When last we left the fine folks of Weeds, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker, Saved!) and her herb-growing buddy Conrad (Romany Malco, Blades of Glory) were being held at the mercy of two rival drug groups, both of which were very interested in Nancy’s stash and her cash, but it was taken by her son Silas (Hunter Parrish, Freedom Writers), who was arrested by Nancy’s friend Celia (Elizabeth Perkins, 28 Days). I’m not even close to discussing how things got to this point, and needless to say, the twists and turns sound a little soap operatic at times, but when you’re invested into the characters’ fates as you are, they provide for some memorable experiences.
One of the things that Weeds does is push things to the edge of the envelope, and I‘m fine with that. What I’m not fine with, and what my wife and I get into debates about from time to time, is that in Season Three, Nancy’s transformation from widowed mother in a upper/middle class suburban neighborhood to full-fledged marijuana dealer becomes full and complete. In the previous two seasons, Nancy mixed her Caucasian naivete rather well with her cold and precise drug dealing livelihood. In Season Three, she becomes much more cold and precise, particularly around people she knows and calls friends. She takes care of her feelings first, particularly in one episode where she sleeps with her boss (played by Matthew Modine of Vision Quest lore), despite Celia’s urge to be with him. Her rendezvous with Conrad, one the show had been waiting for for almost three seasons, was more for her convenience than anyone else’s. She becomes much more distasteful than in previous seasons, and all the sweetness of sucking on an iced coffee straw isn’t going to help things.
It does help that the supporting cast brings, and later ups, their games, over the course of the season. Silas steps into the new family business rather well, despite having a lot to learn about the real world. Silas also manages to have a steady girlfriend of sorts in the very religious Tara (played by, of all people, Mary Kate Olsen). The youngest Botwin Shane (Alexander Gould, Curious George) discovers more of his intellect through school, despite clashes with those who run it from time to time, and discovers a new friend in Celia’s daughter Isabelle (Allie Grant). Doug (Kevin Nealon, Saturday Night Live) is a mix of emotions between wanting Celia back and clashing with Sullivan (Modine), but the guy who really brings it this year is Nancy’s brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk, Angels in America). Never have I seen a guy go through military training and fetish porn, not to mention losing an appendage or two, all in fifteen episodes, and do it with the humor and fly in the face of adversity sarcasm that Kirk brings to Andy. It was, quite possibly, the most interesting character development I’ve seen in a show in recent memory.
Jenji Kohan, the show’s creator, left Season Two on a cliffhanger ending influenced by the work of Tarantino, and in Season Three, she ended it with some borrowing from the films of Altman and P.T. Anderson. Season Three of Weeds took the momentum of the first two seasons and brought them to a head rather well, so now the intrigue is to see what is built upon for Season Four, which is about to be aired on the Showtime cable network as of this writing.
Ahoy there maties, Weeds comes with a 5.1 surround track for ye! This is a cable sitcom of sorts, so everything is straightforward. The songs possess a bit of dynamic range and the dialogue sounds clear, but there’s not a lot of speaker panning or directional effects, and subwoofer activity is near nil. It does what it does.
1.78:1 widescreen for the eyes. Luckily, Weeds was shot in high definition using Sony 900 cameras, so quite a bit of detail can be gained from watching the feature. Flesh tones are warm and reproduced accurately and there’s not a lot of artifacts or other issues to pickup on. Weeds is a nice looking show to watch on DVD.
On the surface, there appears to be a lot packed into the three discs of Season Three, but upon further examination, not too much is brought to the table. On the plus side, you get either a commentary track or a running trivia track on each episode, but the trivia tracks are largely repetitive on off-topic trivia and don’t really cover much on the production. The commentary track participants include Kirk, Kohan, Parrish, Gould, producers Mark Burley, Roberto Benabib, Craig Zisk and a couple of others. But most of the track are solo contributions and even at the 25 to 30 -minute pace, there’s still a lot of watching on each track and the tracks are boring as a result. While the majority of the tracks discuss some of the things that occurred on set or examining some character motivations, there are a couple of highlights on the tracks, such as shot breakdowns or the occasional left-wing political statement without actually stating anything. The occasional poke about how “CBS wouldn’t let us say that I’m sure,” as a nod to the show Dexter’s network transformation, are made too. Ernest Dickerson, who is a feature film and TV director, might be the most informative track, as he discusses the differences between film and TV, what actually occurred on set during his time, that kind of thing, but with so much presumed style, it would have been nice to have some substance.
Moving on, disc one includes a six minute gag reel of flubbed lines that’s not really all that funny, followed by four montages of the show’s opening song “Little Boxes.” A sampler of the show’s CD soundtrack follows, with 30 second preview clips of 11 tracks on the album. You also get a preview of the Showtime Original shows. Disc two has a couple of promotional pieces that presumably touted Season Three’s airing, including a bio on Olsen and a teaser look of sorts at Kirk’s antics, along with composer Randy Newman’s interpretation of the theme song. Disc three has several in-character pieces called “Good Morning Agrestic,” on community television done by many of the show’s characters. And there are cooking segments to boot on them!
If you haven’t seen Weeds at all yet, then this is your call to arms to get brought up to speed by possibly the funniest show going on television. It takes probability and common sense and stamps them out as much as possible. And the results make for hilarious comedy. The performances are great, and the characters are, for the most part, worth the time, so give it a shot and I’m sure it will be well worth the time for you.