The third season of the cult television show Veronica Mars moved the private eye, played to perfection by Kristen Bell, from high school to college. Once one accepts the conceit present in so many shows that make this move that somehow the important players in the gang all decide to go the same school, there is much fun to be had in this final season.
In an effort to boost viewership, the third season eschews the season long mystery and in its place has a couple of multi-episode mysteries as well as stand alone episodes. Despite this change in the storytelling structure, all the hallmarks of the show's first two seasons are present, from the noir mysteries, to Veronica's problems with her love life, to her ever so snarky comments.
The first of the two multi-episode mysteries deals with rapes happening on the campus of Veronica's new school, Hearst College. The plot was initially brought up when Veronica went to visit the school during a season two episode. Nearly the first half of this season is spent with Veronica investigating the rapes and getting herself into deep trouble with all the possible suspects. Nine of the 20 episodes from the season are spent with Veronica on this case, and also find her just starting to get her footing at college.
By the time she is starting to finally get the hang of the whole higher education thing, she is on her second case, the apparent suicide of a faculty member. Lucky for Veronica the faculty member just happened to die in the exact way Veronica wrote that a “perfect murder” could be committed for one of her classes.
Unlike the first mystery, this second one ends in a way that is all too predictable. The whodunit can be figured out several episodes before Veronica actually puts all the pieces together.
However, throughout all the cases, murders, double-crosses, and general college fun, the show really finds its center in relationships. It is Veronica's relationship with her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni), her on again off relationship with Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) as well as her friendships with Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Piz (Chris Lowell), and Mac (Tina Marjorino) that are at the heart of the story. The mystery cases may provide a great way to enter the series, but it is the relationships that keep people hooked.
One of the things that the show does so successfully is the character of Veronica herself. She is a part of virtually every storyline the show puts forth, and despite the numerous setbacks she has had in her life (like her mother abandoning Veronica and her father) she is still a likable character. Undeniably, she has a mean streak, but somehow she is able to smile an ironic, mocking, smile, use her razor sharp wit, and win over a sizable percentage of those she encounters. There are hold outs, like the girls from Lilith House, a feminist group on the Hearst College campus, but it seems like a smaller group of people in college than at Neptune High School.
One of the more interesting parts of this DVD release is the sixth disc, which focuses entirely on special features. The first two items included on the disc are all about the hypothetical fourth season of the show. Rob Thomas (creator and executive producer of Veronica Mars) along with his team put together a presentation for the CW network as to what the fourth season of the show could be (it fast-forwards a few years and puts Veronica in the FBI). The presentation, which is essentially an extended tease, shows off Veronica's new colleagues, potential friends or enemies all, and gives some hints as to what happened during the “missing” years. The next special feature has Rob Thomas and Dan Etheridge (supervising producer) discuss the presentation in greater depth. They go into why they put it together as well as what exactly it took to get the entire presentation off the ground. Sadly, as we all now know, the CW declined to pick up the show, but there is still a certain morbid curiosity attached to viewing the presentation itself.
Other special features on the disc include Thomas and Etheridge discussing various story beats, characters, and changes in the show from one season to the next. These discussions are punctuated by clips from the show that provide examples of what they are talking about. There are also unaired scenes, a gag reel, and some interviews that were on the Veronica Mars website included.
Throughout its tumultuous three seasons, Veronica Mars garnered a loyal, but small, viewership. It is one of the shows that, though wise and witty was never a big hit with audiences. Veronica Mars – The Complete Third Season may not be the best entry into the series (watching the first two seasons of the show is helpful), but it is certainly possible to solely watch these 20 episodes of the series, have a great deal of fun, and lament a show that disappeared before its time was up.