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What's wrong with the new season of ''Veronica Mars?''

What’s wrong with the new season of ”Veronica Mars?” — Jennifer Armstrong laments the new direction of the Kristen Bell drama

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What’s wrong with the new season of ”Veronica Mars?”

We’re not about to stop watching Veronica Mars, but the first few episodes are giving us pause…well, more like violent flashbacks. We can’t help recalling the time another complicated show about a cool, crime-fighting gal, Alias, tried in vain to stretch beyond its culty ratings by going all new-viewer-friendly on us. With Veronica getting what seems like one final shot — its new network, The CW, cautiously ordered only 13 episodes so far this season — it now bears similar signs of desperation: a rushed (and dull) resolution to last season’s cliff-hanger, a super-simplified premiere mystery, a heavier emphasis on classroom antics (to make it more compatible with its Gilmore Girls lead-in?), a sorority-infiltration plot that leads suspiciously to lower-cut necklines for our beloved heroine. And yet the first two episodes also introduce a curiously tough-to-make-palatable case for the acerbic sleuth to investigate: a string of collegiate rapes. We’re all for taking on serious issues, but it makes for an uncomfortably schizophrenic combo of lightening up in some areas while the show’s central plotline goes even darker. We say this because we care: Please, CW, steer Ms. Mars back toward the layered mysteries and noirish attitude we’ve always loved; this time, Veronica‘s life hangs in the balance.