Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Weeds: Burning down the house

What if I was to tell you that there was a TV show about a hot suburban mom who deals with the financial stresses of widowhood by becoming the neighborhood pot dealer? Is that something you might be interested in?

Sorry... wrong pay cable channel.

Anyway, because I got to see this season's first five episodes of "Weeds" last month, and because Matt wound up writing the review for the paper, I completely blanked on the fact that it debuted on Monday night -- even though I actually linked to Matt's review here. I'd like to blame it on too much of Nancy Botwin's product, but sadly, this is how my brain functions even when straight-edged.

"Weeds" is a show I didn't have much use for last season. I still hadn't forgiven Mary-Louise Parker for inflicting Amy Gardner on "The West Wing" (even as written, she was probably an irritating character, but M-LP went the extra mile), I was wary of any project featuring Kevin Nealon in a significant role, and I felt it suffered from Single Camera-itis, in which the makers of laughtrack-free comedies are too busy being impressed by their own cleverness to notice that their show isn't, you know, funny. (There was also a trace of Alan Ball-itis, in which Hollywood types are so pleased to be ripping suburbia's lid off, Ron Burgundy-style, to notice that the audience realized years ago that suburbia was rife with dysfunction.)

But, like the (non-medicinal) weeds I can't seem to purge from my own suburban backyard, the show grew on me. (Thank you. Try the veal, and don't forget to tip your waitress.) I developed a real affection for Mary-Louise and her bizarre line readings, I discovered that Nealon was perfectly cast as a pathetic middle-aged pothead, I applauded the arrival of Prior Walter from "Angels in America" as Nancy's irresponsible brother-in-law and, most importantly, I started laughing. Not just at Elizabeth Perkins, who was genius from the start, but at everybody. And with the arrival of the deader-than-deadpan Martin Donovan, whom I've loved ever since I saw him in Hal Hartley's "Trust," the ensemble (also including Romany Malco, the secret weapon from "40-Year-Old Virgin") was complete.

Because all five have blended together in my head a bit, I don't have a lot of specific things to say about the premiere, except that I love the complete disdain that Nealon and Perkins have for each other, and I love Uncle Andy having to deal with an Israeli ex-soldier who could no doubt snap him like a twig.

Back when the network season was winding down and I put my poll in the field about what summer shows you all wanted to see discussed here, "Weeds" got a couple of mentions, so if there's enough interest, I can take a second pass through episodes 2-5 and work them into the rotation. But if nobody cares, I'll just enjoy the DVDs as they arrive from Showtime. The power is in your hands. Use it wisely. Or something.


Anonymous said...

I for one would appreciate it

Anonymous said...

I would vote as well for you to grace us with your very good reviews on WEEDS as well. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I love this show.

Anonymous said...

Forget Weeds. What about some talk on "Kyle XY," which I love and everyone should, too? :-)

Seriously, I can't believe how much I love a show that comes from ABCFamily.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dez, I watched the "Kyle XY" pilot and thought it was decent, but looking at the kid who plays Kyle just creeps me out. They did a really good job at making him look not-quite-right (either that, or he looks that plastic in real life), but on a superficial level, I didn't like the show enough to want to have to look at that face every week.

Anonymous said...

Ha, you're shallow, too! Neener neener! :-D

He does look a little "off," but I think part of it is acting, not solely make-up. In the last ep, he comes across a picture of guy who looks like him but with longer hair, and he looked more natural in that. The upshot is that the dude who looks just like him has been missing for 20 years or whatever. Er, not that that has anything to do with what he looks like every week, but it makes my theory that he's a clone more likely. And proves that I like to ramble on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I'll stick with "Trailer Park Boys". Ricky is a dab hand with a grow-op

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm a little confused. Is it that you don't like Mary Louise Parker in general, thinking that she's a bad actress, or just that she wasn't very good on "The West Wing"?

I haven't seen her in much, if anything at all, besides "Weeds" and "TWW," but I can tell she has talent. And maybe it's just that I love "The West Wing" way too much, or maybe it's that I know a lot of women who act like Amy did to Josh on that show, but I thought she did a good job.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, I'd liked Mary-Louise in some other things pre-"West Wing" and always thought she was a good actress. She just had a penchant for making weird choices, and the way she had Amy talk drove me up a wall.

But there's something to be said for not knowing what the hell she's going to do next, performance-wise, and I think that's a big part of the appeal of "Weeds."