When Veronica Mars first came out on the CW in 2004, its premise felt radical and very fun. The show took the character of a hardboiled private detective and packaged it in a petite blond high school student. It was Nancy Drew meets The Maltese Falcon. If you have not watched the first three seasons, you really should. This month, Hulu dropped the 8-episode fourth season, which takes place 15 years after the first season, picking up where the movie and two Veronica Mars novels left off. Although the ending of the season is controversial among series fans, I think this newest season delivers a lot of what was so loveable about the series but in a darker, more adult package.
In this new season, Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) and her father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni) try to uncover who is behind a string of bombings aimed at shutting down the spring break party atmosphere in their hometown of Neptune, California. Also back are familiar faces such as Veronica’s boyfriend, Logan (Jason Dohring); best friend, Wallace (Percy Daggs III); the loveable FBI agent Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield) and bike gang leader, Eli ‘Weevil’ Navarro (Francis Capra); along with new characters Penn Epner (Patton Oswalt); Clyde Pickett (J.K. Simmons); and Matty Ross (Izabela Vidovic).
For longtime fans of the show, the new season offers a tone that goes more fully film noir than previous seasons. Although Hulu curbed some of the fouler language, under the guise that Keith and Veronica have a bet to see who can go the longest without dropping an f-bomb, Veronica is no longer a young woman and the wounds of the past start to have more bearing on her relationships. I appreciated seeing Veronica, Keith, Logan, and Weevil navigate the aftermath of traumas they experienced in previous storylines and that the lasting effects are not papered over. The result is not always pretty, but it is true to life and to the film noir genre.
As usual, the acting is excellent and the chemistry between the actors gives the show a lot of heat. It is always fun to see Kristen Bell together with both Max Greenfield and Jason Dohring. As Logan tries to work through his anger issues, Dohring gives the character plenty of depth and nuance. As father and daughter, Enrico Colantoni and Bell persist in being one of my favorite on-screen duos. This season they have their standard witty banter, but also some meaty emotional issues to sort through as Keith’s health problems could mean the end of their shared business.
All in all, I thought, despite the controversial finale, Veronica Mars delivered a mature next chapter for the characters and a great mystery too. I enjoyed the mix of humor and drama and definitely recommend this show from start to finish.
Veronica Mars was created by Rob Thomas. The season 4 miniseries runs for 8 episodes and is rated TV-MA.
Also streaming on Hulu is a new adaptation of Joseph Heller’s classic novel, Catch-22. Set in Italy in the final pushes of World War II, the story follows Yo-yo (Christopher Abbott), a fighter pilot desperate to leave the war, but Colonel Cathcart (Kyle Chandler) keeps raising the number of missions a pilot must fly before he can go home. Catch-22 follows his absurd attempts to be declared unfit to serve and the more absurd aspects of his regiment. The series also stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Lewis Pullman.
Catch-22 is a cinematic adaptation featuring art direction that looks like a serious war movie, further heightened by the big stars in the cast. In contrast to the military look of the show, the absurd, satirical dialogue gives the story a great sense of humor. The series is a well-crafted, well-acted adaptation of the novel, well worth a binge-watch.
Catch-22 was created by Luke Davies and David Michôd, based on the novel by Joseph Heller. It runs for 6 episodes and is rated TV-MA.