Tag Archives: Mary Louise-Parker

Weeds – “I Am The Table”

“I Am The Table”

August 4th, 2008

One of my most common issues with Weeds is not necessarily the content we receive, but rather the abrupt and often miniscule portions in which we receive it. Right now, the show is juggling five storylines: you’ve got Silas and his Cheese MILF, Shane adjusting to a new environment, Andy and Doug working on their Coyote business, Celia trying to keep herself conscious, and Nancy cavorting with Esteban south of the border.

So, “I Am The Table” can’t possibly satisfy all of these stories, and as a result one can’t expect it to. I’ve often wondered how this show would play as an hour-long, and I really think that it would do many parts of it a lot of favours.  At the same time, however, the short format did lead to some great comedy here: the Shane and Celia stories, in particular, are well served with just some small moments of really great comedy, and with Elizabeth Perkins and Alexander Gould up to the task it’s hard to argue that there isn’t entertainment.

I just sometimes wish that the glacial pace of everything else had either Nancy and Esteban’s passion or the aforementioned humour.

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Weeds – “Yes I Can”

“Yes I Can”

July 28th, 2008

The title of “Yes I Can” refers to both Sammy Davis Jr. famous autobiography and the drive of Nancy Botwin to remain independent within the existing operation. This storyline drives most of the episode, and while it suffers from some stretches of logic (including the entire purpose of a “front,” but never mind that) it does give Mary-Louise Parker plenty to do and has some potential.

But, really, this episode is about the moments when Silas and Shane Botwin, officially speaking, stopped being the characters they once were. In the beginning, Silas was a teenager of innocence, certainly sexually promiscuous but certainly still finding his footing so to speak. Shane, literally, was a child, someone whose naive world view was tempered with an intense knowledge of its inner workings – he was always smart, but he was still removed from the reality of it all.

This week, though, it’s officially over: these two are not kids anymore, not in the way they once were anyways. Silas’ conquest of Mrs. Rad, Lisa, is forceful and mature: his newfound confidence is almost beyond belief, but the show seems intent on turning him into a sexual animal even weeks before the character’s eighteenth birthday (nudity and all). And Shane, who has had his bouts with insanity in the past, has officially transcended to a whole new realm with his choice of jerk-off material.

Both transitions aren’t beyond the stretch of the imagination, but I’m not quite sure I’m on board enough to trot out Sammy’s answer to the question of “Can you tolerate this?”

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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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Cultural Learnings’ 2008 60th Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations Predictions

When I started my Emmys coverage for this year’s ceremony a while ago, I (as always) had a lot of plans: previews of every category (Got through a lot), reviews of every submitted episode (Almost got through those), and all sorts of other grand schemes that never come to fruition. This is the nature of being a television critic of sorts: you have a lot to say, but balancing it and the rest of your life (See: Watching Television, clearly) can be a bit of a challenge. Let it be known I took most of that free time doing my duty and finally watching shows like The Wire, Six Feet Under and Flight of the Conchords.

However, there’s no way I could possibly procrastinate on writing up my various predictions. Predictions are one of those things that I think about more than I write about (I tried writing more this year, and after a while it petered off). Great sites like AwardsHeaven or Coco at the Movies or TV with Abe keep detailed lists for weeks or months ahead of time updating when the Top 10s come out, but I tend to ruminate a bit more introspectively. We’ll see how that goes this time around, when our access to the Top 10 lists for various categories makes this task easier, yes, but also far more competitive. But, I’m not in it to win it, so to speak; I’m just an Emmy fanatic who enjoys the thrill of participation.

So, without further adieu, my predictions for the nominations for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Boston Legal (ABC)
  • Damages (FX)
  • House (FOX)
  • Lost (ABC)
  • Mad Men (AMC)

This is a very hard category to call, and admittedly I’m following my own interests here: there’s every chance of Grey’s Anatomy replacing Lost on this list based on its popularity alone, but something tells me that Lost’s episode submission (The fantastic “The Constant”) will elevate them through. Mad Men and Damages represent the new crop of summer cable hits, while Boston Legal and House should ride baity submission and Hugh Laurie, respectively, to nods.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • James Spader (Boston Legal)
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
  • Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
  • Hugh Laurie (House)
  • Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

The first four are pretty much locks: while his show is too bloody to make it into major categories, Hall’s Emmy pedigree and the fantastic nature of his performance should get him the nomination he deserved last year. Meanwhile, “should have won before” Laurie and newcomer and Golden Globe winner Hamm will try to dethrone undefeated Emmy king Spader, and that last slot is up for grabs. I’ve gone with Bryan Cranston’s brave performance in the AMC series, one I need to finish watching at some point (Only got through the opening two episodes). Gabriel Byrne is the other option, but I believe that if Cranston made the Top 10 people were watching, and he would have performed well on the panels.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters)
  • Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
  • Holly Hunter (Saving Grace)
  • Glenn Close (Damages)
  • Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)

Those following the Emmy race will sigh at that last name – while the first four are more or less locks based on name recognition and showy performances, the fifth candidate in this category is somewhat more open. However, with previous nominees like Mariska Hargitay and Minnie Driver waiting in the wings, the chances of an actress from a science fiction series breaking through are slim. However, frak that kind of logical thinking: I want to have hope, for once, that they’ll see through the Science Fiction and discover a tremendous performance that is worthy of consideration.

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Weeds – “The Three Coolers”

“The Three Coolers”

July 7th, 2008

A cooler can be many things, but the eponymous ones referred to by this week’s episode title are of two varieties: two literal coolers, the refrigeration equivalent of The Matrix’s red/blue pills, and one cooler that follows another definition.

From Urban Dictionary:

A hand in poker in which a person with a very strong hand (often the 2nd best possible hand) is beaten by the best possible hand (usually a very rare full house, four of a kind, or straight flush). The 2nd best hand is so strong that it is impossible to fold, usually resulting in the loss of a lot of money and sometimes, an existential crisis.

For Len Botwin, his Cooler was his mother, and while her departure leaves him with a house he can’t sell it also leaves him without that other hand there to beat him at every turn. Albert Brooks’ short stint on the show, spanning only this first set of episodes, has been a strong one largely because he hasn’t been a dominant hand. What made the character so strong is that he was a disruptive but not destructive element for all of these characters: he didn’t destroy anyone, but laid the seeds in all of them for a season’s worth of development.

And it looks like a good season: with everything now mostly settled, including how to bring Celia and Doug back into the fold and how to normalize Nancy’s drug work for Guillermo (All ruined by the previews, although maybe not in a bad way), it’s time to move on from Len and focus on how these characters will truly embrace their new habitat.

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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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Weeds – “Lady’s a Charm”

“Lady’s a Charm”

June 23rd, 2008

When Nancy Botwin is wearing an extremely short dress, her family knows the score: she isn’t shopping for a bed skirt, that’s for sure. After we learned last week that Guillermo had plans for her that went beyond the “sales floor,” it was pretty easy to put two and two together that he had plans to exploit his muse to the fullest, so to speak.

The result is the usual theme for Weeds, as Nancy’s new experiences are told through an alarming sequence wherein she’s way over her head and where Mary-Louise Parker can continue to indicate why she’s so great in this role. It’s at least, though, more of a learning experience for Nancy than before, as she might just have some time to grow into this one without fear for her life…but probably not.

The second episode of Weeds’ fourth season is a lot like the first: a lot of setup with little payoff. This isn’t a bad thing, I’ll stress that point a lot, but it does mean that the most shocking thing about the episode was that Silas got a new haircut. This isn’t to say that Weeds needs to shock us, but it does mean that things are continuing at the snail’s pace the show can be known for.

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60th Primetime Emmy Awards Preview: Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

In the Emmy Awards’ smallest acting category, there’s not much in the way of wiggle room. The small numbers should mean more of a chance of grabbing a nomination for newcomers, like Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel or Miss/Guided’s Judy Greer, but it’s also one of the most tightly contested of the major categories. This is because there’s a lot of forces at play here: you’ve got the power of the four Housewives, the heritage of Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond and Married…with Children, and the credibility of awards-show favourites like Mary-Louise Parker or Tina Fey.

Combine all of this with last year’s winner America Ferrera, and you have a category where making the Top 10 isn’t enough; you need to have something special that’s going to make you overcome the logjam that could lead to the category’s five nominees. On the one hand, this shuts out a lot of good candidates who probably deserve a shot, as they won’t rank highly enough in the popular vote to have a chance.

However, the one good spinoff is that for the candidates who do have that name recognition, it’s going to be a race that is decided by who has the best tape. The seven or so candidates who have a chance of cracking that Top 5 will have to put forward their best material of the season, and the result is a race that’s going to be very close even if there’s so many “real” contenders.

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Season Premiere: Weeds – “The Birds Are After Her”

“The Birds are After Her”

June 16th, 2008

If I were to make a list of the things I enjoy about Weeds, which began its fourth season tonight on Showtime, at the end of last season, it would have included a number of things. It would have included the most infectious theme song since The O.C., the no-nonsense attitude of drug maven Heylia James, the foul-mouthed criticism and blind romanticism of her nephew Conrad, and the narrative potential of a series set within the depths of American suburbia.

As Season Four begins, let’s take inventory: the theme song is played for one last time before being replaced by a new credits sequence, Heylia and Conrad are no longer series regulars and will rarely if ever appear, and the show has moved from its original setting to an oceanside border town. The end of the third season foretold these changes, in a way, but seeing them all happen is a whole other story. Yes, the show was perhaps getting complacent in its current setting, but such a drastic set of changes needs to be justified.

The course correction, however, comes with its benefits, including the introduction of Albert Brooks (Who rarely does television) as Nancy’s father-in-law, so the show is certainly surrounding itself with the right people to gain its footing. It also means that Silas, who got a bit of a short straw in the third season in that his love interest was a barely-used Mary-Kate Olsen, will slowly be able to emerge as a leading player in his own right, and it will also mean more screentime for the criminally underused Justin Kirk whose Andy has a new lease on life himself.

The premiere, like all episodes of Weeds is a total tease, barely even poking at whatever potential they’re creating for themselves. The result is that while I think the change will be for the best in the end, at this point it’s hard to know how all of the pieces will come together.

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