After three seasons of 'Weeds,' I can't say I found the show all that enthralling anymore, despite my continued enjoyment of the series. Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) and her career decision had undergone so many setbacks, twists, turns, and convenient escapes from near catastrophic events that it started to feel like a farce. How much shit could one person really take before going completely nuts and/or committing a murder-suicide of epic proportions?
Season three was a turning point in the show about "dealing in the suburbs," with a story line that culminated in a change of scenery as the climax. Nancy and her dysfunctional family have to relocate, but it appears the constant drama from that ever-hovering one person rain cloud has decided to relocate along with her. With Silas' (Hunter Parrish) growing interest in the family business, and Celia's (Elizabeth Perkins) newfound involvement in her best friend's line of work, Nancy finds herself in all sorts of problems, both old and new. The path down which her career is taking her has gone from dangerous to deadly, but this MILF isn't going to let the potential loss of her freedom or life stop her from taking care of her family.
Fans of the show will quickly notice the addition by subtraction that season four brings, with a few popular characters disappearing from the cast. Heylia (Tonye Patano), Conrad (Romany Malco), and Vaneeta (Indigo) have seen their characters go up in smoke (they drop off the radar faster than a stoner's intelligence), and their absences open the door for new characters, as well as time to flesh out existing ones. Season four particularly breathes new life into Celia, the woman you just love to hate, while Doug (Kevin Nealon) continues his descent from power to great comedic effect. The pairing of Nancy with Guillermo (Guillermo Diaz) late in season three opens all kinds of doors for this new season, and the new possibilities make sure that this weed doesn't grow stale.
While last season provided sharp stabs at religion, small business, armed services, and city politics, this new crop of episodes handles immigration, euthanasia, and the drug cartels below our borders that seem to be a growing concern in this country due to the strong violent crimes that are directly related. Of course, these issues are handled in the very dark, cutting, borderline evil fashion that made 'Weeds' a hit in the first place.
Season four takes a good amount of time establishing the roots of Nancy and her dead husband Judah, a situation that never really got fleshed out in earlier seasons. Of course, it was done in such a manner, involving other family members, that it was hard to keep a wicked grin off my face at how deliciously evil and cold blooded the writing could get. Referencing the great 'Citizen Kane' in a euthanasia sequence was just so wrong that it was so, so right again.
The show still flies by, with episodes running at a rampant pace, with proper character developments and twists (autoerotic asphyxiation, anyone?) that seem to pop up out of nowhere, but all leave a lasting impression. One impression the show also would like us to believe is that everyone and their mother smoke weed. Seriously, the show has no idea that there are people out there who don't toke, and this can be added up to a bit of laziness on the side of the normally sharp writing crew. After four seasons, now, there seems to be a never ending flow of new customers, and it seems that no one who ever pops up in the show, unless they are with an American law agency, is ever clean.
'Weeds' can be enjoyed by anyone, even those who live a clean, straight edge lifestyle like me. The show has a much broader reach than the pro-pot comedies that hit the silver screen, and features a sense of humor that is all but lost on brain dead users. This isn't just some random stoner comedy where humor = "dude, that guy is wasted, that shit's so funny, man!" I can't say I can ever empathize with the Botwin family plights that are the result of the Nancy's choices, but I do enjoy seeing a show that doesn't glamorize the use of the drug, showing how many problems it can bring, in both the large and small scales, while never reducing itself to the bottom of the barrel generic stoner gags.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Weeds: Season Four' arrives on Blu-ray on two BD50 dual-layered discs. Unlike previous seasons, this arrival is Region A locked. Also unlike previous seasons, before each episode, a DTS-HD Master Audio logo pops up. This is massively annoying, as the promo is in 1080i, causing a pause in many television sets to convert resolutions for a clip that lasts just a few seconds, before causing another pause to convert back to 1080p. It also doesn't help that this little annoying bit that pops up thirteen times has a bass rumble far louder than any found in the series, and can startle those who don't see it coming.
The fourth season of 'Weeds' arrives on Blu-ray with a solid VC-1 1080p encode. Like the previous seasons, this one has many solid qualities, though a few turbulent issues.
Colors for this season are much the same as before, with an obvious bit of oversaturation affecting skin tones and, well, everything else. Greens, not so ironically, are a dominant color once again, popping off the screen whenever present, never going neon despite the array of shades on display, while the few episodes that feature orange jumpsuits display that color beautifully.
Edges are very clean, noise is not obvious in the least, and there doesn't appear to be any post-production tweaking visible. Contrast is sharp, and detail is on high alert. Artifacting isn't as prevalent in this season, but the issue still pops up from time to time. In darker shots, eyeballs can turn blue, while there is some light banding in sky shots. One sequence had me concerned about a stuttering issue, but the use of it again in the same episode lead me to believe it was intentional, though it did throw me off quite a bit.
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 may as well be renamed the "Lionsgate Special," as they seem to be the only studio on board with providing the two extra channels on a regular basis (save for some older catalog titles). The inclusion of this next-gen audio mix for 'Weeds: Season Four' is a bit of a head scratcher, much akin to overkill, as this season didn't seem anywhere near as active as those that preceded it.
It's somewhat fitting that the season that finally shows Parker in the same light as her many co-stars (read: nudity) is incredibly front heavy. I can't remember the previous seasons sounding as front and center as this release, and I boned up on season three just a week before sitting down to four. There is still a fair amount of natural sound effects and ambiance, they just don't flutter through the entire room.
The season does have a few sequences that kick things up a notch, particularly the alternative medicine hallucination scene, that by far tops the season in terms of activity and full surround usage. Music does creep through to the rears as well, though very faintly. Directionality and localized effects appear at times, though they are very rare, while the bass presence is equally unheard of (or just flat unheard) through most of the runtime. A few sequences in Spanish do not include automatic translation subtitles like most of these occurrences do.
The best thing about the audio mix is the fact that Little Boxes only rears its nasty, flat out stupid head just once throughout the entire season, in the first episode, as when the show uprooted and left the Majestic/Agrestic area, it left the god awful theme song in the dust as well (though the alternative credit sequence found in the last episode of season three and first on season four will be missed). Little Boxes, you will not be missed. The worst thing about the audio mix is the fact that the DTS-HD Master Audio promo that plays in front of each episode has more life than any portion of the entire season, reminding us that this is as tame as it gets. Clean and clear audio is nice, but this season is as comatose as Bubbe.
It doesn't matter if you think 4:20 is a marijuana code or a time close to the end of the work day, as smokers and the clean and sober can both find something fun in this fourth season of 'Weeds.' The show has yet to hiccup, though it is getting a bit too convoluted and soapy for its own good. Strong video and average audio, and a healthy supplement package make this disc hard to "just say no" to.
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