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Charisma Carpenter

Charisma Carpenter - "Veronica Mars" Tv Series - Season 2 DVD - Chud.com Review

David Oliver

Monday 21 August 2006, by Webmaster

RUNNING TIME: 929 minutes
• 22 minutes of deleted scenes
• A Day on the Set with Veronica Mars
• Veronica Mars: Not Your Average Teen Detective
• Gag reel

The Pitch

[(Nancy Drew + Buffy) - vampires + demons] * (excellent writing + hot female lead) = Veronica Mars.

The Humans

Kristin Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Francis Capra, Teddy Dunn, Jason Dohring.

Kristin didn’t believe me until she saw it first hand, but yep: three nipples and a butt dimple scar from one doozie of a rectal abcess...

The Nutshell

Veronica Mars (Bell) is the daughter of the former Sheriff of Neptune, CA turned private investigator / bounty hunter, Keith Mars (Colantoni). When not trying to survive the rigors of high school, she moonlights as a junior sleuth, using the skills she gained working for her father. In the opening season, Veronica was doggedly trying to figure out three mysteries: who supposedly drugged and raped her at a party, why her mother abandoned her and her father, and most importantly, who murdered her best friend, Lilly Kane, sister of her former boyfriend, Duncan and daughter of the most powerful man in Neptune. Neptune is a town of the rich and the working class, both of whose kids attend the same high school as Veronica, Neptune High.

"Wow, that was awesome." "Funny, that’s what my sister said before I killed h-...uh...nevermind..."

Once Veronica, although only the daughter of the Sheriff, was still part of the upper crust society, referred to as the O-Niners, referring to their affluent zip code. But when Lilly was killed and Veronica’s father was convinced it was Lilly’s father who did it and not some schlub who confessed, he was run out of the Sheriff’s position by the Neptune powerful as a result. Forced to choose between loyalty to her father and her relationship with Duncan, Veronica chose her father and was shunned school-wide as a result. That and the date rape incident served to toughen her up from the shy girlfriend of the most popular boy at school to the streetwise, no-bullshit champion investigator for the downtrodden, of which she is frequently one.

In Season 1, Veronica did succeed in solving all of the mysteries before her, but barely survived her encounter with Lilly’s killer in the process. Now, as she enters her senior year, and having reconciled with Duncan, who dumped her along with everybody else, Veronica now must solve the mystery of what happened to cause a bus crash that killed five students, a teacher and bus driver and how it all connects back to her.

"Veronica, I know that you’re shaken up by this bus crash that almost claimed you too, but wouldn’t this be a great spot to...you know..."

The Lowdown

Last year, I gave a glowing review of Season 1 here. Before I even got the box set, I had already faithfully followed Veronica’s adventures through the entirety of the show’s first season. I’m of the opinion that it’s one of, if not the sharpest written shows, not only for the teen crowd, but on the tube period. Kristin Bell plays Veronica as a tough, savvy and highly interesting character, not to mention the fact that she’s extremely easy on the eyes. The show succeeds in portraying the teen backdrop of the show without dipping anywhere near 90210 territory. It features layer upon layer of mystery, intrigue, and high school politics, with threads that all tie together in a great mythology, without being overly mythological. It also featured good stand alone episodes that were just written about as sharply as a katana - and I mean a Hattori Hanzo katana, not one of those cheap souvenir shop plastic handle katanas. That being said, I completely spaced on all of Season 2. I missed seeing the first few episodes, and their reruns, and when that happened, I knew I was screwed until the box set came out the following summer, which just happens to be now. And after getting in the CHUD arena and fighting to the death with a couple of the other reviewers, I won the chance to redeem myself to Veronica and see what I missed this past season.

"Okay, before we get started, I just need to know if you’re hiding anything, like a kid maybe?" "Well I did have a full grown black daughter who put me in a coma and was the lovechild of my vampire boyfriend’s son, but luckily, she got her face turned into a canoe and now she’s dead." "Good, so then you’re not looking for a father figure or anything, right...?"

And the first episode let me know right away. Season 1 ended with the cliffhanger of Veronica opening her door to either Duncan or Logan after her ordeal with Lilly’s killer. I won’t spoil who it was, but later on in the episode, we find out that Logan was under suspicion for killing a PCHer, a local biker and one of Weevil’s crew named Felix, when he was on a bridge contemplating suicide. He picked a fight with Weevil and the PCHers jumped him as a result. He woke up with one of them dead beside him and the murder weapon, a knife, in his hand. Thanks to his ditching of the knife, lack of witnesses, mitigating circumstances and high priced lawyers, Logan beat the rap, which served to divide the haves and have-nots of Neptune even more than they were before. The question of whether or not Logan actually killed the dude is one of the secondary mysteries to be solved in Season 2.

That first episode also established the main mystery of the season in that a bus load kids on a field trip careens off of a cliff, killing all aboard except for Duncan’s ex, Meg, who is put into a coma. The crash is especially hard for Veronica, because she was just on the bus but got sidetracked when she saw a ghostly image of Lilly running by and ends up talking to Weevil. It’s not long before Veronica comes to find out that there was a small bomb on the bus that caused the crash, and that there’s a connection back to her. So although she has other minor cases during the school year, she keeps coming back to the bus crash.

"Uh, Xander, I keep telling you, I’m not her...yes, I’m sure. No I’ve never heard of ’Mr. Pointy’...."

And along with Logan’s murder entanglement, there are other B-stories weaved in to the season. These include Wallace finding out a secret about his father and going off to explore it, ditching school in the process for part of the year. Also, it’s not spoiling things too much to say that Veronica had relationships with both Duncan and Logan during the season, and Duncan ends up having a major issue with Meg as she recovers from the crash that directly affects his relationship with Veronica, and the law. Meanwhile, Logan’s house is set ablaze as retaliation for the death of the PCHer, Felix. So he moves in with Duncan and also spends time banging the stepmother (Charisma Carpenter) of his two friends, Beaver and Dick Casablancas. Also, Wallace falls for the new girl in town, Jackie (Tessa Thompson), who is the daughter of a local baseball legend, who just so happens to become a suspect in the bus crash. And as for Veronica’s father, his main arc is that he decides to run for Sheriff again. This leads to his becoming involved professionally with the new county supervisor, Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg, fresh off his return trip to career oblivion), who isn’t all he’s cracked up to be.

Kristen Bell’s stalking me got to be a little crazy...not that I was complaining...

As for Veronica’s cases, they range from catching a snapshot of Kendall Casablancas cheating on her husband, to proving several of Neptune High’s star athletes didn’t fail drug tests when their tests say they did, to finding the daughter of the man who falsely confessed to killing Lilly, to proving an old boyfriend / nemesis (Aaron Ashmore) didn’t commit date rape. Veronica also runs afoul of local gangsters, The Fitzpatricks, on more than one occasion. She also has to wrap up some business with Lilly’s killer from Season 1 as he goes on trial.

But finally, the question always comes back to who was responsible for the bus crash. And like Season 1’s big mystery, this one isn’t resolved until the last episode and you’ll never see the answer coming. There are also links that the killer has back to another big mystery Veronica thought she had solved in Season 1 that just add one last little layer to the whole shebang. In that regard, Veronica Mars very much like 24 in that it has layers of the main mystery like an onion that keep you crying for more as they’re slowly peeled away. Of course, one drawback is that the show is heavily serialized. And there’s so much going on that when I watched all 22 episodes within 3 days or so, I’d forgotten half of what went on this first few episodes because so much had happened since then. I believe that creator / executive producer Rob Thomas said that for Season 3, they’re not going to do one overall season-long mystery, but probably three or four over a six - eight episode arc. That would definitely help the uninitiated get into the show more. But this is a great show and I can’t recommend it enough.

"This just in: Steve Guttenberg is not, repeat not dead..."

The Package

The show looks great in widescreen, the audio is fine in Dolby Digital, and the cover art is good also. There’s a few teen-centric / Top 40 songs here and there, though I couldn’t tell you by whom nor would I want to be able to. There’s 22 minutes of deleted scenes, mixed right into the episode menus, where they should be. There’s also A Day on the Set with Veronica Mars, which is a video diary with Kristen Bell and Veronica Mars: Not Your Average Teen Detective, a five minute behind-the-scenes. There’s also a gag reel from both Seasons 1 and 2 that goes for around eight minutes. The extras are a little scant and the set really could have used a couple of commentaries, particularly from Thomas and Bell; the season finale in particular.

8.7 out of 10