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Weeds: Season Four(TV) (2008)
Everyone's favorite pot-selling soccer mom, Nancy Botwin, is back in the complete fourth season of the hit series WEEDS. Last time we saw her, Nancy's business (and house) was going up in smoke. So the Botwin bunch has relocated near the border for a fresh start with some new buds. Life's looking green again in this subversive and buzz-worthy comedy. Season 4 of this critically acclaimed series is more subversive, more hilarious, and more addictive than ever.
For more about Weeds: Season Four and the Weeds: Season Four Blu-ray release, see Weeds: Season Four Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 4, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mary-Louise Parker, Alexander Gould, Justin Kirk (I), Kevin Nealon, Hunter Parrish, Elizabeth Perkins
Directors: Scott Ellis, Bethany Rooney
» See full cast & crew
Weeds: Season Four Blu-ray Review
Showtime's dysfunctional, dope-selling family returns for a fourth go-round on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 4, 2009
It's time to move on, so let's move on.
Though the theme of the fourth season of "Weeds" revolves around new beginnings, new loves, new curiosities, new explorations, new addictions, and certainly new problems, the show is starting to feel old and stale. Season four's baker's dozen worth episodes entertain but don't necessarily go anywhere or do anything, each 27-or-so-minute show telling a continuous story that seems to be moving only for the sake of marching onward towards no readily identifiable goal other than to keep the characters on the air. The story meanders through the usual barrage of crises and resolutions, each character's development making for interesting -- if not usually far-fetched -- material that serves no real purpose other than to see how much trouble the character can get into and out of. "Weeds," at this point in its life, seems a show with little in the way of meaning and import; the biting social commentary remains, though this season gracefully begins and ends with far fewer overt political jabs than its predecessors. Still, commentary on large-scale social and political issues such as guns and immigration are at the forefront of the season, while the show also deals with more personal and family-level issues such as hormones and substance addiction.
Following the developments of the third season, the Botwin's find themselves on the move, heading south to the California-Mexico border and winding up at Andy's (Justin Kirk) father's house. Lenny Botwin (Albert Brooks) reluctantly accepts his new housemates, adding to his familial burden as he cares for his bed-ridden, tube-fed, and practically comatose mother. Meanwhile, Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) returns to the drug business with the help of Guillermo (Guillermo Díaz) and finds herself both at the center of a major hub of drug trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico and involved with a prominent Mexican politician (Demián Bichir) while Celia (Elizabeth Perkins) unwittingly takes the fall for Nancy and deals with her own personal struggles. Throughout the season, the other Botwins deal with several life-altering issues. Silas (Hunter Parrish) finds himself involved with an older woman and the family business; Shane (Alexander Gould) begins the journey from boyhood to manhood; and best friends Andy and Doug (Kevin Nealon) look for love in the arms of illegal Mexican immigrants.
The fourth season of "Weeds" continues to feature standout performances; old favorites and newcomers alike shine in their roles, and like the best shows on television, the actors fully immerse themselves in the roles, and never once does the audience not believe that Nancy Botwin or Esteban Reyes are indeed real people with real wants, needs, problems, and solutions. Nevertheless, therein lies the problem with the show. Though a fictional portrayal of a dysfunctional family dealing with an avalanche of personal, familial, and societal issues, "Weeds" always makes the very worst out of each scenario, adding drama but sacrificing realism and emotion in the name of heightened artificial "made for TV" drama. There's certainly nothing wrong with over-dramatization, but "Weeds" seems to know no bounds. "Character arc" takes on a whole new meaning, the ebbs and flows of each player looking like a massive sine curve with peaks and valleys so extreme that they threaten to flow straight off the chart. It makes for a fun ride but one that grows long in the tooth with the deluge of ups and downs, or perhaps better said "highs" and lows, that see each major character face life-altering decisions and obstacles in practically every episode.
Still, "Weeds" ranks highly on a purely external, "leave your brain at the door" level. The show features a good blend of comedy and drama, even if the latter tends to be overdone and artificially spiked to ensure maximum cliffhanging and surprising effect. At less than 30 minutes each, the episodes move quickly enough and pack plenty of information, and though each tends to focus on several characters and scenarios, they are written and played well enough to be easily digestible, the entirety of the production making for a decent yarn. The heaviest themes -- including death, budding adolescence, substance abuse, broken relationships, child custody, and of course drug smuggling and selling -- are offset by mostly infectious comedy that lightens the mood and allows the darker themes to remain at the forefront without overwhelming the viewer. Nevertheless, season four ends with a dark tone that directly frames death in the context of life. Once again, "Weeds" ends with a bang that promises to alter the very essence of the show, or at least take it in a new direction but also opening up the possibility for plenty of new social and political issues that remain as-of-yet uncharted territory for the show.
Weeds: Season Four Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p, 1,78:1-framed transfer, this fourth season of "Weeds" looks great. Though flesh tones sometimes veer towards a rosy shade, the transfer holds up well across the board, offering up sharp colors, strong detail, and crisp lines throughout. The most striking aspect of the video presentation lies in the abundance of color; whether Nancy's pink shirt as seen in chapter three, her blue Prius, the greens of vegetation, or any number of other assorted colors, each catches the eye, the image awash in bright, strong, and accurate hues. Soft backgrounds appear sporadically but rarely does the foreground not enjoy smooth, crisp imagery with above-average levels of detail across the board. Whether the stone walls of Albert's house, the dusty underground tunnel below the maternity shop, or the worn border between the U.S. and Mexico, the transfer never fails to reveal strong textures and clear, visible details in any number of objects scattered throughout the season. This season of "Weeds" makes for strong high definition material that does justice to the series and the format.
Weeds: Season Four Blu-ray, Audio Quality
"Weeds" won't smoke any sound systems, but this DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack does its job admirably enough. Though the mix rarely makes aggressive use of all seven channels, the show's front-heavy and dialogue-centric audio presentation benefits from the clarity afforded to it by the DTS mix. Dialogue only suffers from the rare occasion where it plays as slightly unintelligible under a deluge of sound effects, but the presentation generally impresses. Music plays nicely across the front, for example a Spanish-language song as heard at the end of episode one features a nice, clear offering and a bit of a pulsating low. The track features little ambience, and even many major sound effects pour primarily through the center channel. The rears come noticeably alive on precious few occasions, a sequence featuring a swarm of buzzing bees in episode five, for example, features a decent presentation that creates a somewhat realistic effect of the insects flying about the entire soundstage. Though short on head-turning sound effects, this presentation adequately supports the visuals and its generally clear presentation makes for a sufficient listen.
Weeds: Season Four Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This two-disc set of "Weeds: Season Four" contains extras on both discs.
Disc one features commentary tracks for four episodes: "Mother Thinks the Birds are After Her" with series creator Jenji Kohan, "Three Coolers" with Roberto Benabib, "No Man is Pudding" with Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk, and "Excellent Treasures" with Elizabeth Perkins and Allie Grant. Coyote Bonusview Picture-in-Picture is a video commentary for the episode "No Man is Pudding" with Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk, delivering the same track as the audio-only option, this one showing the actors in a small box on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Next up is a gag reel (1080p, 8:25). Little Titles (1080p, 5:30) offers a brief look at the changes in the show's opening title sequence. Moving Weight (1080p, 9:27) features actor Guillermo Díaz discussing his character and several issues pertaining to the drug business and laws with a lawyer. I'm a Big Kid Now (1080p, 9:34) contains the show's younger actors -- Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould, and Allie Grant -- discussing growing up on the set of a television show and how their real-life changes are reflected in the show.
Disc two features commentary tracks accompanying three episodes: "I Am the Table" with Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk (also available as a picture-in-picture commentary), "Head Cheese" with Hunter Parrish, and "If You Work for a Living, Why Do You Kill Yourself Working?" with Jenji Kohan. The Real Hunter Parrish (1080i, 6:03) features the actor briefly recounting his life and career. Tour of Bubbie's House (1080i, 7:41) allows viewers to follow set designer Julie Bolder through one of the sets. One Stop Chop Shop (1080i, 5:33) looks at the construction of a set that recreates a small Mexican auto shop and the tunnel underneath it. The Weed Wranglers (1080i, 6:05) examines the fake drugs created for the show. Finally, Burbs to the Beach (1080i, 6:32) looks at the shifting locations between seasons three and four.
Weeds: Season Four Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Entertaining but growing long in the tooth, "Weeds" defies the odds and continues to fascinate despite a deluge of far-fetched character arcs and plot devices that serve to heighten the drama but sacrifice any semblance of reality from the program. Escapist entrainment at its most fundamental, "Weeds" takes audiences into a lifestyle portrayed as glamorous, dangerous, and everything in between. In that regard, it's similar to a show like "The Sporanos," though the similarities end there, the latter a far more finely-tuned effort and one of the best television has ever seen. "Weeds," on the other hand, spins an intricate web that becomes too tangled to believe but remains a maze worth wandering through. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release impresses. Featuring a strong video transfer, an adequate soundtrack, and plenty of extras, the show's fans should find no reason not to buy this one. Best enjoyed with a footlong cheese sandwich.
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