Almost every great show delivers a bad season during its run. Every great high school series stumbles when the characters inevitably matriculate. With those two predestined fates working against it, Veronica was bound to slip up eventually and, lo and behold, the show’s first and only college season is an uneven mess, and far from the best note to send the show out on after its untimely demise.

But Veronica Mars fans have an opportunity to excuse the error that few shows do: network interference. After two years of relative anonymity on UPN, the series scored a Hail Mary renewal during the first year of the network’s merger with The WB to become uber-network The CW. But in its maiden year, the network had loftier ambitions and in exchange for the renewal, Thomas and co. were asked to make structural concessions to allow for easier accessibility.

The series promptly abandoned the winning, season-long mystery format in favor for shorter arcs that just didn’t have the same impact, before abandoning serialized mysteries completely for the final third of the season. The result: case-of-the-week episodes that were rarely engaging, typical and rote, and allowed for a nauseating focus on the ever-shifting relationships to fill the time.

Yeah, Veronica Mars wasn’t flawless during all three seasons, but save for some odd stylistic departures and shitty new characters (beware Chris Lowell's unfortunately named Piz), you can blame that fail all on the management.FT