Six Feet Under
We were a few minutes in before I realized that this episode started without a death other than Nate's, of course, but that counted toward last week's tally. Nevertheless, as much as I've mocked this show for its melodrama and I really slammed it two weeks ago when Nate collapsed I have to admit that his death was gracefully handled, as was its aftermath this week. Well, grace doesn't exactly apply to the woman who hits David with the C-word while he's holding up everyone behind him at a light, but hey... driving in L.A.'s like that. Which is why I ride my bike and take the subway to work.
"All he ever wanted was someone who could make him feel like he was a better man than he actually was. It could've been anyone," Brenda says to Maggie. Ouch. But true, much of the time. Yet balancing out the ouch is the fact that, with just two more episodes after this, I'll never have to see or listen to the ghost of Nathaniel again; I really can't stand that guy. That's a last, but now I'm thinking of a first. Just last week I pointed out that Rescue Me was the first show to call Jesus a p----. SFU just topped it, aiming all the way up at the head office and calling God an a------. Not to dwell on that, though, since the best moments of this week are about some of the more positive things, like George's getting up at the service and saving the day by giving the best speech. And whatever you think of the show and where it's been going, that funeral service from Ruth's walking David from the car all the way to Claire's stepping up to help with the body and all of them shoveling was top-notch. I could have done without Brenda's spat with dead Nate at the end, but I don't take many points off for that. A solid episode, on balance. Michael Peck
From the moment the theme song (the nonconformist "Little Boxes") begins, Weeds establishes the cattiness and boredom of the suburbs with sharp wit. Widowed Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) is a pot-dealing mom who stops by her supplier's to re-up before driving her 10-year-old son to grief counseling. Rather than judge, you empathize with her plight and, like Tony Soprano or Vic Mackey, her character embodies a moral gray area that is all too human. I initially rolled my eyes in irritation when her suppliers turned out to be an African-American family. But Weeds took slick potshots at stereotypes, and even threw some current-events savvy into the mix as World.com found its way into the conversation at the weed-covered table. The pilot is packed with irony a teenage client/dealer warns Nancy in a mocking tone that "caffeine is a serious drug." Plus we get wonderfully frank discussion about sex, including the use of tennis balls in Bangkok's Red Light district! The sexual deviance of the neighborhood is also addressed in the form of closeted homosexuality, the extramarital affair of Celia's (Elizabeth Perkins) husband, and the excessive horniness of Nancy's teenage son. The show only becomes drama heavy when the issue of dealing to minors makes you stop giggling and start thinking seriously for a moment. And really, who wants to do that? The only flaw in this satire's first episode was the vast range of problems unveiled, making it a little like an overstuffed joint. But at least it was fat! Vanessa Rothschild
Queer as Folk
So this is it, huh? Five years and goodbye. Fine. Be that way. It's not like there won't be another like you to come along. Because, to crib your theme song, you cued the pulse to begin showing gays in a way previously rare on scripted television: As real people. Real fabulous. Real flawed. And real fun. Fittingly, Pittsburgh's favorite Friends of Dorothy went out with everything they were looking for. Brian found the heart to back out of the wedding so Justin could follow his rising art-world star in New York (though I never thought a band of gold was the kind of ring Mr. Kinney favored, anyway). And how about Ted drumming up the courage to bounce his bonkers, boundary-challenged AA beau and hit the slopes with Emmett instead? Or Mel and Lindsay heading for Canada to give their kids a better future? Brave move, bold statement. But it's Michael I'll miss the most: Not only did he have the brains to stop the human-rights campaigners from keeping Deb off camera during his press conference, he also knew that once he and Ben adopted Hunter, there'd be no place like home. So as our Liberty Ave. posse fills that fantasy-sequence Babylon for one last night of the thumpa-thumpa, as Mikey would say, I say thank you. It wasn't always perfect, but you tried. And for that, you should be proud. Just as you have helped so many others to be.
See you on the dance floor,