TITLE: WEEDS - SEASON FIVE
DVD Release Date: January 19, 2010 (Lionsgate)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 360 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: approx. 90 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English and Spanish Subtitles; Closed-Captioned
Special Features: Commentaries; Bloopers; “History of Weed” promo; “Yes We Cannabis” promo; “Crazy Love: A Guide to the Dysfunctional Relationships of Weeds” featurette; “Little Titles by Jenji Kohan” featurette; “University of Andy” web episodes; “Really Backstage with Kevin Nealon” featurette
It started with the latte sipping soccer mom selling a little marijuana to make ends meet at home, and now it has become an international family led drug cartel. It is none other than the hit Showtime comedy series, Weeds, now back for the fifth season on DVD.
Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) started as a well-meaning soccer mom who knew the secret to keeping her family finances in order: she had to sell pot. But as the series has grown, she has found that being a small-time drug dealer leads to more complicated situations and even forces her into growing her own business. She sells the drugs to give her children, Silas (Hunter Parrish) and Shane (Alexander Gould), a better life, but by now, they are both finding themselves working with her and putting their own lives at risk.
But at the end of season 4, a little plot twist occurred that meant some changes to Nancy’s family life. In the process of running pot across the Mexican border, Nancy found herself getting involved romantically with a powerful Mexican politician, Esteban Reyes (Demian Bichir), and it is revealed at the end of season four that Nancy is going to have his child. Meanwhile, Andy (Justin Kirk) thinks that he has finally found the way for the family to escape their drug dealing ways, but Nancy’s pregnancy somewhat puts a kink in this perfect plan. This sets up much of the fifth season, which focuses on Nancy’s pregnancy and the changes resulting in the family dynamics.
Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:
The season begins with “Wonderful Wonderful,” where Nancy has to decide where to go next in her relationship with Esteban. Meanwhile, Andy, Doug, and Silas are working on creating their own legitimate pot business. Nancy sends Shane to live with her sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in “Machetes Up Top,” but luckily for Shane, his behavior (or more specifically, Aunt Jill’s behavior with Uncle Andy) gets him sent right back with Nancy in “Su-Su-Sucio.” Bad news for everybody in “Super Lucky Happy,” and that news is that Celia escaped without harm from her kidnapper in Mexico (her own daughter) and is coming to live in Nancy’s garage. Nancy ponders abortion in “Van Nuys” with her obstetrician, Dr. Kitson (first appearance of many by Alanis Morissette).
Esteban proposes marriage to Nancy and all seems to be going well when six months just flies by in “A Modest Proposal,” but then another woman comes in to the picture. Who is she? In “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” Silas and Doug run into some problems with their little business that they should be able to take care of. Celia gets in to the cosmetics business and finds herself with too much product, and knows the perfect way to get rid of it in “A Distinctive Horn.”
In “Perro Insano,” Nancy faces a stark reality--she must protect her children from the violence of drug dealers now. Celia has a lesbian experience that she really enjoys in “Ducks and Tigers,” could this be a turning point in her life? Shane and Silas have to deal with a drug problem with their new stepsister in “Glue.” The season ends with “All About My Mom,” where a very surprise twist in the plot has Shane doing something very grim to protect his own family.
The packaging is along the lines of the previous sets, with the fully recyclable packaging and the digipak design. The cover art has a provocative (much more so than the previous release) photo of Mary-Louise Parker in a bathing suit lying on a spider web, with the tagline “The Hemptress Returns.” There is another photo of Nancy in the same clothing on the back along with several season snapshots. Inside, we have the three panel digipak which has the exact same artwork as seen on the outer sleeve. The only addition is a panel that lists all of the episode titles and writing and directing credits. The disc artwork is very simple, with the series logo on the same spider web background used on the cover art. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-5, Disc 2 contains episodes 6-9, and Disc 3 contains episodes 10-13.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu is very nice and animated, with various clips from the episodes contained on each disc. There is some music playing in the background. The main menu on each disc has options of Play All Episodes, Set Up, Episode Selections, and Special Features. All of these are mostly self-explanatory. Set Up allows you to choose either Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (default) or Dolby 2.0 audio, and also allows you to turn on subtitles. On the episode menu, once you select an episode, it plays immediately, although there are chapters placed throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
There is nothing at all to complain about with the video and audio. Everything looks as “perfect” as it should be for a series that aired its most recent episode just a few months ago. The episodes are all unedited and presented in their original 16x9 widescreen format. Audio is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. English and Spanish subtitles are available, as well as closed-captioning.
Runtimes for each episode are as follows:
Wonderful Wonderful (29:02)
Machetes Up Top (26:20)
Super Lucky Happy (28:07)
Van Nuys (27:54)
A Modest Proposal (28:15)
Where the Sidewalk Ends (28:05)
A Distinctive Horn (27:20)
Suck ‘n’ Spit (28:12)
Perro Insano (25:26)
Ducks and Tigers (27:59)
All About My Mom (29:16)
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:
“Wonderful Wonderful” (Jenji Kohan)
“Su-Su-Sucio” (Roberto Benabib and Matthew Salsberg)
“Van Nuys” (Kevin Nealon and Hunter Parrish)
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” (Roberto Benabib, Kevin Nealon, and Matthew Salsberg)
“Ducks and Tigers” (Justin Kirk and Alanis Morissette)
“Glue” (Elizabeth Perkins, Allie Grant, and Andy Milder)
“All About My Mom” (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.
On Disc 1, we have Bloopers (11:04), which is exactly what it sounds like it is--bloopers from this season of the series. They are always fun to watch.
On Disc 2, “Really Backstage with Kevin Nealon” (11:02) takes viewers “really backstage” with Kevin Nealon. This is a very humorous featurette where we get to see a very much played up for DVD view of the antics that go on behind the scenes on the series. A lot of this has to deal with the interactions between Nealon and Elizabeth Perkins. For some odd reason, we see Mary-Louise Parker in the background a lot, but she is frequently shown avoiding the camera at all times. “Yes We Cannabis” (1:02) is a spoof of Obama’s “Yes we Can” campaign that was used to advertise the series on Showtime. “University of Andy” (approximately 25 minutes total) is a series of twelve short featurettes made for the internet featuring Justin Kirk, as Andy, giving advice on various topics that he is supposedly an expert on. These are all very fun to watch, as well, with advice on topics like how to survive a bear attack, how to hold your liquor, how to date foreign chicks, and the issue of “manscaping.” “Little Titles” (3:18) is simply all of the variants of the opening titles from every episode of the season, with commentary by Jenji Kohan.
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 “Crazy Love: A Guide to the Dysfunctional Relationships of Weeds” (12:15), where the cast members talk about the different romantic relationships that characters on the series have. A lot of this discussion is from Elizabeth Perkins, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, and Jenji Kohan, but we do see others in here, including a brief appearance by Mary-Louise Parker, who seems to be hard to come by in these special features. “A Brief History of Weed” (1:57) is essentially just a timeline of the history of marijuana with a lot of stock video footage and some background music. This appears to have been a promo piece used by Showtime for advertising the series.
Again, Mary-Louise Parker is mostly missing from the special features, and that is unfortunate, but at least she is there a little bit. I think the big person that was missing that should have been there was Alexander Gould. His character of Shane has taken on a rather significant role this season, and the season ending cliffhanger (which I won’t spoil) is ALL about him. It is too bad he isn’t included in the special features.
The series has changed so much over the years, yet it is still an amazingly funny series and this DVD set is the perfect complement for the series. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is the best season of the series, but it is still amazingly fresh and enjoyable, and the cliffhanger, I think, is one of the most shocking ones yet of the series. It is hard to really say much about it without spoiling it, but it really makes you think if all of the characters are who they appear to be on the outside. You never have any clue where this series is going to go from one season to the next, and when the next season starts, I’m sure that we will all be surprised by whatever develops. It is a no-brainer for fans of the series. They’ll definitely want to own this set. And others may want to look in to this as well.
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 01/14/10
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