Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: six years ago Disney’s Frozen made a kajillion dollars, set off a new merchandising phenomenon, and inspired more than a few cosplayers at our favorite conventions. The cooled-down coterie is back for Frozen II, which was rightly deemed good enough for a theatrical release and not immediately consigned to Disney+ like that Lady and the Tramp do-over or the Teenage Kurt Russell Comedy Collection.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: 2014 saw the release of the Veronica Mars movie, an unexpected follow-up to the acid-tongued detective show that undiscerning Nielsen families treated as persona non grata during its three-season run on UPN and The CW. The movie was made possible through a Kickstarter campaign made wildly successful by a fan base eager to see more, more, more. Honestly, every second of VM beyond the first season has been a sort of gift. Back in the day, shows with its kind of shaky ratings were often stood before a firing squad in five episodes or less. Fans appreciated the film as a Happily Ever After that we needed after season 3’s funereal cliffhanger, but we also assumed it was The End. We moved on, so sure that life in the complicated oceanside town of Neptune, CA, would remain copacetic forever as long as we all agreed never to look back again.
Apparently like Orpheus, someone must have peeked. Thanks to the magic of Hulu and a reunion of principals — creator Rob Thomas and some of the original writing staff, as well as stars Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, and quite a few more — the titular teen detective and her equally-detective dad Keith Mars are back with an eight-episode fourth season that, of course, once again has Neptune in chaos, death at hand, and Happily Ever After wrested away from more than one beloved cast member. Though Hulu had announced a release date of July 26th, they uploaded it a week early amid the fun and busyness of San Diego Comic Con. It was either a pleasant surprise or a shocking downer, depending on whether or not you actually watched it this weekend.
With several weeks to go till vacation and no pressing obligations, my wife and I sped through all eight episodes on Saturday, because free time abounded for some of us who’ll never get to attend SDCC. Over the past few weeks we’d been bingeing a few other shows, each of which had their own depressing and/or tragic aspects. We set all those aside for one day and, by the end of said day, realized Veronica fit right in with all that bleakness.
Courtesy warning: spoilers ahead for thoughts after some 400+ minutes of viewing. Not everything is revealed here, but several tidbits yearn to be explored. The spoiler-free capsule-review version is: season 4 is far better than season 3, possibly better than season 2 (I need more time to evaluate this), and definitely not here to deliver more of the movie’s too-eager-to-please fan service.
My wife and I were impressed by the first two seasons of Veronica Mars and jilted into a mutual depression spiral by season three. When creator/writer/director Rob Thomas launched the famous Kickstarter project to bring back the infamous detective for an unlikely feature film, I had mixed emotions. Surprise that yet another well-written but mercilessly treated series was taking the Firefly route to a post-cancellation revival. Disappointment that the campaign occurred during my still-in-effect Kickstarter moratorium and would therefore receive no pre-production dollars from me, through no fault of its own. Good cheer when the campaign succeeded without me. Skepticism at some of the clunky lines in the trailer. A tinge of geek entitlement because someone still owed me reparations for season three.
Unlike five other Kickstarter campaigns that have yet to keep their promises to me, the Veronica Mars project has borne fruit within a month of its original stated deadline, resulting in a finished product that opened in nearly 300 theaters this past weekend and is simultaneously available for rental via Google Play. At last the lingering question was answered: did anything positive ever happen in Veronica’s life again after that dreary series finale?
I wish I were kidding. Part of this illuminating interview has been helpfully transcribed for the podcast-reluctant. Nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Such a shame, then, to see Walt Disney Pictures fly in the face of Cartoon Network programming logic and gamble on a theatrical release like the action-heavy Frozen, in which the humor isn’t locker-room crude, the animation sets new standards, and the main characters are two sisters who pass the Bechdel Test cum laude. Sure, it’s quality entertainment, but if the girl power in a cartoon overwhelms the manpower, why even bother? This cartoon chick flick will be lucky to make more than twenty bucks at the box office. And you can forget about merchandising sales.
…oh, wait. As of its fourth weekend, the movie’s cleared $160 million domestic so far, and it’s still in the #2 box office spot and barely slowing down. How’d that happen? Conspiracy, maybe?
I later caught up with the DVDs and stuck with the show to the bitter end, by which I mean I was bitter. Eventually I moved on, but I’m not opposed to revisiting Veronica’s world if the occasion warrants.
The March 22nd issue of Entertainment Weekly summarizes creator Rob Thomas’ planned premise:
Set a decade after the show’s third and final season, the plot has Veronica returning to her hometown of Neptune, Calif., after much schooling (a bachelor’s from Stanford; a Columbia Law School degree) when she gets a distress call from ex-boyfriend Logan: His pop-star girlfriend has been murdered, and he’s the prime suspect.