Posts filed under 'Weeds'

Mary Louise Parker: Probably the greatest actress on television

weedsseason5Weeds returned with its fifth season last week and, in the process, reminded me why the show tortures me so much. It’s like milk chocolate.

If you have a piece of dark chocolate, you can just savor it and let it melt in your mouth. When you’re done, you’re done and you can go on with your life.  Project Runway is dark chocolate — one episode is fine for me and I can deal with waiting a week. Weeds, on the other hand, is milk chocolate. It’s the kind where I just keep eating and eating and wanting more and more until I’m surrounded by Hershey and Krackle wrappers. And all of a sudden I’m filled with shame because I couldn’t control myself.

I’ve seen the first three episodes of Weeds and it seems like it’s going to be forever until I get to watch the fourth. But I’ll catch you up.

When Weeds left off last season, Nancy had just accidentally saved herself from certain death. After ratting out her (hot) Mexican mobster boyfriend’s drug operation, she presented him with the sonogram of his unborn child — thereby preventing her from an unceremonious execution. Elsewhere, the Botwin family is still highly dysfunctional. Andy realized he’s in love with Nancy, Silas is looking to expand his drug operation and freeloading friend Doug just botched a suicide attempt (which, by the way, I was really disappointed he failed at. Good lord, that guy is annoying).

People seemed discontent with the show’s fourth season, which found Nancy and company packing up and moving from the posh suburban hamlet of Agrestic (which was in the process of burning to the ground) to an oceanside town near San Diego. I think people reacted to the transition like it was a new Facebook layout — screaming and crying about the change until they realized it was a necessary transition. If they had just kept their panties on, they would have learned that it would all work out.

But the first three episodes of the season have proved to be in the traditional Weeds style — a quick and merciless wit, shocking plot twists, unbelievably bold characters.  Moving to a different town and changing up the cast a little hasn’t changed the inherent character of the show.

One of the biggest changes in the new season, though, is Nancy’s relationship to her family. After several seasons of chaos, she’s understandably found herself alienated from her brood. This is most evident in one scene from the premiere, when Nancy returns after a long absence to find her family arguing over who gets her room if she doesn’t come home.

It’s all catching up to Nancy, and Mary Louise Parker plays the role perfectly.

This is where I go out on a limb and say that Mary Louise Parker is the best actress on television right now. I’m just going to say it. Tina Fey has always been a top-tier writer and has evolved into a top-tier actress on 30 Rock. Glenn Close is icy and wonderful on Damages. But Mary Louise Parker has an original and well-rounded character in Nancy Botwin, who gives her the opportunity to deliver both killer punchlines and perform some gut-wrenching dramatic scenes.

Parker plays Botwin with an ethereal, glassy-eyed sensibility. If not for her acute ability to tell everyone what is going on, you’d swear she was constantly high. The perennial image I have of Nancy is that of her delivering a line with a California deadpan while nursing her ever-present iced coffee. She’s addicted to adrenaline and drama, prone to self-destructive behavior, and still you root for her because she seems to be doing the best she can.

I’ll always be happy when Tina and Glenn with the Emmys, but I’m going to be in Mary Louise’s corner.

Weeds is on Showtime on Mondays at 9.

3 comments June 16th, 2009

Weeds: The times they are a-changing

weedsmary.jpgWelcome back Nancy — it’s been too long.

As I alerted you, Weeds made its triumphant return last night. However, the return wasn’t quite as “triumphant” as it was “transitional.” The show — which is usually consistently and darkly funny — was able to get its tone back immediately, but the matter at hand now is to transfer the show’s setting from the burning cul-de-sacs of Majestic to an oceanside town near the Mexican border. There was a lot of ground to cover, including setting up Celia for the fall on the drug bust and introducing the character of Nancy’s father-in-law played by a sleazy-looking Albert Brooks.

Sadly, this means no more Conrad and Helia. Apparently, the rest of the gang is along for the ride, though.

One of my favorite things about the episode (besides a great scene with Nancy and a goofy neighborhood kid) was the rampant use of Yiddish. Since the episode brought the family back to deceased dad Judah’s house, they really played up the Jewish angle. If you don’t know many Jews, let me tell you this — if there’s one thing we love it’s when people (even, perhaps especially, non-Jews) use Yiddish in everyday conversation. We just can’t get enough. I’m serious. And when they were throwing out “goyisha punim” and “shiksa” left and right, I was kind of in heaven.

That’s about all I have to say about the episode, except one thing. On a hopefully non-catty-sounding note, there have also been some noticeable cast weight fluctuations during the hiatus. The guy who plays Guillermo seems a little more robust than on the season three finale. Meanwhile, the kids who play Isabella and Shane thinning out a bit as they go through nature’s changes.

1 comment June 17th, 2008

Weeds: Season premiere tonight!

Taking a look at the summer schedule, it’s a pretty bleak landscape.  Unless you want to watch crappy reality shows or CSI reruns of Law and Order, there’s not a lot out there.

However, it is possibly worth the price of Showtime to get Weeds as a sustainer for the long summer months. The season premiere is tonight.

Take a look at a teaser for season four below.[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

June 16th, 2008

What should you be watching this summer?

It’s mid-June. Like seriously.

And while it’s been a few weeks without new network programming, we’ve barely started into the chasm of summer programming.  There’s going to be a lot of steaming crap out there, but it’s not all for naught. Or, as a TV blogger, I like to think that there’s something out there worth writing about.

As such, here’s a bit of a guide to things that you can watch this summer only feel moderate guilt.

minor_l.jpgIFC: You probably get IFC and don’t take advantage of it. However, there are a ton of movies on it that you’ve been meaning to watch forever. Plus, there are reruns of The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman (right, in bras), which is an incredible series (full post TK).

Bravo: What the hell were we doing with our lives before Bravo reinvented itself as the gay network?  Kathy Griffin’s My Life On the D-List and Project Runway both have new episodes this summer.

Lite reality TV on cable: We, here at TiFaux, are somewhat skeptical of reality TV. Me, admittedly, somewhat less so — but we all like to keep a safe distance from network offerings like Wife Swap or the celebrity-eats-itself shows like Living Lohan. However, there are some decent, watchable diversions available. There’s The Mole on NBC (get it before it’s gone, folks) as well as Bravo-esque competitive reality shows on HGTV and Food Network. Design Star and The Next Food Network Star are both very much “Hey, guys! Me too!” as far as unoriginal formats, but when you’ve got a winning formula, interesting cast members and high production values, it’s hard (at least for me) to not be somewhat charmed.

The Olympics: First up, two words: men’s gymnastics. Rowr. Something you have to look forward to this summer on TiFaux is posts where I e-catcall the athletes saying things like “ride that pommel horse, son” and “I’ll show you a floor routine.” It’ll be totally lecherous fun. But, more to the point, it can be quite fun to get caught up on the fervor. And, if you’re like me, you can get swept up in some uncharacteristic unabashed patriotism. Even if you aren’t necessarily into watching big gymnast arms, there are plenty of sports for everyone to enjoy.

The Daily Show coverage of the presidential election: Historically, The Daily Show’s election coverage has been some of its best material. Like all creative-types, they work best when they’ve got something to say and it’s hard to not have something to say all about the election tomfoolery going around.

Catch up on DVDs of TV shows: There’s a ton of shit you haven’t been watching, most likely because it’s on premium cable. Weeds. Dexter. Big Love. I can vouch for at least the first two — and you can totally burn through each of them within two weeks. Weeds has three seasons of about a dozen half hour episodes (less than that, if you count the theme, credits and the fact that they clock in at like 27 minutes). Dexter has two seasons of hour-long episodes (about 10-12 each). These shows are both coming back and deserve your attention. There’s also stuff like Damages, The Closer and Rescue Me — shows that I have never watched because they’re on weird networks, but have earned a substantial critical following.

5 comments June 13th, 2008

The More You Know: Canada, drugs, and horrible videos edition

1 comment February 14th, 2008

The More You Know: Veggie sushi edition

I totally had sushi last night with Glowy Box Liz.

January 31st, 2008

My two cents on the Golden Globes

You guys had your shot, now it’s my turn to play God with the Golden Globes. I’m starting off with the comedies because most of those are shows that I’ve actually seen. I’m only one man — I can’t be expected to watch all those damn cable dramas.

Sadly, there won’t be a real awards show to look forward to, but Kathy Griffin and Matt Lauer will be co-hosting some sort of Dateline pre-show. That should be good, right?

Best Comedy: 30 Rock

Let’s start off with a bang — the biggest award of the night, as far as I’m concerned. I think that even if justice had been served and The Office pushed off nominees like Entourage, 30 Rock would still be deserving of the award. There’s no other show that combines silly and smart the way 30 Rock does. It has more memorable moments per episode and more jokes per minute than any other show on TV. Hot on its heels is Pushing Daisies — 2007’s best new series. There’s nothing wrong with the show to put in second place, I just think that 30 Rock is a tough act to follow.

Best Actor in a Comedy: Alec Baldwin

I’m not going to offer an explanation for this choice except to say that this scene should earn Alec Baldwin a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a place in all of our hearts.
Best Actress in a Comedy: Mary Louise Parker

I realize that a lot of people, myself included, would almost always defer to Tina Fey in every poll. We all love her so much and want to be her when we grow up. But I found myself constantly amazed and Mary Louise Parker’s performance this season on Weeds. Her character, Nancy Botwin, is such a lovable psycho — she’s a complete mess, but still manages to remain a resilient mother lion in the face of ridiculous adversity. Parker has this glassy-eyed innocence that makes you root for Nancy, all the while maintaining this detached, badass facade. It’s really amazing. If you haven’t already, pick up the first season of Weeds on DVD, invite some friends over and have a little marathon with a theme drink.

As far as Tina goes, the reason I didn’t choose her was because I feel like the material really sells itself. It’s not a dig on her, but it’s a credit to the writing staff. She had some great moments (her Jerry Seinfeld crying voice, etc.), but Parker’s role was much more challenging.

Best Drama: Big Love

I’m not going to lie — this choice was largely arbitrary. I’ve seen a few episodes of Big Love and, even though I didn’t really know what was going on 100% because I had just started watching, I could tell that the performances were great and the writing was effective. It’s everything we love about HBO dramas. On the other hand, I’ve just never seen Damages, Mad Men, or the Tudors. Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t deserve award show love, as far as I’m concerned, and I stopped watching House a while ago because I don’t really see what everyone sees in House’s one-note character, the show’s dull supporting cast and formulaic episodes. That sounded kind of harsh.

Best Actor in a Drama: Michael C. Hall

There are two reasons why Michael C. Hall deserves this award: Dexter Morgan and David Fisher. Hall’s complex, restrained performance as Dexter would be reason enough to give him the award. But I still think it’s an injustice that Six Feet Under never got its due in term of awards, including Hall’s performance as David. Hall is one of those actors that just slips into a character’s skin perfectly. It’s a credit to him that I never think of Six Feet Under when I’m watching Dexter — he has embodied the character so fully that it makes me forget my all-time favorite show.

Best Actress in a Drama: Edie Falco

Again, the only two shows I watched in this category were The Sopranos and Medium. Well, I saw the first season of Medium and I know that Patricia Arquette is the worst actress on any screen, big or little. By default, I’d choose Falco, but I gladly do it. Between her unbalanced character of Carmella and her appearances on 30 Rock, there’s a lot to like about her.

2 comments January 11th, 2008

2007: The dead walk among us

2007 is officially over. Kaput. Done. Smell ya later.

You know what is also dead? All sorts of folks on TV. Thusly, we’ve made a provocative, scintillating top five and bottom five list of dead folks from this calendar year. Among the year’s deaths, we have a drowning, two gunshot victims, massive head trauma and even an explosion or two.

Point of information: the “top five” and “bottom five” are determined by a number of factors — the satisfying nature of the demise, how well it worked to advance the plot/character arc or, quite simply, whether we liked it or not.

For the record, proceed with caution if you are sensitive on getting spoiled by any shows. These shows include Weeds, Dexter and Battlestar Galactica.

Top 5

5. U-Turn – Weeds

The thing I really liked about U-Turn’s demise on the third season of Weeds wasn’t the satisfaction in having a repulsive character get axed. It was the perverse injustice of it all. U-Turn was such an intimidating character, breathing through a clenched jaw and flared nostrils in every scene and using terror to get his way. And then he gets killed by the fat, simple, ne’er-do-well Marvin — whose biggest accomplishment of the season was getting shot in the ass by the Mexicans. It was an understandable, but out-of-nowhere act and I love the idea of such a ridiculous, incompetent figure taking out a prime villain by surprise.

4. Symbolic spot reserved for Pushing Daisies

pushdead.jpgIt seems like it wouldn’t be fair for such a death-centric show to get left out on this list. Perish the thought that any of the lead characters actually die (even Emerson — the show’s dynamics would be ruined without him). But in honor of the exploding secretaries, trampled jockeys and torn-in-half wish-givers, we raise a glass of bubbly to the supporting cast of corpses on Pushing Daisies.

3. Sgt. Doakes – Dexter

Toward the end of season two, it really looked like the creators had written themselves in a corner. There were so many complications that it didn’t seem like the season could end cleanly. I feel like it was pretty obvious that Doakes was going to get blamed for the Bay Harbor Butcher’s crimes, but after Doakes caught him in the act, I didn’t see how Dexter could pin the blame on him without killing him — a violation of the Code of Harry. Enter crazy-pants Lila. Lila’s craziness was what saved Dexter in the end. Furthermore, it was pretty satisfying to see Doakes — crazy and unhinged himself — finally out of the picture.

2. Starbuck – Battlestar Galactica

Maggie writes: Starbuck is (was?), arguably, the best character in a sea of wonderful characters from Battlestar Galactica — the frakked up risk-taking pilot with Mommy issues who makes bad decisions in the sack. Not only is (was?) she a fan favorite, she keeps the rest of the characters on their toes — sleeping with them, hurting them, telling them the ugly truth that she can’t face herself. So when her Viper blew up, it seemed impossible that they, the geniuses at the helm of BSG, would actually kill her. But they seemed very serious about it, making us suffer through four Kara-Thrace-less episodes before the last ten seconds of the last episode of this season. Not that those seconds resolved anything, of course. What does it all mean???

1. Charlie – Lost/Phil Leotardo – The Sopranos

charliedead.jpgThis is cheating, but that’s okay because it’s a blog and not real life. I have two number one deaths and they’re both for different reasons. Charlie’s death earned its spot just because it was shocking (in a way), emotionally charged and completed his character’s redemption arc. Plus, the Lost folks redeemed themselves a little bit for killing a real character, not just introducing a bunch of tailies to just pick off one by one.

Phil Leotardo’s death was awesome for sheer bloodlust purposes. Such an awful man, responsible for so much death. To finally see him get whacked was really rewarding for long-time viewers. Furthermore, he didn’t just get whacked. An SUV ran over his head! I mean, what more could you ask for? It was like murder Christmas.

Honorable mention: To Nikki and Paolo from Lost. For real. In the big picture, they were totally useless, but that episode was awesome.

Bottom 5

5. Sheriff Lamb – Veronica Mars

I realize we might get some flack for putting Veronica Mars on the bottom of any list, but I have to admit that Sheriff Lamb’s untimely demise was a bit anticlimactic. No one really cared for him, so on face value this would have been a no-brainer for the top five. But the way it all went down was really unsatisfying. If I’m like most VM fans, I would’ve wanted Lamb to go out in a redeeming blaze of glory — so we can look at his tombstone and reflect that he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. However, that didn’t happen. He got bonked on the head by Richard Greico. Richard Greico, guys. I mean, come on.

4. Bradford Meade – Ugly Betty

Maggie writes: Recipe for instant melodrama: Pick the most boring character on your show. Kill him. Presto! No one liked Bradford, and none of his story lines were particularly convincing. Did anyone really believe he was in to Wilhelmina? Did anyone actually buy him as an evil genius? Then he up and dies, just in time to ruin Wili’s wedding and teach the Meade kids a little something about life. On the other hand, Santos — that one was at least a little teary.

3. President Palmer II – 24

Maggie writes: The sixth season of 24 seems awfully long ago, especially if you’re like me and you didn’t bother watching the last four episodes. But back in the beginning of the season, there was another President Palmer, the brother of the first (who was the victim of a great TV death — shot in the neck!). Prez Palmer II got himself blown up, and then he pumped himself up on uppers to lead the country, and then I think he died. He did die, didn’t he? He isn’t like Ex-Prez Logan in the ambulance, never to be heard from again? It’s a mark of the show’s decline that I can’t even remember.

dldead.jpg2. D.L. – Heroes

He got shot by some random dude in a bar? Booooooooooooooooooo!

1. Tony Soprano – The Sopranos

My disdain for the way things went down on the series finale of The Sopranos is no secret. But, even though David Chase thinks I should just worry my pretty little head in an adorably quaint liberal arts classroom, I’m going to operate under the assumption that Tony Soprano got it in the end. All signs point to yes, as many people seem to think (including Jeopardy champ Bob Harris, who seems to have come up with the most comprehensive analysis. Although, now he seems to be wanting to distance himself from it as much as possible. Sigh. Whatever.). But I’m putting Tony’s death at the bottom of the heap — not because it didn’t make sense that it would happen, not because it wouldn’t have been just, but because of that damned fade to black and the “I’m smarter than you” ambiguity.

Honorable mention: For the dream of Studio 60. Emmy-award winning writer, cast of luminaries, the best set money can buy — what could go wrong? Everything, of course.

8 comments January 2nd, 2008

Save us from ourselves, Parents Television Council

dexter_header2.jpgGod bless the Parents Television Council. If not for their watchful eye, people may be exposed to shows that aren’t Two and a Half Men.

Now, everyone’s favorite scolds and schoolmarms are opposing CBS’ plans to bring Dexter to CBS. Via TV Week:

“CBS’ plan is purely based on corporate greed, not what’s good for families or in the public interest,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “These Showtime programs contain some of the most explicit content on television, period. Yet CBS has no qualms about putting shows that make heroes of serial killers and revel in sick, graphic violence or those that condone drug use and glorify drug dealers in front of millions of children and families on broadcast television. Despite that CBS and Viacom are now ‘separate,’ CBS is funneling in super-raunchy Viacom-owned premium cable content onto the CBS broadcast network … It is also another powerful example of why the rules concerning media consolidation must not be loosened.”

Furthermore, they vowed to contact every sponsor of the CBS airings of Dexter. You know, to let them know that they are sponsoring Dexter. In case they thought it was a show about a veterinarian who falls in love with another veterinarian and they live in a lavender house full of rabbits.

I suppose this is nothing new — the whole killjoy aspect of things. It all comes down the fact that there’s family shows and then mom and dad shows. Or, as I see it, kid shows or shows that I would actually watch. I’m not happy about the idea of sanitizing the airwaves of anything remotely dark in the name of parents who can’t control their kids’ viewing habits. Because, you know, one episode of Weeds and the kids are going to run around like crazy taking the pots and the cocaines.

It’s just pretty maddening that there are people who can’t see artistic value in shows like Weeds and Dexter — who can’t see beyond the premise to the stories beneath. Obviously, these people have no idea how fucking awesome these shows are.

4 comments December 11th, 2007

The Funk: Great Lake Swimmers

This isn’t a new discovery by any means, but I’ve been listening to “Your Rocky Spine” by Great Lake Swimmers lately and I quite like it. It kind of came back into my consciousness when I heard it at the conclusion of an episode of Weeds.

If you watch Weeds, you know that the show has a singular ability to end every episode on a huge cliffhanger. This episode, in particular, had a pretty huge cliffhanger in that *spoilerish alert* a major recurring character got killed off in the final moments. And while it wasn’t a sad moment, necessarily, this song can make any moment bittersweet.

As a bit of background, Great Lake Swimmers are from Ontario and this is from their third album, Ongiara. Their singer’s voice is super warbly and, to me, super affecting. [kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

November 27th, 2007

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