Weeds: Season Five (US - BD RA)
Gabe is happy to see Weeds getting away from being too much like Weeds...
So, season four saw Weeds slowly crawling out of its rut. I gave the third season a more favourable review than it probably deserved, because looking back it was the show’s most repetitive season. On the other hand the fourth season wasn’t the most consistent, and despite it taking some time to find its footing in a new setting, it’s actually a solid stepping stone. When we last saw Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) she had just ratted out Guillermo García Gómez (Guillermo Díaz), and his trafficking tunnel from Mexico, which she was put in charge of. We also found out that Nancy was possibly pregnant with Kingpin Drug Lord Esteban Reyes’ (Demián Bichir) baby. Season five feels more like the second half of season four, which is becoming the norm for the best thirteen episode season series like Venture Bros and Mad Men. Twenty six episodes seems to be the ideal amount of time to tell an arching plot for well rounded television characters, and I’ve decided to get used to this idea. To judge these things fairly I need to change my way of thinking.
The fact that the show has all but entirely thrown out moral ambiguity in favour of relatively straight faced meanness is pretty much my favourite fact at this point. The show runs on mean-fuel these days, which is better than running on a tired formulas, but not enough to make this fifth season a must see. For fans though, this new refusal to ‘do the right thing’ is certainly a plus. Nancy is still given sombre reminders of her bad choices, but the depths to which she’s fallen are too extreme to be anything more than parody at this point. Every minute she and her family aren’t dead is another minute that laughs in the face of common sense. But that’s okay, it’s a television comedy. You want gut-wrenching realism tune into Breaking Bad. As a matter of fact Weeds gets a bit boring when it gets too dramatic, which makes Nancy’s baby story my least favourite aspect of the season.
The best things about this season are the sidekicks and secondary characters. Nancy’s rotating collection of Mexican bodyguards are certainly a plus, Alanis Morissette really makes the most of Dr. Audra Kitson, and being a Venture Bros. fan I just about peed myself when I heard James Urbaniak’s voice. The Wizard’s only on screen for a few minutes, but good eye casting people. Celia’s (Elizabeth Perkins) journey is also a continued delight, especially when she once again starts at rock bottom—having been kidnapped by her own daughter, who tries to ransom her off to her ‘friends’ and family, all of whom have no money or want to save her. The producers have even finally found something interesting to do with Nancy’s youngest son Shane (Alexander Gould), who has been wandering aimlessly since the end of the third season. The only side character that continues to stale this season is Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon). Andy (Justin Kirk) threatens to stale early in the season, but his strange relationship with Nancy pushes the right buttons after he crawls out of his funk.
Season five, which is presented in full 1080p high definition 1.78:1 widescreen, looks generally a little better than season four, as can be seen during the first ‘previously on Weeds’ segment, which are noticeably grainy. The differences between seasons are minor, and appear to have more to do with lessons learned by the show’s production staff than the disc’s producers. The show maintains its generally soft and warm look, though the directors aim for a slightly darker pallet this time around. The show has pretty much always been defined by auburns and greens, and every year seems to see things taken a little further. The soft and glowing look verges on the abstract this time, and the general cleanliness of the transfer definitely helps the look, as do the even blacks. There’s pretty much no noise or grain the whole season. The details are sharper, and more consistent than the DVD release (these images are taken from the DVD), especially scenes that take place outdoors, thanks to a little more hard-edged contrast.
Weeds continues not being the best arena for DTS-HD 7.1 sound mixes, but we certainly shouldn’t complain when Lionsgate includes all these lossless tracks. This time around the rear channels actually feature some groovy surround channel effects, including a surprisingly startling rear left sheep, a Theremin cue I swore was coming from outside my house, and a perfect interpretation of a bad rock band practicing on the other side of a concrete wall. Still, the overall sound design is particularly centric affair, even when the sound designers are aiming for a more layered sound. Things are all clear, there are no noticeable distortions, and the dialogue is consistent in both clarity and volume. The musical track is reasonably wide as well, creating a full spread of sound, instead of the usual stereo only, or stereo ‘wall’ options. The pop music cues are strictly frontal, with minor rear echoes, well supported by the LFE channel.
The extras begin with three commentary tracks on the first disc of the two disc set. ‘Wonderful, Wonderful’ features creator Jenji Kohan who follows her usual track thrust, and covers things from a reasonably intellectual point of view. ‘Su-Su-Sucio’ features series producers, and episode writers Robert Benabib and Matthew Salsberg. The writers talk a lot about the structure of the season over the specifics of this specific episode. ‘Van Nuys’ features actors Hunter Parish and Kevin Nealon having a fun time going off on unrelated tangents. Disc one’s non-commentary extras include two ads for the season—‘A Brief History of Weed’ (02:00, HD), an animated flyby look at the drug’s history, and ‘Yes We Cannabis’ (01:00, SD), Kevin Nealon spoofing a political speech. The disc ends with ‘Little Titles’ (03:20, HD), a look at each episode’s open title animation with commentary from Kohan.
Disc two’s trilogy of commentary tracks begins with ‘Ducks and Tigers’, which features actors Justin Kirk and Alanis Morissette. At the time of recording Morissette hadn’t seen any of the series cut together yet, and is kind of confused, but Kirk’s explanations of both the scenes and the behind-the-scenes antics are actually more endearing than you’d expect. This track is also entertaining because of the nature of the episode, which see’s the actor’s characters engaging in particularly racy oral sex. Next up is ‘Glue’, which features actors Elizabeth Perkins, Allie Grant and Andy Milder. This track is a sort of celebratory fluff piece, with the major focus on characters and actors, but it’s quite fun. And as per the usual, the season finale, ‘All About My Mom’, features Kohan solo.
Disc two extras continue with ‘Really Backstage with Kevin Nealon’ (11:05, HD), a super raw look behind the scenes of the series with the actor, who tours the set with a handheld camera. ‘Crazy Love: A Guide to the Dysfunctional Relationships of Weeds’ (12:20, HD) briefly covers the romantic and platonic relationships of the characters this season through cast and crew interviews and scenes from the series. Next are 12 ‘University of Andy’ featurettes (34:00, SD). Andy gives out advice on dealing with a bear attack, satisfying a woman, starting a band, holding your liquor, surviving the apocalypse, internet dating, dating foreign chicks, how to make $100, breakups, bullies, crazy significant others, and manscaping. Things end with a selection of bloopers (11:00, HD).
Season five doesn’t just see Weeds keeping its head above water, it steps fully out of the swimming pool, and moves onto a new place. This latest release actually makes season four a little bit better, since the two seasons are really one solid twenty six episode season, and the final episode in the collection ends on a delicious shocker. This Blu-ray release features a warm and soft transfer, which is all but entirely free of blemishes, and a relatively centric, but effective 7.1 DTS-HD audio track. The extras aren’t the best in the series’ release history, but the six commentary tracks are informative and entertaining, and the ‘University of Andy’ web featurettes are worth the time.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 19th January 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Extras: Cast and Crew Commentaries, Bloopers, History of Weed, Yes We Cannibis, Crazy Love: A Guide to the Dysfunctional Relationships of Weeds, Little Titles, University of Andy, Really Backstage with Kevin Nealon
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Mary-Louise Parker, Elizabeth Perkins, Allie Grant, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Hunter Parish
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 360 minutes
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