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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Television Review: Weeds Gets Dark, Fluffy, Not So Sticky

Mary-Louise Parker listens to voicemail...or is she just acting "listening to voicemail"?

Weeds third season on Showtime has to compete with the woozy hangover created by a terrific second-season chocked full of darkness, paranoia and wackiness. So far Season Three has served up all three of these ingredients but the blend still feels a little off. Granted we are only at episode two so there is time for the buzz to kick in. Mary-Louise Parker's drug dealing suburban Mom Nancy and her erstwhile partner Conrad are both in deep with bad news weed baron U-Turn. U-Turn has them both over a barrel after last years drug deal goes horribly wrong and it's hard to see how either of them will get out from under his thumb anytime soon. As episode two closes U-Turn has control of Nancy's finances including her credit cards and Conrad is set to become his indentured kind bud chemist. Mary-Louise Parker continues to be the number one reason to watch the show and she is as mesmerizing as ever. Her huge dark eyes and twisty mouth set against that pale, pale skin seem able to express a million levels of emotion and thought. When she's onscreen you can't take your eyes off her. Luckily the supporting cast is also quite good, especially Elizabeth Perkins as bitchy neighbor Celia Hodes and Kevin Nealon (an utter tool on Saturday Night Live but a revelation here) as Doug Wilson. Justin Kirk as Nancy's freeloading brother-in-law however was a reliable source of comic relief in seasons one and two but so far he's just been annoying and unfunny. There is a sense that the writers aren't sure what to do with these characters anymore. Celia had a great drunk sequence in episode two, lurching down the middle of the street and confirming to a group of open-mouthed kids that yes, indeed, she is the "just say no to drugs lady". Celia and Doug have both destroyed each others marriages but they don't seem to be able to find any pleasure in each other either. It would have been an interesting choice to allow these two characters who have hated each other with such passion to fully explore the turnaround that happened last season when that passion turned to lust. The show seems to be pushing them back to their original starting points but creator Jenji Kohan has a way of throwing curve balls so this may just be more setup.
The acting is still great to watch even if the show seems a little wobbly so I'll be updating my view later on in the season to see if Weeds blooms anew or shrivels away into irrelevance. For the season so far three out of five roach clips (beaded) seems about right:

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