- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

High note for ‘Weeds’

Showtime’s “Weeds,” a dark comedy as addictive as the cannabis its title refers to, returns in all its glory for a second season Monday evening at 10.

Like HBO’s “The Sopranos,” its plot centers on lawbreakers — in this case Nancy Botwin (played by Mary-Louise Parker), a suddenly widowed mother of two who becomes a pot dealer to sustain the family’s upscale lifestyle in the fictional Agrestic, a tony suburban enclave in Southern California.

While instantly repulsed by her vocation (you wonder why she didn’t just get a sales job to make ends meet), you’re also touched by her naivete and vulnerability. Her home life may be a mess — two troubled sons (Alexander Gould and Hunter Parrish) plus a ne’er-do-well brother-in-law (Justin Kirk) — but she’s not without allies. Among them: her dysfunctional and self-absorbed neighbor, Celia (Emmy-nominee Elizabeth Perkins), the pothead city councilman (former “Saturday Night Live” funnyman Kevin Nealon) who’s one of her best customers and the streetwise inner city family (Tonye Patano, Romany Malco and Indigo) that supplies her “merchandise” and shepherds her through the gritty drug trade.

“Weeds’” superb ensemble cast and crackling dialogue engage you from the start with Monday’s season two opener, “Corn Snake.” The episode picks up where last season’s finale ended, with Nancy and Conrad (Mr. Malco, known best for his role in “The 40 Year-Old Virgin”) plotting to cultivate their own stash of hash, a plan that could go awry thanks to Nancy’s budding romance with a DEA agent (Martin Donovan).

Warning: Those who were stunned to learn the true identity of Mr. Donovan’s character should brace themselves for even bigger shockers in the coming weeks.

Other twists are in store with Miss Perkins’ Celia deciding to run for office, Mr. Kirk’s Andy avoiding his obligation to the Army Reserve by enrolling in rabbinical school and Silas’ (Mr. Parrish) desperate attempts to prevent his high school sweetheart (Shoshannah Stern) from leaving California to attend Princeton University.

You’ll notice something about the theme song, too. “Little Boxes” by folk singer Malvina Reynolds still opens the show, but it will be performed by different artists each week, including Death Cab for Cutie, Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello (who does the honors Monday night).

Monday’s season premiere also features a fast-paced recap of last year’s episodes. However, die-hard “Weeds” fans and those new to the series can catch the entire first season on Comcast’s On Demand (episodes one through five air through Aug. 22, and episodes six through 10 until Aug. 29) or by purchasing it on DVD.

VH1 savors ‘Flavor’

Moving from one guilty pleasure to another, we can’t overlook the new season of VH1’s “Flavor of Love,” which drew more than 3.3 million viewers to last Sunday’s debut to become the most-watched season premiere in the cable network’s history.

The reality show’s 90-minute premiere — starring 47-year-old rapper and Public Enemy co-founder Flavor Flav — enjoyed a 162 percent viewership increase over the premiere telecast of the first season, which was the highest-rated series premiere ever for VH1, reports tvweek.com.

As with the first season, “Flavor of Love” (seen Sunday evenings at 10) revolves around Flav’s quest to select Miss Right from a crop of nubile twentysomethings who will do anything — and we mean anything — to become the apple of his eye.

It’s over

On the heels of the Nick Lachey-Jessica Simpson and Dave Navarro-Carmen Electra splits comes word that another MTV reality show couple has called it quits.

Blink-182’s Travis Barker has filed for divorce from his “Meet the Barkers” co-star and wife, Shanna Moakler, TMZ.com reported Wednesday, citing a report in People magazine.

The couple married in 2004 and have two children: son Landon, 2, and daughter Alabama, 7 months. Miss Moakler, a former Miss USA, also has a 7-year-old daughter, Atiana, from her previous relationship with Oscar de la Hoya.

She released a statement saying “My only concern right now is for the welfare and best interests of my children.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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