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Play It Again, Dick - Webseries Review

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Can you handle more Dick? Dick Casablancas, that is.

If you can, and if you missed it during the crush of fall TV, then you should check out “Play It Again, Dick,” the comedic offshoot of the “Veronica Mars” franchise that finds your favorites poking fun at themselves, both in and out of character. The entire eight-episode webseries is available on as well as iTunes.

The meta premise centers around Ryan Hansen (endearingly, goofily playing himself), who is hyped to sell The CW on a spin-off starring his character, Dick Casablancas. Kristen Bell is amusingly on-hand in the first episode to point out why a show about Dick (“an entitled, self-involved, hedonist moron”), especially one where he’s randomly a gunslinging private eye, might be a tough sell. But The CW gives him the go-ahead to produce a micro-budget pilot.

From there, the first few episodes (presented mainly as footage from a making-of documentary) follow Ryan as he struggles to write the show (“I was thinking about writing the story, you know, and then just hiring some nerd to put in some commas”) and tries to round up other “Veronica Mars” cast members to join the project, letting them riff on themselves and fan perceptions of them. Percy Daggs III and Francis Capra are fun playing opposites, with Daggs not wanting “Wallace Fennel doing any of that pussy shit” while Capra wants something Shakespearian to sink his teeth into as Weevil. There’s comedic Skype chats with an unenthused Chris Lowell and an overexcited Enrico Colantoni. And Logan fans will be happy to hear that Jason Dohring spends his screen time shirtless as he, to Ryan’s dismay, envisions Logan and Dick as buddy cop co-stars.

Even better, the second half of the series consists of raw footage from “Private Dick,” the show within the show, and it’s a riot. A major character from the first season is recast with an actor who recurred during the third, with no explanation given. The micro-budget results in hilarious “special effects,” like when Dick kicks in a door or later gets in a kung fu fight. Nearly stealing the whole production is “iZombie” star Robert Buckley. He plays Gaston, a choreographer (oh yeah, there’s a dance number!) who, for reasons I won’t spoil here, ends up in the pilot, delivering one expositional monologue after another in the most hilarious monotone. But my favorite is a recurring bit where Dick is visited by the ghost of dead brother Beaver (Kyle Gallner), who eye-rollingly tries to remind Dick that he committed suicide while Dick repeatedly swears to find his killer.

Everyone involved seems to be having a blast and it shows in “Play It Again, Dick.” Fans of “Veronica Mars” and its stars should eat it up like a bowl of gooey marshmallows.

And if you want even more “Veronica Mars,” check out the novels, co-written by series creator Rob Thomas. Last fall’s “The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line” was a twisty page-turner that delved deeper into Veronica’s new status quo in Neptune and sprung surprises from her past on her. And today marks the release of “Mr. Kiss and Tell,” a sequel that promises more Logan for the LoVe fans and to pick up Weevil’s subplot from the movie.

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