REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 4

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

 

Starring

Kristen Bell (The GOod Place)
Jason Dohring (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Percy Daggs III (American son)
Francis Capra (Heroes)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
David Starzyk (Bring it On 5)
Adam Rose (Santa Clarita Diet)
Ryan Devlin (Big Shots)
Julie Gonzalo (Freaky Friday)
James Jordan (Wind River)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)
Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place)
Patton Oswalt (Two and a Half men)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Izabela Vidovic (Supergirl)
J. K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Tyler Alvarez (American Vandal)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Mido Hamada (Unknown)
Kyle Secor (The Flash)
François Chau (The Tick)
Logan Miller (Escape Room)
Josh Duhamel (Transformers)
Patrick Cox (2 Broke Girls)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Clark Duke (Kick-Ass)
Jacqueline Antaramian (Side Effects)
Paul Karmiryan (In The Vault)
Lukas Gage (American Vandal)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Patrick Wolff (Starship Troopers)

Chino and the ManIn Hulu’s revival of Veronica Mars, the title character (Kristen Bell) visits one of the many men she put behind bars as a teenager. Realizing that she’s still working as a private investigator, he snipes, “That was your job in high school, right?” Television shows are a product of a particular time in the lives of their characters, creators, and audiences. One of the biggest problems with the recent trend of belated-sequel seasons is that they try to act like nothing has changed for any of those groups when, say, a 32-year-old Rory Gilmore shouldn’t still be acting like a 20-year-old. This issue should be especially acute for Veronica Mars, which in its original run drew much of its power and verve from presenting a hard-boiled gumshoe who looked like she had just quit the school dance team. (She had, actually, in the wake of her best friend’s murder.)Chino and the ManBut the new eight-episode Hulu season is keenly aware that its heroine is stuck in neutral. It’s less surprising for her as an adult to be doing stakeouts and fending off gangsters at gunpoint. But it’s also sad and self-destructive — in a very film-noir kind of way — that she’s retreated to the role she had before she was old enough to vote. When her high school frenemy Weevil (Francis Capra) asks what’s wrong with her, she cracks, “You know, there are a range of opinions.” She spends as much of her narration beating herself up for mistakes and character flaws as she does helping us follow the complicated case that’s brought her back to television. And Bell is just as charismatic, vulnerable, and slick with the banter as she was when she could pass for an 11th-grader.newgirl-ep708_sc9-ray_1203_originalVeronica creator Rob Thomas presciently set the original series in a California beach town with no middle class — only the ultrarich and the people who work for them. The setting works even better amid our present-day class warfare, and the plot involves a series of bombings that may be connected to a movement to drive out the city’s few remaining mom-and-pop businesses. Chief among the early suspects: “Big Dick” Casablancas (David Starzyk), a real-estate mogul (and holdover from the original series; he’s the father of Ryan Hansen’s Dick) publicly insisting that “we need to get back to a better time.” There’s a healthy mix of new faces, including Patton Oswalt enjoying his celebrity as witness to the first bombing; J.K. Simmons at his most charming as an ex-con now working as Big Dick’s enforcer; Kirby Howell-Baptiste as a bar owner Veronica befriends; and Izabela Vidovic as a teen reminiscent of Veronica back in the UPN days. And Veronica of course works the case with her beloved father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni, appealingly relaxed as ever, even as Keith battles health issues), while still trying to make things work with high school flame Logan (Jason Dohring, who apparently lives at the gym now).9a8851bc-3c87-458d-9481-8e4ea386bca3-vmars_101_md_2021r_fThis is the second time Bell and Co. have returned to this world: A 2014 movie introduced us to Veronica as an adult. Perhaps because the film was funded by Kickstarter, Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright (who also co-wrote the new season) leaned hard into fan service, with a mystery that was largely an excuse to bring back as many old favorites as possible. It was fun in spots, but a violation of the bleak noir ethos of the original series, which was at its best when it denied the audience what it wanted and gave them what the story demanded. The Hulu version also features a host of familiar faces, like Max Greenfield as Veronica’s ex Leo (now an FBI agent looking into the bombings), but they turn up only when the plot calls for them. And the ending to this new mystery feels satisfying both to the narratives and to the themes of Veronica’s life as a woman who can’t stop looking for the truth, no matter how much it hurts.Keep Calm and Party OnThe conclusion is darker than some fans may want, but feels like a necessary corrective for this new phase of our heroine’s life. It’s a terrific return to form for one of television’s all-time great underseen gems

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 3

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Tina Majorino (Waterworld)
Michael Muhney (The Young and the Restless)
Julie Gonzalo (Cherry Rush)
Chris Lowell (GLOW)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Jason Beghe (One Missed Call)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
James Jordan (Destroyer)
Andrew McClain (Alienate)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
David Tom (Swing Kids)
Samm Levine (Inglourious Basterds)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Chastity Dotson (Patriot)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Samllville)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Ryan Devlin (Izombie)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Lindsey McKeon (One Tree Hill)
Krista Kalmus (Fired Up!)
Ed Begley Jr. (A Mighty Wind)
Parry Shen (Hatchet II)
Robert Ri’chard (House of Wax)
Michael B. Silver (Jason Goes To Hell)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Ryan Pinkston (Will & Grace)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street)
Adam Rose (Santa Clarita Diet)
Dianna Agron (Glee)
Laura San Giacomo (Pretty Woman)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Michael Grant Terry (Bones)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Charles Shaughnessy (Sabrina: TTW)
Patricia Hearst (Cry-Baby)
David Blue (Stargate Universe)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
Eric Jungmann (Not Another Teen Movie)
Brittany Ishibashi (Runaways)
Brianne Davis (Six)
Amanda Noret (She’s Out of His Mind)
Chris Ellis (Armageddon)
Carlee Avers (The Changed)
Toni Trucks (Grimm)
Juliette Goglia (Mike & Molly)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Jack McGee (Gangster Squad)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
Duane Daniels (First Strike)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Edi Gathegi (Beauty and The BEast)
Tangie Ambrose (Why Him?)
Patrick Fischler (Birds of Prey)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Jim Jansen (A.I.)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2004)In its third season, Veronica Mars steps away from any season-length stories. Slightly truncated to twenty episodes, season three is neatly grouped into three distinct chunks of episodes. The season opens with Veronica settling into her freshman year at Hearst College, but the campus continues to be plagued by a spree of sexual assaults. Mac’s bubbly roommate Parker (Julie Gonzalo) is the latest victim to be roofied and raped, with the attacker leaving his calling card by shaving her head. Having suffered through the past couple of years as a rape victim herself and unwittingly in a position to have caught Parker’s rapist during the attack, Veronica’s grim determination to put an end to this reign of terror makes up the first and the lengthiest of the season’s arcs.The season’s second arc picks up a couple of months after the grisly final shot of “Spit and Eggs” as the police have shrugged off the death of someone close to Veronica as a suicide.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)A devastating emotional blow delivered just hours earlier, a gunshot to the temple, a vague suicide note typed on a PC…it’s tragic, yes, but the pieces fit neatly together just the same. Still, it’s a scenario lifted directly from a paper Veronica penned for her criminology class on how to commit the perfect murder. Throughout the course of their investigation, Veronica and her father become entangled in a pair of other murders, among them the death of one of Veronica Mars’ most enduring characters.Facing cancellation and attempting to make the largely serialized series more accessible to new viewers, Veronica Mars draws to a close with a set of five standalone episodes. There aren’t any overarching investigations, although some threads leak from one episode to the next, including a sheriff’s race between Keith Mars and an unlikely contender.The season premiere introduces two other Hearst students who’d go on to stick around for the rest of the year: Wallace’s roommate Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) and Mac’s roomieuntitledThe hunt for Hearst’s rapist, which runs for the nine of the season’s twenty episodes, is the highest point of the set. It’s the most engaging of the season’s various arcs, which is impressive considering that these episodes have to juggle the weekly mysteries, the overarching search for the rapist, and introduce the new characters and Hearst College as a whole. There seems to be some connection between the rapes and the Greek system at Hearst, pitting Veronica against a group of feminists determined to bring the frats down, forcing her to defend the same lecherous halfwits she thought were tied to the rapes last season, and clawing her way into the Zeta Theta Beta house.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)This first half of the season also gives the supporting cast a reasonable amount of screentime, including Wallace and Logan on opposite ends of an Abu Ghraib-inspired prison experiment, Logan stumbling onto a life-changing discovery when trying to find out why his trust fund is dwindling so quickly, and Keith making the same sorts of excuses with a married client as the skeevy men whose infidelities pay his rent. The arc comes to a close with “Spit and Eggs”, which, in true Veronica Mars form, plays like more of a thriller than a mystery, and it’s by far the most intense episode of the season. Veronica Mars was an excellent a show spread across 3 seasons and become a great cult show, and with the arrival of the movie saw resurgence in its popularity.

REVIEW: DODGEBALL

CAST

Vince Vaughn (Swingers)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Ben Stiller (Along Came Polly)
Rip Torn (Men In Black)
Justin Long (Waiting…)
Stephen Root (King of the Hill)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Chris Williams (Silicon Valley)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
William Shatner (Star Trek)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Chuck Norris (A Force of One)
David Hasselhoff (Prianha 3DD)
Julie Gonzalo (Veronica Mars)
Suzy Nakamura (Deep Impact)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)

Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) is the owner of Average Joe’s, a small and financially unsuccessful gym with a handful of loyal oddball members. When he defaults on the gym’s mortgage, it is purchased by his rival White Goodman (Ben Stiller), a fitness guru and owner of the successful Globo-Gym across the street. Unless Peter can raise $50,000 in thirty days to cover his mortgage, White will foreclose on Average Joe’s and demolish it to build a parking garage for his gym members. Attorney Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) is working on the transaction for White. White repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempts to charm her, and she instead develops a friendship with Peter while reviewing his financial records.
Average Joe’s employees Dwight (Chris Williams) and Owen (Joel David Moore) and members Steve “the Pirate” (Alan Tudyk), Justin (Justin Long), and Gordon (Stephen Root) try to raise the money needed to save the gym. Gordon suggests that they enter a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas with a $50,000 prize. They form a team with Peter and watch a 1950s-era training video narrated by dodgeball legend “Patches” O’Houlihan (Hank Azaria). They are soundly defeated by a Girl Scout troop in a local qualifying match, but win by default when the Scouts are disqualified because of one member’s steroid and beaver tranquilizer use.
White has been spying on Average Joe’s using a hidden camera, and forms his own elite dodgeball team to oppose them. Peter is approached by the aging, wheelchair-bound Patches (Rip Torn), who volunteers to coach the Average Joe’s team. Patches’ training regimen includes throwing wrenches at the team, forcing them to dodge oncoming cars, and constantly berating them with insults. Kate demonstrates skill at the game, but declines an offer to join the team as it would be a conflict of interest owing to her contract with White. However upon noticing a loophole in the contract with Kate, White arranges for her to be fired from her law firm so that dating him would not be a conflict of interest in itself. This infuriates Kate and motivates her to join the Average Joe’s team.
At the tournament in Las Vegas, Average Joe’s suffers early setbacks but manages to advance to the final round against Globo-Gym. The night before the match, Patches is killed, ironically, by a fallen “Luck of the Irish” sign. This shakes Peter’s confidence; he expresses his fear that the team will lose to Globo-Gym and berates Steve for his childish pirate persona, causing Steve to leave the team. White offers Peter $100,000 for the deed to Average Joe’s, which Peter accepts. The day of the final round, Justin leaves to help his classmate Amber (Julie Gonzalo) with a cheerleading competition, leaving the Average Joe’s team without enough members to compete. Peter has a chance encounter with Lance Armstrong, who shames him into rejoining his team, but he arrives too late: Average Joe’s has already been forced to forfeit. Gordon finds a loophole in the rules: a majority of the judges can overturn the forfeiture. Chuck Norris casts the tie-breaking vote allowing the team to play.
After a fierce game, Peter and White face off in a sudden-death match to determine the winner. Inspired by a vision of Patches, Peter blindfolds himself and is able to dodge White’s throw and strike him, winning the championship and the prize money. White declares the victory meaningless, since Peter had sold Average Joe’s to him the previous night, but Peter reveals that he used White’s $100,000 to bet on Average Joe’s to win; with the odds against them at 50 to 1, he has won $5 million. He can now buy a controlling interest in Globo-Gym, which now also includes Average Joe’s, and fire White. Steve returns to the group after Peter apologizes to him. He has appeared to have quit being a pirate until Peter rouses him back to his old self. Peter is dismayed when a girlfriend of Kate’s, who was in the audience, kisses her passionately, but Kate then reveals that she is bisexual and kisses Peter as well. Justin also finds romance with Amber, while Owen begins dating Fran (Missi Pyle) from the Globo-Gym team. Peter opens youth dodgeball classes at a newly renovated and now-successful Average Joe’s, while White, as depicted in a vignette that appears during the credits becomes massively obese from “drowning his sorrows” in junk food in which he laments on his loss, blaming it on Norris, plays with his prosthetic breasts and sings along to Kelis’ “My Milkshake”, and criticizes the “American cinema” for not appreciating any complexity over entertainment.
A comedy classic, if you’re into the dry humour of Vince Vaughn and some cracking one liners throughout, this film is for you.