Release Date: February 21, 2012 (Lionsgate)
Color / 2011
Packaging: Blu-ray Double-Disc Case
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 353 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 38 min
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles and Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries; "Guru Andy's Tricks of the Trade"; "Puff Puff Pass" Q&A with Justin Kirk and Kevin Nealon; "Growing Up in the Weeds" with Alexander Gould; Gag Reel; Deleted Scenes; Multi-Screen Comparison
The Botwin family is back, and ready for a completely new part of life in Weeds - Season Seven. The Showtime series has evolved significantly from the first season where we met Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), the suburban drug dealer. Now, the series has fast-forward yet another three years, picking up where it left off at the end of the sixth season. For those unfamiliar with the sixth season, it ended with Nancy finally getting caught for her drug dealing activities, but it wasn't until the beginning of this season where we were able to find out what happened after being caught.
As it turns out, Nancy ended up going to prison while her family moved to Amsterdam. But now, she is up for parole and the family has returned to the United States for Nancy to start her brand new life in New York City, where she will now be able to live the perfect life with no drama and staying on the straight and narrow.
But if you know Weeds, you know it just isn't going to work out like that, and rekindling old relationships with old friends is going to bring back more drama, and life is going to continue to get even more complicated for the entire Botwin family in Weeds - Season Seven, now available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (the latter which we received for review) from Lionsgate.
The season begins with "Bags," where Nancy is released from federal prison and starts her new life in a New York City halfway house. Nancy hopes to start life alone, but when her family is notified of her release, her family isn't far behind as she learns in "From Trauma Cometh Something." Nancy finds herself starting a custody battle for her own son in "Game-Played." Silas wants to start a business with Nancy in "A Hole in Her Niqab." In "Fingers Only Meat Banquet," Nancy returns to California in an attempt to gain custody of her son. Nancy's original weed distributor Heylia (Tonye Patano) makes her return in "Object Impermanence." In "Vehement v. Vigorous," Shane is offered an internship with a local police detective.
Nancy meets up with her former cellmate (and lover) in "Synthetics." In "Cats! Cats! Cats!," Zoya tries to take control of Andy's latest business venture...violently. Emma (Michelle Trachtenberg) deals Silas a bad business blow in "System Overhead." Shane gets to go along in a drug bust in "Une Mère Que J'Aimerais Baiser." In "Qualitative Spatial Reasoning," Nancy and Silas fight over who controls the drug business. The season ends with "Do Her/Don't Do Her," which leaves us with yet another shocking cliffhanger (don't say you aren't surprised such an ending by the seventh season).
The episodes appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:
1. "Bags" (26:02)
2. "From Trauma Cometh Something" (27:56)
3. "Game-Played" (28:53)
4. "A Hole in Her Niqab" (28:22)
5. "Fingers Only Meat Banquet" (25:59)
6. "Object Impermanence" (28:53)
7. "Vehement v. Vigorous" (26:57)
We received the Blu-ray Disc of this release for review purposes, and as was the case for the previous releases, the set is packaged in a standard Blu-ray Disc case. The cover art has a photo of Nancy breaking free from her chain (alluding to her prison release) with the New York City skyline behind her. There is another photo of Nancy on the back, along with a few episode photos and a very short description of the season and a listing of the special features. Inside the case, we have the two discs. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, and Disc 2 contains episodes 8-13. Disc 1 contains the same artwork as seen on the cover, but Disc 2 has a different photo with Doug on it. As usual, there is an episode insert inside the case, but there is a nice bonus this time: they've actually included descriptions for each episode.
Menu Design and Navigation:
As usual, the Blu-ray release of this set has very nice menus. The main menu has various video clips from the season playing with some music playing in the background. Among the options on the main menu are Play All Episodes, Episode Selection, Set Up, and Special Features. As usual, all of these menu options can be accessed at any time while any of the episodes or special features are playing without interrupting the episode or special feature (unless you choose to watch something different).
When you select Episode Selection, you get a scrolling menu that lists all of the episodes from the season on both discs. It clearly indicates on the menu which episodes are on the current disc and which episodes are on the other disc, but if you select an episode from the other disc, you'll be prompted to insert the disc, where it'll play immediately without waiting for the menus. The special features are presented with the same scrolling menu, but you can only view the special features contained on the disc that is inserted at the time. Set Up will allow you to turn on the English or Spanish subtitles, and also has a DTS-HD sound check to make sure that your system (if you have one) is up to optimal performance. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
As for the DVD release, the menus are likely very similar, only without the pop-up menu options and without the ability to select any episode from any disc.
Video and Audio Quality:
Honestly, I can't say anything about the video and audio quality that hasn't been said before. As always, the high-definition video quality on the Blu-ray is flawless, and from what I remember of the DVDs (I no longer own the earlier seasons on DVD, as I have upgraded those to Blu-ray releases), those are generally pretty good too. So I would imagine that the DVDs look just as great. The audio is presented in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, which is excellent, unless you have a lower quality sound system. It would be nice if they had an optional Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track for those with "lower quality" sound systems, because the DTS-HD Master Audio can be a little low at times for those who don't. But it isn't a major issue. Each episode has English and Spanish subtitles.
Again, it is important to mention that we have NOT seen the DVD version of this set, so our comments apply strictly to the Blu-ray Disc version of the set, but I imagine that the DVD version is probably of excellent quality, just as the previous season were. As for this Blu-ray version, however, the video and audio quality is just outright amazing. It is great seeing the series in true high-definition where everything has the chance to shine. The video quality on the set is amazingly perfect with no imperfections that are noticeable. My only complaint--and a very minor one--is regarding the audio. It is presented in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, which is the best that is out there, but if your home theater isn't up to those standards, it can be a tidbit low. It would have been nice had they offered an optional Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. English and Spanish subtitles are available, but the set is not closed-captioned (as this is not a possibility with Blu-ray Disc and HDMI).
As usual, there are plenty of special features on this release. We begin with the commentaries. Episodes and commentators are as follows:
"Bags" - Jenji Kohan
"From Trauma Cometh Something" - Gary Anthony Williams and Michael Trim
"Object Impermanence" - Justin Kirk
"Vehement vs. Vigorous" - Kevin Nealon
"Une Mère Que J'Aimerais Baiser" - Roberto Benabib and Matthew Salsberg
"Do Her/Don't Do Her" - Jenji Kohan
The commentaries are great, but as usual, Mary-Louise Parker is a no-show. It's unfortunate, really. I was also hoping to see some commentaries from Tonye Patano, since she returned for a few episodes this season. Her commentaries on the earlier releases were always the most interesting to listen to.
On Disc 1, we have a very short "Gag Reel" (2:25) which gives some of outtakes of the season. I'm not sure if this is all of them, but it seems rather short, so it probably just encompasses the best of them.
"Guru Andy's Tricks of the Trade" (8:37) is a feature where an animated Andy gives viewers some advice for life, showing clips from the series as examples of this advice. Most of the clips used here are from the earlier seasons (going back to the first season), so it seems very weird seeing how different everybody looked back then.
"Puff Puff Pass" (8:01) is essentially a web interview segment hosted by Gary Anthony Williams (who plays Counselor Ed at the halfway house) where he talks to Justin Kirk and Kevin Nealon (via webcam) and asks them very generic questions about their thoughts on the seventh season, such as their favorite moments and favorite episodes.
On Disc 2, we have "Growing Up in the Weeds" (9:21) where Alexander Gould (Shane Botwin) presents us with a variety of clips showing how Shane's character has developed over the years. His character has probably become of the darkest and most twisted of the cast, which honestly as you go back in time, that development doesn't look so shocking.
"Multi-Screen Comparison" (4:30) is a featurette from the episode "Qualitative Spatial Reasoning" where we get to see the producers prepare a multi-screen technique showing several things going on at once. This feature was a "test" that the producers did, playing the different characters from the show, to make sure they were prepared for everything to actually run smoothly during the actual production of the episode.
Finally, we have deleted scenes (6:25), which are exactly what they sound like...just some deleted scenes from the season.
Yet again, Lionsgate has produced another quality release for Weeds! The series has changed way too much over the years that a fan who watched in the first season wouldn't recognize the series, but I do like how the changes keep the series fresh. I honestly have absolutely no clue what'll happen next, as the season-ending cliffhanger left more open doors than ever before (I don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen it yet), but I'm sure that whatever it is, we will all be surprised to see it happen. Will Nancy finally try to live the good life as she alluded to towards the end of this season? Will she stay the same? Will she become even more ruthless and powerful than ever before? It's hard to say with this series. We'll just have to wait to see what is next.