Veronica Mars: The Complete Second Season

Veronica Mars entered its second season, now available on DVD, in almost the exact position it’s in right now as it enters its third — critically acclaimed to the point of hyperbole and considered smart, culturally incisive television destined to make a long-term star out of its titular teen detective, played by Kristen Bell. And despite a few muddled missteps in its second season, Veronica Mars continues to impress for its balance of Columbo and 90210. While season one focused almost entirely on the Mars family, its second season — and a series of interconnected mysteries — expands the view on the town of Neptune. Civic issues are brought to light through a semi-regular appearing of Steve Guttenberg as the mayor; the overarching conspiracy/mystery involves a school bus tragedy, while Mars and friends move toward high school graduation and facing the real world. On a weekly basis, some of season two’s more convoluted plot machinations were occasionally a little tough to follow — the involvement of Logan (Jason Dohring) in a roadside stabbing, for example — but the deliciously evil stepmother, in the form of Buffy’s Charisma Carpenter, adds a salacious element to Veronica’s earnest do-gooding. Mars herself develops a little taste for bad boys in this season, which helps cut down some of the inherent well-meaning sweetness. Unfortunately, the DVD efforts are fairly straightforward, demonstrating during "a day in the life” that Bell works too hard (she’s in almost every scene of every episode) and that sneezing will ruin a take and end up on a lame "gag reel.” It may underestimate the true power of Veronica Mars, but on a weekly basis, that’s just what she counts on to outsmart everyone else in the room. (Warner)