After both fans and the creators and actors of Veronica Mars had worked for so many years to get a movie made to put a proper ending on the television series after it was canceled mid-story, no one is quite ready to let it go completely. In that vein, a spin-off of sorts has been created by the series creator, Rob Thomas, revolving around Dick Casablancas.
The series is a small web series called Play It Again Dick and airs on the CW Seed network. It follows cast member Ryan Hansen as he tries to get a spinoff of Veronica Mars made that focuses on his character, the aforementioned Dick Casablancas. The series consists of eight episodes and features both the fictionalized and real life version of all your Veronica Mars favorites, including Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colatoni, Percy Daggs III. Francis Capra, Ken Marino, Daran Norris, as well as some of your less than favorites, such as Chris Lowell and Duncan Kane (now played by Ryan Devlin, so maybe he will be better in this incarnation?).
“I even joke that I was tricked into it,” Thomas told E! Online. He was finishing up the movie and writing two pilots when the studio approached it as a way to promote the March release of the film. “I said, ‘I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy. I can’t do it now.’ But they hired an editor I’ve worked with for a long time and they said, ‘He can direct it,’ and I love him. I think he’s talented and wanted him to get that chance, and [they hired a] young writer I was working with and they said, ‘He’ll write the scripts for you.’ I honestly thought we would do it in a day and it would be like Ryan Hansen’s sitting on a couch playing Xbox and you just rotate the other five or six cast members and it would just be them chatting, like three or four minutes of funny chatting on a couch. When I said yes, that’s what I imagined. When I showed up at the first production meeting and they had given us so much more money and they had such higher expectations.”
It was at that point that Thomas realized he would have to be more involved in it. That was when Thomas tried to get out of doing it.
“Mark Pedowitz, the president of the CW, called me the night before the TCAs [in January] and said, ‘Rob, I thought you wanted to do this. We’re all very excited.’ I told him, I said, ‘I’m trying to finish your pilot! I’m in the middle of doing iZombie. I canonly do so much.'”
Pedowitz suggested that he announce the project at the TCAs and Thomas could just get to it when he had the time, to which Thomas agreed.
“I don’t know if I was being naive or what, but he announced it the next day and it was all over and suddenly the pressure was very much on to deliver on it,” Thomas said. “I did eventually sort of dive in and work with this young director and young writer and it was actually, while it occupied more of my limited vacation days than I might have liked, I’m really happy we did it because I think it’s fun and I think fans will really enjoy it. I mean, I have read many comments from people saying, ‘I wish it wasn’t meta comedy, I wish it was just really more Veronica Mars.’ It’s not that, so I hope no one is expecting like real Veronica Mars cannon in there. It will be fun and it will be the actors that they like and it’s a fun romp.”
Ryan Hansen started on Veronica Mars as basically an extra, with his first appearancein the second episode, where his big line was, “Logan.” “Where he got his name, was his character name in the show was 09er Dick,” Thomas said. “And I hired him because I thought his hair looked like good, Southern California surfer hair. He got that one word, he was solid with it. A couple of episodes later we need an 09er to deliver two words and this time it was a punch line. One of the teachers says to Veronica, ‘Veronica, what’s your position on this?’ And Dick sort of chuckles and says, ‘All fours.’ And he killed with it. After that every writer on staff wanted to put 09er Dick in his episode because you knew you were going to get a laugh. He started appearing in all the episodes and by season two he was a series regular.”
The first four episodes feature Hansen approaching the other actors about participating in his new spinoff. Each actor wants something different.
“Each of the other characters sort of take a pound of flesh from Ryan,” Thomas said. “They all want something special from him and he’s going to have to cater to them. For example, Jason Dohring believes that it’s a two-hander, he believes it’s a buddy cop show rather than all about Dick. Francis wants to not be portrayed as a criminal anymore.”
It will also contain cut footage from the fictional pilot.
“It is without a doubt a comedy,” Thomas said. “It’s not tonally like Veronica Mars. With Party Down—I keep saying it’s more Party Down than Veronica Mars, which is true in it’s a comedy, though Party Down is a very grounded comedy. It’s unhappy, it’s real world. This is a bit a silly, the Dick one is. There’s a touch of Monty Python in it. It is self-referential.”
In addition to the show, Ryan Hansen did an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Hansen also did an interview about the show with E! News, which is reprinted below:
What has the fan response been like now that the first episode has premiered?
Ryan Hansen: As far as I know from Twitter and all that, I think everyone has really enjoyed it. I’m so thankful because it’s obviously not Veronica Mars and it’s a weird, wacky comedy with all the characters from the show, so it’s cool that the Veronica Mars fans let that happen.
I loved how meta the premiere was, where you pitched Play It Again, Dick to real, actual CW execs. Amazing. What is the balance going to be like going forward? How much of the show will be you trying to launch the show vs. us getting to see the actual show within a show?
The first four episodes are me trying to convince everyone to be a part of the show and pitch them the idea. And then the last four-ish episodes are you getting to actually see the show within the show. It’s so awesomely bad. It’s really ridiculous and fun. So yeah, you’ll get to see a lot of the show within the show.
How would you describe how everyone is going to be playing themselves on the show? Would you say that it’s pretty realistic or is anyone going to play an extreme parody of themselves?
It’s like a heightened version of themselves, but some of them are more extreme than others. [laughs] Like Percy [Daggs III, who plays Wallace] is ridiculous. He plays himself almost like a gangster. And Francis [Capra, who plays Weevil], not that he’s not a thespian, but he really wants to show his acting chops. Everyone is playing it heightened. And then the show within a show, they’re even more so. They’re the person that I want them to be, which is ridiculous. Percy is going to be the badass he’s always wanted to do and Francis is finally getting these really long, dramatic monologues that he’s always wanted.
So what’s coming up in episode two?
Jason Dohring shirtless, Chris Lowell pantless.
Um, that’s the perfect tease. Pleases both Logan and Piz fans at the same time. I know what my headline is going to be!
Exactly, you’re welcome!
What can you tease about any big musical or dance numbers that are coming up down the line?
Oh yeah, there’s one big dance number with Dick and all the dancers. And then each character that I worked with on the show, I do a dance with every single person. Kristin and I dance together, Jason and I, every single person. We do our own little weird dance together. Even Mark Pedowitz and Thom Sherman, the CW executives, I dance with them!
I have to say, it was so amazing seeing them onscreen in the first episode playing themselves. How did you convince them to come on the show?
CW was very excited to have us on their new Seed channel, which by the way, that’s very fitting for our Dick show. I think Thom was an actor back in the day, and he’s actually pretty good. They were both great. I don’t know how we actually convinced them but I’m so excited that they did it. They were so funny. And we get to see them again later, too!
The web series has been described as the ultimate love letter to Marshmallows, but what can viewers get out of Play It Again, Dick if they haven’t seen Veronica Mars?
Wow, that’s a great question. I have no idea. I’m wondering that myself! I’m like, “Will people like this season if they haven’t seen the show?” It’s pretty weird. [laughs] Maybe they’ll want to go back and watch the show? I don’t know! What do you think?
I agree, I think it’s definitely going to pique some people’s interests. The characters you created are just absolutely hilarious.
But I think if you haven’t seen the show, it will still be kind of fun to watch this one guy who was on the show, try to get a spinoff for the show that has nothing to do with the show that he came from, you know? It’s still really fun for people to see this kind of hilarious yet sad journey of this guy trying to bank on this old show he was on.
What are you most excited for fans to see from Play It Again, Dick?
Honestly, seeing this awful show within the show. It’s so, so bad. The continuity is off, the shots are bad, it’s filled with wannabe action sequences. It’s ridiculous.
Back when Veronica Mars first premiered 10 years ago, did you ever imagine that the franchise would come this far and you’d be the star of your own spinoff?
For me, no way! I was basically just an extra back then. The fact that I even got to do 10 episodes the first season and then I was a regular in seasons two and three and then people still wanted Dick around and Rob wanted Dick—everyone wanted Dick!—it was really nice. Dick has always been in and out in a lot of episodes, so for this, it’s mostly Dick, and it’s just enough Dick. It’s only eight minutes per episode which is about all the Dick people can handle. But just the fact that we were able to do this series is pretty crazy.
So do you just have a plethora of Dick puns at your disposal by now?
There’s a million ways that you can spin Dick. There’s a full arsenal. Dick is endless! Dick puns! Woo!
The first five episodes have aired and are available below: