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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
Veronica Mars: The Complete Second Season (2005-2006)

Wallace: You think this is a conspiracy?
Veronica: This is Neptune. Nothing happens accidentally.

- Percy Daggs III, Kristen Bell

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: August 21, 2006

Stars: Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring
Other Stars: Teddy Dunn, Percy Daggs III, Ryan Hansen, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Francis Capra, Charisma Carpenter, Joss Whedon, Steve Guttenberg, Kevin Smith
Director: various

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, sexuality, mature themes)
Run Time: Approx. 929
Release Date: August 22, 2006
UPC: 012569769175
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+A-B+ C-

DVD Review

Many great TV shows start off rockily, but Veronica Mars had a different problem: how to top probably the most consistently excellent premiere season of television in recent history. Not unexpectedly, the task proved to be too much even for a cast and writers as talented as this bunch. But if Season Two of this teen detective series isn't as uniformly, pulse-racingly assembled, it's still a standout for the genre, for its network (it's the only really decent show the now-defunct UPN ever produced), and, heck, television in general.

We pick up where we left off (if you don't know where that is, you needn't bother—this show's plotting rivals The Maltese Falcon in terms of complexity). Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) has solved the case of her best friend Lily's murder, an event that haunted her and drove the narrative throughout the first season. She's back with her boyfriend Duncan (Teddy Dunn), who happens to be the brother of said murder victim and the son of the billionaire software maven Veronica's private investigator father Keith (Enrico Calantoni) had pegged as the guilty party (he was wrong). Veronica's loyalty to her father made her an outsider with the "09ers," the rich kids in Neptune, CA, last season, and that's not likely to change anytime soon.

Tensions are riding high in the divided community, which is made up of the richest of the rich and poor unfortunates like Weevil (Francis Capra), the leader of a gang of rough and tumble Latino bikers. They aren't too happy with local prettyboy Logan (Jason Dohring), son of the famous movie star charged with the Lily Kane murder, probably because he was seemingly involved in an incident that left one of their own dead—a rap he was able to beat thanks to his dad's deep pockets. I told you all of this was complicated—more happens in a single episode of Veronica Mars than an entire season of most shows, and I'm just getting started.

There's another season-long plot. At the beginning of the year, a bus containing a handful of Veronica's classmates goes off a cliff, and not accidentally. Veronica has reason to believe she was the target—a twist of fate is all that kept her from the tragedy. The season carries a whole new angle of political intrigue as well, as the bus crash seems to be connected to plans by the Neptune mayor Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) to put incorporation on the ballot. Meanwhile, a slew of new characters are introduced, including Woody's daughter (Krysten Ritter); Jackie (Tessa Thompson), a love interest for Veronica's best bud Wallace (Percy Daggs III); and Buffy's Charisma Carpenter as Neptune's newest femme fatale.

All that said, the formula hasn't changed a great deal. Each episode still typically deals with Veronica's case of the week, more often than not helping out some poor classmate who has gotten into trouble, whether it's the girl wrongly accused of stealing the money from the Winter Carnival (Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough) or the student-organizers of a message board for gay teens that are being threatened with an outing (Versatile Toppings). Sometimes she even helps out regular characters, as in Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle, in which she helps clear her best friend of a murder charge. It's always fun to watch Veronica go to work. She's one of the best role models for teen girls on TV, not because she's a goody-goody, but because she's so real. She's smart, resourceful, and quick-witted, but she's also flawed, and her cases give her a chance to make and learn from her mistakes. They usually involve enough twists and turns to keep viewers engaged, too.

Sadly, the season-long arc doesn't work quite as well this time around. Last year, it was anchored in Veronica's personal tragedy. This year, the bus crash just doesn't have the same emotional impact. It doesn't help that the whole mess is muddled with a dozen other tangentially related mysteries (there's a whole bit about a feud between Weevil's gang and an Irish family that I still don't understand). Sometimes, the bus crash won't be mentioned for episodes on end, as a lot of time is spent on red herrings or even unnecessarily reviewing mysteries supposedly solved in Season One. By episode 22, all the questions are answered, but it takes some effort to buy everything on the audience's part, and that's a shame after last season's stunner of a closer.

Still, it's a very entertaining watch, from episode to episode, thanks to snappy, quippy dialogue and a few outstanding actors. Kristen Bell is still one of the most underrated performers on TV; no one who saw this season's emotional rollercoaster finale can deny she deserves the Emmy nod she sadly did not receive. Enrico Colantoni is still one of the most loveable, non-annoying dads on TV. Jason Dohring keeps Veronica's on-again, off-again relationship with Logan hot even as chemistry fizzles between her and Duncan (not to dis Teddy Duncan—he's just a dull character). Unexpectedly, Percy Daggs has become the heart of the show as goofy, dorky Wallace; when he leaves for a stretch of episodes (due to budget cuts this season, he and Francis Capra appear sporadically), he's missed.

Somehow, this demanding series has found its fervent followers, and despite low ratings, it will continue for a third season on the new CW network. The plan is for shorter mystery arcs, and I think it's a good thing—the pressure of measuring up to Season One brought Season Two down. From here on, it should be smooth sailing. Either that, or the show will be canceled and I'll sacrifice my TiVo in protest. One of the two.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The show is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and looks quite nice, with strong colors, good detail, and noticeable but unobtrusive grain. Unless you watch in HD, this is about the best the show is going to look, and that isn't a bad thing.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 surround mix gets the job done. Dialogue is presented clearly and the front soundstage fills out the mix with songs and sound effects. The surrounds contribute some atmosphere but don't see a lot of action.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 132 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 TV Spots/Teasers
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag reel
Extras Review: The first season of Veronica Mars was rushed out, extras-less, before the second season premiere, and whether that's the case this time around or not, there once again aren't a lot of bonuses to plow through.

A Day on the Set with Veronica Mars reveals, in just under eight minutes, that Kirsten Bell is every bit as adorable as the character she plays as she leads us through an average 15-hour day with her personal video diary. We get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the sets and trailers, and even check out the craft services line. Looks like fun.

In Veronica Mars: Not Your Average Teen Detective (05m:08s) creator Rob Thomas discusses how he came up with the show and the actors lavish praise upon him. Worth watching if only to hear Tomas explain that the Season Two mystery and solution was planned at the end of season one (why did it feel so abrupt then?). It's OK for what it is, but pretty short.

The eight-minute gag reel is one of the most adorable ever assembled, at least if you love Kristen Bell as much as I do. Aside from a preview for the new season on The CW, that's it, sadly—no deleted scenes or commentaries. And for some crazy reason, the episodes are subtitled in French and Spanish but not English.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Even though the second season slipped a bit from the stellar debut year, it's still no mystery why Veronica Mars has become a cult sensation: compelling characters, twisty, demanding storylines, and the coolest quick-witted blonde teen heroine ever (sorry, Buffy, you whine too much). Buy it, love it, and for the sake of internet message boards everywhere, follow it to its new home on The CW.

 


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