The residents of Wisteria Lane have become household staples in the last four years. Even after watching the show, I’m still not sure I understand what it’s about, but I’ll try and give my take on it anyway. It would appear to this reviewer that the show owes at least part of its genesis to the HBO hit Sex And The City. There is the same narrative angle, this time by a deceased member of the group. Still, that narrative contains many of the same kinds of observations as the HBO show and appears to imitate it as often as not. The show also deals with the exploits, often sexual, of a group of women. This time they are married, but that doesn’t seem to stop the flings, or at least the fantasies any. Finally, the best correlation between the two shows is how much both depended almost entirely on the personalities of the women themselves instead of any particular element of story or concept. Here the women are the concept. In the first season it appears young housewife Mary Alice (Strong) commits suicide. She now looks down (or up, I guess) on her neighbors, offering the commentary that is the show’s narration. At the end of each episode she offers some tidy little wrap-up, adding comments on how the lives of these women are evolving.
The plot is pretty much standard soap opera fare. There are love triangles, diseases, and the typical complications you can find on any given weekday during the networks’ afternoon programs. Of course, here we have prime time production values and a decidedly A cast of actors. It’s very likely that Desperate Housewives might have actually benefited from the writer’s strike, which reduced the run of episodes down to 17. The writers spent more time dealing with the characters and less trying to pretend they were creating compelling drama. Where the show works is in these quirky, almost black comedy moments between the characters. Since there is no “story” to really speak of, I guess it’s more important that you meet the residents of Wisteria Lane. Susan (Hatcher) is married to Mike (Denton). She’s kind of an airhead and is the housewife most likely to be on the outside of a joke or reference. Her husband might or might not be a murderer. Perhaps denizens of the show have a better grasp of the 411 on that situation than I got. Susan was raising her daughter Julie (Bowen) on her own before she married Mike. Julie shows far more maturity and intelligence than her mom. Lynette (Huffman) was once a big time corporate executive who is now raising four kids and is married to Tom (Savant) who also left corporate America and runs a pizza shop. They are also raising Tom’s daughter from a previous affair, who absolutely hates Lynette. Katherine (Delany) is the local “perfect housewife”; she’s a cooking champion and is a bit of a snob, refusing to share her lemon meringue pie recipe with anyone. She and gynecologist husband Adam (Fillion) are the newest residents of Wisteria Lane. Bree (Cross) is a rival to Katherine in all of this homemaking stuff, but it appears they learn to work together before the season ends. Bree is married to Orson (MacLachlan), who has had more than one ex-wife turn up dead. Unfortunately for Orson, it is the husbands that are expendable in this show. Last but certainly not least is Gabrielle (Parker). She’s obviously the best looking of the group and acts like she knows it. Her husband is the town’s mayor, but she spends far more time with lover Carlos (Chavira). She has expensive tastes and wants to be pampered. Together these ladies go through guys and catfights like they were pitches at the All Star Game.
Season 5 heralded a risky move for the popular show. The series timeline shifted 5 years into the future from the moments of the season 4 finale. It doesn’t seem to have slowed anything down any. The show also reached its crucial 100th episode in this season. That means a pretty much guaranteed syndicated run for the show, likely before it even finishes its prime time run of original shows. Beau Bridges guests in that episode in a nice emotional part. It’s by far the best episode of the series to date. I suspect it will become a fan favorite. That also means a cast change for Lynette’s now five year older twins. The year might have changed and of course, cast changes were inevitable, but the soap opera drama continues. If there was any change at all, I’d have to say things were a bit lighter in this season. There were more comedic moments and not so much heavy drama. Whatever the changes, the fans remained loyal and will flock to this DVD release just as much as they have to the previous ones.
You’ll get 24 episodes spanning 6 discs. There is a 7th disc that contains most of the bonus material.
Each episode of Desperate Housewives is presented in a sweet 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Again, I can’t compare to broadcast versions of the series, but these DVD transfers are quite nice. The sharpness is excellent. Black levels are well above average for television, even in the HD age. Colors aren’t necessarily bright at all, but remain constant and solid throughout. Flesh tones are dead on reference. These women often dress flashy, and the transfer does its job to try and make them look good.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is more aggressive than I expected going in. There are not a lot of dynamic opportunities for an audio track to particularly shine here, but it does a wonderful job of immersing the viewer in the show. The plentiful musical numbers are well placed, usually not interfering with the action. Dialog is always easy to hear, and placement is spot on. Not much for the subs here, but who cares?
What More Do I Need – A Very Good Read: (11:15) This is a look at the table read for episode 95. The feature focuses on the comedic elements and is a good showcase for the dynamics between the actors and writers in a casual setting.
I Know Things Now – Desperate Housewives Celebrates 100: (20:49) Cast and crew talk about the new season in general. They focus on the evolution of the characters and the general feel of the 5th season of episodes. The theme of the whole thing is the milestone of 100th episode. There’s footage of the cast and crew party that includes a cake fight with three of the ladies.
Cherry Picked: Creator Mark Cherry picks out his favorite scenes from season 5. Of course you’ve already seen them, but you get an optional commentary so he can tell you why he likes them so much. You can see them individually or use the handy dandy play all option.
Deleted Scenes: I’m not sure any of these added anything. They are mostly extra character moments and pretty much more of the same. Again you get an optional commentary by Mark Cherry and a convenient play all option. There are 8 in all this time around.
Bloopers (6:24): You know what these are, right?
I still don’t really get it, but it was somewhat easier to watch the second season I was exposed to the show. There’s no doubt that the show has some solid writing, cast, and production values. My only complaint is merely one of style. I certainly can see where those who do love the show are coming from. Who would have guessed that I’d end up watching yet another season of Desperate Housewives? In this job, “I’ve done a lot of things you never thought I’d do”.