Weeds: Season Four (US - BD RA)
Gabe's still inexplicably hungry, and wonders if Weeds isn't responsible...
Weeds has definitely fallen into a pattern over the last four seasons, and the fourth season is a testament to the structural foundation of that pattern. Nancy can’t fight her overwhelming need to dig her hole deeper while continuing to sleep with all the wrong people. Celia awkwardly fights with her wise beyond her years daughter and tries to become part of Nancy’s circle. Andy finds a new goofy enterprise, which Doug becomes a part of. Silas meets a new pot-head girl, and gets all angsty about his place in the family, while Shane feels socially lost. It’s a formula, which is a bummer for what started as a loveably original show.
The writers still manage to impress with a few perverse little extras, like Nancy’s youngest masturbating to photos of his own mother (which is followed by a really great speech on Parker’s part), but there aren’t a lot of surprises at this point. Fans all know where it’s going to end up—things will look impossibly bad, then everything will be suddenly cleared up, only to be thrown back into hellishness seconds before the final episode ends. And yet I can’t help but enjoy the series even in these waning years. I find myself frustrated by the lack of character arch, and guessing every twist in the narrative, but I’m still laughing at most of the jokes, and genuinely loving the stagnant characters.
Season three has the advantage of tiny additions like running gags, and some subtle undercurrents and juxtapositions, but it had a kind of lame season finale that tied things up way to neatly. Season four is a little dippy and repetitive overall, but it does feature a strong final couple of episodes, and left me wanting at least a little more. I was a little mean to the series in my season three review where I compared it to the fully comparable Breaking Bad. Since then Breaking Bad has started its second season, and the show is now so intense it’s becoming hard to watch. I definitely couldn’t see myself sitting down to an entire season viewing like I am with the more docile and fan friendly Weeds. I suppose predictability has its place in entertainment without requiring laziness or stupidity.
I feel like an awful, superficial male pig for saying this, but the increase in definition really shows off a blue vein on Mary Louise Parker’s chest. I… I can’t stop looking at it. I suppose that’s kind of an endorsement of the transfer, right? This season four hi-res transfer is quite comparable to the season three hi-res transfer—colourful to the point of slight blooming, warm, reasonably sharp detail, and a general lack of noise. I’ve seen cleaner transfer for sure, but there isn’t an excess of artefacts. Really it’s all about those candy coated colours, which aren’t as precisely cut as those found in more contrast heavy features and series, but that’s sort of the point of the show’s look I suppose. A generally soft focus is also in-keeping with the show’s usual style, but compared to the DVD release the small details are pretty impressive, and there’s a clear lack of digital compression in the warm colours and along the harder edges. The only real problem with the transfer is darker scenes, which become a bit muddled due to the relative lack of harsh contrasts.
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is surely overkill for this series, which is mostly dialogue and music based. There are occasional surround flourishes—outdoor ambiance, doors closing stage left or right, the ocean rolling through the surround speakers—but the majority of the non-musical sound is pretty much centred on the track. The LFE channel doesn’t come into the sound effects equation too often, but does support the soundtrack pretty effectively, especially the pop songs that find their way into the final credits. The music features some attractive surround moments, including some effectively rendered ghost channels between the stereo and surround speakers.
The extras here follow the same projection as the previous season collections, starting with a few commentary tracks with varying participants, and ending with some brief featurettes. Disc one features four commentaries total—‘Mother Thinks the Birds are After Her’ with creator Jenji Kohan, ‘Three Coolers’ with Roberto Benabib, ‘No Man is Pudding’ with Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk, and ‘Excellent Treasures’ with Elizabeth Perkins and Allie Grant. Kohan starts things off with a quiet and assured tone, and is full of factoids, Benabib takes a technical producers route, Nealon and Kirk act just like their characters, but don’t entirely miss out on sharing factoids, and Perkins and Grant are sweet, if not a little uninformative.
The first disc featurettes start with ‘Little Titles’ (05:30 HD), a collection of commentaries from Kohan discussion the change to the series titles, which no longer include the song ‘Little Boxes’. ‘Moving Weight’ (09:30 HD) features Guillermo Diaz discussing the concept of smuggling things into the United States from Mexico with a real criminal defence attorney. ‘I’m a Big Kid Now’ (09:30 HD) is a brief interview with the three kid actors about growing up on screen. Things end with a gag reel (08:30 HD).
Disc two features three more commentaries—‘I am the table’ with Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk, ‘Head Cheese’ with Hunter Parish, and the season finale with creator Jenji Kohan. Nealon and Kirk continue to be endearingly identical to their characters, yet still rather informative, Parish seems nice enough, but mostly laughs at the jokes and pays compliments to the cast and crew, while Kohan covers the most intriguing aspects of the season finale. I apologize for not getting any of the Spaghetti Western homage.
Disc two featurettes start with ‘The Real Hunter Parish’ (06:00 HD), who is fluffily interviewed about his husky puppy, his childhood, his city preference, his band, working on the show, and other generic interview usuals. ‘Tour of Bubbie’s House’ (07:40 HD) briefly explores the ocean side cottage set, including a tour with the set designer, and quick interviews with the cast and crew concerning the new sets as a whole. ‘One Stop Chop Shop’ (05:30 HD) concerns the production design of the series’ new mini-Tijuana sets, specifically the chop shop and tunnel sets, again including cast and crew interviews. ‘The Weed Wranglers’ (06:00 HD) briefly covers the production of the pot plant props (no, it’s not real pot). ‘Burbs to the Beach’ (06:30 HD) finishes things with an arching look at the spatial changes made in the fourth season. I had no idea that bringing Albert Brooks into the fold created a Finding Nemo reunion.
It’s getting repetitive, and season four is overall weaker than season three, but Weeds is still a very appealing little series. The writers made an effort to change up the more cosmetic aspects of the series, but the themes and plots are still pretty much the same. The set up for season five makes way for a lot of growth, and I hope things really freshen up (I won’t be seeing it until the next Blu-ray set comes out myself). This Blu-ray set is identical in quality to the previous releases. It’s colourful and bright, though details aren’t as sharp as they could be, and the audio is minimalist but clean. The extras are adorable, but not particularly meaty.
* 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: 2nd June 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master 7.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Extras: Cast and Crew Commentaries, Little Titles, Moving Weight, I'm a Big Kid Now, The Real Hunter Parish, One Stop Chop Shop, Tour of Bubbies House, Weed Wranglers, Gag Reel
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Mary-Louise Parker, Elizabeth Perkins, Allie Grant, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Hunter Parish, Tucker Gates
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 362 minutes
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