The original Veronica Mars premiered on television 15 years ago, which, in TV terms, was a whole different era. David Milch's HBO series Deadwood, which just reunited its cast for a fabulous TV movie, premiered that year. So did two major hits for ABC, Lost and Desperate Housewives. And 2004 also brought us the premiere of NBC's The Apprentice.
Kristen Bell hit the ground running that year as Veronica Mars, an outcast high school student in the fictional beach town of Neptune, Calif. She worked part-time as an investigator for her dad's private eye firm, like a modern-day Nancy Drew—with a little bit of Sam Spade mixed in.
A lot of time has passed since then, and a lot has happened to Veronica. By the end of the original series, she had gone from high school to college. In the 2014 movie, she abandoned law school. And now, as the new eight-episode Veronica Mars begins, she's on familiar ground. Back in her home town, she's again working for her dad's detective agency—and still providing her own wry narration as she comments on her life then and now.
This new season of Veronica Mars was supposed to arrive on July 26, but Hulu presented a Mars panel at the San Diego Comic-Con fan festival on July 19, which happened to be a day after Bell's 39th birthday. Hulu surprised the actress, and the fans—and TV critics—by unveiling the entire new season early, as a sort of birthday present. So viewers can now see all of Veronica Mars—the tele-movie is available on HBO, and the show's first three vintage seasons, and the new fourth one, are streaming on Hulu.