Sunday, July 8, 2007

Weeds in Perspective

Weeds returns to Showtime on August 13. I just watched the first two seasons On-Demand, and I'm still close to bursting out laughing about certain scenes and characters. The series is right up there with Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development as fall-down laughing out loud comedy. But Weeds also has a darker side, which really developed a hair-standing-up-on- the-back-of-your neck edge by the end of the second season ... (a brilliant accompaniment to falling down laughing)...

For anyone who's been living on Alpha Centauri or thereabouts the past few years: Mary Louise Parker plays Nancy Botwin, a suburban single-mom who deals weed. Her husband Judah dropped dead unexpectedly while jogging, leaving Nancy no insurance and a load of bills. She has two sons - Silas (Hunter Parish) a high-school student and Shane (Alexander Gould) just breaking into puberty. Her brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk) moves in to help with the uncle-ing. Lupita (Renee Victor) the housekeeper doesn't do any work, because she discovered Nancy's stash and that's her price for keeping quiet.

There's hilarity in almost every family scene, but Andy is in a class by himself. He explains the ins-and-outs of masturbating to Shane, who's been gumming up the plumbing with his used socks. He provides sage counsel to both boys about girls and women. He gets involved with a sexy wacko himself as he goes to rabbinical school to avoid going to Iraq - until a dog bites off two of his toes, giving him grounds for a medical deferment if needed.

Weeds: Season OneThe first season is mostly laughs, as Nancy struggles to get her business going and make ends meet. But it ends with a startling scene - the first guy she has let herself romantically sleep with after husband's death is DEA, a drug enforcement agent.

This sets up the considerably darker but even funnier second season. Nancy secretly marries DEA Peter (Martin Donovan) who says he loves her. The idea is that Peter as her husband can't be compelled to testify against her, and nor would he want to, since being married to a drug-dealer would ruin his career. It's not that Nancy loves him - she certainly likes him, at this point - it's that she's willing do anything to protect her business and her family. She's not above using sex and whatever is necessary. I actually think this makes her more admirable.

Meanwhile, her business is booming. Conrad (Romany Malco), who starts out as a low-level drug runner, turns out to be a George Washington Carver of weed, and develops a highly desirable variety. Nancy and Conrad put together a cartel of characters to run the business, including SNL's Kevin Nealon as the pot-smoking town councilman Doug, and Andy Milder as the hapless lawyer Dean, whose wife Celia, delightfully played by Elizabeth Perkins, is Nancy's best friend and a grade-A bitch.

Weeds: Season TwoBut something's gotta give - given that Nancy doesn't fully love Peter, is not comfortable sleeping with him in Judah's bed - and it does: In the stunning ending of Season 2, Nancy is . . . well, I won't give it away for you, in case you haven't seen it.

But I can't wait for August 13 and Season 3. Weeds is part of our current, new golden age of television, precisely what Congress and the FCC would excise from cable television if they get their way ... so grab it while you can...


Oh - and it will be great to hear what Weeds does with its theme-song. Season 1 featured Malvina Reynolds singing her "Little Boxes". Season 2 had Malvina singing only in the final episode, with a different artist - ranging from Elvis Costello to Engelbert Humperdinck! - singing the theme song for each episode. This went one better than The Wire, which has a different artist singing "Down in the Hole" each season. I like "Down in the Hole" better than "Little Boxes," but it will be fun to see what Weeds does with its boxes this season...

See also The Wire's "Way Down in the Hole"

Reviews of Season 3 episodes ... 1 ... 2 ... 3: Appealing, Important Questions ... 4. Prius and Gluteus ... 6. Ray of Hope ... 7. Conrad Rules! ... 12. Nancy and Conrad! ... 13. Shane Pays the Price ... 15. Finale: The Fire and the Clean Slate

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book
Post a Comment