Showtime was kind enough to send me the first four episodes of the third season of Weeds, and let me tell you -- television doesn't get much better than this!
When we last left Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) and family, younger son Shane (Alexander Gould) had embarked on a road-trip with Uncle Andy's (Justin Kirk) crazy ex-girlfriend (Zoey Deschanel); DEA agent (and Nancy's husband) Peter (Martin Donovan) had been killed by a group of Armenians; Nancy and Conrad (Romany Malco) were in the process of being held up at gunpoint; and older son Silas (Hunter Parrish) had made off with Nancy's marijuana supply in an attempt to get in on the action, but was about to busted by Celia (Elizabeth Perkins).
That's quite a hole for creator Jenji Kohen to write herself out of.
But write herself out of it she does, and brilliantly.
I'm hesitant to reveal too many plot details of the first few episodes, out of fear of spoiling what is truly one of the most satisfying viewing experiences of the year, but trust me when I tell you Weeds is delivering some of the most inspired comedy and moving family dynamics on any television show on any network. The first two episodes of the season are so tightly paced and chock full of oh-my-god moments, they actually rival thrillers like 24 and Prison Break for edge-of-your-seat/what-is-going-to-happen suspense. Genius.
The performances are, as always, across the board fantastic. Parker is the heart and soul of the show, and she has never been more luminous or heartbreaking than she is in these first few episodes. She creates so many layers to Nancy, that you alternately find yourself laughing with and rooting for her, or cursing at her for the danger she is bringing to her family. Is Nancy a good mother? A good person? These questions don't have easy answers, and Parker never takes the easy way out in playing this very 3-dimensional character.
Emmy nominee Perkins is pitch-perfect as Celia, whether stumbling drunk down a street or realizing that she has perhaps permanently ostracized her family, and she has a moment at the end of the season's first episode that will literally make you gasp aloud. Kirk is ideally cast as Uncle Andy (even if the season's 3rd and 4th episodes find him making a somewhat random and unsatisfying trip to the army), while Kevin Nealon brings another dose of comedy to the proceedings (the scene in the first episode in the bathroom with Celia's estranged husband Doug is Weeds at its subversive, hysterical best). In fact, there is not a weak link in the entire cast, with Malco, Parrish, Gould, Tonye Patano (Heylia), and Renee Victor (Lupita) also making invaluable contributions .
Whether you've watched Weeds in the past, or are simply considering making a foray to the town of Agrestic, I can't recommend Season 3's first episodes strongly enough.
Bong hits, anyone?
Click for more Television News/Commentary
Photo Credit: Mark Seliger/Showtime