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.
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.
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 picked 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.
The fourth season picks up where the third ended off. Lynette has found out that she's ill with cancer, while Gabby was marrying mayoral candidate Victor (John Slattery) - but was still found herself with feelings for Carlos - who also still had feelings for her. Meanwhile, Susan remains uncertain about her relationship with Mike and Edie is distraught when Carlos decides to end it between the two of them. Bree is lying to the neighbors, in the midst of faking a pregnancy while keeping Danielle's actual pregnancy under wraps.
The fourth season was consolidated down to a shorter 17-episode season due to the writer's strike, which actually resulted in some of the conflicts being less drawn out. Although each of the characters have their own conflicts carried over into the season, the characters are almost all drawn into the larger conflict/mystery of the season - Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delaney), a former Wisteria Lane resident who moved away 12 years ago and now has returned with her daughter and a new husband. Things seem just a touch off early on, when her daughter, Dylan, doesn't have any memory of Susan's daughter Julie, who was her best friend as a child. The season finale takes an interesting twist and attempts to "reboot" the series in a way.
The fifth season picks up where the fourth season left off. Fans will be shocked to discover that the strange occurrences of the season four finale weren’t a joke, but are in fact very real. This season begins five years in the future. Some of the things you thought were certain about the desperate housewives are out the window, as well. Lynnette, Bree, Gabrielle and Susan despite some major changes in their lives. Five years later and Bree refuses to share the spotlight with her business partner, Katherine (who in this season sets her sights on a man from the lane), but she’s also still feeling the pain of Danielle deciding to take Benjamin back. Gabrielle is no longer the put-together fashionista she once was, but is disheveled and the mother of two girls. Lynnette and Tom still don’t see eye to eye regarding their misbehaving twins. Susan (Teri Hatcher is excellent in this season) has had her baby, but is no longer with Mike, but is instead dating another man who she has issues getting too close to. And Edie ... well Edie returns to Wisteria Lane with a husband, Dave Williams (Neal McDonough) who has a dangerous agenda of his own. That’s all in the first episode, so you can imagine how the rest of the season turns out.
After what some considered a disappointing, shorter fourth season, the fifth season is full of surprises, revelations, and a jump into the future that helps freshen the series. Eventually the fascination of a five year jump wears off rather quickly when the mystery of this season turns out a little less than mysterious. That’s not to say the fifth season doesn’t have it’s enjoyable moments - seeing the characters come to terms with their new lives is certainly entertaining, but if you’re looking to “Desperate Housewives” for another intriguing mystery, then this season may not go over as well. However, in some ways, not having the season tied together by a core mystery is a bit of a refreshing change. Furthermore, there’s still a lot going on this season that is about more than who did what or who’s gonna do what and when? The characters feel fuller here, but still completely flawed at times and at other times surprisingly endearing.
“Desperate Housewives” is returning with it’s sixth season, and it'll be interesting to see which way the series shifts with the newest outing. Either way, season five did manage to deliver a dark and humorous (even moving at times) plotline and I’m sure season six will as well. Until then, keeping up with season five is definitely worth it if you’re a fan of the show and want to know what’s happening without missing a beat before season six returns.
88. 5- 1 501 28 Sep 08 You're Gonna Love Tomorrow
89. 5- 2 502 5 Oct 08 We're So Happy You're So Happy
90. 5- 3 503 12 Oct 08 Kids Ain't Like Everybody Else
91. 5- 4 504 19 Oct 08 Back in Business
92. 5- 5 505 26 Oct 08 Mirror, Mirror
93. 5- 6 506 2 Nov 08 There's Always a Woman
94. 5- 7 507 9 Nov 08 What More Do I Need?
95. 5- 8 508 16 Nov 08 City on Fire
96. 5- 9 509 30 Nov 08 Me and My Town
97. 5-10 510 7 Dec 08 A Vision's Just a Vision
98. 5-11 511 4 Jan 09 Home Is The Place
99. 5-12 512 11 Jan 09 Connect! Connect!
100. 5-13 513 18 Jan 09 The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened
101. 5-14 514 8 Feb 09 Mama Spent Money When She Had None
102. 5-15 515 15 Feb 09 In a World Where the Kings are Employers
103. 5-16 516 8 Mar 09 Crime Doesn't Pay
104. 5-17 517 15 Mar 09 The Story of Lucy and Jessie
105. 5-18 518 22 Mar 09 A Spark. To Pierce the Dark. (1)
106. 5-19 519 19 Apr 09 Look Into Their Eyes and You See What They Know (2)
107. 5-20 520 26 Apr 09 Rose's Turn
108. 5-21 521 3 May 09 Bargaining
109. 5-22 522 10 May 09 Marry Me a Little
110. 5-23 523 17 May 09 Everybody Says Don't (1)
111. 5-24 524 17 May 09 If It's Only In Your Head (2)
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.
“Cherry-Picked: Creator Marc Cherry’s Favorite Scenes” There are seven scenes here with optional commentary by Marc Cherry that he picked as his favorites.
“What More Do I Need?": This is an interesting feature that first focuses on the importance of a table read (beneficial especially to the writers to hear their dialogue and comedy), developing the script, and filming the scene. With lots of extra behind-the-scenes footage of the table read and the writers developing ideas and offering more insight into what it takes to bring “Desperate Housewives” to life, this is definitely worth a look for fans.
“I Know Things Now: Desperate Housewives Celebrates 100": With footage from the 100th episode party, fans may enjoy this look at what it took to get to 100 episodes. The featurette boasts interviews from cast and crew looking back at the beginning, reminiscing and talking about the show itself and its groundbreaking achievements. Overall, this is certainly a nice extra to include to celebrate five seasons.
“So Very Teri": A brief look at the woman who brings Susan to life every week. There are interviews about Teri and her ability to bring slapstick comedy to life so well on screen, as well as her overall appeal.
“Commentary for “You're Gonna Love Tomorrow" with Larry Shaw, Doug Savant, Kyle MacLachlan, & James Denton and "The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" with Creator Marc Cherry & Actress Brenda Strong - this commentary is a nice edition for the 100th episode with some behind-the-scenes information, the idea for the 100th episode as well as casting it, and just a nice collection of comments regarding the show as a whole.
Also included on the DVD are about six minutes of “Bloopers” and eight “Deleted Scenes”.
“Brothers and Sisters”
“Life on Mars”
“Ugly Betty: Complete Third Season”
“Castle: Complete First Season”
Final Thoughts: While the show's veering away from its familiar structure may be met with varying opinions, I thought this was otherwise a fine season of the series, with continued solid performances from the show's ensemble cast. The DVD set provides excellent audio/video quality and a nice set of supplemental features. Recommended.