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Veronica Mars changes tack - Spoilers (joss whedon mention)

Colin Mahan

Friday 21 July 2006, by Webmaster

Rob Thomas says it’s make-or-break time for sleuth series; new season will feature more mystery arcs.

LOS ANGELES—Veronica Mars has always relied on the kindness of networks. This season, she’ll need something more.

The edgy mystery series has never fared well in the ratings, despite an ardent fan base that includes Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, Stephen King, and a rabid gang of folks who went to great lengths trying to convince CW network boss Dawn Ostroff not to dump the show. This season, Mars is being paired with Gilmore Girls, and hopes are high that the popular former WB show will funnel viewers to the low-rated former UPN show.

With the CW ordering only 13 episodes for season three, Mars creator Rob Thomas said there is a sense that if the show doesn’t perk up in the ratings, its luck might run out.

"I think we’re in a make-or-break time now," he said. "I think we need to come in on this new time slot and do well."

Thomas, speaking this week in Pasadena, California, at the TV Critics Association press tour, admitted that season two of Mars was difficult to follow, even for regular viewers.

"I never want anyone to know what’s going on," Thomas joked to the laughing crowd. "I think that was a problem with season two. Having two concurrent mysteries [produced] way too many red herrings."

Serialized dramas like Mars, ABC’s Lost, and Fox’s 24 run the risk of excluding people who don’t catch on early. ABC said it will break Lost into two parts, with no repeats.

Thomas has a similar idea to keep potential viewers from feeling left out if they miss the beginning of Mars. Rather than focus on one overarching mystery for the entire season, with mini-mysteries each episode, there will be three mystery "blocks."

"Our first mystery is going to be nine episodes," Thomas said. "There will be no preemptions, no repeats in there. Our second mystery will be seven episodes, no preemptions or repeats. Our third will be six episodes, again with no preemptions or repeats. There will be more jumping-in points for the viewer."

Thomas caught himself.

"I say this like a man who is confident he’ll get 22 episodes," he joked. "I have to just act like we are."

Thomas says he understand the plight of the TV viewer who feels shut out of a show’s "buzz."

"As a fan of television, I heard the buzz on 24 and it was eight, nine episodes in and felt like I was too late to catch up, so I eventually caught up on DVD," he said. "And I think that’s been a problem [with Veronica Mars] in the past—if we’re in the middle of a season, the viewer can’t catch up. That’s something we’re looking to correct in season three."

Thomas also revealed details about new characters and upcoming plot devlopment.

"Veronica is going to [local school] Hearst College," Thomas said. "Mac [Tina Majorino] will be a regular character, and she’s going to Hearst. Wallace is going to Hearst. Logan is going to Hearst, and even Dick Casablancas—believe me, we are going to have to do some explaining about how he got into Hearst."

"We’re introducing two new series regulars," he revealed. "One is named after the director of our pilot, Pizz, who will be Wallace’s roommate, Stosh Piznarski. Then Mac will get a roommate named Parker who will be everything that Mac is not—bubbly, effervescent, and listens to a lot of Nellie Furtado. They won’t hit it off right away."

Thomas said he wants to make sure the character of Veronica stays true to her roots.

"My fear with the character is never let her get too huggable, too cuddly, too warm," he said. "I tell the writers to write her like a porcupine."

Veronica Mars launches its third season on the CW, Tuesday, October 3.