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Veronica Mars: The Complete Third Season (2006-2007)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 10/23/2007

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/22/2007

I realize that television networks are a form of business and that they must look out for their bottom-line. But, don't they realize how we, the American television viewing public, fall in love with TV shows? And don't they realize how they break our hearts when they make those beloved (by some) shows go away? Thankfully, we now have DVD sets of our favorite shows so that we may keep them forever. The latest program to fall into this "gone but not forgotten now that it's on DVD" is Veronica Mars: The Complete Third Season.

For those of you not familiar with a Veronica Mars, here's a quick overview (which will contain some spoilers if you haven't seen Seasons One or Two.) Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) went to high school in the affluent town of Neptune, California. Her father, Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni) was the sheriff. Despite the fact that Veronica's family wasn't rich, her father's status in town allowed her to run with the in-crowd. But, Veronica's life then took a turn for the worse. Her best friend, Lily (Amanda Seyfried) was murdered and her father was removed from office when the townspeople felt that he botched the case. To make matters worse, Veronica was drugged and raped at a party, and ostracized by her rich friends. Keith opened a private detective agency and Veronica worked as his secretary. However, as the daughter of a cop, Veronica had gained plenty of detective skills of her own. She used these skills to help track down Lily's murderer and in her senior year, she learned the secrets behind a deadly school bus accident. Along the way, she made new friends, Wallace (Percy Daggs III) and Mac (Tina Majorino). And to everyone's surprise, she fell in love with a boy who was once her arch-enemy, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).

As Season Three opens, Veronica finds herself at Hearst College, which apparently is very close to Neptune. (In true TV fashion) Wallace, Mac, and Logan are there as well. Veronica wants to be serious about college and tells herself "not to piss anybody off", but not long after school starts, there are a series of brutal rapes on campus where the attackers shaves the head of the victims. Mac's roommate is raped and Veronica finds herself knee-deep in the case. Interested only in learning the truth, Veronica finds herself pitted between the fraternity which is suspected of harboring the rapist and the women's movement who demand action. Even with this happening, Veronica continues to take on small cases. Meanwhile, Veronica is facing problems of her own. She wants to do well in her criminology class and impress her teacher, Professor Landry (Patrick Fabian). Her father is considering running for sheriff again. But, worst of all, Veronica finds that she and Logan are drifting apart. Who knew that college would be even more challenging than high school?

With Season Three of Veronica Mars, series creator/executive producer found himself in a position which has faced many TV producers for decades: now that your characters have finished high school, now what? There was no question that Veronica would go to college (although a plot from Season Two concerning a scholarship was never resolved), but we did wonder who would go with her. It was quite surprising to see that the bulk of the main cast found their way to Hearst, even perennial party-boy Dick (Ryan Hansen), and career-criminal Weevil (Francis Capra). The show smartly introduces some new characters, such as Wallace's roommate, Piz (Chris Lowell) and Mac's roommate, Parker (Julie Gonzalo), as well as some new adults for Veronica to challenge.

Veronica Mars had already proven itself to be a show which never shied away from controversial topics, and Season Three is no exception. Any show which introduces the idea of a serial rapist in its season premiere isn't afraid to get in the audience's face. The series also brought in topics such as adultery, murder, substance abuse, and gambling just to name a few. The show further proved that it may have young adult characters, but it wasn't afraid to tackle serious issues.

But, Season Three also denoted a change for the show. Veronica Mars had been a fan favorite over the first two seasons, but the ratings hadn't been very good. If forced to guess why, I would say that the show may have been too challenging for some viewers, as it offered a sassy, attractive female lead who was also a bad-ass detective. She's like Batman in a mini-skirt. Also, the first two seasons revolved around very involved story arcs, which may it difficult to simply "jump into" the show. In an effort to combat this, the show was "opened up" in Season Three, presumably to make it more accessible. There were two story arcs, which encompassed a certain amount of episodes. The last few shows involved self-contained mysteries. New, sympathetic characters were brought in so that Veronica's world wasn't inhabited solely by rich scumbags.

Veronica Mars was cancelled at the end of Season Three, so apparently the strategy didn't gain new viewers. In the process, it left us with the show's weakest season. Despite the preposterous events of Season Two, the show was still gripping. Season Three presents us with a show which wants to change, but it features characters that don't. The writing on the show mystery-wise was as sharp as ever, but I find myself growing weary of Veronica's personal problems and whining. The show also spread itself very thin with the introduction of new characters and subplots. And to cap it all off, the season finale, which became the series finale, isn't satisfying. Despite the fact that Kristen Bell is only 5' 1'', Season Three of Veronica Mars is still head-and-shoulders above most other shows on TV. And while it's hard enough to have a good show taken away from us, it even worse to see it take a step down in quality as it leaves.

Veronica Mars: The Complete Third Season investigates DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The six-disc boxed set contains all 20 episodes from the shows third season. The shows have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfers are enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The first thing that jumps out about the video here is how grainy it is. At first, I thought that I was viewing stock footage, but the grain persists throughout the show. Otherwise, the image shows no defects from the source material. The colors are very good, most notably the reds and greens. Much of the show takes place at night, and these scenes are never overly dark. I noted no distracting video noise or artifacting. The DVDs carry a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. There are some occasional stereo effects here, but the surround sound effects are far too subtle. I had to put my ear against one of the rear speakers to confirm that there was any sound. In addition, I detected no subwoofer action.

All of the Bonus Features for Veronica Mars: The Complete Third Season are found on Disc 6. "Season 4 Presentation" (12 minutes) may be one of the best DVD extras ever, as it offers the reel that Rob Thomas and company made to sell a fourth season of the show to The CW. It's set a few years after Season Three and we see Veronica as a fledgling FBI agent. We see her in meeting, going undercover, and in a stakeout. It's very interesting, and my curiosity was certainly piqued. "Pitching Season 4" (18 minutes) contains comments from Thomas and supervising producer Dan Etheridge on their attempts to continue the show. Unfortunately, it also contains the 12-minute reel...again...divided into small segments. In "Going Undercover with Rob Thomas" (84 minutes), Thomas and Etheridge discuss many facets of Season Three, such as guest stars, the new title sequence, and their favorite moments. Thomas refers to this as the season's "commentary". The "Webisode Gallery" contains 5 entries which total 13 minutes. They show interviews with cast members and tours of the set. Thomas gives introductions to the "Additional Scenes". There are 16 scenes here, which run about 24 minutes. Thomas' comments provide more footage than the scenes themselves and there's nothing groundbreaking here. The final extra is a 7-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long