Veronica Mars is the little show that could. This summer, the cult favorite is returning for the second time since its heartbreaking cancellation in 2007 as an eight-episode limited series on Hulu. The revival is a bit darker and a little more adult than the original UPN/CW series and the 2014 fan-funded feature film that funneled nostalgia straight into fans' waiting hearts (both will be available on the streaming service beginning July 1). After Veronica (Kristen Bell) chose to remain in Neptune at the end of the film, the new episodes find her investigating a string of attacks on visiting spring breakers, a development that threatens to kill the beach town's thriving tourism industry. The story was inspired by a series of bomb scares that happened in Austin, Texas, where series creator Rob Thomas lives.
In advance of the show's return on July 26, Thomas joined cast members Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring, and Percy Daggs III at the ATX Television Festival on Saturday to discuss the show's uncanny ability to survive against all odds. "There's a lot of effort [that goes into a revival]. Somebody has to call you and say 'Hey, would you like to do a miniseries?'" said Thomas of how the show came back from the dead for a second time.
Noting that a lot of it also has to do with finding the time to get the whole gang back together, Thomas said he and Bell have been discussing how best to revisit everyone's favorite witty detective for a while now. "Since the movie, Kristen and I have been in touch semi-regularly like, 'How would you want to do Veronica Mars next?' and the idea of a miniseries, one big case, appealed to us a lot."
As we wait for Friday, July 26 to arrive, here's everything we learned about what to expect from the new season of Veronica Mars.
1. The new episodes will find Veronica at a crossroads in her life. "Traditionally, there are a lot of stories about men coming to this crossroads in their life where ... the idea of family, a mortgage, kids is one direction and then freedom, irresponsibility, [and] 'do whatever I want' is the other direction," said Thomas. "I was interested in putting Veronica at the crossroads."
2. Logan will be helping her figure it out. It wasn't uncommon to see Veronica come to Logan's aid during the original run of the show, and she helped clear him of murder (again) in the movie. Now, the tables have turned and he's helping her. "He's very put together and he's almost helping Veronica through some things," teased Dohring of what fans can expect from the couple's relationship in the new episodes. "[It's] totally flipped."
3. The show takes advantage of being on Hulu, but it won't be too adult. "When we pitched to Hulu, the pitch was 'this is an adult private eye show,' and ... we wrote the show believing we were going to be TV-MA," explained Thomas. "Then I got a call saying 'Oh no, we want you to be TV-14.' The word f--- appeared 18 times in the original script."
This meant Thomas had to get creative with the show's dialogue, but Hulu had a good reason for wanting the show to be more family friendly. "Their thinking is they're going to have all three seasons of Veronica Mars on their platform. They would like people to be able to go back and forth, including 14-year-olds," said Thomas.
Still, during a short clip shown to the audience, Veronica jokes about giving Logan a hand job, so the new episodes definitely do have a more adult feel to them.
4. There are a number of familiar faces returning. We already know that many of our favorite characters appear in the revival -- Daran Norris is back as Cliff McCormack, Ken Marino returns as Vinnie Van Lowe, and Max Greenfield's Deputy Leo will appear in multiple episodes -- but a few of the show's less familiar alums will also appear. Adam Rose, who played Max on the show, gets a moment, as does Logan's old girlfriend Parker (Julie Gonzalo). But the most exciting returns might come when Veronica drops by a Chino prison and sees a couple of the people she put in there, including her old teaching assistant Tim Foyle (James Jordan) and Mercer, the rapist played by Ryan Devlin.
5. Piz will not be returning though. In the movie, Veronica broke up with Piz (Chris Lowell) and reunited with Dohring's reformed bad boy Logan. But although Piz won't appear in any of the new episodes, "he does get name-dropped a couple times," said Thomas.
6. Dick is still Dick. According to Thomas, Ryan Hansen's Dick Casablancas has become "the king of Neptune spring break," which honestly feels like the extension of the Dick we already know and love.
7. They rebuilt the sets. The crew wasn't able to rebuild the original sets for the movie, but fans will definitely recognize some of the old locations in the miniseries, including the Mars Investigations office. They might even recognize some of the original props from the show, too!
8. It will be dropped all at once. The entire miniseries will be available to stream starting July 26, which is both good and bad, at least for Thomas. "As a fan, I would love to get all eight at a time. I binge shows. I would love to watch it all in a couple chunks," he said. "My concern, of course, is you write a mystery and not everyone watches it all in day one, and the possibility of the big reveals getting out in the ether, that scares me as a mystery writer. You like it paced so everyone gets to the ending at the same time. ... For a viewing experience for Veronica Mars fans it will be great. I just sort of hate the idea that [on] day one the big plot reveal is making it on to the internet."
9. This might not be the end of Veronica Mars. Even after a feature film and an eight-episode miniseries, Thomas says he is still open to continuing Veronica's story. "I feel like in saying that I might be giving away that Veronica survives these eight episodes," joked Thomas, "so don't get comfortable."
Veronica Mars returns Friday, July 26 on Hulu.