'Veronica Mars' returns to TV: Your second chance to fall in love with the series

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veronica-mars-kristen-bell.jpg "Veronica Mars" has been absent from TV screens since it ended its three-season run in 2007. Until now.

Soapnet aired a marathon of the late, great series on Sunday (April 15), and begins airing a daily two-hour block of "Veronica" at 5 p.m. ET Monday. And yes, we've worn out our DVD sets of the show and streamed episodes online, but there's something about having the show on television again that just makes us a little bit happier.

Re-watching the pilot, it's amazing how self-assured it is. We find out in Kristen Bell's opening voiceover that her after-school job is "tailing philandering spouses or investigating false injury claims," but the show takes its time in doling out Veronica's rather eventful back story. For the first eight minutes or so, about all we know is that Veronica is an outcast at school whose dad used to be the sheriff and had a bad breakup with her rich ex-boyfriend, Duncan ( Teddy Dunn).

It's also pretty great to look at. Director Mark Piznarski gives the show a really palpable film noir feel -- it's probably the darkest-looking show about a high school girl ever, and it signals that this is not going to be your typical teen soap. Even before the story gets to Lily Kane's murder.

We could spill oceans of pixels talking about how great Kristen Bell is as Veronica, and about how wonderful her relationship with her dad ( Enrico Colantoni) is, but in the interest of saving space: She absolutely owns the role from minute one. We can't imagine anyone else playing it.

Since it's now been close to eight years since the pilot was filmed, "Veronica Mars" is also a great show with which to play Spot the Soon-to-Be Famous Actor in the cast. Amanda Seyfried has a semi-regular part as the murdered Lily Kane in Season 1 (appearing mostly in flashbacks). Future Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain appears in episode 7, and Max Greenfield, Krysten Ritter, Dianna Agron and Leighton Meester, among others, all have guest roles.

There's also "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" connection: Alyson Hannigan and Charisma Carpenter played, respectively, Logan's ( Jason Dohring) adopted sister and Dick Casablancas' ( Ryan Hansen) new stepmom.

("VM" creator Rob Thomas and writer-producers John Enbom and Dan Etheridge would go on to co-create "Party Down" with Paul Rudd and populate the show with a host of alums, including Hansen, Ken Marino, Adam Scott and Jane Lynch, who had guest roles in Season 1 of "Veronica." Bell, Colantoni, Dohring, Daran Norris and several other "VM" actors also had guest spots on "Party Down.")

"Veronica Mars" ended on a pretty dark, ambiguous note (which we kind of liked) after three seasons. A tantalizing look at Thomas' pitch for a fourth season -- with Veronica as a student at the FBI academy -- appears on the Season 3 DVD set, but it didn't happen. But for those three seasons, the handful of us who did watch were enthralled right throughout. You can now see why we were on Soapnet every afternoon.

Here's the opening scene from the pilot:

Photo/Video credit: Warner Bros.