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Weeds - Season Eight (Blu-ray)


TITLE: WEEDS - SEASON EIGHT (BLU-RAY) (DVD)


Info:

Release Date: February 12, 2013 (Lionsgate)
Color / 2012
MSRP: $39.98 (DVD); $39.97 (Blu-ray)
Packaging: Blu-ray Double-Disc Case
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 379 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 48 min.
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Subtitles and Captioning: English and Spanish Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries; Season 8: The Wrap Up!; "Clippin' the Buds" Featurette; "Everyday Advice from Guru Doug" featurette; Gag Reel; Deleted Scenes


Introduction:

At the end of the seventh season of the Showtime series Weeds, fans were left with one big question: who shot Nancy Botwin, and is she even still alive? Now, in the eighth (and final) season, fans finally get the answer to that question, and also get to find out what is next for Nancy Botwin, for the very last time.

So let's backtrack just a little bit to catch people up on what has happened. Back in season one, which aired in 2005 (though the events actually happened over a decade ago given the time warps that creator Jenji Kohan decided to take us through to skip the boring stuff), Nancy Botwin was a small time weed dealer and soccer mom in an upper-middle class suburban California community. There was a lot of drama and some wildfires eventually destroyed that entire town... which put an end to the being more or less "Desperate Housewives with marijuana." The journey brings Nancy and her family to a town in California on the Mexican border for a little while, and eventually Nancy marries a wealthy (though corrupt) Mexican politician. It looks like everything is going to go well now, but a tiny little murder committed in the hands of innocent little son Shane puts the family on the run in an RV. Eventually, the run leads the family out of the country to Amsterdam, except Nancy ends up getting arrested at the airport and ends up spending time in prison. The family reunites together in New York for a while, until the eventually end up moving to the suburbs to live with Nancy's sister. And all is going well again, at least until Nancy is shot by an unknown perpetrator... and with that, you have the VERY brief synopsis of what has happened over the first seven seasons. In the eighth season, the series picks up from there and takes us on the last adventures of the Botwin family.


Episodes:

The season picks up with the season seven cliffhanger in "Messy," where they deal with what is next for Nancy after she is shot. Nancy makes a bit of a recovery in "A Beam of Sunshine." In "See Blue and Smell Cheese and Die," Shane has discovered who actually shot Nancy... and given Shane's past history of killing people who go after his mom, Nancy and Silas are out to stop him before he does anything bad. Silas makes a new friend who could go into the pot business with him in "Only Judy Can Judge." In "Red in Tooth and Claw," Nancy attempts to raise money so that Stevie can play soccer... without resorting to selling drugs. In "Allosaurus Crush Castle," Nancy goes on a job search... for a legitimate job. Meanwhile, Silas' is on the hunt for his stolen plants (and it isn't as if he can just tell the cops that somebody stole his weed). Nancy and Silas both start new jobs in "Unfreeze."

In "Five Miles from Yetzer Hara," Nancy gets a promotion. Meanwhile, Doug is recruiting homeless people to make his charity scam more, well, legitimate. Nancy and Silas are offered yet another job in "Saplings." In "Threshold," the family enjoys a Shabbos dinner with Nancy's new boyfriend (a rabbi), and not surprisingly, there is drama all over the table. Nancy, Andy, and Silas head back to the suburban community where everything started (formerly Agrestic, now Regrestic) in "God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise," which starts the beginning of the end for everything. The series ends with the double-length episode "It's Time," where the series takes yet another time warp to Stevie's Bar Mitzvah, and we get to see where Nancy's life has taken her another decade later... we'll let you watch for yourself.

The episodes appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:

Disc 1:
1. "Messy" (26:39)
2. "A Beam of Sunshine" (28:18)
3. "See Blue and Smell Cheese and Die" (27:22)
4. "Only Judy Can Judge" (27:28)
5. "Red in Tooth and Claw" (28:21)
6. "Allosaurus Crush Castle" (28:23)
7. "Unfreeze" (28:15)

Disc 2:
8. "Five Miles from Yetzer Hara" (28:46)
9. "Saplings" (28:37)
10. "Threshold" (28:18)
11. "God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise" (29:27)
12/13. "It's Time" (57:06)


Packaging:

The packaging for this set is just a standard two-disc Blu-ray case. On the cover, there is a photo of Nancy on a wall full of bullet holes and the tagline "Who Got Smoked?" On the back of the case, there is a photo from the final scene of the series, along with several episode snapshots and a brief description of the season. Inside the case, you'll find the two discs, with Disc 1 featuring a photo of Nancy (the same one as on the cover, actually) and Disc 2 featuring a photo of Andy and Doug. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, and Disc 2 contains episodes 8-13. There is also an insert included with all of the episode titles and descriptions for each episode.


Menu Design and Navigation:

I really like the menus on this set. The main menu has publicity photos of all of the individual cast members rotating around the screen, along with video clips from some of the episodes. There is some music that plays in the background, but I'm not really sure where it is from. My guess is that it is just an extended version of some transitional music used in one of the episodes (that is usually the case for these Weeds sets). Options on the main menu include Play All Episodes, Episode Selection, Set Up, and Special Features. Episode Selection brings up a scrolling list of all of the episodes from the season (you'll be prompted to insert the other disc if needed). Set Up allows you to turn on the English or Spanish subtitles. Finally, Special Features does exactly what it sounds like... it allows you to choose special features to play. Chapters are placed throughout each episode at all of the appropriate places.


Video and Audio Quality:

There really aren't any issues at all with the video and audio quality. We get a stunning high-definition picture on all of the episodes that doesn't seem to cause problems anywhere. The audio quality is excellent as well, with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. As I've stated before, some people may prefer an additional Dolby Digital 5.1, such as those with a lower quality sound system (since the volume levels on 7.1 track can sometimes be a bit low for those systems), but it isn't a huge deal. Each episode contains English and Spanish subtitles.


Special Features:

The special features begin with commentaries. There aren't as many this time, but there are three of them, and they're particularly interesting to listen to as they somewhat summarize the end of the series. Episodes and commentators are as follows:

"Messy" - Jenji Kohan
"God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise" - Justin Kirk and Hunter Parrish
"It's Time" - Jenji Kohan, Matthew Salsberg, and Roberto Benabib

Disc 1 contains a "Gag Reel" (13:15), which makes it rather long compared to previous gag reels for the series. I really enjoyed watching this, and I'm glad that there is more to see on this one than there has been in the past.

"Everyday Advice from Guru Doug" (6:28) is a featurette in the form of an informercial parody that takes place after the final episode where various people call in to "Guru Doug" (the cult leader role that Doug took on in the final episode) for advice. Among the "callers" are the characters "Andy," "Guillermo," Kevin Nealon, Justin Kirk, Jenji Kohan, and Hunter Parrish (some call in as their characters on the show, others call in as their real life persona... who knows why). It is kind of a fun special feature, and it is great to see that they all took the time to do something fun like this beyond the final episode.

"Clippin' the Buds: Medical Marijuana and the Marijuana Pill" (11:40), really isn't so much about the series, but is actually a bit of medical background on the difference between marijuana and Marinol, the actual drug that doctors can prescribe that is essentially a pill form of marijuana. This is really more of a political soapbox advocating for medical marijuana... which is actually somewhat surprising to see on a DVD set, but if it is going to be on any DVD set, this is the appropriate one. They bring in Dale Sky Jones, a leader of an advocacy group on on this topic, along with some discussion from Jenji Kohan, Justin Kirk, Guillermo Diaz, and Hunter Parrish.

"Season 8 - The Wrap Up" (11:03) is a feature where Matthew Salsberg, Jenji Kohan, and Roberto Benabib sit around and have a candid discussion about how they chose to end the series and how they had to make a lot of decisions for the final season. There also is a bit of discussion about what happened to Celia (the character that Elizabeth Perkins played in the first five seasons) and how they decided to not really make that clear since Perkins wasn't able to come back for the finale. It would have been nice if they'd brought in some of the cast members, but they didn't.

Finally, the set ends with deleted scenes (5:37), where we get to see some of the scenes that didn't make it to the episodes in this season.


Final Comments:

Weeds has been a strange and bizarre journey that we knew would eventually have to end... but never quite knew how that would happen. Well, now we do. It is hard to believe that this series started out as a series about a recently widowed soccer mom being a small-time drug dealer to keep up her upper-middle class lifestyle and evolved into something much bigger... only to basically end more or less the same way it started (except, of course, it ends decades later, and Nancy doesn't even need to struggle to maintain her lifestyle anymore). And, while I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't yet seen it, it is pretty much known that the series ended on a happy note for everybody involved, which was actually sort of nice to see, especially in light of how the episode that could have been the final episode back in season 7 would have ended the series very tragically and with too many open questions. My only disappointment in the final episode is that Elizabeth Perkins didn't make an appearance as Celia Hodes in it. I really enjoyed her character, and while I still enjoyed the final three seasons of the series, it was definitely disappointing to see her leave after the fifth season. I can honestly say that out of almost any series that I've watched in recent years, it was particularly sad to see this one coming to an end.

Of course, Lionsgate has again made an excellent quality release for this final season, and it is particularly nice that they managed to get all eight seasons released on Blu-ray. In fact, this series was among the first TV series to ever be released on Blu-ray, and even the oldest Blu-ray releases of the series are better than some of the current Blu-rays coming out. Now that all of these are available on Blu-ray (and DVD as well), now seems to be a good time to go back and watch the entire series from the beginning. I think it would be fun to carefully watch every single one of Nancy's steps, to see how the most subtle thing that happened in one episode would lead her to all of the crazy things that would happen several seasons later. For instance, the seventh season ended with the cliffhanger where Nancy was shot... who knew that the perpetrator would be a character who first appeared at a karate tournament in the first season, after Shane bit his foot? Not too many series weave plots together as much as this one did, and that is what made it so special.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 02/10/13

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