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Veronica Mars: The Complete Second Season

Call the second season of Veronica Mars its Back to the Future 2 year. Remember how the first Back to the Future sequel essentially told the same story but from two, three, or four brain-crimping meta-levels? Well, in its second frame, Veronica Mars didn't go forward so much as it doubled back and circled the same ground, revisiting or reviving characters we thought had been dispatched, and layering psychedelic changes onto presumably closed story threads, like putting extra ink on a piece of country fair spin art. Season Two is the same, yet more. The way VM works on a seasonal basis is to feature a large overriding "case" that affects the whole city of Neptune, Calif., that Veronica finally solves in the last few episodes, while from week to week she takes on cases from fellow students or from overflow clients out of her dad's detective agency, each one resolved within the show's hour (Entertainment Weekly reports that for Season Three at the show's new home, the newly created CW network, creator Rob Thomas will switch from one pan-season case to a handful of smaller tales resolved more quickly). The overriding mystery in Season Two is: Who sabotaged the Neptune High school bus, resulting in the deaths of six students, the driver, and the new journalism teacher? And was Veronica, who skipped the ride back from the field trip, the real intended victim? Veronica solves the crime, of course, but not before also learning that some of the incidents from Season One are also the fruits of an evil little mastermind who, among other things, passed on a dose of chlamydia to Veronica and then plants a bomb in the airplane carrying her father (the excellent Enrico Colantoni).

Season Two of Veronica Mars is all of a piece with Season One, and in fact they should probably be viewed as one, big 44-part story. For example, cinematographer Joaquin Sedillo continues the show's visual theme of solid colors and multi-hued lights — in one shot, the Logan Echolls character is shown against a noirish interior in which the traditional Venetian blinds of the genre reflect green on the wall behind him instead of black (and it's the proper color, too, as Logan is momentarily envious of the person sitting across the table from him). And the pop tunes are as cunningly selected as before. If one had a small criticism of the otherwise highly literate and witty second season, it would be that Veronica keeps dating within the same super-small subset of male characters, including annoying loser rich-kid Logan (Jason Dohring) and billionaire heir Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn) — although she hasn't yet taken a spin with gang leader Weevil (Francis Capra). But not only is the show's overarching mystery plot more complicated than ever, the second season also sees élite fans of Veronica Mars popping in for cameos — figures such as Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon (whose show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" bleeds into Veronica Mars), along with Courtney Taylor of The Dandy Warhols, who performs the show's credit sequence theme. But more important, the scope of the show is expanded in Season Two — the whole town of Neptune becomes a character, with its vast economic divisions, which may or may not be a conscious political statement, and the exploration of alternative sexualities among the students, which no doubt is. Veronica Mars is a show of such intricacy that an offhand put-down in one episode requires remembrance two shows later when the incident is referred to in passing. If someone like Vladimir Nabokov is a "writer's writer," then Veronica Mars is a tubester's TV show.

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Warner Home Video's Veronica Mars: The Complete Second Season offers 22 episodes in fine anamorphic transfers (1.78:1) with Dolby Digital Surround Stereo, as well as captions in English, French, and Spanish. Each disc has a "play all" option. Supplementary material is a tad more expansive for this go-around. Thirteen of the episodes come with deleted or extended scenes, and, as with the previous set, the deletes don't add much to our understanding of a highly complicated run of episodes, though it is nice for Bell fans to have even more footage of her. The rest of the supplementals are on Disc Six and include a seven-minute "A Day on the Set with Veronica Mars," in which Bell is followed from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. getting makeup, looking at "sides" (that day's pages of script), and going to lunch (and on the evidence of this featurette, Bell is as witty in person as her Mars character is on screen), plus a five-minute "making-of" that features Bell and creator Thomas, among a few others, and finally a 56-second promo for the third season that only includes clips from the second season. Also included in the box are a 16-page booklet with stills, credits, episode summaries, and chapter titles, and a 12-page brochure of other Warner TV products on disc. The set's six discs come in a folding digipak with slipcase.
—D.K. Holm

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