Weeds is an interesting beast to talk about. Constantly evolving, this show was once simply about the concept of a housewife in the suburbs dealing marijuana to her neighbors. Not content to sit on their laurels, the creator and writers constantly up the ante for the Botwin family and that is no more apparent then in season four.
Fresh from their relocation at the end of the last season Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) and her family arrive at Andy’s (Justin Kirk) father’s house in a town on the border between California and Mexico. The father, Lenny Botwin (Albert Brooks), has never liked his daughter-in-law and very reluctantly allows them to stay. The house is in fact his mother’s, but she is in a coma, kept alive by machines.
Adjusting to the new environment and constraints, Nancy finds herself drawn back into the drug business. This time she is not dealing, but instead trafficking as she is brought into a cartel by Guillermo (Guillermo Díaz). He introduces Nancy to the concept by testing her a few times before bringing her in fully. Of course Nancy attracts the attention of the head of the cartel, Esteban Reyes (Demián Bichir), who becomes her love interest throughout the series.
The rest of the family and associated ‘friends’ are not sitting idle of course. Andy decides to become a kinder, gentler ‘coyote,’ someone who helps Mexicans illegally immigrate to America. Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon), still always a showstopper, works with Andy in the hopes of finding a Mexican woman he met by chance. Silas (Hunter Parrish) becomes involved with an older woman and continues to grow his own marijuana. Shane (Alexander Gould) is deeply entering puberty and struggles to find himself as a mature person in a boy's body. Celia (Elizabeth Perkins), having taken the fall for Nancy last season, finds herself embroiled in challenge after challenge while still being the shrew you love to hate.
The season in particular and the show in general have become something surreal and it is hard to take it seriously. Once you stop viewing the series as being about real people and real situations it is immensely enjoyable and fun to lose yourself in. The situations each of the family get into are bigger, crazier, and more diverse week to week and you cannot help but smile at the sheer pageantry of it.
The acting, set pieces, and environment are all top notch as are the newly tweaked introductions. They are no longer in boxes all looking the same (gated community from previous years) so the creators became, well, creative at the start of each show. Weeds is a great series with amazing production values and a solid, varied cast. Season four is worth watching and the quality Blu-ray transfer is icing on the cake.
Presented in 1080p in a 1,78:1 aspect ratio Weeds looks incredibly good on Blu-ray. The show has always had great transfers as they have adopted the format since their first season. The video transfer is appreciated this season especially as it is quite varied in its locales. The Botwins live near a beach, Nancy travels to Mexico often, and the eclectic house they live in is crammed with many small and interesting objects.
The colors are handled quite well except for a few random saturation issues, blacks are nice and deep when required and lighter when the tone dictates. Detail is well represented and small features like creases, textures, and skin details stand out nicely. The backgrounds sometimes seem slightly muffled, but generally all aspects of the image are handled very well.
Presented in a DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack Weeds sounds good, but not spectacular. This is a dialogue-heavy series and not one that will ever have big explosions or constant ambient effects. Generally all dialogue comes across quite well aside from a few moments when sound effects muffle it.
The sound is very front heavy with even large noises restricted mostly to the center channel. Very sporadic use of the rears and bass takes immersion away from the audience and that is a shame. It is by no means a bad soundtrack, just not a great one — but it does get the job done.
Many of these extras are also on the DVD release, but the video features here are all presented in HD which is very nice. Some of the features are definitely hit and miss, especially the commentaries. There are only six on this release (less then the DVD) and aside from two of them they are not terribly great. A thoroughly average set of supplements for the release of season four.
- "Mother thinks the birds are after her" – Jenji Kohan – Kohan is difficult to hear at times and the track is slow paced as a result, there are some nice insights sprinkled in here though.
- "Three coolers” – Roberto Benabib – An executive producer on the show Benabib’s track boils down to a lovefest for all the performances (especially Albert Brooks) and is not terribly fun to listen to.
- “No man is pudding" – Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk – Also presented in PiP mode this is an entertaining track (no surprise) with the two charismatic actors just chatting through the episode.
- "I am the table" – Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk – Also presented in PiP mode this is the same style as the previous track, two friends watching an episode and chatting.
- "Head cheese" – Hunter Parrish – The actor who plays Silas is on a solo track and it has some gaps but is filled with all you wanted to know (or didn’t) about his take on the show.
- "If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?" – Jenji Kohan – A relatively weak track, but at least we hear her motivations on tone as well as some insight into where the family goes next.
- Gag Reel (HD, 8 min) – It’s a gag reel, worth some chuckles the first time, and then you are done.
- Little Titles (HD, 5 min) – Now that the family does not live in little boxes they needed a new way to open the show. Jenji Kohan discusses the new sequences.
- Moving Weight (HD, 9 min) – Guillermo Díaz discusses moving Marijuana and the legal ramifications of the act. An actually enjoyable supplement, well thought out and presented.
- I'm a Big Kid Now (HD, 9 min) – A short look at the three younger characters, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould, and Allie Grant. The featurette looks at aging during the series, their outlook on life and how real life changes are reflected on the series.
- The Real Hunter Parrish (HD, 6 min) – Yikes, if his solo commentary wasn’t enough someone thought Parrish should have a introspective look at his life and career.
- Tour of Bubbie's House (HD, 7 min) – An enjoyable tour of the Botwin’s new home by the set designer. There are so many nooks, crannies and items packed in the house it is nice to see it being recognized as an important part of the season.
- One Stop Chop Shop (HD, 5 min) – This featurette looks at the Mexican aspects of the show as well as how they replicated and filmed them.
- The Weed Wranglers (HD, 6 min) – A funny look at the prop ‘weed’ on the show, from mountains of it to small sample bags.
- Burbs to the Beach (HD, 6 min) – A very corporate feeling featurette on the transition of the show to the new beach front setting. This has little interviews with the cast and everyone is upbeat and positive, not terribly entertaining.
The Final Word
Weeds is a very surreal show and when watched that way there is a lot of enjoyment to be had. The cast is solid, works well together, and the writing is entertaining if not grounded in any form of plausible reality. This has a great video transfer and a workable if average audio soundtrack. There are extensive extras but none stand out which is a shame with a mature show like this. Weeds Season 4 is not outstanding on Blu-ray, but it is good fun and there isn’t anything wrong with that, is there?