I’m probably one of the few remaining “critics” that wasn’t familiar with the Showtime original series Weeds, and when Mary-Louise Parker (Fried Green Tomatoes) won a Golden Globe for Best Actress, like some other people who haven’t seen it, my response was “what the hell for?”
As it turns out, her win is not only well deserved, but openly makes me question the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for not nominating her for a Best Actress Emmy. She plays Nancy Botwin, a h…usewife in an upper class California town who has recently lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. She turns to selling marijuana with the help of Heylia (Tonye Patano, Little Manhattan) and Conrad (Romany Malco, The 40 Year Old Virgin), and she does quite well for herself, becoming a bit of a player in the neighborhood. And as it turns out, it’s a pretty entertaining neighborhood at that. Some of her clients include Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon, Saturday Night Live), a city council member and Nancy’s accountant, and Dean Hodes (Andy Milder, Domino), a lawyer and husband to Nancy’s best friend Celia (Elizabeth Perkins, Must Love Dogs). Nancy also deals with the work of her family, namely her sons Silas (Hunter Parrish, Premonition) and Shane (Alexander Gould, How to Eat Fried Worms), as Silas grows more and more into a confused high schooler while Shane becomes some extremely dark film auteur of some sort.
Showtime’s first season, ten episode run is out on DVD shortly before its second season is to lift off, and I think the best way to describe this show is that “everybody’s got a secret”. The cynicism of the people despite some of the lives they lead is good, and watching Celia torture her daughter into losing weight and staying thin is the stuff of pretty funny dark comedy. The show rises and falls with how well Parker is able to carry off the lead role, which she does brilliantly. Some of the funniest lines come from Nealon, who always pulls off some deadpan joke that is hilarious. Sometimes, the characters vamping is a little tiresome, but it’s forgiven by the things the characters do. Just watching Nancy get more and more advanced as a dealer (and by her mistakes) is worth it for yuks alone, and watching Celia and Dean’s dysfunctional marriage gives Perkins a chance to shine.
There is one part of the show that I’m presuming they’ll address in the coming season, which is just exactly how Nancy met Conrad and Heylia. Nancy’s family (short of her sons) know about them, so just how did Jane Homemaker meet up with Druggie McCompton? That’s the one thing I’m dying to know. Conrad does provide a bit of a “guardian angel” aspect to Nancy’s business, the Vaughn to Nancy’s Sydney Bristow, so it will be interesting to see just how that evolves (if it does), plus Nancy’s life got extremely interesting at the end of the first season, with a cliffhanger that makes you look forward to seeing what season 2 will bring.
Dolby 5.1 and Dolby 2 Channel surround mixes for the sonic lover in your life. There’s not too much use of the surrounds, and the sound is reproduced very accurately without any distortion.
I’m slightly disappointed on this level. I mean really, the show was just made last year, someone at least could have thought to film it in 1.78:1 or even 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, but this cable show gets full frame treatment. Partially because I enjoyed the show so much, I wanted more of it to fill my widescreen set, that’s probably the reason.
Just enough extras to make you feel good, but left wanting more (sound familiar?). Disc One has solo episode commentaries on four of the six eps, featuring a mix of cast and crew. Disc Two has two more commentaries (including one with Nealon), along with some recipes for the food made on the show, a behind the scenes featurette and a couple of short films that are actually more interview footage than anything else. There’s even a bit of a “marijuana for dummies” look at weed on a basic high level, and a couple of fake documentaries about the evils of the earth that are pretty funny.
The first season of Weeds wound up being a pleasant surprise and I look forward to seeing what becomes of the Botwins as play (and work) evolve. The acting may be hammy from time to time, but the writing works, the jokes usually fire on all cylinders and the storylines after 10 half hour episodes have been fun and entertaining. This is definitely a show only cable can see, but here’s hoping it has a long life.
Special Features List
- Selected Episode Commentary
- Interview Footage
- Making of Featurette