This review may contain information that can be deemed a spoiler for the previous five seasons of the show, as it is difficult to discuss anything that happens this far into the show without discussing how it got there. However, there will be no major plot points concerning the sixth season revealed.
By the end of the fifth season of 'Weeds,' I had no faith left in the series. I expected nothing from the show other than to possibly speed up its quick spin around the lip of the drain before going down the tubes for good. I expected serious contrivances that would only further remove the characters from reality, and from their origins, which have been so far obliterated that the first few seasons may as well have never existed. Sure, I also expected at least one or two more sex scenes featuring Mary-Louise Parker, one of the best looking forty six year old women ever, but that's another story. The show that once had promise and showed glimmers of true excellence from time to time, had turned into a parody of itself, and I was left wishing it had ended right then and there.
I won't say show creator Jenji Kohan pulled a rabbit out of her...hat...because, quite simply, I find her to be akin to the person who overcompensates and does everything to an extreme to try to get attention and love. I know, that sounds awfully harsh, but considering we're talking about a show that portrays absolutely everyone and everything in the muck, with no participant clean of illicit activity, save for obvious cops (who may as well have the word NARC tattooed on their heads). 'Weeds' hasn't really been too forthcoming with actual sober characters, and it doesn't seem that there's ever a person who can say no to illicit drug use or criminal activity. It starts to seem a tad bit pander-y, now that there are 76 episodes on the books, that everyone and their mother wants to be tokin' the ganj'. It also seems too farfetched that the world's worst drug dealer is still, I don't know, alive, with all her limbs and appendages, considering how often she gets into the deepest of shit. There's always a get out of jail free card, a convenient coincidence or happenstance that saves our heroine, Nancy Price Botwin Scottson Reyes.
On the bright side, the sixth season is certainly the best one since the first three, and even better, there isn't yet another marriage or pregnancy, not with a single character, including Nancy!
The fifth season ended with one of the biggest about faces in any character, as Shane (Alexander Gould) has laid the smack down on Pilar (Kate del Castillo), after overhearing her threatening Nancy with the death of her children. With the major player in Esteban (Demian Bichir)'s career dead, Nancy decides to flee in order to protect her family from any consequences, heading north with no afterthought or remorse. Esteban isn't much a fan of losing his newborn son, though, and soon his favorite assets (Enrique Castillo as Cesar, Hemky Madera as Ignacio) set out after the Botwin family. New identities and a thousand or so miles may not be enough to keep the family safe from their enemies, both known and unknown.
This season is a major departure from all things past. Sure, the show has changed settings before, especially with the setting of the earliest seasons going down in flames, but this time, even the players change. Not once do we see Celia or Isabelle Hodes, and that's major, since Celia had been in every episode prior, and seemingly was set up for a different role in future events at the end of the fifth season. We only see Dean for about a minute. Show newcomer Dr. Audra Kitson (Alanis Morissette) is ditched early. San Diego, Mexico, Lupita (Renee Victor), they're all distant memories, and the show is better for it.
The sixth season flies by, the first episode seeming like it lasted a mere five minutes. It makes for a great marathon viewing. There are no major hang ups. No major logic defying moments...keyword being major. There are few new recurring characters introduced, and the few that are, overly convenient as they may be, they don't completely ruin things. Vince (Currie Graham) may be the most ridiculous character ever, who amounts to a Jar Jar Binks with a bad attitude, but we thankfully ditch him before the stupidity that is the crooked concierge who briefly acts as Nancy's newest pusher ruins the positives this season brings.
'Weeds' has always had a hot topic or two being pressed with the subtlety God gave a sledgehammer, and this time, God himself finds himself to be one of the major running gags. So, yeah, there's that, if you're not fond of anything poking fun at your religion. Andy (Justin Kirk)'s time spent imitating a pastor may offend some, particularly due to the obvious irony, while the fact that a pastor is portrayed as possessing massive amounts of phallic sex toys and Jewish man porn is sure to offend most. There's even a "vision" of Jesus, an obvious reference to the hyper-spiritualism that makes some believers see messages and signs that reaffirm their faith, although the gag is quickly forgotten. All the while, Doug (Kevin Nealon) believes his life is spared due to some message from above, despite the fact that it's obvious that any other-worldly divine being abandoned his sick ass long ago.
Nancy, the show's focus, actually makes sense again, although her random knowledge of how to make hemp out of nowhere (not once in five previous seasons did I ever see her really manufacture the product) is a bit too convenient and implausible. Her relationship with her family is the driving force this time around, as all kinds of outside influences try to remove them from her, or her from them, and that makes the show more likable, as she's human again, not just some Mexican politician's whore. She's better as her own woman, and I'm sure most viewers will agree once they see this season.
Nancy's new job early in the season is very humorous, and an actual good fit, so much so that it's a shame we can't see more of it, despite the presence of Vince (again, one of the worst characters in show history!). Sadly, few others are given much to do when Nancy has her groove going on. Silas (Hunter Parrish) is still the newfound voice of reason, ever since Shane went off the deep end, and the big brother fits in nicely with the random bizarre angles he's stuck in. Shane, though, in addition to becoming the new bad boy of the show, has turned into quite the comic character, especially in this thirteen episode arc, as his quickly eroding set of morals and ever growing series of vices make for some very funny conversations and scenes. And while the early episodes don't give everyone much to do, this season is fairly balanced, with all of the main characters (who appear) getting a fair share of their own screen time, and a few interesting story arcs each. Show newcomer Richard Dreyfuss (yep, he's working) is often a scene stealer, though he is a bit less than a fully developed character than he is a convenience, an out of the blue parachute that symbolizes lazy writing more than anything.
'Weeds' isn't the best show on Showtime, It may not even compare to most of the new FX programs hitting Blu-ray. Still, after the worst season in show history, 'Weeds' does rebound quite nicely. This season does have a few WTF moments, and more than a few leaps in logic, but fans will more than likely forgive the flaws and embrace fact that the worst is behind them. Of course, the finale of season six opens the door for a curious season seven, but in all likelihood, it will take only a single episode to undo every single major development that hits in the finale.
The 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode provided to this newest season of 'Weeds' is definitely an eye catcher. From sharp, accurate blacks, to gorgeous bright colors, including perfect, non-fuzzy reds, this release is almost pure candy, with amazingly sharp details and fantastic textures to boot. Image depth is quite impressive, as well, and there is no sign of DNR or aliasing. There are a few minor bands across the set, as well as some slight skin tone orange and minor noise, but they are all very minor, in terms of actual screen time, as well as how afflicted the picture is any time there is a small booboo.
One of the better looking TV on Blu-ray releases, 'Weeds: Season Six' is definitely worth a purchase based on its video merits alone.
Unfortunately, this definitely is not one of the best sounding TV on Blu-ray releases in recent memory. Lionsgate gives the subversive show a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, and all it gives us in return is mediocrity. Dialogue doesn't have any replication or prioritization issues, and room dynamics are quite proper. That's all well and good, but there is more to the show than dialogue, and this Blu-ray seems to have forgotten that. Bass pipes in briefly in the fourth episode, with a good pulse, before dropping back off the planet. Rear speakers are hardly utilized properly, as ambience can completely disappear for lengths at a time, making the show seem somewhat stagnant and uninspired. Even the soundtrack has a very weak, meager presence in the back channels. I didn't go in expecting a rock'em sock'em action thrill ride, but I do want a show that doesn't distract me by how very front heavy it sounds.
Disc One: commentaries on 'Thwack' by Jenji Kohan, 'A Yippity Sippity' with Tate Donovan and Brendan Kelly, 'A Shoe for a Shoe' with Hemky Madera and Enrique Castillo, and 'Pigwheels and Whirligigs' with Justin Kirk and Kevin Nealon. Kohan is repetitive, stale, somewhat self congratulatory, and beyond monotone (and that's not to mention she comments on what's on screen more than she does what isn't). Donovan and Kelly have fun in their recording, but are hardly that informative, almost laughing as much as they talk. Madera and Castillo discuss themes, the first participants to do such, and discuss random minor parts of the show. To this point, they're the best track. Kirk and Nealon are always a fun listen, as they poke fun at any and everything, and provide some interesting insight.
Disc Two: commentaries on 'To Moscow, and Quickly' by Hunter Parrish and Alexander Gould, 'Dearborn-Again' with Roberto Benabib and Matthew Salsberg, 'Viking Pride' by Michael Trim and Tara Herrmann, and 'Theoretical Love is not Dead' with Jenji Kohan. Parrish and Gould are a nice listen, though obviously they're not too in depth, although they are fairly humorous at times. The sling on Doug's arm is explained, with the real life reason taking precedence over the raccoon in the port-a-pottee, which finally made that change make sense. Bernabib and Salsberg are big on how things came to be, rather than what's there on screen, so they're good for behind the scenes information. Trim and Herrmann share some interesting info, such as the similarities in the Silas/Lars storyline and the actor who plays Lars' real life, though their track is fairly dry and timid. Lastly, Kohan comes back for the final episode. So, apparently the theme of the final episode is Alfred Hitchcock. That weird noise you hear is me trying to explain what me raising both middle fingers sounds like. Anywho, the discussion of the Silas side-story is discussed, brings up her brief appearance, and explains the minor weird items in the episode. Still not a fan, can you tell?
'Weeds' really had me ready to hit someone by the end of the fifth season. Now, I'm looking forward to what hopefully will be the final season of the show, as things are getting a bit too convoluted for their own good. The show has been uprooted before, but never like this, and it's time for the story to reach its end, even if it seems like there's new life blown into the writing. This Blu-ray release has great video, average, kinda underwhelming audio, and the usual pile of extras, which aren't up to the par of 'The Office,' but they're not bad, by any means. This is an easily recommended title, even if it means you have to have seen that awful set of episodes that came immediately before the ones found here.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.