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What's On

8/11/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Weeds: Season 2

Showtime Monday, Aug. 14 (10 p.m.)

When we last saw Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), the enterprising suburban drug dealer of Showtime's Weeds, she had just discovered that her new boyfriend (Martin Donovan) is a DEA agent. Despite that, the widow and mother of two is pushing her business in new directions in season two.

Her two boys, Silas and Shane, still trying to cope with the loss of their father, are lashing out more than ever. Nancy's brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk) and her friends and business associates continue their role of the band of fools. After her cancer scare at the end of season one, Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins) returns to her über-bitchy self, torturing her family and deciding to run against the spacey Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon) for his city council seat.

The show carries on the smart writing, crisp acting and brilliant use of music that marked its first season. Weeds may not unseat Home Box Office's The Sopranos in the battle of premium originals, but it can certainly hold its own. (Showtime has been pushing the series return with a “Brownie Blitz” campaign. See story, page 33.)

Even though much of Showtime's scripted roster has been quietly disappearing, Weeds' quirky mix of family drama and genuinely funny moments of situational comedy are strong enough to keep the network in the game. — Eric J. Smith

Kappa Mikey

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Shuriken School

Nickelodeon Sunday, Aug. 20 (11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.)

(Kappa Mikey); (Shuriken School)

Nickelodeon is drawing on the animé-esque to strengthen its Sunday morning lineup with two new series — Kappa Mikey and Shuriken School.

Kappa Mikey, already airing on Nicktoons, is billed as “the only animé television series created and produced in the U.S.” The series chronicles the adventures of Mikey Simon, a struggling American actor turned Japanese cartoon superhero. Joining the fictional hit series LilyMu, Mikey grapples with adapting to life in Japan, his sudden celebrity and a cast of characters ranging from the predictably oafish to the outwardly spiteful.

This child/adult-geared action-comedy scores points for blending Japanese and U.S. styles, emphasizing Mikey's fish-out-of-water status by contrasting his character's thick-lined pop graphic form with three-dimensional characters and sophisticated landscapes.

The other addition to Nick's Sunday-morning lineup, Shuriken School, follows a working-class boy in his first year at Ninja school. Shuriken — Japanese for “hand-hidden blade” — is well-rendered in digital 2-D animation. The style harkens to traditional animé, though it was created in Europe, where the show also airs. The action/comedy strives for politically correct currency with its fictional melting-pot town of Tokirohama and cast of characters incorporating Japanese, French, African-American, Tibetan and Russian sensibilities.

September