Weeds: Season Three (US - BD RA)
Gabe likes season three more then season two, and is still peckish...
Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), that lovable suburban California pot dealer is back with her lovable family, her lovable friends, and even her lovable enemies. When we last saw Nancy she was being robbed of her stash and her cash by two warring gangs, but how can you give up what’s yours when it’s already been stolen? How’s Nancy going to get out of this one? You’ll just have to tune in to find out (cue theme song).
It’s nice to know what’s going on when I get a surprise TV season in the mail. I enjoyed but didn’t love season two of Weeds. My review was a little lukewarm, however, the season finale was such a huge cliff-hanger I couldn’t wait to see the next episode…I just don’t get the station that aired it, so it’s nice to catch up.
Weeds is a fun time, and season three is a more silly and over-the-top time than season two. There’s still a sombre streak through some of the episodes, especially any moments recalling Nancy’s dead husband, but most of the heavy stuff is cast aside for increasingly delusional antics, and really obvious political slants. There’s a bit of an anti-literalist Christian streak in season three that will likely rub some viewers the wrong way, but most of those viewers probably aren’t interested in a television series about a suburban mother selling pot anyway.
There’s some very clever subtext to Nancy’s relationship with her two bosses. Sullivan Groff is a crooked developer who bends the law in ‘acceptable’ ways, playfully sexually harasses Nancy, and is generally harmless. U-Turn is a violent drug dealer who blatantly breaks the law, threatens to have Nancy raped, and is generally a brutal individual. Despite these obvious facts Nancy actually exerts more control over U-Turn for a large part of the season. This doesn’t last the whole season, unfortunately, but it leads the narrative arc back into focus on the already established characters, and to what is basically a satisfying season finale.
Some of the juxtapositional situational humour is a bit too ‘on the nose’ for its own good, but no matter how obvious a thirty-something white woman on a drive-by in a Prius is, it’s always going to be funny. The roll of Nancy’s kids, Shane and Silas, is more amusing this time around, though the Christian school and Christian girlfriend (played by Mary Kate Olsen, who does her best) stuff is a little awkward. Nancy’s brother in law’s little adventures are pretty disposable, but amusing, and the other grow buddies from the last season are pushed a little more towards the background, which seems to be a symptom of the brevity of the season on the whole (though still longer than most UK series).
Several of the seemingly hopeless situations our heroes get themselves into are too quickly solved by happy coincidences, usually death, and it can be a bit moan inducing, but this basic randomness keeps things moving and unpredictable, which kept me watching.
This is my first high-definition television series! Hooray! Things look nice and sharp, and most obviously, very colourful. Details aren’t real-life tight, but the show has a sort of foggy veneer, so super crisp details aren’t quite necessary. The cinematography is still candy-coated, and this season comes off as particularly rose tinted, especially indoor shots. There’s quite a bit grain in these rosy and low-lit stage shots, and it’s not as fine as a lot of the grain featured in most high definition programming. However, the compression levels are minimal with only a couple exceptions, mostly skin tones, the outdoor shots are vibrant, blacks are deep, and the oft mentioned colourful colours are delightfully poppy, though with a hair of blooming.
One of the season’s running gags is the sound of people slurping through straws at inopportune moments, and in DTS-HD these slurps have never sounded more crisp and realistic. I, of course, cannot get the full effect of the track, because Tom refuses to spend thousands of dollars to buy me new equipment (cheap so and so), but I got the gist. There’s aren’t a lot of aggressive sound effects, or even subtle sound effects, but just like season two, season three is packed with great music, and that music sounds great. The music, even the unoriginal music, is usually impressively remixed into the rear channels. The snappy dialogue is consistently clear and centred for our listening pleasure, and there is no point in the track where the full and loud music overbears the speaking parts.
Disc one starts the extras off with a collection of five commentary tracks. Doing the Backstroke features creator Jenji Kohan, Shit Highway features producer Mark Burley, Bill Sussman features actor Justin Kirk, Grasshopper features both kid actors Hunter Parrish and Alexander Gould, and The Two Mrs. Scottsons features director/producer Craig Zisk and DP Michael Trim. Most of the commentators seem a little uncomfortable with the process, but they all bring their own thing to the table. Burley is very technically minded, Kirk is laid back, Parish and Gould are somewhat charmingly silent, Zisk is technical again, Trim is very quiet, and Kohan is just bemused by the entire thing.
Disc two features three more commentaries. Release the Hounds features commentary with director Ernest Dickerson (who normal makes ‘urban’ horror features), Protection features executive producer Roberto Benabib, and Go features creator Jenji Kohan. Dickerson is quick enough, but a little awkward, Benabib is a bit dull, and Kohan continues to be bemused.
The trivia tracks are featured on six episodes, three per disc. The trivia is pretty random, and maybe a little desperate, but I suppose it’s a nice way to make the episodes more interesting if you’re watching them for the second or third time. The six-minute gag reel is your usual stuff, but very funny in a predictable fashion. This is followed by four wacky photo montages set to four different versions of the main title them ‘Little Boxes’, which is followed by a sampling of the series original soundtrack, including eleven songs. Disc one’s extras finish up with a featurette about Randy Newman’s cover of ‘Little Boxes’, and a Mary-Kate Olson mini-biography, both of which were obviously made as promos for Showtime.
Disc two’s other extras include a strange little Blu-ray game called ‘Kush Kush and Away’, which is basically a variation on Frogger. Not really very fun. ‘Uncle AWOL’ is a silly, but not particularly funny featurette that runs down the history of the Uncle Andy character and his various sit-com antics, which more or less have no effect on the series’ greater arc. It runs seven minutes. ‘G.M.A—Good Morning Agrestic!’ is series of pretend public access shorts concerning the show’s characters, which run a mind numbing thirty-three minutes.
Weeds got better. Season three is an addicting treat. However, I’d actually like to close out this review by quickly discussing and recommending another series about a down on their luck suburbanite that takes to drug dealing for cash—AMC’s Breaking Bad. Weeds stepped it up here, but Breaking Bad is such an incendiary, engaging, and fascinating series, that’s it’s all but completely stolen the suburban drug dealing dramedy piece of the television pie. If you like Weeds you need to buy season three, but more importantly you need to check out Breaking Bad, by any means necessary.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Release Date: 1st January 1995
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master 7.1 English, Dolby Digital EX 5.1 French
Subtitles: English HoH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Director/Producer/Actor Commentarys, 'Uncle Awol', Trivia Tracks, 'Little Boxes' Featurette, 'Kush, Kush and Away' Game, Mary-Kate Olson Bio, ‘G.M.A – Good Morning Agrestic!’ Shorts
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Mary-Louise Parker, Romany Malco, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Burr Steers, Tucker Gates
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 388 minutes
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