Episode 8: Unlife On Mars

Television Man | by Aidan Morgan

“There’s a man, sittin’ down, watchin’ the tube/ And he decides, what’s off the air, and what’s renewed/ There’ll be an old antenna coming down/ When the Television Man comes around”
—Johnny Cash, “When the Television Man Comes Around”

What do the eldritch horrors of H. P. Lovecraft and modern television have in common? As far as I can tell, death — genuine death — is impossible. No matter how obscure or ancient a show may be, it will be reanimated in our post-peak TV streaming paradise. Is your all-time favourite program a show about space puppets that ran for three episodes in 1975? No worries: someone else loves it too — and they will bring it back.

Unlife On Mars

Nothing exemplifies television’s new undead nature better than Veronica Mars (Crave/Hulu), a show that ran for two seasons on UPN from 2003–04, migrated to the CW in 2005, then spent nine years in stony sleep until a Kickstarter campaign pulled it from the ground for a 2014 feature film. Now it’s back as an eight-episode miniseries with an ending that dangles a promise for future seasons. (Unkillable and hungry, Veronica Mars also pops up in two novels that bridge the gap between the movie and the 2019 series.)

A brief primer on the original series: Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) is a teenaged private investigator who works for her father Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), the disgraced sheriff of the class-riven California town Neptune. Each season featured an overarching mystery, interspersed with mysteries of the week that Veronica solved with doggedness and deadpan wit. It was part California noir, part teen drama and part improv comedy.

Critical and fan reactions to the long-delayed season four surfaced within a day of its release, ranging from ebullient praise to outright anger. I won’t spoil the show for readers, but suffice it to say that creator Rob Thomas (iZombie, Cupid) irreversibly alters an aspect of the show that some fans are very, very, verrrrry invested in.

As for me, I’m on the “ebullient praise” side of the debate. 2019’s Veronica Mars is a tightly plotted, twisty whodunit that serves as a capper for the fan-favourite series while laying the groundwork for future seasons.

After 15 years of shambling zombie-like towards oblivion, Veronica Mars walks in the sun once more.

Another One For The Boys

If you’re enjoying The Boys (Amazon Prime), the new pitch-black superhero satire from Eric Kripke (Supernatural), you’ll be warmed to your cockles at the news it’s already been renewed for another season. The show is based on a zanily violent and gleefully offensive comic by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan, Happy) that ran from 2006–2012, and it’s more proof — if anyone needed it — there’s just no escape from superheroes in 21st century culture.