Lionsgate // 2008 // 362 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // June 25th, 2009
A new season of fresh buds.
Showtime's hit series Weeds returns to Blu-ray for a fourth season, and this time around, the hot pot-selling mom and her eccentric family are in for some major changes.
When we last saw Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker, The West Wing), everything around her was literally burning to the ground. With most of Agrestic gone and her peculiar sources of income crippled, the fearless Botwin matriarch decides to take a big risk and lead her family to the Mexican border, where she plans on resuming her business and exploring new frontiers. As fate would have it, however, not everything works out the way she planned, and before she knows it, Nancy finds herself back in the middle of a whole bunch of big trouble.
It only took one episode for me to completely fall in love with Weeds, a refreshingly innovative comedy series filled with spicy humor, glorious twists, and some of the most hilarious and awkward characters I've ever seen on television. Even though I admit the show's originality has started to wear off a tiny bit, I'm still proud to announce that Weeds: Season Four (Blu-ray) really lived up to my expectations. A series' drastic move into a new direction can be hard to accept at times, but in this case, going with the flow paid off: Nancy Botwin's new adventures in the coastal town of Ren Mar come with plenty of thrills and surprises.
I always find it difficult to talk about a series in detail without spoiling too much, so I will keep this rather brief. What I can say without messing it up for those who haven't seen the fourth season yet is that the Botwin family and their loyal TV audience are indeed in for some changes. Many of the characters we met in Agrestic are out of the picture, and a lot of the things Nancy and her family have been doing during the past three seasons are also beginning to change. That said, none of this is actually a bad thing. On the contrary, it's nice to see these people break into new territories.
And wow, do they explore new opportunities in this new season. While Nancy heads off to start producing new income with the help of Guillermo (Guillermo Diaz), the guy who helped her get rid of some threatening competitors in the third season, Andy (Justin Kirk) and Doug (Kevin Nealon) decide to start their own coyote business. As far as the Botwin kids go, Silas (Hunter Parrish) tries everything to launch his own "business" while Shane (Alexander Gould) has some dirty things on his mind. That's all you need to know about these guys at his point. Go and discover for yourself what happens next.
Needless to say, Andy and Doug deliver the most laughs in this fourth season. Kevin Nealon is quite simply phenomenal in this series, and in fact, so is his character. He obviously gets to play with the best lines, and he has no trouble stealing every scene he's in. Let me tell you, you'll have a lot of fun with this guy's misadventures this time. As far as the show's global suspense is concerned, I admit Weeds: Season Four isn't quite as intriguing as the previous season. Unlike many of their predecessors, most of these new episodes don't have that shocking surprise toward the end, and if there's something major going down, it's still not as compelling as some of the things we've seen in other seasons.
Still, Weeds is maturing in terms of character development, and that's exactly what I enjoyed most about the fourth season. Although all the main characters are preoccupied with their individual problems this time, Nancy is clearly the one with the biggest change of personality. As the season progresses and things don't really work out that well for her, Nancy slowly starts reflecting on the previous years. She's not entirely sure whether what she's done to support her family was really the right thing, and she's now faced with bunch of new predicaments that could really push her over the edge. Watching her go through this is truly engaging.
If I'm missing one little thing in this season, it's the delicious dose of social satire I so much enjoyed in the previous seasons. With Agrestic gone and only some of its residents showing up again throughout the seasons, there's not really much opportunity left to poke fun at the suburban lifestyle. Still, with the Mexican border just around the corner, the show's writers to their best to come up with new jokes, most of which are mildly entertaining. Saying bye to Agrestic isn't all that hard though, because this new season of Weeds still delivers the goods and goes out with a bang, and that's eventually what matters the most.
On Blu-ray, Weeds looks better than ever. The discs' 1.78:1 widescreen transfers looks gorgeous and superior to that of previous seasons. The image is sharp and clean, and colors and contrast really stick out. High-def fans will definitely be impressed with this edition's technical aspects. As far as the sound is concerned, the discs come with strong 7.1 DTS-HD Master transfers that balance score, dialogue and other sound effects quite nicely. No complaints here.
Let's wrap this up with a brief look at the special features. Besides a funny eight-minute gag reel, the bonus material on this Blu-ray edition includes seven audio commentaries with the cast and crew. Two of them feature the BonusView option, which displays the actors in a recording booth in the bottom right corner of the screen. All in all, the commentaries aren't that special, although the two with Justin Kirk and Kevin Nealon are hilarious. Also includes on this set are eight featurettes covering a wide variety of subjects surrounding the series. Some of these pieces deliver some enlightening content, while others aren't that intriguing to experience. Here are the highlights: "Tour of Bubbie's House," in which set decorator Julie Bolder takes viewers on an interesting tour around the set of the new Botwin family home; "The Weed Wranglers," which focuses on the creation of all the weed we see in the series; and "I'm a Big Kid Now," an energetic conversation between Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould, and Allie Grant about their experiences on set.
Weeds: Season Four proves the series is still in great shape, and it definitely leaves loyal fans wanting to see more. The brilliant cast, as usual, heavily contributes to the show's success, as does the clever writing and interesting characters. I love Weeds because it's sexy and crazy, takes risks, delivers some good laughs, and always has a solid surprise in store for the audience. Oh, yeah, and it looks awesome in high definition!
Green, but not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 362 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Gag Reel