Being as I’m rather baffled by what’s going on, as once again Mr. Late-to-the-Party, here’s how the box summarizes what’s up this season: “discover Bree’s new life without Rex, Lynette’s chaotic return to the working world, and what becomes of Susan’s on-again, off-again relationship with Mike.” And that’s just for starters, of course. Let’s not forget the descent of Rex’s OTT mother on Bree, and Eva Longoria’s fight with the nun in the church.
It’s comedy, it’s a drama, and it’s c…rtifiably insane, though I mean that as a compliment. The tone is very wry, and so no matter what very real pain the characters experience, no matter what terrible things they get up to, the audience maintains just enough detachment (observing from much the same plane as the ghostly narrator) to remain consistently amused. Apparently network TV can still put out winners.
The sound is 5.1, technically, but its immersive qualities are essentially nil. There is very little by way of noticeable surround. This isn’t a huge loss, since the primary vehicle of the show’s effect is its dialogue. Said dialogue is very clear and free of distortion, but it is also very, very LOUD, overwhelming everything else on the soundtrack. The effect is rather unbalanced.
We have another example of “Family Friendly Widescreen,” here, whatever dubious thing THAT is supposed to mean. In practice, that means 1.78:1 anamorphic. The picture is good: very nice blacks, fine colours, strong contrasts and excellent flesh tones. The image is sharp, and the grain is not an issue. A pretty handsome picture, and given how bad some TV packages have looked, it’s all the more impressive.
Most recent TV box sets have been very stingy on the extras front. The situation is different here. Though there are no episode commentary tracks, there is an entire disc of extras. These are mostly making-of featurettes of one sort or another, but some are amusing, most are reasonably informative, and only a few are completely pointless puff pieces. “Marc & Mom” is a bio/interview with creator Marc Cherry and his cheerfully brassy mother. “Directing Desperate Housewives” is probably weakest of the bunch, a standard making-of piece with everyone gushing about how wonderful everything and everyone is. “Cherry-Picked” is a collection of Cherry’s 11 favourite scenes from the season, complete with commentary. The stars get to do something similar in a montage called “Juicy Bites” – this is a much slighter feature. There are two unaired story lines, one involving Susan, and the other Lynette. What “Fashion & Couture” is about you should be able to figure out for yourself. “Desperate Role Models” amusingly compares the housewives here with earlier portrayals, and has interviews with the actors who played those housewives. There are 11 deleted scenes (with optional commentary from Cherry). In the promotional department, there’s the hilarious promo for the airing of the second season, and clutch of trailers, and a demo of the PC video game. One problem: the insanely long intro to the menu, which, after the first time, will drive you buggy each time you insert a disc.
For once, a box set that actually has a decent number of features. Good show, too.
Special Features List
- 5 Making-of Featurettes
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Marc Cherry’s Favourite Scenes
- Unaired Storylines
- Game Demo