The show critique portion of this review was written by my colleague Tia Fabi. Although this is technically the fourth season, the packaging of the physical release refers to it as the first season of this 2019 continuation. For the purpose of critical evaluation, this will be referred to as the fourth season below.
Veronica Mars is one of the cult-classic shows of our generation. After three beloved seasons, a cancelation, and a fan-funded film in 2014, longtime viewers were able to see their favorite characters grown up in a fourth season on Hulu. Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, and others teamed back up with Rob Thomas to put out a new season for those who have begged to see Veronica and Logan again. As a fan of iZombie, another title of Rob Thomas’s (not the singer from Matchbox Twenty), I had to jump into the fourth season. If anything just to see Dohring again.
Season four-hit Hulu in July of 2019. As of now, there’s no plans for a fifth season. This is probably because Veronica Mars hit some flack after it decided to [spoilers] kill off a fan favorite at the end of the season. Fans had loved this series, given money for this series, and they felt cheated by Thomas and Bell’s decision. While I also disliked the direction it went in the final moments of the fourth season, there was one other aspect of season four I disliked.
Veronica Mars was hailed a girl-power icon. Coming right out of the early 2000s, Veronica was spunky, headstrong, and was “not like the other girls”. She solved crimes and would rather get her hands dirty than be involved in things other high school girls would. It appealed to girls and boys alike and certainly was a character I would have related with at the time.
Everyone has to grow up and being a headstrong teenager only meant she would turn into a headstrong adult – which, is great. We want to see women become successful and stand on their own. This is not my problem at all. My problem is Veronica’s relationship with Logan. Logan, played by Dohring, was the immature and angry bad boy who had rich parents. His character has grown a lot throughout the seasons and movie. By the time season four hits, Logan is an adult and actively works to ensure he isn’t the teenager he once was. The problem is Veronica’s inability to allow Logan to grow. It’s as if she still wishes to hold onto the high school banter the two had and wants Logan to be angry. To rage out. All the while this isn’t what Logan wants to do. It’s as if Veronica can’t accept they’ve grown up, since in many ways, she’s become stuck in her early 2000s attitude. It’s also the fact that both Thomas and Bell have admitted that they didn’t know where else to go with Logan and Mars – even though their relationship was a touchstone of the series. It’s as if they all didn’t get the memo – Veronica can be in a happy relationship and still be a kickass, independent woman.
Besides that, I liked season four. It involved solving crimes, which is something that we love about Veronica Mars. We saw plenty of familiar faces and the season was unapologetically its own. As opposed to pandering to anything other than authenticity – which is what many people complained about the 2014 movie – that because it was funded by fans; it was just catering to fans. Instead of really telling a story. Season four was grown up, it was with these adults and we got to see who these people were outside of the comfort of being teenagers forever. I also enjoyed the new rendition of the opening title song “We Used to Be Friends”. Enrico Colantoni was still fantastic as Keith and seeing the father-daughter relationship was always a great part of the series.
Even though Veronica Mars season four hit the streaming platform in 2019, I don’t want to ruin too much of the season. If you’re a fan of the series and have been hesitant to watch because of reviews in the past, I say watch and form your own opinion. I don’t believe you necessarily need to watch the past seasons to really understand the fourth season, but having all that background information still would work well. I also suggest watching Thomas’ other project iZombie. All five seasons are on Netflix, or you can purchase the first three on Blu-Ray via Warner Archive, and it had a very satisfying ending!
Veronica Mars (2019): The Complete First Season arrives on Blu-Ray courtesy of Warner Archive with a gorgeous AVC encoded 1080p transfer. This is a step up from the streaming version of the show, as the disc provides a more consistent and stable image. The color palette tends to be more natural as it displays some magical instances of beautiful colors popping off the screen, especially in fiery explosions. The levels of detail this presentation is able to eek out is quite striking, as all of the subtle details in the production design are easily identifiable. Black levels are appropriately deep and give way to a nice amount of detail in shadows. The bright whites do not fall victim to any blooming in this presentation. Skin tones appear very natural across the entire cast. There are no egregious instances of aliasing or compression artifacts detectable here. The Blu-Ray is quite stunning as it showcases the cinematic feel of the season to great effect.
This Blu-Ray comes with a pleasingly active DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that creates a fully fleshed-out world. One of the standout aspects of this show has always been the amazing soundtrack, both in the songs they include in the show as well as the series music from Josh Kramon. His work perfectly sets the tone for the story, and it creates a nicely enveloping soundscape that draws you further into the show. The songs, especially the updated theme song in this iteration, really come alive in all of the channels. Dialogue always comes through crisp and clear without being stepped on by the score or any sound effects. More kinetic moments are given the appropriate power in the mix with a forceful showing in the low end. Ambient sounds are also precisely placed in the rear channels. The audio presentation here is fantastic on all levels.
- Veronica Mars at Comic-Con 2019: A 26-minute featurette with creator Rob Thomas, executive producer Diane Ruggiero-Wright, actors Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Ryan Hansen, Percy Daggs III and Francis Capra. This panel is intercut with clips from the show and was recorded after the first episode had dropped on Hulu. The participants discuss Veronica’s commitment issues, tease the fate of characters for the remainder of the season, delve into how the characters have evolved and more. One of the best aspects of the show is the banter between these individuals, and you get a good dose of that here.
The newest iteration of Veronica Mars welcomed back these beloved characters into our lives in a season that provided a lot of surprises and heartache. The season itself made some polarizing choices, but the kind of passion it inspired showcases how easy it is to get emotionally invested in these characters. Warner Archive has provided a Blu-Ray release with a spectacular A/V presentation and a fun Comic-Con panel. If you are a fan of the show, you are going to appreciate being able to own it in the best quality.
Veronica Mars (2019): The Complete First Season can be purchased directly through Warner Archive or various other online retailers.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Warner Archive has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.