Thursday, June 3, 2010

Feeling Desperate for Some "Desperate Housewives"

I, like many others, have begun the trek of watching my favorite TV series on DVD.  The benefits are massive - no commercials, I can watch it anytime I want, no commercials, the special features are usually entertaining, and, of course, there are NO COMMERCIALS!  This trek has led me to discover a series I was unsure of at first, but have now grown to love:  Desperate Housewives

While Season 1 of any show is normally a "growing and discovering" year, the show picked up its rhythm early on and threw out powerful and gripping storylines from day one.  Seasons 2 and 3 introduced new characters, mysteries, and a few key plot points, but Season 4 is the real show-changer.

Through the first three seasons we have come to know the women of Wisteria Lane in a personal way; we know their good qualities and most of their faults, and we get a real understanding of how they relate to each other and the situations around them.  Susan, played by Teri Hatcher, is the adorable clutz with the "girl-next-door" appeal.  Felicity Huffman plays Lynette, the over-worked mother that most women can completely relate to.  Gabrielle, the resident former-supermodel-turned-suburban housewife, is beautifully played by Eva Longoria Parker.  And the true Stepford Wife of the group, Bree Hodge, is brought to life by Marcia Cross.  These women feel like our neighbors and, in some cases, our friends.  We have seen them love, lose, learn, and continue to live no matter what they face personally or as a group.  Season 4 really seems to highlight the best in each woman as they go through new difficulties on every level.  Susan and her new husband Mike (James Denton, who doesn't have his shirt off nearly enough in this season...) find out they are pregnant, deal with Mike's drug addiction, send Susan's daughter Julie off to college, and calculate the risks of being "older parents"; Lynette battles cancer, a former employee comes back to threaten Lynette and Tom (played by the always sexy Doug Savant), and Tom and the kids are nearly killed after a tornado rips through Wisteria Lane; Bree continues to fake a pregnancy so she can keep her daughter Danielle (Joy Lauren) from suffering public humiliation, her husband Orson (the impeccable Kyle McLaughlin) comes clean about a past crime, causing Bree to force a separation, and Bree learns a hard lesson of friendship with a new neighbor;  Gaby begins an affair with her former husband Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) after several attempts to end her marriage with Victor (played by the amazing John Slattery), her husband is killed, she and Carlos are remarried after an accident in the tornado makes him permanently blind, and the two accidentally house a drug dealer (Justine Bateman).  A new couple moves in down the street, opening the eyes of the women to gay life.  But the true heart of the season unfolds as the women of Wisteria Lane are forced to accept a new neighbor into their midst.  Dana Delany joins the cast as the jaded former resident of Wisteria Lane Katherine Mayfair.  While Katherine did used to live in Mike's old house, which she has repurchased, she brings with her a whole new set of problems and demons.  As the season unfolds we learn of Katherine's ex-husband, played by the semi-creepy Gary Cole, who is out on a mission to find Katherine and her daughter, and serve his own brand of justice.  There are many secrets that Katherine is keeping; the truth about her ex-husband, whether the girl we see is truly her daughter, and what really happened in Chicago with her current husband Adam (a surprising role for Nathan Fillion) and his medical practice.  Katherine befriends the girls, slowly but surely, as different events force them together.  She makes a special connection with Bree, and the two discover how alike they really are.  Which brings it all down to the finale...

After a tension-filled episode full of answers to Katherine's mysteries the women are thrown together by one vengeful act; Katherine kills her ex-husband and the women cover for her to the police.  An instant and unbreakable bond is formed between them, and Katherine, unlike any of the other neighbors, is brought into the fold and now considered one of the group. 

The show then takes an unusual turn:  it jumps ahead five years.  In less than two minutes we are brought up to speed on where the women are now - the kids are more grown up, marriages have been reconciled, couples who swore they would never have kids now have several, and others have ended their marriages and move on.  It is a well-calculated move by creator Marc Cherry; after all, we've seen four seasons of the women in their current situations.  Bumping the time frame up five years puts them all in a new and exciting period of life, and gives Cherry the opportunity to fill us in on what has happened in those five years and how the women's decisions affect where they are at now.  On a casting note it is also a way to introduce new characters who have steady relationships with the women, as well as replace actors playing children with actors playing teenagers.  All in all I think it was a brilliant move, and it really changed the course of the show.

So what happens next?  As soon as Netflix sends me Season 5 you'll be the first to know... 

Desperate Housewives is currently on ABC.  You can also purchase Desperate Housewives - The Complete First Season, Desperate Housewives - The Complete Second Season, Desperate Housewives - The Complete Third Season, Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fourth Season, Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season, and Desperate Housewives: The Complete Sixth Season all from  Or if you just want to take them all home in one swoop, getDesperate Housewives: The Complete Seasons 1-5 here.

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