TV cable entertainment has buried most shows put forth on establishment networks. Most of the network shows are still laboring under the 50s assumption that the only way to attract viewers was to insult the intelligence and/or maturity of anyone over 8 years of age. Laugh tracks prompting viewers to guffaw on cue. Insipid and inane plot lines. Endless advertisements hawking products that aren’t what they’re hyped to be.
Cable producers figured out quickly that they could portray the real drama or comedy of the world and in so doing, attracted the biggest talents in filmdom. Shawn Ryan, Vince Gilligan, David Milch among many others. “”The Shield” won multiple awards for writing, acting and direction. “Breaking bad” collected a long list of multi-faceted awards. “Men of a certain age” is emerging quickly. “Deadwood” accumulated a cadre of fanatical followers whose lives stopped on Sunday nights. Tim Oliphant went on to create the character of Raylan Givens in “Justified”, one of the highest rated shows on cable.
One low key cable comedy that missed much notice is “Weeds” (Showtime), now gearing up for it’s seventh season, starring the delightfully quirky Mary-Louise Parker and the wackily Machiavellian Elizabeth Perkins (nominated for three Emmys and two Golden Globes).
In it’s essence, “Weeds” is a story about women. Real women, not airhead bimbos masquerading as urban professionals (Sex in the City). Nancy Botwin (Parker) is a newly widowed mother of two precocious adolescents struggling to maintain her suburban lifestyle after her husband drops dead with no appreciable insurance. She has no particularly marketable talents and quickly drifts into the path of least resistance, selling marijuana to the high end users in her neighborhood. Perkins as Celia Hodse is Nancy’s ditzy foil. Between them, they stabilize the plot while enhancing all the other talents that interact through them.
Distilled to its essence, this is a view of real women struggling to survive in middle age after dead husbands, dorky live ones, strange kids and manipulative relatives.
The show portrays a likely accurate vision of the California marijuana trade as the motley collection of characters bumble through it. Unfortunately, it’s suffering from the “House Syndrome” (“House, MD”, Fox Channel). An interesting concept that gets stale in time but the producers drag it out interminably as long as it makes money. Season six is a bit of a stretch now, indulging too many variations on the same theme. Perhaps they should have ended it when Elizabeth Perkins left before Season 5.
At any rate, Seasons one through five are creative, interesting and even thought provoking. The episodes are easily pulled off the torrents on Pirate Bay and others.
I give it four of five Jagged leaves.