan-Veronica relationship, saying "it became clear that one suitor won out".
The third season introduced two new series regulars, Parker Lee and Stosh "Piz" Piznarski. Julie Gonzalo portrayed Parker, Mac's extroverted roommate at Hearst College and "everything that Mac is not". Piz, played by Chris Lowell, was Wallace's roommate at Hearst College and a music lover with his own campus radio show. Piz was named after the director of the pilot, Mark Piznarski. The character's role was to have another male friend for Veronica who was middle-class, and not upper-class. Thomas used the radio show as a narrative device to capture the mood of the university. Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie and Don Lamb, recurring characters in the first two seasons, were upgraded to series regulars. Mac, portrayed by Tina Majorino, was a computer expert befriended by Veronica. Lamb, portrayed by Michael Muhney, was the Balboa County Sheriff who won the office from Keith in the recall election.
Rob Thomas originally wrote Veronica Mars as a young adult novel for publishing company Simon & Schuster. Prior to his first television job on Dawson's Creek, Thomas sold two novel ideas. One of these was provisionally titled Untitled Rob Thomas Teen Detective Novel, which formed the basis for the series. The novel had many elements similar to Veronica Mars, though the protagonist was male. Thomas's father was a vice-principal at Westlake High School near Austin, Texas, and the main character attended a "thinly disguised version" of the school. As Thomas had begun writing for film and television, he did not resume his teen detective idea for several years. Writing a novel could take months for Thomas, whereas a television script only took several weeks. Knowing that television scripts paid more, Thomas wrote the television version of the teen detective project as a spec script before it became a novel. Since no studio or network had asked him to write it, and he would not get paid unless it sold, Thomas said that "it was never a very pressing project for me". Tinkering with it from time to time, Thomas wrote project notes a year before he actually started writing the television script. Most of his original ideas made it into the script, but some changed drastically. Thomas wanted to use flashbacks, and he had to shorten the timeline so that the murder could happen in a recent time. Thomas changed the gender of the protagonist because he thought a noir piece told from a female point of view would be more interesting and unique.
Kristen Bell was chosen to play Veronica Mars from more than 500 women who auditioned for the role. Bell felt that it was "just luck" that Rob Thomas saw that "I have some sass to me, and that's exactly what he wanted". Bell thought that it was her cheerleader looks and an outsider's attitude that set her apart from the other women who auditioned. Jason Dohring, who played Logan Echolls, originally auditioned for the role of Duncan Kane. Teddy Dunn originally auditioned for Logan, but ended up portraying Duncan Kane. Dohring felt that his audition for Duncan "was a little dark", and he was told by the producers that it was "not really right". The producers asked Dohring to read for the role of Logan. Dohring acted one scene from the pilot, in which he shattered the headlights of a car with a crowbar. During the final auditions, Dohring read two times with Bell and met with the studio and the network. When reading with Bell, Dohring acted the whole scene as if he had raped her, and tried to give the character an evil and fun feel. At the time of Dohring's audition for Logan, the character was only going to be a guest star in the pilot.
Percy Daggs III auditioned for the role of Wallace Fennel two times before being cast, and he had to go through three tests with the studio and network executives. During his first audition, Daggs read four scenes from the pilot. Just before his studio test, Daggs read with Bell and had "a great conversation". He said that she "made me feel comfortable about auditioning" and was a big reason why he became more comfortable playing Wallace as the season went on. Thomas described Amanda Seyfried, who portrayed the murdered Lilly Kane, as "the biggest surprise of the year". When casting a series regular, he was able to see all the best actors in town, mainly because they all wanted to be a series regular. When casting Lilly Kane, who would only appear from time-to-time as "the dead girl", Thomas did not receive the same level of actors. Thomas said that he had "never had a more cut and dry audition" than he did with Seyfried. He said that she was "about 100 times better than anyone else that we saw, she was just spectacular". He continued by saying that she ended up being so good in the series that he used her three or four more times than he initially planned.
Writing and format
The episodes of the series have a distinct structure: Veronica investigates a different "case of the week" while continually trying to solve a larger mystery which spans several episodes or a whole season. The first two seasons of Veronica Mars have a season-long mystery arc, which is introduced in the first episode of the season and solved in the finale. The third season takes on a different format, focusing on two smaller mystery arcs that last the course of nine and six episodes respectively. The final five episodes of the season feature stand-alone mysteries. During the first season, Thomas was unsure if the success of the series was attributed to the "case of the week" each episode, or the overarching story. He realized that fans were cool with the "case of the week", but came back for the ongoing mystery. Thomas felt that Bell had been overworked in the first season, and the mystery involving Logan and Weevil in the second season was an attempt to give her some time off. He said that the mystery arcs of the second season had "way too many suspects, way too many red herrings", and that the third season needed a change.
The third season was initially planned to include three separate mysteries that would be introduced and resolved in a series of non-overlapping story arcs. Thomas realized by talking to CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff that viewers got too confused by his original format, and the new format would allow new viewers to start watching at any point in the season. Inspired by the improvised thriller Bubble, Thomas started laying "subtle" motives for the second mystery during the first one, so that fans would have "a theory on whodunit" when it occurred. The first mystery took place over the first nine episodes. Originally, the second mystery was to be seven episodes long and the third mystery was to occur over the last six episodes of the season. This was changed when The CW ordered a 20 episode season instead of the usual 22 episodes. The second mystery arc was shortened from seven episodes to six, and the third mystery was first changed from a six episode arc to a five episode arc. After an eight-week hiatus for the series was announced, the final mystery was changed to five stand-alone episodes designed to be friendlier to new viewers. The final mystery was originally going to be "unlike any of the others we've done before". Previously, "nice characters" like Wallace and Mac had always been absent from the big mystery because no one was going to believe them as a suspect. For the third mystery, Thomas had wanted to present a situation where Wallace and Mac could be fully involved, "key players [with] really interesting stuff to do".
The original pilot filmed was darker in tone than the one aired. Thomas intended to take the script to FX, HBO or Showtime, but gave UPN "credit" as they only wanted it a bit lighter to match their standards and practices. There was also a lengthy debate as to whether Veronica could be a rape victim; UPN eventually consented. In the aired version of the pilot, Lilly Kane was found by the pool in the same spot where she was murdered. However, Thomas stated that Lilly's body was originally going to be found in the ocean, and he had a plan for events which led to Lilly's body being dumped. When Thomas pitched the idea to UPN, the network felt that it was "too dark and creepy" for Jake Kane to dispose of his daughter's body to protect his son, and the idea was changed.
Many of the series' scenes were filmed at Stu Segall Productions in San Diego, California. Producer Paul Kurta said that most of the scenes taking place in Neptune were filmed in Oceanside, California. Kurta liked that it was "a seaside town that still feels like middle-class people live there ... Most of the seaside towns feel resort driven." It was estimated that the series spent $44 million a year shooting each season in San Diego, which made more than half of the revenue generated by film production in the area in 2006.
The setting of Neptune High, which was featured in the first two seasons, was also in Oceanside. The school, Oceanside High School, was paid $7,750 by Stu Segall Productions for the use of the campus and extras. The series' third season setting of Hearst College was mostly filmed on the campuses of San Diego State University, University of San Diego, and the University of California, San Diego. Filming locations were chosen by the director and by production designer Alfred Sole. Sole reportedly "really liked the look and feel of the school", and San Diego State University invited the series with "open arms". Taping at the university led to financial and employment benefits for the university and its students. Alumni worked as crewmembers while students worked as actors; half of the third season extras were students from the university's film department.
"We Used to Be Friends" by The Dandy Warhols was used as the series' theme song. Composer Josh Kramon was originally going to produce a noir version of a 1980s song for the theme. However, Rob Thomas was "pretty much set on finding a song", and "We Used to Be Friends" was chosen right from the beginning. This theme was considered by TV critic Samantha Holloway to be one of "the five most recognizable, sing-along-able, memorable and best theme songs". In the third season, the theme song was remixed in a softer piano style with dark and vibrant electronic beats to reflect the more noir-influenced opening credits.
Kramon wrote the original background music to convey the film noir themes. For the pilot, Thomas wanted "a really atmospheric, kind of modern noir type of vibe", and Kramon used sounds similar to that of Air and Zero 7. Kramon used "traditional sounds" for the series, but also processed and filtered them. Among the instruments used were piano, vibraphone and guitar. When using an acoustic piano, Kramon would use compression so that it did not sound like a traditional piano. Live bass and percussion was also used, as Kramon did not like to program them. The main instrument used was guitar, but Kramon felt that piano was "by far the most important instrument for working on TV shows, especially when you're doing everything yourself."
A week before choosing the sounds for the episodes, the crew had a "spotting session", where they would discuss with Thomas and the producers which type of music was going to be featured. Kramon did not decide the songs to be featured, but composed and created the whole score. Since there was little orchestral music, and Kramon could play guitar, piano, bass and drums, he played the whole score without hiring a musician. Veronica Mars: Original Television Soundtrack, a song compilation from the series' first and second seasons, was released by Nettwerk Records on September 27, 2005. Thomas revealed that the primary goal for the soundtrack was to "get more publicity, which will in turn hopefully get more viewers for the show".
Cancellation, film and revival
In January 2007, Dawn Ostroff announced that while she was pleased with the gradual ratings improvement of Veronica Mars, the series would be put on hiatus after the February sweeps to air a new reality series, Pussycat Dolls Present. When the hiatus ended, the series returned for the last five episodes of the season. At the 2007 CW Upfront, Ostroff announced that Veronica Mars was not part of the new primetime lineup and was "not coming back". Thomas created a trailer that took place four years after the third-season finale, with the working title "Veronica in the FBI", and released it on the third season DVD. When asked if the FBI concept could happen, Ostroff said that the series was probably completely gone "in any form". Ostroff also said that Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas might collaborate on another project for the CW network. In June 2007, TV Guide writer Michael Ausiello confirmed that the cancellation of Veronica Mars was official.
Potential film progress
Thomas stated that he was interested in writing a feature film based on the series, in the interest of providing closure to the story lines and character arcs. In September 2008, Michael Ausiello, writing for Entertainment Weekly, reported that Thomas had met with Bell to discuss the plot, which would likely involve Veronica solving crime in college rather than as an FBI agent. Thomas felt that the "FBI scenario was more of a 'What if...?'", aimed at getting a fourth season, and that he "would want to bring back our key players, and it would be tough to believe that the FBI stationed Veronica in Neptune." Ausiello later reported that Enrico Colantoni would be involved in the project. Colantoni said that he was fully aware of the talks taking place, adding, "cult shows have translated well into the film arena. Nothing's official, but they're talking about it." In addition to the feature-film possibility, Thomas had a meeting with DC Comics to talk about a Veronica Mars comic book series.
In September 2008, Thomas told Entertainment Weekly that "I thought I had the idea broken, but I've hit a wall in the final act that I haven't quite figured out". Thomas explained that he had been very busy writing for Cupid and Party Down, both of which he created. In January 2009, TV Guide reported that the film was Thomas' first priority after Cupid. Thomas noted that as well as writing the script, someone would need to pay for the film, but indicated that producer Joel Silver was ready to green-light the film. In June 2009, Bell said "I don't think it will ever happen, and here's why: [Series creator] Rob Thomas and I had a powwow, and we were both 100 percent on board. We took our proposal to Warner Bros. and Joel Silver told us that there is no enthusiasm [there] to make a Veronica Mars movie, and that is unfortunately a roadblock we cannot compete with." At the 2010 TCA Winter Press Tour, Rob Thomas stated that the movie wouldn't be happening, "I would write it if anyone would finance it. If anyone's interested in making that movie I am available, Kristen's [Bell] available. I would love to do it. I think the closest we came was Joel [Silver] pushing it at Warner Bros. and they didn't bite. It has sort of gone away." In April 2010, Thomas insisted, "it's not dead. I continue to want to do it [...] We're still looking into it." In June 2010, Silver was less optimistic about the film happening; "we analyzed all these areas about it. I talked to the home video people, because a movie like that would be driven by video. The [season DVDs] didn't do that well... So they didn't feel there was a need or an audience."
On March 13, 2013, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell launched a Kickstarter fundraiser in an attempt to get the film made, with the help of fans to reach the goal of $2 million. The campaign offered various incentives to those who donated more than $10. Thomas and Bell stated that they approached Warner Bros. with the idea and they approved and will be distributing the finished title. Bell, Thomas, Enrico Colantoni, Ryan Hansen, and Jason Dohring appeared in a video promoting the campaign that was shot in February 2012. The goal was met within 10 hours of the start of the campaign. The project broke several Kickstarter records, including being the largest successful film project on Kickstarter. The Kickstarter campaign ended on April 13, with 91,585 donors raising $5,702,153. Production began in June 2013, with a projected early 2014 release. In December 2013, Thomas announced that the release date would be March 14, 2014, a year and a day after the start of the Kickstarter project.
On April 5, Thomas had completed the first draft of the script. Several casting announcements were made through April to June, with confirmation of several returning cast members, including Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls), Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars), Percy Daggs III (Wallace Fennel), Chris Lowell (Stosh "Piz" Piznarski), Francis Capra (Eli "Weevil" Navarro), Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas), and Tina Majorino (Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie), among several others.
The film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest film festival on March 8, 2014, and was released in theatres and through online platforms on March 14, 2014. The film grossed $3,485,127 worldwide, and received positive reviews from critics, with a 79% approval rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 125 critics, with an average score of 6.7 out of 10.
On August 21, 2018, it was reported that Hulu is planning an eight-episode revival of Veronica Mars with Kristen Bell returning in the title role and series creator Rob Thomas returning as well.
A series of novels, written by series creator Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham, continue the story after the events of the Veronica Mars film and also feature Logan, Mac, Wallace, and Dick. The first novel, Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, was released by Random House on March 25, 2014, as a Vintage Books trade paperback (ISBN 978-0-8041-7070-3), an eBook (ISBN 978-0-8041-7071-0), and an unabridged audiobook read by Kristen Bell (ISBN 978-0-8041-9351-1). It featured the return of Veronica's mother, Lianne Mars. The second novel, Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell, also published by Vintage Books, was released on January 20, 2015. Thomas has said in interviews that the novels are canon, and would not be negated by a future film.
In January 2014, it was announced that a digital spin-off of Veronica Mars was in development with creator Rob Thomas. The metafictional concept features Ryan Hansen portraying himself in an attempt to make a spin-off based on his character Dick Casablancas. On August 13, 2014, it was announced that the web series, titled Play It Again, Dick, would premiere on September 18, 2014 on The CW's digital content website, CW Seed in 8-episode installaments with a length of 8–10 minutes per installment. Other cast members returning include Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Daran Norris, Francis Capra, Chris Lowell and Ken Marino, who portrayed their "Veronica Mars" characters as well as fictionalized versions of themselves.
Below, "rank" refers to how well Veronica Mars rated compared to other television series which aired during primetime hours of the corresponding television season. The television season tends to begin in September, of any given year, and end during the May of the following year. "Viewers" refers to the average number of viewers for all original episodes, broadcast during the television season in the series' regular timeslot. "Rank" is shown in relation to the total number of series airing on the six/five major English-language networks in a given season. The "season premiere" is the date that the first episode of the season aired. Similarly, the "season finale" is the date that the final episode of the season aired.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Network||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||Rank/
|1||Tuesday 9:00 pm||UPN||September 22, 2004||May 10, 2005||2004–2005||#148/156||2.5|
|2||Wednesday 9:00 pm (September 28, 2005 – April 5, 2006)
Tuesday 9:00 pm (April 11, 2006 – May 9, 2006)
|September 28, 2005||May 9, 2006||2005–2006||#145/156||2.3|
|3||Tuesday 9:00 pm (October 3, 2006 – May 22, 2007)
Tuesday 8:00 pm (May 22, 2007)
|The CW||October 3, 2006||May 22, 2007||2006–2007||#138/142||2.5|
Although not a ratings success, the series was a critical success from its first season. Robert Abele of LA Weekly said "in this smart, engaging series about a former popular girl turned crime-solving high school outcast, the hard-boiled dialogue comes from its teen protagonist's mouth in a way that stabs any potential cutesiness in the heart with an ice pick." In her review, Paige Wiser of the Chicago Sun Times said that "on Veronica Mars, wholesome is out; gritty reality is in. The show never soft-pedals the timeless, fundamental truth that high school is hell." Joyce Millman of The Phoenix felt that the series was "a character study masquerading as a high-school drama". Joy Press of The Village Voice saw the series as "a sharp teen noir in the making. Tinged with class resentment and nostalgia for Veronica's lost innocence, this series pulses with promise." Michael Abernethy of PopMatters said that "intrigue, drama, and humor, Veronica Mars is also a lesson book for the disenfranchised. Few TV series aim so high; even fewer succeed so well." James Poniewozik of Time labeled it as one of the six best dramas on television. He praised Bell as "a captivating star", and said that the series "uses its pulp premise to dramatize a universal teen experience: that growing up means sleuthing out the mystery of who you really are." Kay McFadden of The Seattle Times called the series an update to the "classic California film noir". She felt that Veronica Mars was the best new series on UPN, and that the title character was potentially "this season's most interesting character creation". McFadden described the series as "Alias in its attitude, Raymond Chandler in its writing and The O.C. in its class-consciousness." Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com praised the first-season finale for being "just the sort of satisfying capper you look for in a series that, week after week, keeps you asking questions."
Veronica Mars was also positively received by other writers. Joss Whedon, who made a guest appearance in the second-season episode "Rat Saw God", said that it was the "Best. Show. Ever. Seriously, I've never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn't making, and maybe even more than those [...] These guys know what they're doing on a level that intimidates me. It's the Harry Potter of shows." Kevin Smith, who guest starred in the episode "Driver Ed", said that Veronica Mars was "hands-down, the best show on television right now, and proof that TV can be far better than cinema." Stephen King described the series as "Nancy Drew meets Philip Marlowe, and the result is pure nitro. Why is Veronica Mars so good? It bears little resemblance to life as I know it, but I can't take my eyes off the damn thing." Ed Brubaker called it "the best mystery show ever made in America."
Despite being a critical success throughout its run, criticisms began to emerge of the series in its third season. Keith McDuffee of TV Squad described the third season as "disappointing", mainly because the episodes offered nothing new: "most fans of Veronica Mars felt that season three was clearly its weakest." Eric Goldman of IGN said that the main issue was the shift in the overall tone, with a lighter feeling than the previous seasons. He felt that Logan had been most affected by the tone change, robbed of his darker aspects and changed into an "increasingly extraneous character." Goldman felt that despite the concerns over final five episodes, the series ended with "three very strong episodes, with lots of strong dialogue and Veronica proving again just how tough she can be, and what a strong character she is." Goldman concluded that although the third season "was very choppy", it still had "plenty of witty dialogue and a continually engaging performance by Kristen Bell as the title character." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette opined that Veronica Mars had taken a dive "creatively", from "the mopier version of its theme song to stalled storylines." The reviewer felt that "the arcing mysteries had grown less convincing and compelling as time went on and were too drawn out." Fox News Channel's Bridget Byrne pointed out that Veronica had "gone from punky to—dare we say—preppy" in the third season. Byrne further explained that "with her quick, bright wit and sharp eye for life's darker moments [Veronica] has left high school and is going to college, doffing her dark threads and spiked tresses for something a little more stylish."
The series, described as a "critical darling", appeared on a number of fall television best lists. In 2005, the series was featured on AFI's TV Programs of the Year, and on the lists of MSN TV, The Village Voice, the Chicago Tribune, People Weekly and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It was named the second best series by Ain't It Cool News, fourth best returning series by Time, fifth best series by Newsday, PopMatters and San Jose Mercury-News, and sixth best by Entertainment Weekly and USA Today. In 2006, the series was ranked number one on the lists of Ain't It Cool News and the Chicago Sun-Times, and was ranked number six by Metacritic. In 2007, the series ranked number 18 on TV Guide's list of the "Top Cult Shows Ever". In 2008, AOL TV ranked Veronica Mars the 10th Best School Show of All Time. The same year, British film magazine Empire ranked it number 48 in their list of the "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time". The magazine said that "smart storylines and witty riffs on pop culture pepper the scripts, while Kristen Bell lent ballsy charm to the title role and ensured that every episode of the show's three seasons was television gold. Its untimely cancellation was a slap in the face that still smarts to this day." Empire named "Not Pictured" the best episode of the series. In 2010, Kristin dos Santos of E! ranked Veronica Mars number 8 on her list, "Top 20 TV Series of the Past 20 Years". The A.V. Club named it the 15th best TV series of the 2000s (decade).
In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed the show at #13 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years", with the comments, "It's not easy telling the story of a girl's mission to solve her best friend's murder - while also investigating her own rape - but creator Rob Thomas' tough assignment was made easier by putting the tirelessly smart and snarky Veronica Mars on the case. Her wry one-liners injected much-needed lightness into sometimes grim mysteries."
Veronica Mars has attracted a loyal and dedicated fan base. A group of fans calling themselves the "Cloud Watchers" organized several campaigns to bring more viewers to the series to ensure its continuation. The group hired a plane to fly over the CW offices, carrying a banner reading "Renew Veronica Mars". The group hired street teams in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago to distribute 30,000 fliers advertising the series' return after its midseason hiatus in the third season. The "Cloud Watchers" raised $50,000 in donations and through the sale of Veronica Mars clothing and tchotchkes. Upon the cancellation of the series, fans sent more than 10,000 Mars Bars to the CW, hoping that the network would reverse its decision and renew the series. Rob Thomas thanked the fans of the series for their efforts, saying "I love those people and they have been so good to me, but it's not going to happen." A feature film continuation was made possible in 2013 through a Kickstarter fund, in which 91,585 fans donated $5,702,153 to get the film made. Fans have also come to refer to themselves and be referred to as "Marshmallows" by media as well as the cast and crew of the series after a line delivered by Wallace (Percy Daggs III) in the pilot episode: "You're a marshmallow, Veronica Mars. A Twinkie." At the end of the same episode, Veronica in voiceover remarks "Well, you know what they say: 'Veronica Mars, she's a marshmallow.'" A reference to the term was also included in the fan-funded film.
Awards and nominations
|2004||Saturn Award for Best Television Actress||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|2005||American Film Institute Award for Television Programs of the Year||Veronica Mars||Won|
|Satellite Award for Outstanding Actress in a Series, Drama||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Saturn Award for Best Television Actress||Kristen Bell||Won|
|Saturn Award for Best Network Television Series||Veronica Mars||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Breakout Show||Veronica Mars||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Breakout Performance, Female||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Television Critics Association Awards for Outstanding New Program of the Year||Veronica Mars||Nominated|
|Television Critics Association Awards for Individual Achievement in Drama||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|2006||Family Television Award for Favorite Father/Daughter||Kristen Bell|
|International Cinematographers Guild Publicists Award for The Maxwell Weinberg|
Publicist Showmanship Award for Television
|Satellite Award for Actress in a Series, Drama||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actress: Drama/Action Adventure||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Sidekick||Percy Daggs III||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Parental Unit||Enrico Colantoni||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama||Rob Thomas for "Normal Is the Watchword"||Nominated|
The CTV Television Network began airing Veronica Mars in Canada as a mid-season replacement on May 30, 2005. CTV decided not to pick up the second season, which began broadcast by Sun TV on July 18, 2006. The third season was simulcast in Canada by Fox 44.
Subscription channel Living began showing the series in the United Kingdom in October 2005, averaging 50,000 viewers per episode for its first season. The channel began airing the second season on June 8, 2006, airing one episode per week rather than showing one every night as they did in the first season. Despite low ratings in the second season, Living decided to air the series' third season. It was syndicated through the Living TV Group platform, airing on the now defunct channel Trouble just before its closure. Free-to-air channel E4 began broadcasting the series from July 16, 2009.
The first season of Veronica Mars was released in region 1 as a widescreen six-disc DVD box set on October 11, 2005. In addition to all the episodes that had been aired, DVD extras included an extended "Pilot" episode (through the inclusion of an unaired opening sequence) and over 20 minutes of unaired scenes. The same set was released on May 16, 2008 in Region 2, and on June 4, 2008 in Region 4.
The second season was released in region 1 as a widescreen six-disc DVD box set on August 22, 2006, Region 2 on August 15, 2008, and Region 4 on September 8, 2008. In addition to all the aired episodes, DVD extras included two featurettes: "A Day on the Set with Veronica Mars" and "Veronica Mars: Not Your Average Teen Detective", a gag reel, a promo trailer for the third season and additional scenes, including an alternate ending to "My Mother, the Fiend".
The third season was released in region 1 as a widescreen six-disc DVD box set on October 23, 2007, Region 2 on December 12, 2008, and Region 4 on February 11, 2009. In addition to all the aired episodes, DVD extras included "Pitching Season 4", an interview with Rob Thomas discussing a new direction for the series that picks up years later, with Veronica as a rookie FBI agent; "Going Undercover with Rob Thomas"; webisode gallery with cast interviews and various set tours; unaired scenes with introductions by Rob Thomas; and a gag reel.
In the United Kingdom, Veronica Mars: The Complete Collection was released on May 12, 2014. The set contains all three seasons and the film in an 18-disc set. This is the first time the series received a release in the UK, as the seasons were not released individually.
In July and August 2005, four episodes of the first season aired on CBS, UPN's sibling network, in an attempt to gain more exposure for the series.
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