Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Reviews Veronica Mars - Season 4 (Hulu)

Veronica Mars Season 4
Veronica Mars
I binge-watched Veronica Mars from the first season through the fourth this summer.  Kristen Bell is a super-cutie, but I was too old to go in for what I figured was just another Buffy knock-off when the series first premiered on (sort of) network TV (the CW), so it was my first time seeing any of it.

(Speaking of which, I realize this likely fits better over to Rated-B but I'm posting it here because season 4 is a streaming-only Hulu reboot.)

I really enjoyed it but have to say that the latest season was bittersweet for a few reasons.  Those who have seen it know the big one, but the other was the ending. 


It's definitely worth watching, if for no other reason than that season four enthusiastically embraces its film noir roots -- its L.A. noir roots, specifically -- and quite successfully, too.  Fans of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and cinephiles who dig the hardboiled detective flicks from the '40s, will have a ball with the first few episodes, in particular.  I lost count of all the references and inside jokes packed into the fourth season, but that much of the Veronica Mars reboot was totally unexpected and really well done.

Also, this is not the highschool version of Veronica Mars -- by any means.  Had I leapt from season three right to season four, I probably would have been a bit shocked by the... rather adult nature of our all growns-up Ronnie M.  But, since it was my first time seeing any of the series, I watched the movie after season three before watching the new episodes -- that's the order in which they were all released -- and it bridged the eras nicely.

I highly suggest watching the Veronica Mars movie before season 4, BTW -- even if you saw it a while back, rewatch the movie before starting season four.  It had sharper edges than the TV series, which may soften the blow for nostalgic viewers expecting the (largely) General Audiences approach of the first three seasons.

SPOILERS

First of all, Veronica Mars is a detective show; she and her dad are private investigators.  By legal definition, every case they've tackled from season one through season three, and a (really good) movie, has been a Conspiracy.  So, it was a half-hearted, and not well thought-out, ending when they pinned the tail on the US military's, and mainstream media's, greatest, contemporary foe: The fat, nerdy, sexless, mama's basement-dwelling, pizza-loving, Internet conspiracy theorist. 


In fact, it was just one, sly, McCarthyist Slander away from being so on the nose that it sank the entire franchise.  It's bad enough as it is.

Even worse, Patton Oswalt's portrayal was... well, as Patton Oswaltish as even he can get, right up to the very end, when he didn't seem to know where to go with it -- or maybe how.  I like Patton Oswalt and it was a lot of fun seeing him get all up in the Venus, California mix but, if you're hoping it pays-off in the most obvious way (with him and his "Murderheads" becoming 2020's answer to "The Scooby Gang") -- and I'm guessing most viewers were -- it's a real let-down.


Hopefully, it will age better out of the context of current times, because that ending reads as major network interference.  You can almost pinpoint the moment it starts to turn because you can feel the actors' discomfort emanating from the screen.  I mean, halfway into the last episode, it's like they all just shutdown and even the setting turns off.

It's an anticlimactic cop-out which comes out of nowhere, but not in the good way, forcing the show to try to convince us of his guilt, despite the fact that all of the other suspects had means and motive... oh, and also did it (at least the first time).  In fact, it's entirely possible that Oswalt's character and storyline were inserted in Post, because every other suspect and angle are the focus of the show until the last episode or two.

Along the way, there's
a limp storyline about a hotelier's daughter shoehorned in to tick-off that "Strong Female Protagonist" box (because Bell is clearly over 15, and thus far too old to carry her own show) which starts nowhere and stays there.  And something about a politician, a drug cartel, and a wedding ring that I still have no idea why... or... what... 

It might have been there to pad the early episodes, give Mars' boyfriend a reason to stick around and Weevil a reason to be included (although nothing to do), and also to serve as a (really drawn-out) red-herring.  Neither storyline has any real connection to the ending.
 

Where, BTW, everything gets tied into a neat, little bow before our heroine is rushed out of town again.  Maybe sticking around would have been too hard on her but, for all the hand-wringing they get out of Veronica's concern for her ill and aging father -- not to mention the fact that she saved the whole, Goddamn place and righted its tourism industry -- you'd think she'd have at least gotten a fat reward and hung around long enough to preside over her own parade.  Or taken him with her.

But, once again, she skips town and everything just... ends.

There are ways they could have exited without resorting to such a quick, tidy cleanup, and ways they could have made Oswalt's character the heel without resorting to such a hamfisted, Scarlet Letter stereotype of "Internet conspiracy theorists" (with their virtual lives in their mothers' basements, etc.) -- almost all of which would have been better than the choices they made. 


But, Veronica Mars did this same thing at the ends of seasons two and three, as it was always on the bubble during its original run.  Maybe they had planned for a longer development and were hoping to catch the back nine, or had a shot at an extended 16-18 episode run which fell through?  Maybe the principal players had competing contractual obligations?  (Bell is the lead on NBC's The Good Place, but this is its last season.)  I don't know.

Whatever happened, Veronica Mars season 4 starts off at a blistering pace, showcasing neo- LA-noir lighting and cinematography, chic fashion, gangsters, titties, and clever, rapid-fire, Chandleresque dialogue... before nosediving into a trunkful of tired, boring cliches, then ending suddenly on a series of predictable down-notes.

It was truly disappointing, especially after spending an entire week or two binge-watching the first three seasons (and the movie -- it's a really good movie, y'all!), but I'm still down for another season or three.  As long as an adult steps-up and demands creative control.


It's no coincidence that the week-early release of Veronica Mars season 4 just so happened to coincide with the FBI (allegedly) labeling conspiracy theories "terrorist plots" and those who think about or discuss them "terrorists."  As hilariously paranoid schizophrenic, alarmist, reactionary, and downright dangerous as that "conspiracy theory" sounds (the one about conspiracy theories being terrorist plots, that is; what I'm explaining to you is not a theory, it's a Modus Operandi), think it through from start to finish:

These are the very fucking people who breakdown into hysterics the moment anyone questions their authority, trustworthiness, or Intent -- despite the fact that they have a longstanding track record of Malfeasance.  Yet, here they are, actively manufacturing, disseminating, and promoting a lie predicated on falsehoods and knee-jerk assumptions with the malicious intention of hurting, disenfranchising, and defaming those they deem "enemies" for daring to question this exact sort of highly illegal behavior for which they are known!

It's awful that someone shot-up a Dark Knight showing but, if The Joker upsets you, try real, real hard not to dress-up in your US ARMY uniform, drive an hour out of your way to find a theater showing it outside of Los Angeles, buy a ticket, go inside, buy a tub of popcorn, find a seat, forget you had to pee, get up, go to the bathroom, forget to wash your hands, go back to the bathroom, find a new seat, then sit through the entire movie.  If you can possibly manage that, try it!

If that's just too much for you to avoid, try harder, soldier.

And fuck-off.

And don't you Twitterati give me any shit about being insensitive to shooting victims or active shooters with military ties or ASD crisis actors, Goddammit!  I don't recall seeing any of you at the funerals I've attended, and I can't say I've received so much as a card.1  Mind your own business.  Before someone makes it their business -- and that's no threat, that's literally the chance you take when you put yourself on the public stage, especially to grandstand and showboat for sociopolitical or religious gain:

When you go around starting fights with people you don't know for no other reason than to get what you want, or because you don't like the way they look, or the music they listen to, or the way they pray, or the way they're dressed -- or whatever other justification you might concoct -- you're eventually going to get fucked.  And you deserve to, because you did it to yourself and you had it coming.

No movie-goer deserves to die for choosing to watch The Joker in a theater just because someone doesn't like the content of the movie, now... do they?

...slide this soapbox back under my "platform" -- and...

Disney also took control of Hulu the same week that season four premiered and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that studio interference was a factor, but there seems to have been some political forces at-play that, while not smart enough to completely sabotage Veronica Mars season four, were just powerful enough to ruin it for everyone by sticking their authoritarian "message" in at the last second.

But, that's just this viewer's conspiracy theory.

---

[Originally written in the summer of 2019 but withheld due to political pressure by Law Enforcement, Big Media, and the Intelligence Community over the feature film, The Joker; because all of these "active shooters" have military ties, I considered their "warning" a very credible threat.  How's that for a "conspiracy theory?"]

1 - I forgot: Helicopters buzzed two of the funerals I attended in recent years, startling dozens of witnesses.  I forgot all about that.  Not so much as a single flower was dropped, though.


© Copyright 2019, The Cyberculturalist

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