The Austin Television Festival is in full swing with panels on a variety of shows and topics, including the much-anticipated revival of Veronica Mars. The panel consisted of creator and executive producer Rob Thomas, cast members Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars), Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls), and Percy Daggs III (Wallace Fennel) who are all reviving their roles from the original 2004 series.
The panel kicked off with a sneak peek at the new series. While I won’t give you any spoilers, I will say that it featured Veronica Mars running her father’s private investigator business, Keith Mars dropping by for a visit with some beautifully timed one-liners, and Veronica enduring the spring breakers on the beach where she finds high school flame Logan Echolls. The clip was met with enthusiastic applause and laughter from the longtime fans in the audience.
Once on stage, the panelists jumped right in to the discussion, as Thomas spoke about the new series finding its home on Hulu. Faced with the questions why now and why this format, Thomas said that he and star Kristen Bell have been in touch since the 2014 movie. It was a matter of scheduling and format, “a miniseries, one big case, appealed to us a lot. Then it was a matter of waiting for schedules to align.”
However, returning to Neptune, California was not taken lightly. The set designers went above and beyond to recreate sets, including the old Mars Investigations office, right down to a few very specific items that Thomas feels fans are going to love.
They were also thrilled to bring in a lot of familiar faces from the original cast. Logan’s old girlfriend will stop by, and Veronica visits a prison where she runs into some of the people she helped put away as a young PI.
Thomas also spoke about the early phases of writing the script. He had pitched the show as a mature, detective style series to Hulu and began writing the script as such. Hulu, hoping for a wider audience, approved the show as a TV-14 rating. “’F*ck’ appeared in the original script 18 times,” said Thomas. “The first word was Veronica going ‘F****ckkk’ into the phone. I had to go through and take every one of those out.”
He accepted the fact that the cursing had to go and did so in the form of a bet between Keith and Veronica on who can go the longest without cussing. Thomas replaced the f-bombs with “cuss” throughout the entire script.
When asked about returning to their old roles, all three actors were enthusiastic to say the least. Colantoni is happy and excited to revisit Keith Mars: “Even just watching that clip at the beginning, you can see how happy I look.”
“To have [Logan] join the military is awesome,” said Dohring of his character. “I love playing the bad guy.” But he also enjoyed delving into the other sides of Logan. This season we will see him play the “more caring guy,” who is there to help Veronica when she needs it.
So what were these characters up to the last five years? Daggs divulged that Thomas sent the actors a two-page synopsis of everything that happened to their characters between the 2014 movie and now. He was able to draw on this to jump back into the role of Wallace Fennell and worked more with Dohring this time.
The plot for the revival will have an element of current events running through it as well. The Austin, Texas bomb scares were still ongoing when Thomas, an Austin native, began work on the script. And he drew on those moments of terror for Veronica Mars. Additionally, we will see Veronica face a crossroads often associated with men. On one side is marriage, children, and a “normal life,” and on the other is freedom. “I was interested in putting Veronica at that crossroads — we explore what kind of life Veronica wants to live.”
When the topic of portraying strong women on screen was broached, all four men agreed that it was, and is, still important to have that representation. “I think it’s necessary,” said Daggs. “I was raised by a kickass woman. She was a single mother. I think they need to see themselves, the ones who have that in them and just don’t know it yet.”
The overall tone of the panel was one of excitement around the new series which will release on July 26. Thomas hopes that audiences will enjoy the series without spoiling it online. “I like the idea of people getting the build up instead of the big reveal making it onto the internet on day one.”
At the end of the panel, Thomas announced that seasons 1-3 of Veronica Mars will arrive on Hulu July 1. And this was followed by a new trailer linking the 2004 series and the new one together. Check out the trailer below:
Interested in listening to the whole panel? Austin Television Festival will be releasing recorded panels throughout the summer on their podcast, The TV Campfire. Keep an eye out for the Veronica Mars panel while waiting for the new series to hit Hulu!