Lionsgate // 2011 // 353 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // February 17th, 2012
New York. New High.
Nancy Botwin takes over the Big Apple in the seventh season of Jenji Kohan's hit Showtime series Weeds, which despite its steady ratings has been losing some of its initial appeal of late. Although still an entertaining piece of fictional television, Weeds: Season Seven (Blu-ray) further proves the show is in desperate need for a creative overhaul. Truth be told, if Kohan wants her fans to stick around for a while, it's about time to shake things up and take the action to a whole new level.
Three years have passed since Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker, Red) headed to the joint to protect her family and her newborn son, and now that she's up for an early release, the former suburban widow and avid drug dealer is headed for Manhattan, where she's supposed to spend some time in a halfway house while she's getting her life back on track.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Botwin clan -- along with buddy Doug (Kevin Nealon, Aliens in the Attic) -- has been hiding out in Copenhagen, where Silas (Hunter Parrish, Paper Man) is working on a modeling career, Andy (Justin Kirk, Elektra Luxx) is selling modified bikes and Shane (Alexander Gould, How to East Fried Worms) is participating in awkwnard puppet shows.
Upon hearing the news of their mother's release, Shane and co. decide to have a big family reunion in New York, where Nancy's is already hard at work relaunching her pot business. With the law breathing down her neck, a stiff competition trying to ruin her flow, and her sister fighting her for custody of a son she hasn't seen in years, it's fair to say that despite her newfound freedom, Nancy's already got a lot on her mind...
As a huge fan of this compelling TV series, I pains me to say that creator Jenji Kohan and her creative team need to reinvent Weeds a little bit, but considering how the past three seasons compare to the fist three, something needs to happen for this thing to keep standing out. Let's face it, over the past couple of years, the adventures the Botwin family embarked on just couldn't match the energy, humor and suspense of all the challenges they faced in the earlier seasons.
Not all hope is lost though, and I would be the last one to say the show has completely run out of gas. On the contrary, seasons four, five and six took things into a different direction, and while the results weren't always as brilliant as expected, the refreshing entertainment value of Weeds never vanished. Now we're in year seven, and the Botwins are once again heading for a fresh start. Question is, how solid of a start is it?
First and foremost, Weeds: Season Seven is far from a bust. Sure, it takes about half the season before things get really interesting, but once Nancy is back on her feet and back in the weed business, the suspense returns and the number of all the beloved little twists quickly increases. The show's quirky sense of humor remains mostly intact throughout the season, and most of the characters we've grown to love so dearly keep developing in amusing fashion.
I say most of the characters primarily because one of the regulars falls particularly short this time around. Although his acting skills just keep improving, Kirk's hilarious Andy is pushed off to the side a little too much for my taste. Andy has always been heavily involved in the countless Botwin dilemmas, but this season, he sits around a lot, making it pretty obvious he prefers to stay out of trouble and just sell his bikes. I do respect his choices, but his is not the kind of character you want to invest in less.
While the previous seasons of Weeds pitted Nancy and her dearest kids against big drug lords and dangerous gangs, this seventh outing of the show focuses on an internal battle, forcing Nancy to compete against no other than Silas. While the resulting war between mother and son makes for some fun moments, it just doesn't reach the level of intensity, suspense or imagination we're used to from past confrontations. Nancy's enemies are all over the map this time around, and the whole pot business angle gets further pushed away from what's important to show.
In this sense, it feels a little awkward to see Nancy go from going up against ruthless killers to trying to beat her own son at what she does best. Creative options seem limited, further provoking the need for drastic change as far as the show's plot structure is concerned. The one character to remain an absolute pleasure to watch evolve is Shane, who's been adding a lot of spice to each season. This time around he manages to score countless student loans and attend college, surprisingly picking criminology and ending up as an intern with the NYPD. As luck would have it, Shane's adventures this season do reach a new high.
Although the evidence in this case may suggest otherwise, Weeds: Season Seven includes plenty of funny moments and even a few surprises. Bigger things could (or should) have happened to Nancy in New York, but you can't always win. Despite a drop in excitement regarding plot and diversity, Weeds stays true to its characters and keeps developing them in a deep, refreshing way we don't get to see from many television series these days. This really is what keeps this show alive and above average at this point. That, and the flawless acting.
On Blu-ray, Weeds looks fantastic. Lionsgate has come a long way here, improving the picture quality on a yearly basis. The two discs offer pristine 1.78:1 non-anamorphic (1080p) transfers of this season's 13 episodes, complete with sharp, vibrant picture quality and a superb DTS-HD 7.1 soundtrack. Special features are as numerous as usual, including several episode commentaries, a gag reel, deleted scenes and a few featurettes.
Loyal fans of the show will find plenty to enjoy in Weeds: Season Seven (Blu-ray). The season doesn't take the show to new heights, but could very well act as the launching pad for a new beginning and some bigger changes. The ending of the season does suggest a shocking change, so let's hope Kohan and her team of writers jump back to the Weeds roots and deliver something memorable in the upcoming eighth season. The time has come to surprise us again. I'll smoke to that...
Not guiltyÉ yet!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 353 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Gag Reel
* Official Site