For two seasons now, Weeds has consistently delivered some of the funniest, most controversial, and utterly daring content available on television. The first season introduced Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), a widowed suburban mother of two, who turns to pot dealing to make ends meet. Throughout season one, she dealt with her bum of a brother-in-law, Andy (Justin Kirk), her devious accountant, Doug (Kevin Nealon), and her two kids, Silas and Shane (Hunter Parrish and Alexander Gould, respectively). Season two got more complex, as Nancy got involved with the DEA, making her own weed with partner Conrad (Romany Malco), and the complications that arose from those relationships.
As they did with season one, the writers ended season two with a cliffhanger. And oh, what a cliffhanger it was. Note: I am about to reveal spoilers for seasons one and two of Weeds. If you haven't watched them, I suggest doing so before you continue reading. Nancy and Conrad found themselves being hijacked by U-Turn (Page Kennedy), while the pot they had grown was stolen by Silas, whose car ends up in the hands of Celia, who has reason to hate both Silas and Nancy. As season three opens, Nancy finds that Celia has ruined her pot by throwing it in a pool. As he can't get his hands on the stash, U-Turn decides he's going to have Nancy work for him until her debt to him is paid off.
U-Turn is easily the worst thing to ever happen to Weeds. His character is just obnoxious, and the storyline where Nancy works for him is tedious. When the character finally does get his due, it's the in the dumbest way possible, and then everyone goes back to what they were doing as if nothing had happened. If he was so easily disposed of, why bother to include him at all? U-Turn represents something Weeds never had before: Manufactured drama. Of all the crazy things that had happened in the first two seasons, none of them ever felt contrived or false. This isn't true of U-Turn. Every episode he's in feels like a wasted opportunity.
U-Turn is only in half the season or so, and once he's gone, things get a little better. The other major storyline involves the creation of a new town next to Agrestic: Majestic. The "pre-fab Jesus town," as it's referred to in the show, is being built by cynical but shrewd developer Sullivan Groff (Matthew Modine). He's a good addition to the cast, playing especially well off of Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Nealon. Mary-Louise Parker is still the hottest mom in the history of television, but I can't help feeling that the season could have been better had the show retained the services of Zooey Deschanel.
Even the best shows hit road bumps sometimes, and luckily from what I've seen of the fourth season, Weeds already seems to be back on track, which certainly makes the missteps of season three more bearable. And don't think I'm dismissing the entire season out of hand. An uneven season of Weeds is still better than 90% of the shows being broadcast. And the delights of the series are still present, just in smaller doses this time around. Ultimately, the third season of Weeds is worth seeing, even if it's only as a bridge between seasons two and four.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Lionsgate presents the third season of Weeds in its original aspect ratio of 1.77:1 in a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer. The image is sharp and clear, the best Weeds has looked on Blu-ray yet. The image doesn't look as over saturated as it did in season two, and the color reproduction is excellent.
Lionsgate has switched from uncompressed PCM 7.1 to DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (still lossless, mind you). Again, Weeds really doesn't make use of such a lavish soundtrack, with the focus placed squarely on the dialog. Surround sound use is minimal, without much discrete effects or atmosphere. Spoken dialog is clear, without any distortion.
Perhaps to go along with the weaker material, the third season of Weeds also has the weakest set of supplements of the three sets. Notably missing from any of the extras is Mary-Louise Parker or Romany Malco, and you can feel the absence.
- Commentary by Series Creator Jenji Kohan on "Doing The Backstroke" and "Go," by Actor Justin Kirk on "Bill Sussman": Jenji Kohan is a smart and talented woman, and she gives the best pair of commentaries on the set. She always sounds subdued, but gives a good mix of anecdotes, a discussion of her intentions, and her thoughts on the series as a whole. Justin Kirk spends his time cracking jokes, but it provides a nice relief to the rest of the commentaries for the reason.
- Commentary by Producer Mark Burley on "Shit Highway," by Director Ernest Dickerson on "Release The Hounds," by Actors Hunter Parrish and Alexander Gould on "Grasshopper," by Craig Zisk and Michael Trim on "The Two Mrs. Scottsons," by Roberto Benabib on "Protection": Let the boredom begin. Aside from the Jenji Kohan and Justin Kirk commentaries, the rest of the tracks can practically put you to sleep. Even the Alexander Gould/Hunter Parrish commentary feels slight and inconsequential. Where are you, Mary-Louise Parker?
- Gag reel Short and not particularly memorable.
- "Little Boxes" montages: I really wonder how this sort of stuff ends up getting produced. Ugly as hell montages set to different versions of the opening credit song.
- Soundtrack samples: Short clips of songs that appear on the show's soundtrack. The best are from Elvis Costello and Of Montreal.
- Randy Newman records "Little Boxes": A too-short glance at Newman recording the title credit song. More time is spent on the gimmick of getting different artists for each episode than actually showing Newman at work.
- Mary-Kate Olsen bio: A fawning look at Mary-Kate Olsen, who is more than happy to pat her own back. Spare me.
- Kush, Kush, and Away: A stupid interactive game where you have Nancy collect weed while avoiding DEA agents.
- Uncle AWOL: Justin Kirk hams it up with two cute actresses while recounting the events that led Andy to join the army, and how he got out of it.
- Good Morning Agrestic: The sabing grace of the extras. Thirty minutes of a public access morning show, produced by Shane. Almost all of the cast are involved (minus, again, Mary-Louise Parker and Romany Malco), and it's frequently very funny.
- Trivia Tracks: Lionsgate likes to add pop-up trivia tracks to a lot of its discs, but the ones on Weeds are a waste of time, pure and simple. At no point did feel I was learning anything of value, and I frequently groaned at the way they stretched for things to pop up about. Don't bother.
Weeds is a fantastic show, with a hilarious cast and top-notch writing. Sadly, season three didn't live up to the standards set by the two that preceded it, but it wasn't all bad. There's enough of value to make it worth a watch or two. The same can't be said for the set's dreadful special features, of which only a handful are worth your time. Still, with a strong image transfer and the fourth season now airing, Weeds season three garners a recommendation. Recommended.
Daniel Hirshleifer is the High Definition Editor for DVD Talk.