TV'S LEAST DESPERATE HOUSEWIFE
by Alex Strachan, CanWest News Service

Edmonton Journal (Alberta)
August 30, 2006 Wednesday
Final Edition

Mary-Louise Parker returns in offbeat 'dramedy' Weeds for a second
season

WEEDS Starring: Mary-Louise Parker Time and channel: 11 tonight
on Showcase

Chalk one up to pot luck. Mary-Louise Parker is flying high after her
potentially career-defining role in the smokin' Weeds, the black comedy
about a dope-dealing soccer mom that returns to Showcase today, two
weeks after its second-season debut on the U.S. cable channel Showtime.

In a recent conference call with reporters, Parker confirmed that she
is into Weeds for the long haul, even though she's as different from
her character as night and day.

"I think she's a bit reckless," Parker said. "She isn't someone who
thinks ahead."

Weeds is one of those hard-to-pin-down comedic dramas -- dramedies
-- that blurs the line between right and wrong, for the sake of
philosophical argument and discussions around the office water cooler
or cafe bar.

Earlier this year, Parker was shocked to win the Golden Globe over
the Desperate Housewives actresses for her performance as Weeds'
morally challenged suburban mom Nancy Botwin -- the "least desperate
housewife," as Entertainment Weekly called her after her Golden
Globe win.

Parker was snubbed at this year's Emmy nominations, but she has won
before: She won both an Emmy and Golden Globe for playing Harper Pitt,
the valium-addicted wife of a closeted gay lawyer, in Mike Nichols's
epic six-and-a-half-hour HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's Broadway
play Angels in America. She also won a best-actress Tony Award,
in 2001, for Proof.

Thanks to Weeds, though, Parker's profile has never been hotter --
not even when she played women's rights activist Amelia (Amy) Gardner
in The West Wing in 2001.

"The very first movie I ever did in my life ran for two days and
tanked. I was so excited before it came out. But that taught me not
to have any expectations, and so I never do have expectations. If
anything, I thought some people would be pretty offended by this. I
didn't think it would necessarily be something that people would dig.

"So I guess it has been kind of surprising."

Weeds' second season will turn up the heat, literally and figuratively,
Parker promises. That bit of business with the Armenian gangsters,
for example: It looked as if it had been settled once and for all,
but appearances can be deceiving. The Armenians may be back.

And they may be angry.

JUSTICE FOR ALL

Justice, the new courtroom drama from Jerry Bruckheimer and one-time
Janet Reno assistant counsel Jonathan Shapiro, opens with brisk,
slick urgency: A Malibu starlet is found floating face-down in her
swimming pool and the media is all over the crime scene.

Local police arrest the starlet's husband, a real estate tycoon
(Kevin Tramell), for her murder. He swears it was an accident, and
he turns to the high-profile law firm of Trott, Nicholson, Tuller &
Graves -- TNT&G, get it? -- for help.

TNT&G swoops in, in the person of star attorney Ron Trott (London,
Ont.'s Victor Garber, chewing scenery like there's no tomorrow),
while a grotesque, Nancy Grace-like TV talk-show host (Katherine La
Nasa) ridicules the defence's case on a 24-hour news channel that
looks suspiciously like CNN but isn't.

Justice is pure Bruckheimer -- CSI from the defendant's point of
view. It's big, noisy, slick to look at, snappy to listen to and quick
to push buttons. If it weren't so well made, it could be dismissed as
trash -- Justice is so over-the-top, it makes Law & Order look like
Bleak House by comparison -- but there are some things to recommend it.

For one, it focuses on the media coverage of trials, from the fictional
Nancy Grace-inspired cable show American Crime to the hoards of
reporters and photographers who swarm high-profile court cases,
jostling and elbowing each other aside for the best camera position.

For another, each episode ends with a flashback in which viewers
find out whether the accused actually did the deed. It's a clever
gimmick, but with a potential downside: If viewers feel they have
been manipulated once too often, they may tune out.

By premiering a couple of weeks before the official start of the
season, though, Justice has a chance to reel in curiousity seekers
before the crush begins in earnest. The jury is out on where it goes
from there, but my guess is it will be strong enough to last the
season. (9 p.m. on CTV, 10 p.m. on Fox)

GRAPHIC: Photo: Supplied; Mary-Louise Parker didn't think her role
in Weeds as a dope-dealing soccer mom would catch the attention of
viewers as much as it has.