Veronica Mars
Credit: Michael Desmond/Hulu

When we first glimpse Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) in the upcoming, eight-episode revival of the critically adored UPN/The CW series that bears her name, it seems like she might be in a good place. The crafty PI is banking a fat check for Mars Investigations, which she now runs with Best-Dad-Ever Keith (Enrico Colantoni), and is lustily welcoming back her hunky boyfriend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). But the lightest scratch of the surface reveals her financial struggles with the former and the emotional cracks with the latter. And then someone starts killing spring breakers in her sunny-but-sinister seaside hometown, and you’re reminded that Neptune, Calif., can indeed be a bad place.

No one is happier to be back in the land of stark income inequality and shockingly high murder rates than Bell, her costars, and creator Rob Thomas, who have been plotting a return since 2014’s Kickstartered Veronica Mars movie. “Every time Kristen and I talked about the possibility of doing it, this was the format that we wanted to do—a miniseries with one big detective case that was creatively exciting to both of us,” says Thomas, whose The CW series iZombie signs off after its current season.

When the series returns July 26, longtime fans (a.k.a. Marshmallows) will note that recurring themes from the original three-season run from 2004-2007 remain intact and, sadly, fresh. “[Rob] originally wrote about the haves and the have-nots,” Bell says of Neptune’s class warfare. “None of us could have anticipated it would be almost more appropriate, more topical, more necessary now, to discuss the gap between the two.” (Hulu will make the first three seasons and the film available in the run-up to the new episodes.)

Spring Break Forever
Credit: Michael Desmond/Hulu

(Daran Norris returning as attorney Cliff McCormack visiting new cast member Patton Oswalt, who plays a pizza delivery man, in the hospital.)

There are many familiar faces in Neptune—including Veronica’s BFF Wallace (Percy Daggs III), frenemy Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen), and lovable ambulance-chasing attorney Cliff McCormack (Daran Norris)—as well as new folks like a quirky pizza delivery guy (Patton Oswalt) and a badass local bar owner (Kirby Howell-Baptiste, or “Simone” to fans of The Good Place), who figure into the season’s central mystery. And if you ship “LoVe” (Logan and Veronica), Dohring promises you’re in for a ride. “They are grown up and they do have more interesting relationship issues,” he says. “We can show their intimate lives a little bit more.”

Heads You Lose
Credit: Michael Desmond/Hulu

(“LoVe” on a couch.)

But the real lovefest is behind the camera. “The reality is we know these characters, these characters love each other, we as human beings adored each other from the moment we met,” says Colantoni. “Over time, you just get more and more comfortable. Everything is better than it was five years ago, and twice as better as it was 15 years ago..”

To see Veronica Mars in the pages of Entertainment Weekly—as well as the scoop on dozens of more shows—check out EW’s Summer TV Preview in the next issue of the magazine, on stands May 24.

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Veronica Mars
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