With “Veronica Mars” about to return to TV, the one-time teenage private investigator is all grown up, and series creator/showrunner Rob Thomas said that the upcoming fourth season will reflect that. Speaking at the 8th annual ATX Television Festival on Saturday, Thomas said the opportunity to revisit the character came from the fact that she is at a “crossroads” in her life.
“Traditionally, there are a lot of stories about men coming to this crossroads in their life,” Thomas explained. “The idea of commitment, family, mortgage, kids, [that’s] one direction. Freedom [and] irresponsibility is the other direction. I was interested in putting Veronica at that crossroads. A big part of the story has to do with, what kind of life does Veronica want to live?”
“Veronica Mars” initially ran on UPN, then The CW, for three seasons from 2004 to 2007, topping out at just over 60 episodes. Then, in 2014, her story continued with the “Veronica Mars” feature film, which was funded by fans via Kickstarter. Now, it’ll return once more, this time to Hulu for an eight-episode fourth season, which streams in full on July 26th. The first three seasons will also be available to stream on Hulu July 1, leading up to the fourth.
Since the film, Thomas had stayed in regular contact with star Kristen Bell, although their respective schedules meant that their return to their shared project would have to be a limited series. While Bell stars on “The Good Place” on NBC, which was recently renewed for a fourth and final season, Thomas is also wrapping up “iZombie” for the CW.
Since it is a shorter-term story, the Hulu series has one mystery at its center. Thomas, who is a native of Austin, Texas, drew on his emotional response to the bombing scares in the city last March for that story.
“I don’t think I’ll be giving anything away that there will be bombs in Neptune during spring break,” Thomas said.
But just because the series is dealing with such intense subject matter on a platform not as beholden to advertisers as the broadcasters the show was on before, doesn’t mean Thomas is greatly altering the tone. In fact, he shared, the series will maintain a certain youthful innocence at Hulu’s request. With the first three seasons available first, the streaming platform didn’t want the fourth season to be inaccessible (or inappropriate) to younger viewers. While rewriting all the scripts, which Thomas said “had the word ‘f—’ about 18 times,” he decided to have a little fun with it.
“What we [did] was Veronica and Keith made a bet to see who could go longest without dropping the f-bomb,” he said.
As is common in the streaming era, the fourth season of “Veronica Mars” will be released all at once, which is a dramatic shift from its previous weekly procedural format. It’s a decision with which Thomas admitted he wrestled.
“I’m nervous about it,” Thomas said. “I’m wondering what the effect will be on a big mystery like this. There are big turns, there are big reveals. My hope is that all the hard-core ‘marshmallows’ watch it all on Day 1, and the other people get to it when they get to it. When we did 22 episodes of television, we could be shaped by that feedback. When you do a show that all drops at once, you do not have the opportunity to adjust. You just bank on the idea that the fans will like it.”