New on DVD: ‘Veronica Mars' Movie extends popular TV series


The fans of the TV show "Veronica Mars" at least briefly turned show business on its ear last year when the makers of the show launched a Kickstarter campaign to back a movie sequel to the three-season series.

With a goal of $2 million, the campaign in short order raised $5. 7 million from more than 91,000 supporters -- extraordinary numbers, especially considering that "Veronica" was considered a niche program, with modest ratings at best on minor networks (the old UPN and then The CW).

That success led studios and stars to believe that their projects, too, could prompt wallet-opening by admirers. The ensuing results have been mixed at best, not least because "Veronica" was a high-quality show that had left the door open for more storytelling. Let's put it another way: One of those 91,000 supporters was yours truly.

Anyway, the movie was made, had a limited release in theaters, was made available as a digital download and today, is on disc and Blu-ray/digital combo. I thoroughly enjoyed it with this reservation: The plot would have worked better for a TV season, especially when it came to jamming in cameos from the other show.

For those of you tuning in late, the series starred Kristen Bell as Veronica, a high-school (and later college) student who also works for her private-eye father Keith (Enrico Colantoni). Each has run afoul of the social order in their tony Neptune, Calif. , community -- but each also exposed the hypocrisy and dirty deeds done by the privileged around them.

Coming from writer-producer Rob Thomas and especially writer Diane Ruggiero, the series was serialized but not soap-operatic, even when it was dealing with Veronica's love life. (Should she be with Logan? With Piz?) It was centered on young people but saw them as more than teary confessions and fashion statements; it was cool in its soundtrack and both witty and smart in its dialogue. Aside perhaps from a guest-starring role on "Deadwood," Bell has not had a role as good as Veronica -- but here she delivered a performance worthy of the scripts.

The movie, meanwhile, picks up close to a decade after the series' end. Veronica is in New York, has finished law school, is settled down with Piz (Chris Lowell) and could be getting a major law-firm job. Then a call comes from Logan (Jason Dohring), suspected of murder and needing Veronica's snooping skills. Which leads Veronica back into the corrupt stink of Neptune and, to delight of many fans, her high-school reunion.

Written by Thomas and Ruggiero, the people and dialogue work well. But the storytelling felt a little hasty, and the supporting characters too often felt as if they were just around for show when they deserved the time that a 13-episode season might allow. The movie did leave room for a sequel, especially with another case still unresolved. It won't be the same as a series, but I'd kick in again.

Also of note today

CBS/Paramount offers the Blu-ray debuts of three classic-TV sets: "The Andy Griffith Show: Season 1," "I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1" and "The Honeymooners: ‘Classic 39' Episodes."

Amid the new extras are many that have appeared on previous collections of the shows. But if you want these to look better on your big screen, the picture is indeed sharper than DVD releases of the same shows. And the audio on "The Honeymooners" was noticeably better than on my "Honeymooners" DVD.

Down video road

"The Boondocks: The Complete Series" arrives on DVD on June 24; that includes the three previously released seasons plus the current fourth one, which will also be available in a single-season set on June 24.

Warner Home Video will release a 40-film "John Wayne: The Epic Collection" on DVD on May 20. The set has films for Warner and Paramount from 1932 to 1976; all have been released before, just not in a single, specially packaged set.


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