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RATING: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 283 minutes
• Commentaries on selected episodes
• Trivia tracks
• Behind-the-scenes featurettes
• Gag reel
• Spoof commercial
• Montage of introductory credits
• Extended musical performance
like Full House
with more overt drug use.”
Kevin Nealon, Romany Malco, Justin Kirk, Martin Donovan, Hunter
At the end of the first
season of Showtime’s compromising-situational comedy, suburban widow
Nancy Botwin (Parker) had made the decision to move beyond small-time
marijuana dealing into her own growing and distribution business.
Around the same time, she also started dating an agent from the Drug
Enforcement Agency. Accidentally.
rosy for this second season!
This, friends, is called "elegance."
The first season of
worked as a well-developed piece of absurdity in service of cynical
commentary on American suburban life. The premise was a great hook,
and the character of Nancy stumbled into familiar morals by way of
some unconventional means, most of them involving drug culture and
genteel crime. I dug it, because it sucked the saccharine out of
American dream myths and replaced it with smoke.
This second season aims
itself in a different direction. Where before Nancy was aimless, and
frantic to maintain her family despite the hardships of losing a
husband and father, now she has a solid direction: the foundation of
her growing and distribution business. A lot of the charm of the
first season came from Nancy’s bravery in her various legal, mundane,
ethical, or life-threatening situations, provoked or not. Now, with a
solid direction in life, she has grown up significantly, like the
transition from a undeclared freshman to a graduating senior.
Accordingly, the charm
of the show has dissipated. I enjoyed the first season immensely,
mostly on the merits of Mary-Louise Parker’s wit and resilience,
which ran to the enchanting more often than not. With a clearer
purpose in mind, those two qualities find themselves in not as much
demand, replaced on set by business acumen and cleverness. I have to
admit that this is more of an observation than a criticism (which
could be said about most of what I write here,) because, though the
change is fundamentally a drastic one, it keeps the interest held as
tight as did the first season, even if it is in a different hand. Or
possibly a prehensile foot.
I am seriously conflicted about this picture.
The thing is that while
Nancy Botwin: Dealer Mom was an engaging anchor for a show, Nancy
Botwin: Shrewd Drug Lord is equally entertaining. There are some
aspects of the show that suffer; the family life becomes not as much
of a subplot, save for a few spikes of drama, and the attending
secondary characters get largely sidelined. The season-long track
following the Agrestic city council race becomes a distraction from
the main events, and the litany of little things — the ones which
drive a mom batty, such as a brother-in-law who fights his way into
Rabbinical school in order to claim exemption from the Army, or a son
who winds up at a massage parlor at the age of twelve — buzz around
like flies, given too much running time without serving purposes more
valuable than comic relief.
The winning current of
this season, though, is the continuation of the bizarre similarities
between Nancy’s life and those of the law-abiding citizens. Last
season, she tried to keep her family together when it was threatening
to splinter apart, by means of dealing marijuana to small fry; this
season, she becomes a workaholic, and her family life begins to
suffer like those of so many of her suburbanite peers. That her work
involves setting up a grow house and getting rival drug lords busted
by her DEA boyfriend makes no difference. It’s all about the family,
The second season of
shows a great example of fleshing out characters, of giving them new
directions and motivations while maintaining a consistent level of
quality and entertainment. It couldn’t have been an easy task,
redirecting the energies of just about everyone in the cast and
coming up with a dozen episodes that hold the feel, but jettison the
aim, of the previous twelve. The writers ought to be commended, and
you ought to give the show a try.
Seven of the twelve
episodes have commentary with whichever cast and crew members
happened to be walking past the studio. These commentaries tend
toward the anecdotal, so there’s not much in the way of substantial
interest. You also get some trivia tracks to accompany selected
episodes, so you won’t be hurting for education on, say, what the
marijuana plants are made of.
In addition, there are
four brief behind-the-scenes featurettes, a gag reel, and montages of
the opening credits, which the producers got a gaggle of musicians to
cover this season. Also a commercial for the girls’ plus-size
“Huskeroos” clothing brand that features substantially in one
subplot, and a reggae performance which was used in the episode in
which Nancy goes to a growers’ convention.
out of 10