The new season of “Weeds” amounts to a reboot — unearthing the show and planting it in a new venue. The transfer, however, has only moved the series further away from reality and any semblance of humanity, resulting in a show that’s even more broad and jokey. The talented cast — primarily Mary-Louise Parker and Justin Kirk — still deliver amusing moments, but series creator Jenji Kohan’s world continues to feel less organic, and more forced, with each passing cycle. In terms of a contact high with smart comedy, you might be better served growing your own.
Just to recap, widowed mom Nancy Botwin (Parker) started out selling pot as a way to help support the family after her husband’s sudden death. Her misadventures culminated last season with a fire that pretty much razed the Spielberg-ian planned suburb of Majestic.
So Nancy, her boys and morally challenged brother-in-law Andy (Kirk) are forced to relocate to a California border town, where she attempts to move in with her ancient granny and reluctantly reconnects with her hostile father in law (Albert Brooks), who has little use for any of them. Meanwhile, the fire left former neighbor Celia (Elizabeth Perkins) fingered as the mastermind of Nancy’s drug network, leading her to seek redemption and revenge.
Because Nancy still needs cash, she volunteers to moonlight as a drug mule, ferrying contraband across the border for a Mexican gang — a plot that should at least win raves from CNN’s Lou Dobbs. Even pitched as broadly as the show is, it’s portrait of minorities — invariably drug dealers, and often drug-dealing psychopaths, albeit with heart! — works too hard at being politically incorrect.
What’s working against the show foremost, though, is sheer longevity in the challenge to sustain and build upon its initial premise. Nancy originally stumbled into drugs, acting almost with a sense of grief-stricken numbness. As time passes, the series feels increasingly divorced not only from reality but genuine emotions, beyond simply finding wacky new situations in which to throw its players.
It’s nice, for example, to see Brooks in this extended guest stint, but his character — the gambling, relentlessly grumpy dad — comes across as stale as his dialogue, which includes telling Andy, “I get laid all the time, and I shit like a Swiss train.”
In the press notes, exec producer Roberto Benabib says that advancing the plot represents the creative team’s desire to “think of the show as a shark: dangerous and constantly moving forward.”
That sort of ambition is surely welcome in a serialized half-hour, but as “Weeds” has discovered, it can also bite you in the ass.=