Lionsgate // 2009 // 360 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // January 21st, 2010
The hemptress returns!
Television's craziest family is back in action in Weeds: Season Five (Blu-ray). This time, Nancy Botwin and her eccentric entourage are facing a wave of unexpected troubles that may just push them over the edge.
Even though Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) and her family have finally settled south of the U.S. border, things certainly aren't the way they used to be. Nancy is pregnant with the child of powerful politician and ruthless drug lord Esteban Reyes (Demian Bichir), who isn't exactly thrilled about the situation because he's gearing up to launch into a new election.
Meanwhile, Silas (Hunter Parrish) is still trying to get his own business going, while Shane (Alexander Gould) is struggling with his own problems. Doug (Kevin Nealon) is still smoking a lot of pot, and Andy (Justin Kirk) is embarking on his own journey to find new meaning in his life. Last but not least, Celia (Elizabeth Perkins) is doing whatever she can to abandon all her misery and find a way to start over.
As much as I adore Weeds as a television series, it pains me a bit to say that Season Five doesn't flow as well as its predecessors. It's not that Jenji Kohan's series about a pot-selling family's misadventures is rapidly losing its appeal, but the shocking surprises I used to enjoy so much are not as frequent as they used to be. Weeds is still an incredibly entertaining and hilarious viewing experience, sure, but it seems that Kohan and her writing team occasionally struggled to make these thirteen new episodes as exciting and original as those of past seasons.
Now, this obviously doesn't mean Weeds: Season Five is a failure. On the contrary, it's a season that takes the characters and story into a new direction. Sometimes that's not a bad thing, even though it may at first feel a bit strange. The old days of Nancy dealing pot are pretty much gone, but Weeds has always been a series boasting big, unexpected changes. It takes time getting used to new directions, and that's fine. Luckily, the cast is still fabulous and most of the lead characters are going through some intriguing transformations.
Most of the characters are starting to drift apart a little, but that's because some of them are growing up and realizing it's time to explore new opportunities. Doug, for instance, isn't hanging around Nancy's new house that often anymore, In fact, neither is Nancy. I certainly don't want to reveal too much here, but Doug spends most of his time onscreen trying to start a new business with Silas. Meanwhile, Nancy is caught in Esteban's dangerous world, which almost separates her from the rest of her family. Even Shane has his own things going on, and luckily, they are just as awkward and shocking as in the past. In fact, Shane is the character undergoing the most changes this season.
These are just a few examples of how the relationships between the main characters are shifting. While it can be a bit uncomfortable for viewers who don't appreciate drastic change that much, it also shows that most of these folks onscreen are actually growing in one way or the other. Indeed, character development is still very strong this season, and I like the fact that pretty much everyone is taking on different attitudes towards everything they've been through. I find it especially compelling to watch Nancy trying to handle a gazillion problems at once. She's clearly exhausted, and the show does a great job at handling her recent misadventure with care and without too much implausibility.
Of course, the wonderfully vulgar dialogue and fantastic performances by everyone involved still create a whole series of memorable moments that help make this fifth season a hilarious experience. Nealon's Doug is still the funniest character on the show, and he steals the scene every time he shows up. Andy is quite hysterical as well, even though he does get more serious towards the end of the season. Shane is more present than Silas this time, and Alexander Gould proves he's a fabulous actor who can portray a changing teenager while growing up fast himself.
Like previous seasons, Weeds: Season Five also boasts some extended cameo performances. This time around, we get to see Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alanis Morisette. While Leigh does a great job in the brief role of Nancy's sister, it's Alanis Morisette who really shines in the role of a local doctor pulled into the hectic world of Nancy and Co. In fact, Morisette is so surprisingly good, I can only hope they'll bring her back for the sixth season. Parker, Perkins, Parrish, Kirk and the rest of the cast are as good as ever, and that certainly helps boost the level of quality of Season Five.
On Blu-ray, Weeds looks even better than in previous seasons. The colors and lighting on this show are simply amazingly gorgeous, and the two discs' high-definition widescreen transfers boast a sharp, clean picture quality that shows constant improvement on the show's technical aspects. This edition also includes a 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio transfer, and to tell you the truth, it's amazing. Weeds is a TV series that looks and sounds fantastic, and this Blu-ray version certainly does it justice.
Moving on to the special features, the two discs include a bunch of extras fans of the series will undoubtedly enjoy. Besides audio commentaries for six episodes, the bonus material also features some funny bloopers, all the season's short but cool title sequences, a short but unnecessary skit with Kevin Nealon promoting pot, and a piece titled "University of Andy," in which Justin Kirk gives viewers some valuable suggestions to overcome everyday problems, including how to survive a bear attack or satisfy a woman. These tips obviously don't have much in common with the making of Weeds, but some of them are kind of funny anyway.
Also included is "Crazy Love," an interesting 11-minute featurette examining all the dysfunctional relationship in the series. Kevin Nealon also takes viewers backstage in a funny short behind-the-scenes look titled "Really Backstage," and for those wondering where pot came from, a 2-minute animated featurette offers a quick look at the history of weed. All in all though, these special features are not as exciting as I expected.
Weeds is still a whole lot of fun to watch, and even though huge surprises were scarce in Season Five, I admit I am already looking forward to the next season. With a cast as delicious as this one, what can go wrong? Comedy and drama mix very well on this show, and this season proves that there's a lot left to discover in Nancy Botwin's messed-up world.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 360 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Official Site