TITLE: WEEDS - SEASON FOUR
DVD Release Date: June 2, 2009 (Lionsgate)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 362 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: 62 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English and Spanish Subtitles; Closed-Captioned
Special Features: Commentaries; Gags; Series Featurettes
The little boxes on the hillside are gone, and now it is time to get into the real drug business on the Mexican border in season four of the Showtime hit comedy, Weeds! Weeds: Season Four contains all 13 episodes from the 2008 season in a three disc set that is loaded with special features and hours of entertainment that you can enjoy without, err, toking it up!
In the fourth season, the series begins to truly deviate from where it began. In the first three seasons, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) was a marijuana dealing soccer mom while living in the cushy suburbs of Los Angeles in a small community called Agrestic (which later merged with the nearby Christian-based community of Majestic and was renamed as such). But near the end of the third season, much like the pot that Nancy was selling, the entire town of Majestic went up into smoke due to the California wildfires, and Nancy was forced to move her entire family to the town of Ren Mar, a town near the border of San Diego and Tijuana. They find refuge in the home the grandmother of her late husband (an invalid that is living on life support), but she also finds her father-in-law, Lenny (Albert Brooks), living there and ready to get his share of Nancy’s pot money via extortion techniques.
Fans of the series need not worry about the loss of other characters outside of the family, though. With nowhere else to go after the town goes up in flames, Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon) makes his way to Ren Mar as well and decides to take up residence with the Botwin family. Dean (Andy Milder) and his daughter Isabelle (Allie Grant) take up residence hotel room in Ren Mar, paid for by FEMA. And of course, there is the woman that we all love to hate, Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins), making her way to Ren Mar to assist the FBI in breaking up Nancy’s drug operation, yet she somehow manages to become involved in the entire operation herself. In the meantime, Nancy finds a new love interest in a corrupt Mexican political leader, Silas (Hunter Parrish) is having an affair with the neighborhood soccer mom that happens to be twice his age, and even Shane (Alexander Gould) go into business with their mom, Andy is still mooching off of the Botwins, and there is a little surprise at the end of the season that could mean a larger cast in the future. And that is just a short summary of all of the twists and turns in the fourth season of Weeds!
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The episode “Mother Thinks the Birds are After Her” starts out season four, where we find Nancy moving her family to Ren Mar to escape the life that she was living back in Agrestic/Majestic. But will the Botwin family truly be able to escape Nancy’s life as a drug dealer or will Nancy’s past follow her? Nancy makes a run to Mexico and Celia is spending a little time in prison (for Nancy’s criminal activity) in “Lady’s a Charm.” Celia is out of prison, but only on a plea deal where she must bust Nancy in “The Whole Blah Damn Thing.” Doug comes to live with the Botwins (and Bubbie, the invalid great-grandmothers, is killed thanks to one of Nancy’s Bed, Bath, and Beyond pillows) in “The Three Coolers.” Celia gets busted (in her front teeth, to be specific) when her spying is discovered by drug cartel leader Guillermo in “No Man is Pudding.”
In “Excellent Treasures,” Nancy takes a new job in retail, as a cashier selling maternity items, but is there more to this job than meets the eye? Nancy meets her boss (and future love interest) in “Yes I Can.” In the meantime, Silas is still a sexually active teenager that finds that he prefers sexual activity with soccer moms. Andy and Doug are sneaking immigrants across the border in “I Am the Table,” and Celia becomes addicted to drugs--cheap Mexican pharmaceuticals. In “Little Boats,” Nancy finds out about Silas’ fling, but that isn’t nearly as disturbing as the fact that Shane is hiding nudity--a nude picture of his own mother!
Little innocent Shane is becoming a big time player with two girlfriends and Celia’s drug addiction places her into rehab in “The Love Circle Overlap.” Doug is trying to win over his illegal Mexican love interest in “Head Cheese.” Could Nancy be turning a new leaf? Perhaps she is in “Till We Meet Again,” where she reports the “tunnel to Mexico” to the DEA. The season ends with a shocking twist and cliffhanger (which I won’t even hint about for those that haven’t seen it) in “If You Work for a Living, Then Why Do You Kill Yourself Working?”
The cover art on the set has a somewhat provocative (but not all too revealing) photo of Mary-Louise Parker in a bathing suit, sitting on top of a flower pot with a water hose in her hand. On the back, we have a snapshot of the Botwin family (plus Celia and Doug) on the beach in front of a sandcastle. Inside, we have a four panel digipak, containing the three discs. The two outermost panels contain episode titles and writing/directing credits, and the two interior panels contain the discs. Each disc is green with the series title, and contains a number of leaves equal to the disc number (for example, disc two has two leaves). I’ll let you guess what kind of leaves these are. Disc One contains episodes 1-5, Disc Two contains episodes 6-9, and Disc Three contains episodes 10-13. Oh, and for all of you tree hugging hippies out there, the DVD set itself is “green.” It is made from post-consumer recycled paper and recycled plastic water bottles. And, if you ever decide to toss the set (bad idea!), all materials are fully recyclable.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very nice, with rotating pictures of Nancy in a bathing suit and doing some somewhat suggestive (though not exactly graphic) poses. Some instrumental music plays in the background, and you have the options of Play All Episodes, Episode Selection, Set Up, and Special Features on each and every disc. The Set Up option allows you to play the audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0, and also allows you to set up the subtitles (English and Spanish). The other options are pretty straightforward. While there are no scene selection menus, chapters are placed throughout the set.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on the set seems to be perfectly fine, as one would expect from episodes so recent. The episodes are presented as they originally aired, in 16x9 widescreen format. You can listen to the audio in either Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound or Dolby Digital 2.0. As previously mentioned, English and Spanish subtitles are available. There is also closed-captioning available.
The episodes are presented in their original unedited format, which means that the runtimes are highly variable. Runtimes are as follows:
Mother Thinks the Birds Are After Her (27:56)
Lady’s a Charm (28:12)
The Whole Blah Damn Thing (28:26)
Three Coolers (28:15)
No Man Is Pudding (27:54)
Excellent Treasures (26:09)
Yes I Can (27:04)
I Am The Table (28:13)
Little Boats (28:17)
The Love Circle Overlap (28:14)
Head Cheese (27:51)
Till We Meet Again (26:51)
If You Work for a Living, Why Do You Kill Yourself Working? (29:15)
As has been the case with previous sets, there are many great special features. I’ll start with the commentary tracks. Several episodes have commentary tracks which give a great amount of insight into the episodes. They are as follows:
“Mother Thinks the Birds Are After Her” (Jenji Kohan)
“Three Coolers” (Roberto Benabib)
“No Man is Pudding” (Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk)
“Excellent Treasures” (Elizabeth Perkins and Allie Grant)
“I Am the Table” (Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk)
“Head Cheese” (Hunter Parrish)
“If You Work For a Living, Why Do You Kill Yourself Working?) (Jenji Kohan)
It was really nice to hear some new voices on the commentaries, particularly Elizabeth Perkins! But why can’t Mary-Louise Parker do some commentaries? In addition, on the Blu-Ray version of this set (which we do not currently review Blu-Ray products, but as it becomes more mainstream, we probably eventually will), has BonusView commentaries from Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk on select episodes, which I assume are basically video commentaries.
Disc 1 isn’t exactly loaded with special features, but aside from the commentaries, it does have a gag reel (8:25). Basically, this is what it sounds like--outtakes from various episodes.
On Disc 2, we have “I’m a Big Kid Now” (9:33), where we have the kids on the show coming together to talk about how they have grown between the seasons, and we can even see how they have grown from one year ago in this featurette. “The Real Hunter Parrish” (6:33) gives us a look at the life of Hunter Parrish. It is a very simple look into his life on and off the set. “Tour of Bubbie’s House” (7:40) takes us on a tour of the new set that the series uses in this season. On “Little Titles” (5:31), Jenji Kohan talks about the new opening credits for this season and the reason they decided to not get a new theme song for the move to Ren Mar (they didn’t want to have to pay money for a new song).
On Disc 3, we have a featurette called “Moving Weight” (9:27), where Guillermo Diaz pays a little visit to a criminal defense attorney to discuss the legal consequences of “moving weight” across the Mexican border, the “weight” being, specifically, marijuana. “One Stop Chop Shop” (5:33) is where we get to hear the producers talk about the San Diego/Tijuana border and the process of crossing that border. “The Weed Wranglers” (6:05) takes us on a tour of the “weed room” on Weeds, where we get to discover the marijuana that is used on the series. Of course, it is fake, but it looks very real. Finally, in “Burbs to the Beach” (6:31), we have the entire cast talking about the setting of the series moving to Ren Mar. It is funny, though, how they act as if they are the first TV series that ever changed their setting. Have these people not seen I Love Lucy or Laverne & Shirley?
Oh, and there is one very nice thing about this set that we have NOT seen on previous sets--participation by Mary-Louise Parker on the special features! She doesn’t have her own special feature where the focus is on her, exactly, but we do see her pop up every now an then on the special features. This makes the special features seem a little more complete. But there is one thing that Season Three had that this set does not have that I somewhat miss. Season Three had these “Trivia Tracks” on episodes that did not have a commentary that gave a lot of random and sometimes useless (but fun) facts about incidents occurring in the episode, much like the VH-1 series Pop-Up Video. They were nice to watch, but they aren’t on this set.
Perfection. That pretty much sums it all up. Of all of the DVD sets that I review, the Weeds DVDs are always the best ones, and of excellent quality. Oh sure, you COULD ask for more, but they have done such an excellent job on this set that it would be foolish to do so.
The series itself changed quite a bit in this season, with the family leaving Agrestic/Majestic, but the series did adapt to the new surroundings rather quickly. However, part of me would like to see Nancy go back to where she came from, of course that may be difficult since she basically set her own home on fire during the wildfires at the end of the third season. There are sure to be many more surprises in the upcoming fifth season, though, and there is no telling where Nancy will end up. But before all of that, we have to resolve the cliffhanger at the end of this season, and as of the time that this review was written, that hasn’t happened yet. But one thing is for sure, those “little boxes” have been shaken for the past four seasons!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 06/08/09
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