In 2004, Wisteria Lane became televisions hottest address, as "Desperate Housewives" became a massive hit for ABC, who surprised many by bringing out a network show that became widely considered a replacement-of-sorts to HBO's recently departed "Sex and the City". The series spawned a following that grew rapidly and even resulted in contests seeking desperate housewives and a PC (and that likely doesn't also mean politcally correct) "Desperate Housewives" game on the way.
Anyways, the series opened with Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) taking her own life right after she completes her daily chores - she then becomes the narrator of the show. At her funeral, we're introduced to the main characters: Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman), a former exec who is now frustrated by having to chase after children that look like they need help from "Super Nanny". Bree Van de Camp (Marcia Cross) sternly runs her family and makes sure that every aspect of her home is perfectly presentable. Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) is a former model and current trophy wife - married to Carlos (Ricardo Chavira), but fooling around with gardener (Jesse Metcalfe). Finally, Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) is a single mother raising daughter Julie (Andrea Bowen), and keeping her eyes on new plumber Mike Delfino (James Denton). There's also Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan), who remains Susan's competition for Mike.
Some characters are certainly more sympathetic than others, but "Desperate Housewives" hooks with a combination of great writing and just the right mixture of mystery, drama and dark humor. The performances are also marvelous, as Huffman leads the pack with a great effort as a frustrated housewife who can't deal with her children and would rather be back in the office that she left. Hatcher is also terrific, and Cross is superb as a perfectionist. Very good in supporting efforts are Denton, Longoria and Sheridan.
The second season opened with the mystery of Mary Alice having been solved, but it's not long before a new set of secrets appeared. Bree's husband Rex has passed away and his mother (Shirley Knight, great playing against Cross) soon arrives, suspicious about what really happened to her son. Lynette returns to the workplace as her husband becomes a stay-at-home mother. Gabrielle is pregnant and still visiting Carlos in jail. Mike arrives home in the first episode to find Susan being held hostage by Zach. Edie, much to the displeasure of Susan, finds a new romantic inteest in Susan's ex. There's also the matter of new neighbor Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard), who is about as normal as can be...aside from the fact that noises are coming from her basement.
I liked the second season of the series, which got some mixed reviews from critics. The subplot involving Woodard's character wasn't handled well, but the elements that made the first season enjoyable were otherwise mostly still present and accounted for. The third season of the show is more of a return to the first season, with plenty of twists and a large helping of drama pie for all of the characters.
The third season picks up where the second season left off, with Mike (Denton) in a coma after an accident. Susan remains by his bedside, but finds herself in a new relationship with Ian Hainsworth (Dougray Scott), whose wife is also in a coma. When Mike wakes up, Susan is faced with a choice, although Mike's amnesia may lead him to make unexpected choices of his own. Meanwhile, Bree has taken up with Orson (a creepy Kyle McLachlan), a man whose secretive ways and shady past aren't something that Bree picks up on - at least at the beginning. Lynette has her plate full as well, including having to deal with Tom's decision to open a pizza place without asking her, which ends up causing a rift in both her personal and professional life. Gaby's divorce with Carlos is finalized, but their conflicts with one another are, of course, not.
Overall, "Desperate Housewives" picks back up in the enjoyable third season, which piles on the twists, mysteries and drama. The performances continue to be enjoyable and while I didn't dislike the second season, I will say that the third season sees a return to the kind of guilty pleasure fun that the first season offered.
Clips from the season can be found here, here and here
Seasons 1 and 2 are currently available on DVD, as well.
48. 3- 1 24 Sep 06 Listen to the Rain on the Roof
49. 3- 2 1 Oct 06 It Takes Two
50. 3- 3 8 Oct 06 A Weekend in the Country
51. 3- 4 15 Oct 06 Like It Was
52. 3- 5 22 Oct 06 Nice She Ain't
53. 3- 6 29 Oct 06 Sweetheart, I Have to Confess
54. 3- 7 5 Nov 06 Bang
55. 3- 8 12 Nov 06 Children and Art
56. 3- 9 19 Nov 06 Beautiful Girls
57. 3-10 26 Nov 06 The Miracle Song
58. 3-11 7 Jan 07 No Fits, No Fights, No Feuds
59. 3-12 14 Jan 07 Not While I'm Around
60. 3-13 21 Jan 07 Come Play Wiz Me
61. 3-14 11 Feb 07 I Remember That (1)
62. 3-15 18 Feb 07 The Little Things You Do Together (2)
63. 3-16 4 Mar 07 My Husband, The Pig
64. 3-17 8 Apr 07 Dress Big
65. 3-18 15 Apr 07 Liaisons
66. 3-19 22 Apr 07 God, That's Good
67. 3-20 29 Apr 07 Gossip
68. 3-21 6 May 07 Into The Woods
69. 3-22 13 May 07 What Would We Do Without You?
70. 3-23 20 May 07 Getting Married Today
VIDEO: "Desperate Housewives" is presented by Buena Vista in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality isn't flawless, but the efforts here are generally terrific. Sharpness and detail aren't entirely consistent, but the great majority of the episodes look crisp and clear, with some scenes showing good small object detail.
Some darker scenes showed some very slight artifacting, but it was hardly noticable. No edge enhancement, flaws with the elements used, shimmering or other conerns were present. Colors remained bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns. Overall, the episodes look great and improved over broadcast quality.
SOUND: The show is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, and actually delivers a bit better than one might expect from a TV series. Surrounds do offer some environmental sounds and music reinforcement. Audio is spread nicely across the front soundstage, and audio quality is terrific, with crisp dialogue and well-recorded music.
EXTRAS: "Here Comes the Bride" (a short featurette on the making of the season finale), "Amas De Casa Desperadas" (Latina actresses on Wisteria Lane), "On Set With Eva" featurette, "Desperate Moments" featurette, bloopers, "Cherry Picked" (creator Marc Cherry's favorite scenes), a small set of deleted scenes and previews.
Final Thoughts: "Desperate Housewives" picks back up in the enjoyable third season, which piles on the twists, mysteries and drama. The performances continue to be enjoyable and while I didn't dislike the second season, I will say that the third season sees a return to the kind of guilty pleasure fun that the first season offered. The DVD set offers solid audio/video quality, as well as a handful of minor extras.