It’s always refreshing to have a show come along that not only pushes the “normal” boundaries of suburban life but also isn’t afraid to uproot its entire cast and story and plant them in an entirely new location. Such is the case with Weeds, a show that started off simple and hilarious and eventually uprooted itself and became more of a drama. It was pretty surprising when the show took that turn in its fourth season and by the fifth it once again felt like it would be headed in another new direction. Sure enough the show – and cast – both saw changes and additions.
The hemptress is back! Pot-selling soccer mom Nancy Botwin (Emmy® and Golden Globe® winner Mary-Louise Parker) returns for her most addictive adventures yet in the complete fifth season of Showtime’s hit series, “Weeds.” Nancy’s taken her business south and now faces a whole new crop of crazy problems. Follow the Queen of Green as she fights to keep her family in line and her enemies out of her stash in this intoxicatingly entertaining DVD and Blu-ray collection. Weeds: Season Five includes all 13 episodes of the fifth season, which originally aired in the summer of 2009, and is loaded with special features including commentaries with cast and crew, a gag reel, newly produced featurettes and more.
An issue that I still haven’t gotten over with this show was the dramatic change it imposed. On some levels it works, but in others the show was doing so good in the environment it was in. It never felt stale or annoying in its current format so the sudden change up was a little too soon in my eyes. But I eventually adapted and grew to enjoy this new format…although why some of the characters still continued to appear in it was slightly confusing to me. As much as I love Kevin Nealon’s character, how he continued to pop up in the same locations as the rest of the cast was just…bewildering.
Another element of this season that was irksome was the character of Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins). The early season storyline with her and her daughter that hadn’t been seen since the first season was funny at first…and then just progressed into the stupid. I’m really quite shocked that this season was so acclaimed by the critics as it had so many moments that just made you question what the show had become. Lionsgate still advertises this as a show about the “hemptress,” but she (Mary-Louise Parker) is the farthest thing from it in the show now. It’s a good marketing ploy, sure, but at this point it’s just false advertising.
So was there anything in the season to enjoy? Sure. The sub-plots not relating to Nancy, Celia or Andy (Justin Kirk) were almost all enjoyable, if too brief. Andy’s story took a turn for the weird this season, but they eventually broke away from the weirdness that was the relationship between him and Nancy. It dove into strange soap opera/strange sexual fantasy territory about halfway through the season with a scene that culminated in Andy swallowing Nancy’s breast milk. And it wasn’t bottled; no…it was fresh from the tap, which made that scene all the weirder. His reaction was hilarious, granted, but still…very weird stuff. Up until that point Nancy had been rather selfish the entire season, which never really occurred to me until everyone in the show itself started to call her on it. Which was a slight relief, as I wasn’t sure what it was exactly that was annoying me about the season.
So it wasn’t perfect by any means. The whole Estaban storyline was shaky at best, and Nancy’s sons, Silas and Shane, continue to either be glowing examples of how to raise a child or an example of one going bad as Shane continues to grow into some kind of overly annoying emo-phase. But whatever, as weird as he is he was responsible for a hell of a finale. Shane’s situation (as well as Doug and Celia’s) also looks to be improving, as it seems that Celia is going to take up where Nancy left off in the weed business…which is fantastic, as that was honestly the highlight of the show. I’ve had just about enough of these mysterious Mexico subplots that lead to me questioning why I’ve stuck with this show.
It was a very, very rocky season but between the brilliant notions of jumping ahead in the timeline to where Nancy and her sons are not only living with Estaban, but she’s also married and their son was born, so we cut through all of that drama and plowed on straight ahead. Though it did lead to some more strange Nancy/Andy moments…but, hey, it all got resolved and that’s all that matters. Assuming season six picks up where the promising end left off.
Overall this isn’t a season I’d recommend to newcomers to the show. In essence it’s not even the same show it was back in seasons one and two (three is where it started to circle the drain…and now it’s trying to climb back up it by the end of five), so I can only recommend it to pre-existing fans. Newcomers should Skip It and instead check out the first and second seasons before continuing on, as you’ll not only get a better grasp of the characters but there’s also a ton more humor and a lot less incessant and very annoying drama.
Lionsgate releases season two with “green” (Hah, get it? Green! Like marijuana!) packaging that is really just an eco-friendly setup (the case itself isn’t green, it’s just full of holes and such). Inside the packaging are the two discs that house the thirteen episodes from the season. Of course the cover art is, once again, alluring and will no doubt entice buyers into purchasing it. Which is a shame because the season is such a brilliant example of how bad a show that once won Emmy’s could actually get.
Video is an AVC encoded 1080p effort that is…well, really flat. It’s not a compression issue; it’s just more of a source issue as there really isn’t all that much detail being squeezed out of this presentation. The opening titles always look nice and occasionally a bit of clothing will be high in detail, but for the most part it’s a very mediocre and unexciting transfer…which matches the tone of the show this season perfectly, come to think of it. It’s not so much washed out as it is dull and the new household our characters inhabit for most of the season has a very, very orange hue to it all. Interiors are nice, however, so it’s not a total loss. And the General Lee looks pretty cool too.
Audio arrives with a DTS-HD 7.1 audio track that is nothing short of the definition of overkill. The show barely pulls off a 1080p transfer, so a 7.1 track for what is basically an R-rated soap opera is just…really unnecessary. But kudos to Lionsgate for putting the effort into it at least…they’re the only company who consistently delivers the 7.1 tracks, and for that I have to commend them. Even if this track is overly quiet in the surrounds and predominantly spewing dialogue out of the front channels (which is to be expected, so no real issue there).
• Audio commentary on select episodes with creator Jenji Kohan plus cast and crew (Episodes 1, 3, 5, 11, 12, 13)
• “Little Titles” intro commentaries by creator Jenji Cohen (3:18, 1080p)
• Gag reel (11:04, 1080p)
• “History of Weed” featurette (1:58, 1080i)
• “Yes We Cannabis” featurette (1:02, SD)
• “Crazy Love: A Guide to the Dysfunctional Relationships of Weeds” featurette (10:15, 1080i)
• “University of Andy” webisodes (33:58, SD)
• “Really Backstage with Kevin Nealon” featurette (11:07, 1080i)
The six audio commentaries are definitely a nice touch, as not only do they get a decent mix of the cast members involved (although never Mary Louise-parker for some reason), but we also get a nice little track with Justin Kirk and Alanis Morissette, who plays Andy’s love interest for most of the season. It’s a decent mixture of tracks, although I found the lack of any real criticizing being done a bit irksome. Sure it’s a fun show to work on, but c’mon. Kohan and the writers really took this show into the toilet.
The rest of the extras are pretty straightforward. Nealon’s behind the scenes stuff is nice and the gag reel was fun to watch. Honestly this is a really good selection of extras; it’s no Mad Men, but I have to once again give props to Lionsgate—this isn’t a shabby setup of extras at all. It has most of the staples you’d expect and aside from a season retrospective/making of, it’s not really missing anything.
Overall a set worth a Rental for the curious. You should be able to blow through the season in a couple of sittings, but if you aren’t already a fan then I’d hesitate on this one and pick up one of the earlier seasons first. For die-hard fans, however, this is a solid release as it has some entertaining extras (of which total up to over three and a half hours worth).
Weeds – Season 5 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.