Monday, December 5, 2011

Oakland's "Weed Wars" Is Popping Off On The Discovery Channel

By David Downs
Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Chalk it up to the slow news season coinciding with the holidays, plus a juicy federal crackdown, but "Weed Wars" has straight popped off.

The reality series filmed at Harborside Health Center debuted to a ton of mostly positive press on December 1. Episode two runs this Thursday. This week, the IRS sends over a $2.5 million tax bill for "drug trafficking." (Part Two of a four-part series. Check your local listings.) Now, let's look at the reviews:

The New York Times' Mike Hale sounded kinda jealous of the rights afforded to Oaklanders: “Anyone who has ever bought pot in a cloudy baggie or a wad of tinfoil while someone flushes in the next stall will be impressed by the modern face of marijuana retailing as portrayed in the new Discovery Channel program “Weed Wars.” ... Pine Tar Kush (19.7 percent THC!)".

More reactions after the jump.

B+ Aint Bad for Harborsides TV Show
  • The Onion
  • B+ Ain't Bad for Harborside's TV Show

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Joe Garofoli dove deep for a great profile on the production: "DeAngelo was not pleased with a couple of scenes in "Weed Wars." Like the one where a couple of his employees, who are all licensed medical marijuana patients, "had overmedicated."

Chron critic David Weigand wanted more from the show: “... the focus of "Weed Wars" is sometimes frustratingly narrow.”

Back east, The Washington Post's TV critic Hank Stuever was also bored: "This business is just about as exciting as the gourmet cupcake trade. ... the lackadaisical attitudes of both the suppliers and the customers begin to grate on a viewer’s nerves. Ever been in a room where everyone’s high but you? That’s this show."

The Onion AV Club said: "Those looking for Cheech and Chong-esque hijinks will be sadly disappointed. At one point, Steve DeAngelo eats a pot brownie on the way to a speaking engagement, but performs beautifully once there."

The Bay Citizen's Zusha Ellison captures the newfound sense of crisis: “In an interview this week, DeAngelo acknowledged that when he opened his doors to the cameras last year, the legal climate was decidedly sunnier.

“I wasn’t expecting to find us in the middle of a huge reversal of federal policy when we made this,” DeAngelo said.

“I think they’re absolutely nuts,” said William Panzer, a criminal lawyer who represents medical marijuana dispensaries in the Bay Area. “I think they risk getting shut down. They risk getting raided.”

The Oakland Tribune/Contra Costa Times's Chuck Barney also dives deep, and gets a rare interview with producer Chuck Braverman: “Braverman estimates that his company shot about 700 hours of footage at the two Harborside facilities. ... Braverman, who says he "can count on one hand" how many times he has smoked pot in the past 25 years, says producing "Weed Wars" was an illuminating experience. “I'm very cynical, and going in, I had a built-in prejudice (against medical marijuana) that a lot of middle-aged or older people might have," he said. "But I came away thinking that there is some legitimacy here. It changed my mind."

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