It’s great to have Veronica Mars back on our screens, even if it is only for 8 episodes. While the central mystery might be too twisty-turny for its own good, it is still a compelling arc and a great chance to reconnect the residents of Neptune.
This Veronica Mars Season 4 Hulu review is spoiler-free.
Veronica Mars is one of those rare TV shows that managed to get a reprieve after it’s cancellation in 2007. Creator Rob Thomas brought everyone’s favorite PI back to the big screen in 2014, thanks to one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time. It seems like Veronica Mars is an even rarer TV show in that after its cinematic swan song, it’s back again with a new season on Hulu.
When we last saw Veronica (Kristen Bell) she was about to turn her back on a career as a high-flying New York lawyer to stay with Logan (Jason Dohring) and go back to her life as a PI. Veronica Mars Season 4 picks up five years later with Veronica and her Dad (Enrico Colantoni) working together as Neptune’s number one private investigators. Generally, life seems to be going well for our favorite private detective, but as we dig a little deeper it becomes clear that everything in Veronica’s life, and in Neptune, isn’t quite as sunny as the spring break weather with tensions bubbling up all over town.
The central premise of Veronica Mars Season 4 is that there’s a friction in Neptune between the super wealthy and the mere mortals. The richer residents of the town, led by Big Dick Casablancas (David Starzyk), want to make sure Neptune becomes a playground for the rich and famous by running the normal residents out of town. If that wasn’t bad enough there’s a bomber on the loose terrorizing the local residents and showing no signs of stopping. It’s up to Mars Investigations to step up and save the day, against all the odds.
One of the things that I’ve always liked about Veronica Mars is the characters, from the central cast right down to the slightly more bizarre residents of Neptune. Veronica Mars Season 4 does a really good job of recreating that feeling of a living, breathing community. The relationships between the key players feel organic and natural; I had half expected the cast to struggle to slip back into roles that they’ve been away from for so long but that’s not the case. It’s clear that everyone involved has a lot of affection for the world they’ve built and the characters who inhabit it. The core of the series has always been Veronica and her father, they’re the foundations that everything else is built on and it’s great to see them picking up where they left off. Similarly, Logan and Veronica are immediately recognizable as a couple but it is interesting to see how things have developed in the years since we last saw them. This is a picture of what happens after the fairytale reunion of the movie, and that was something that really worked for me. It’s not often you get to see behind the happily ever after, and this felt true to the characters and the story.
It’s not just the returning cast that is on good form either, there’s a whole host of new residents that are great. The three that really spring to mind are Patton Oswalt, who is great as the true crime-obsessed Penn Epner, J. K. Simmons as Big Dick Casablanca’s fixer Clyde, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Nicole, who slowly builds a friendship with Veronica.
Veronica Mars Season 4 is much shorter than the originals and it kind of begins to show in the storyline. Whereas previously the show had more than 20 episodes per season to tell a story there are only 8 episodes this time around. The problem that I had was that the show tries to keep a similar format, with lots of tangential plots and red herrings along the way. In a bigger season, there’s much more room for these elements to grow and develop but in a more condensed version, they feel a little needless. There are lots of things that seem like they’re going to be really important that end up either fizzling out or just being left by the wayside entirely and it’s a shame.
I loved the new season of Veronica Mars, it feels like going back to visit old friends. The characters are the key to the success of the show with everyone getting a chance to shine. Some elements do feel a little bit forced as the show tries to bring back too many old faces (to the point I was furiously Googling people to remind myself who they were) but it doesn’t detract from the story. I would have enjoyed more space for the story to breathe, as things can feel a little rushed, but the central mystery is compelling enough to ensure this isn’t a problem. Season 4 of Veronica Mars is brilliant fun and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you were a fan of the original. Even if you weren’t there’s a lot here to like but you really need to be up to speed to get the full Veronica experience.
Oli has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. He has a PhD in Computer Science and he writes articles about TV, film and, very occasionally, science.