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Ghost Canyon

'Veronica Mars - The Complete Third Season'
(Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, et al / 6-Disc DVD / R / 2007 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Hearst College, jewel of the Pacific. A citadel of higher education set amid rolling lawns and swaying palms. But since Hearst is in Neptune, California - and since Veronica Mars is among its incoming freshmen - you know it's also a noir netherworld of lies, betrayal, secrets and (of course) murder. Veronica, Logan and more of your VM favorites join cool new characters for a Season 3 of seething mystery and sardonic wit. College is indeed a learning experience as Veronica aces a crim class led by a hunky prof, solves the case of on-campus rapes that began in Season Two, and gives a grad seminar in sleuthing when two faculty members take sudden, eternal early retirements. Frosh year is gonna be freaky!

DVD Verdict: Earlier this year when the CW officially cancelled the best show on television (understandably, some would say, due to abysmally low ratings), a sadness grew very quickly in all 'Veronica Mars' fans hearts. There lingers a chance that the series might be revitalized in a different form, but the hammer has officially fallen. 'Veronica Mars' is unceremoniously over.

Season 3 was the first (and last) season of the show to air on the fledgling CW network. It took a different approach to storytelling than seasons 1 and 2, featuring two separate mystery arcs and a number of one-episode mysteries, rather the season-long affairs for which the show had become known and loved. Despite the change, season 3 works as excellent, intriguing television. The writing is witty and the acting in sharp, as before.

The creator of the show, Rob Thomas, once heard the series described as "Chinatown meets Heathers." That's a perfect description. I would say it also owes heavily to Twin Peaks. Chinatown happens to be my all-time favorite movie. I'm a noir junky, and V-Mars serves it up in lusty, lipsticked, smoke-tinted glory with every episode. Many people are turned off by the concept of a high school/college girl solving mysteries. And they should be. As a premise, this show would easily fail in the hands of most producers. But Thomas and co-writers have created something magical and perfect here. The heroine Veronica is sarcastic, at times mean, overly hard-boiled, and full of acerbic wit. There's nothing candy-coated about Veronica.

First time viewers often disregard the show as "another teen drama," and for this reason more than any other it failed to attract a sustaining audience. I urge you to give it a chance. Especially if you have a sarcastic mind, if you've lost faith in the basically good nature of humanity, if noir interests you, or if you just like an intelligent mystery or exceptionally well-acted drama, this may be what you're looking for. It was for me.

Admittedly, I watch very little television, but to put things in perspective this is a short list of the TV shows I've watched and loved over the years: Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Freaks and Geeks, Deadwood, and Wonderfalls. I would place 'Veronica Mars' at the top of this delightful heap. (Actually, looking at that list, every show was cancelled before its time save BSG which is still on the air. Maybe that says something. Maybe not.) Anyway, 'Veronica Mars' was too challenging, too beautiful. And now it's gone. It's a sad, sad world we live in, fellow 'Mars' lovers. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

All 20 final season episodes on six discs
Pitching Season 4: An in-depth interview with creator Rob Thomas discussing a new direction for the series presented to network executives that picks up years later, with Veronica as a rookie FBI agent
Going Undercover with Rob Thomas: Thomas walks us through some of the most memorable moments from Season 3
Webisode gallery with cast interviews and various set tours
Unaired scenes with introductions by Rob Thomas
Gag Reel