I hated the third season of Weeds, which was just too inconsistent and obvious to sustain for a full year. And, suffice to say, after the righteously excellent second season, I was a little heartbroken by that turn of events. Sure I still loved Mary-Louise Parker (editor's note: marry me!) And Justin Kirk wrecked house in every single scene he appeared in, no matter how trite and stupid (Andy's "In the Army Now" sequences still give me nights shivers.) But everything else fell flat. What was once a great show, almost overnight, wasn't.
It should come as no surprise then, after that most unsatisfying season, that I was all set to sit here and bury the fourth season premiere of Weeds. And I mean capital "B" bury it. For the first fifteen minutes of the episode, we were treated to a beyond the pale pastiche of recycled situations and a complete lack of jokes. This is a comedy, right? I'm supposed to, at the very least, smirk while I'm watching it. But, no. There wasn't a joke to found. It was so boring in fact, that I found myself noticing completely nerdy technical details, like how crappy the audio sounded in the outdoor scenes. Apparently times are so bad at Showtime, they are using AV equipment that would make high school students shake their heads in disgust. Seriously, it sounded like it was VHS audio. And that's to say nothing of the way the show looked: muddy and blurry, the worst example of HD since the invention of HD.
See? I shouldn't be noticing stuff like that. But because it was so awful, I did. For fifteen minutes, Weeds was completely terrible. I was almost going to punch out.
And then, as if sent down from the gods of comedy, Albert Brooks showed up and unleashed a string of jokes and one-liners funnier than anything I've heard on television since 30 Rock closed up shop for the summer:
"You're sitting in my mother's living room, eating German food and smelling like gas. She was in Auschwitz for Christsake! What kind of monster are you?"
"I'm just not sure you're mine, so I keep an emotional distance."
"Rinse off the Nazi plate, will ya?"
"I like Shane, despite his stupid cowboy name."
Albert Brooks saved Weeds.
I know, I know. It sounds overly dramatic. It sounds like something a stupid critic would write, praising an aging comedic actor who clearly has lost some zip from his fastball. I mean outside of appearing in The Simpsons movie, Albert Brooks hasn't done one thing of consequence in years. But there he was, dressed in Carl Reiner's wardrobe from Ocean's 11, dropping his pitch perfect comedic timing on the heads of every Weeds viewer. When Brooks, Parker and Kirk shared screen time, I almost forgot everything bad about the show. They were so good together, bouncing off each other as if they were on stage, that I stopped wondering about the bad AV stuff. I stopped caring that Shane (Alexander Gould, puberty) and Silas (Hunter Parrish, still a big douche) had clearly aged precipitously between seasons, even though the events of the episode were supposed to take place just a few hours after the Season Three finale. I even stopped caring that Celia was throwing Nancy under the bus to the DEA, watching her pleas fall on deaf ears.
Nope, thanks to Brooks, the show became not just watchable, but excellent. The man is literally hilarious. Think Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock plus Judaism. He was so funny in fact, that I have to question how much of his dialogue was written by Jenji Kohan, since it was so much sharper than anything else in the episode.
And as if on cue, once he left the screen, and Nancy and Guillermo (Guillermo Diaz, forever the dude from Half Baked) were talking nonsense about birds, immigration, fences made of Vietnam war airstrips and heroin, the show lost me once again. If you could just give me 20 minutes per week of Brooks, Parker and Kirk acting out some warped family dramedy, I would happily watch every second of it with baited breath.
Sadly though, Brooks has only signed on for four episodes, meaning there are only three more opportunities to see him butt heads with Nancy and Andy. So that leaves us with good news and bad news. The bad news is that it turns out that Weeds still sucks. And the good? Albert Brooks can keep me laughing for a few more weeks.