Tag Archives: Justin Kirk

Weeds – “Perro Insano”

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“Perro Insano”

August 10th, 2009

Ah, the false finale.

In many ways, “Perro Insano” operates as a finale would, giving every character a climactic moment or climactic decision and leaving them hanging as we move on in a new direction. In the events of this episode, there are moments of resolution, moments wherein you are seeing an entire season’s of storylines reach a particular apex. The problem, of course, is that this is a false conclusion: while Celia may appear to have reached that deluxe apartment in the sky, and Nancy has finally convinced the man she loves to marry her, one can’t help but believe that things can only go downhill from here. And, unfortunately for Nancy and Co., there’s still two episodes for that destruction to take place.

It’s an awkward point for Weeds, really, because we as an audience are conditioned to the point of numbness to these types of events, and for every bit of false resolution we’re given we can’t help but resist, pushing back as if in defiance of Jenji Kohan and her writing staff. It creates an odd bit of tension that I think the show wants to thrive in, but here there’s been too little definition in the supporting storylines, and too much sensationalism in the major ones, for it to feel like an example of the audience being manipulated rather than the storylines being contrived. It’s a difference between consistency and repetition, in a way, and I think the show is falling at least slightly too much on the latter point.

But not so much so as to discount the show’s overall quality too greatly.

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Weeds – “Su-Su-Sucio”

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“Su-Su-Sucio”

June 22nd, 2009

Weeds always sits at a perilous crossroads of plot and character development, as the two often aren’t synonymous terms as they relate to the early part of each season. By the end of the season, sure, they usually match up: there’s always a few events that bring everyone together and have the Botwin family and company in a dire situation. But early on, there’s always a sense that the plot takes over, carrying characters off to their future destinations without really stopping and letting it change or affect them in any way.

I’d argue that, based on these concerns, “Su-Su-Sucio” is a fairly effective turn, maintaining a strong comic sensibility and offering a welcome respite from the darkness of the early parts of the season without abandoning it entirely. While it may be too simple a formula to repeat ad nauseum, the introduction of Nancy’s sister Jill has kept that particular plot development from becoming too disconnected from notions of characters, and Andy’s return to the fold has had similar effects in terms of giving Nancy some more levity as it relates to her situation.

The result is an episode that, although smack dab in the middle of the show’s usual march towards a plot of some kind, felt like it was rushing through the storylines it should rush through, and pausing on the ones that deserved a bit more time. The early season pacing is the fastest its been in quite some time (at least in terms of bringing the cast together), and that’ll make for an interesting extension into the rest of the year.

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Season Finale: Weeds – “If You Work For a Living, Why Do You Kill Yourself Working?”

“If You Work For a Living, Why Do You Kill Yourself Working?”

September 15th, 2008

During Weeds’ first season, I would have never expected that it would fall into a pattern.

It was a show about a mother who deals drugs to support her family, with two children completely unaware of their mother’s ways to pay the bills, living in a gated community that harbours an assortment of characters so unhinged that Nancy often looked like the most normal of them all.

Since that point, though, the pattern is simple: at the end of one season, things get bad to the point where we as an audience question how much time Nancy Botwin has left before she is arrested or killed. Then, at the start of the next season, the show spends four or five episodes dealing with the fallout from that event before settling into a rising action, a new location or force in Nancy’s life that will result in yet another near-death experience.

Because of this, we go into last night’s Weeds finale with qualified expectations: yes, we expect it to be quite good, but we know that it won’t immediately solve the nagging issues from this season. It isn’t about providing closure, justifying the show’s move closer to the border, but rather creating enough tension that the road into season five is opened up when the show returns next year.

By these standards, “If You Work for a Living…” is a near triumph: an episode that manages to both clearly outline the next season’s action while actually creating a twist that might actually maintain the status quo as opposed to immediately saying goodbye to it. It’s not a perfect episode, and there’s a couple of nagging issues that still make this season a growing experience, but this feels like the type of finale that Weeds needed: not a rebirth, but…well, a birth.

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Weeds – “Till We Meet Again”

“Till We Meet Again”

September 8th, 2008

Weeds is at its worst when it escalates to the point of life or death.

I don’t mean to say that it isn’t well plotted: the final scene of this week’s penultimate episode of the fourth season is gruesome but powerful, and it feels like a logical step for the storyline to take. However, in the wake of such storylines, the rest of Weeds feels severely trivial. If I’m seriously worried about Nancy living or dying, what do I care about Doug’s mistress getting shipped back to Mexico or Celia searching out Quinn (Who we haven’t seen since the pilot) in order to make amends?

Say what you will about the reasons for half hours shows like Weeds or Entourage to make the jump to an hour long program, but these later episodes make a fine case for it: with an hour, perhaps the more dire situations could be better balanced, striking a more subtle tone through a slightly slower pace. Instead, we’re going from the violation of Nancy’s moral code (the women and the guns going through the tunnel) to the violation of a person in a very vile fashion. Mary-Louise Parker plays this kind of role extremely well, so I’m not really complaining on that front, but when it stops the rest of the show dead in its tracks I do have to wonder whether this end of season escalation is really in Weeds’ best interest.

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Weeds – “No Man is Pudding”

“No Man is Pudding”

July 14th, 2008

When Weeds started its fourth season with a rather stunning departure from its original setting, there was a question of how long it would take to get back into a groove, so to speak. Albert Brooks did a fine job of integrating into the cast, propping them up for a while, but eventually things would have to return to normal (Or whatever whacked out concept of normalcy applies to these people).

And this is the episode where that happens, albeit not exactly in a welcome fashion across the board. Shane, Silas and Doug are given a paper thing “Bees” storyline (“BEADS?!”), and the show continues to believe that the only characters arcs Andy is capable of are “Crazy Hijinx Leading to Criminal Investigations.” So on those two fronts, normalcy (Sidelining the supporting players to silly storylines that aren’t nearly as interesting as our central conflict) isn’t so much welcome as familiar.

But sometimes familiar can be a good thing, and the episode is the triumphant reunion of probably the show’s best two characters. If you wanted this to feel like the Weeds of old, with high stakes combining with high emotions and dark comedy intersecting with personal drama, look no further than the teaming of Nancy Botwin and Celia Hoades. Elizabeth Perkins and Mary-Louise Parker are at their top of the game here, and the end result is television magic.

And, Andy’s episode title quote is pretty funny too.

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The Top 10+ Pleasant Surprises of the 2008 Emmy Top 10s

The Top 10 Pleasant Surprises of the Top 10s

[If I was currently wearing a hat, I would take it off in honour of Tom O’Neill’s continued amazing work gathering up leaks in regards to the Top 10 lists of semi-finalists for the Emmy Awards panels taking place over the next few weeks. While he doesn’t have the complete list, I’m willing to go out and indicate the 10 choices (In no particular order, but the top 2 probably are) that actually make me optimistic about the show’s relevancy (Before, admittedly, taking a look tomorrow at the ones that give me no hope at all).]

1. Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)

Category: Lead Actress, Drama Series

Last year when writing up my For Your Consideration posts, I said the following about Mary McDonnell’s work as President Laura Roslin on my favourite Sci-Fi series:

“What I love about Mary McDonnell’s portrayal of the character is that, without fail, you are always rooting for Laura Roslin to succeed except for those moments where she is clearly wrong. In those cases, McDonnell makes you want to see Roslin get let down as easily as possible, in order to ensure that she isn’t too damaged in the process.”

This is even more true this season, where her character finds her cancer back and where a whole new perspective is reached. Her performance in “Faith” is heart-wrenching, and that panels will finally get to see an episode of this fantastic series in the Top 10 warms my frakking heart. This is one of those surprises that gives you faith that the Emmys are willing to recognize performances off the beaten path, if you will, and they don’t get much better than this.

2. Zeljko Ivanek (Damages)

Category: Supporting Actor, Drama Series

When previewing this category, I lamented the likely lack of recognition for Damages other supporting actor contender:

“While he seemed fairly minimal in most instance, sparring with Patty or reasoning with Frobisher, Ivanek burst into the main narrative with “I Hate These People.” Without falling into total spoiler territory, the character took a sudden turn to the tragic, a dramatic fall that was more compelling than anything the other supporting characters went through.”

That he broke through was a highlight for me, a sign that people were watching all of Damages and not just the show’s pilot. Ivanek may have had accent issues, and certainly the show wasn’t near perfect, but his performance in his submission is simply stunning, and I can only hope voters enjoy the time they have with this amazing piece of work.

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Weeds – “The Whole Blah Damn Thing”

“The Whole Blah Damn Thing”

June 30th, 2008

There are certain points in time when I question whether or not Nancy Botwin really understands what she does for a living. It’s one thing that she isn’t a seasoned professional when it comes to the drug trade, such as last week’s embarassing excursion to Mexico, but when she remains so shocked at the voltatility of it all I have to wonder if she even understands her own life. When she programs her new “secret” home into her GPS that Guillermo has access to, why should she be survived that he knows where she lives?

In what was technically an episode about assisted suicide, this is the only real pressing issue: the episode featured some strong performances from Justin Kirk and Albert Brooks, and ushered in a somewhat questionable if also potential-filled scenario that reintroduces Celia into the mix more quickly than anticipated. It’s a quickening of the pace that, following Bubbie’s passing, allows the show to stop dealing with the past and moving forward to the future.

And that’s a good stage for a series putting itself through an identity crisis on purpose.

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