Like many people, I really enjoyed the first few seasons of Weeds, though as the seasons kept mounting, their welcome became more and more overstayed. My wife hung in for the show a little longer than most (something that she has a trait for, perhaps as some loyalty or faith in the characters), but even she threw up her hands around the show's sixth season. Maybe the show's creator Jenji Kohan was running with some blinders on, or maybe she felt the show had more to say, but once the show got one last production order for its eighth (and final season), my wife and I decided to come back to the show, along with various others that have come in and out of the show through the years, and give Weeds its proper sendoff.
The show's premise is simple. Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker, Red) is a Mom and widow who started selling marijuana, and soon the business grew to something more than she expected. The beginning of the show's final season finds her hosting a dinner for her family and friends, and she is shot in the head as part of an assassination attempt. She eventually regains consciousness with a desire not to sell anymore, though circumstances lead her to the same path on a new horizon. She still has the same problems in communicating with her sons Silas (Hunter Parrish, Gone), who continues to want to grow weed for the passion of it, and Shane (Alexander Gould, Finding Nemo), who has decided to become a police officer. Along with them is Nancy's brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk, Angels In America), who still has a crush on Nancy. And you have Doug (Kevin Nealon, Saturday Night Live), the hapless smoker with an acumen for accounting trickery.
The show received a boost in quality by the increasing addition of Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hunter Parrish, Road to Perdition) to the ensemble. She plays Jill Price-Gray, Nancy's sister who has been raising twin daughters but also has been trying to keep her fractured marriage civil, all the while seeming to maintain a simmering level of resentment towards Nancy for her life and what she has been accomplishing. Jill also manages to torment Andy when Andy is not tormenting himself over Nancy. The chemistry between Andy and Jill is fun to watch, though when Andy finally becomes comfortable about his feelings about Nancy, the scene is compelling to watch and well worth the time.
The show has quite a few comedic jabs at various hot-button topics of the day, the problem is at this point the show's jabs are lazy at best. The closest the show seems to come to actual satire is in a multi-episode arc where Nancy finds herself as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. I have always felt that letting Nancy observe the absurdity unfold was a smarter way for Weeds to go, and her workarounds have been more effective for the viewer as a result. On the flip side of that, the smaller plot where Nancy is a little overprotective of Silas as he is being wooed for a growing position at a tobacco company for a potential marijuana product is hackish. Remember kids, you can be married to a drug dealer and snitch on your friends in order to save your criminal butt, but cigarettes? Evil!1! Andy's feeling of desperation as he watches a wife that he impulsively married and is a) far younger than he and b) tied into social media is just as silly. Aside from being a plot arc for a show that would have addressed it two years ago, its appearance here is needless and helps show that Weeds was casting too big of a net and failing.
To give full marks to the show though, the finale was one that tended to balance the outrageous with the sentimental/nostalgic. In trying to avoid as many spoilers as possible on it, I will say that Nancy's attempts at some sort of personal closure with her family are touching and one sees that Nancy for so many years has been a presumed lost soul; the fact that she is left to figure out what her path is with all of her sons out of the house leaves her scared initially but she embraces it and it is nice to see.
With said finale (or 'Finally!' as the case may be), one cannot help wonder why this episode could not have aired two, three or even five seasons ago. It is almost as if the target audience for Weeds enjoyed the ride and then realized the show was overstaying its welcome. While shows since would appear to have learned the lesson and have pulled their own plug, Weeds just kept going and going, without a semblance as to its self. In a sense, the show resembled a line from Fletch, where Chevy Chase is trying to go along with the details of a dying person he does not know and says "but the very end when he actually died..." It may have been sad to watch Weeds fade away, but let's be honest, it had been gone for a while.
The last 13 episodes of Weeds are given an AVC-encoded 1.78:1 high-definition presentation, with the results being generally complaint-free. I did not watch much of the season when it was first broadcast, though the discs certainly replicate the look of the show rather nicely. Colors are reproduced accurately without noticeable image issues, and image detail is decent, to the point where I could have sworn I saw some smudging of Nancy's prison tattoo on her shoulder. Background depth is about what you would expect on the show and the image is sharp for most of the viewing experience. No reservations on quality from Lionsgate.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround track is better than I was anticipating however, and I dug it. The last season of the show returns to the Malvina Reynolds song "Little Boxes" for the season and that (and the various covers of the song in subsequent episodes) sounds clear and the other songs in the season are just as clear and make as much use of the soundstage as possible. Dialogue is consistent and channel panning is present and effective, just as directional effects on the satellite channels are. If Weeds was going out, it went out nicely from a sonic perspective.
Honestly the amount of bonus material could have used some work, though in its defense the participants appeared to have returned long after the show's wrapping to participate in these, so I can't be completely mad. On the first disc, Kohan provides a commentary on the season opener (entitled "Messy") and she shares the ideas and inspirations for scenes in the episode and teases the larger themes in them, and more about vaginal weights than you thought was possible. It tends to be a little more watching of the episode and narrating what goes on in it, but the track is fine nonetheless. A gag reel for the season is somewhat funny, but at 13:50, runs a little too long to be truly enjoyable.
Disc Two has a few more extras, starting with "The Wrap Up!" (11:03), a roundtable discussion of sorts with Kohan and executive producers Matthew Salsberg and Roberto Benabib. They talked about the challenges in the final season, new locations and other various highlights of it, and how they approached the show's ending. Some of the discussion tends to borrow from Kohan's Disc One commentary, but the answer to the "Where's Celia?" question is also given some detail too. A quick and decent discussion. "Everyday Advice from Guru Doug" (6:28) is an in-character piece from Nealon where he takes questions from the cast (and Kohan) on various topics while Nealon gets a chance to ad-lib. Funny and fun. "Clippin' The Buds" (11:40) is easily the most fascinating piece on the discs. It looks into the research and background for the 'marijuana pill' and examines the pros and cons of it from a health perspective, and its differences from smoking marijuana. The larger impact of the pill on the financial and health industries are discussed and speculate on the question of "What if marijuana's legal?" Altogether it is an engaging and interesting discussion piece.
In addition to this, there are two commentaries on the second disc. Parrish and Kirk join up for a track for "God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise" where they recall some things about the episode, but also talk about larger things, such as the props they took for production souvenirs. Ideas and opinions on the future of pot and story ideas for the show are mentioned, and a jab or two at Kirk's short-lived NBC show Animal Practice are made. It is a decent track. Slightly less so is the one for "It's Time" with Kohan, Salsberg and Benabib. It spends some more time watching the show, but in-jokes and things cut from the episode are mentioned, along with a tongue in cheek spinoff show for Guru Doug. A jovial track, though nothing special.
While it would have been nice if Weeds left long ago, to see it say its goodbyes now is somewhat poignant and a little bittersweet. Technically, it was a solid offering and from a bonus material perspective could have used a little more Parker. However, it is worth seeing at the very least to see how the show about a drug-dealing Mom goes out.