“It’s a question we all ask ourselves. Do I trust the people who live next door? Will that couple across the street be there when I need them? Can I count on the woman who lives down the block? Yes, good neighbors are people we can rely on. But if we discover our neighbor can’t be trusted, then it may be time to move.”
What you can count on from the neighbors of Wisteria Lane is another season of secrets, betrayals, and fashionable housewives.
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 writers’ 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. Susan and Mike are raising their son MJ. They’ve had a financial crisis and now they live in an apartment away from “the lane”. Lynette (Huffman) was once a big-time corporate executive who is now raising five kids and is married to Tom (Savant) who also left corporate America and ran a pizza shop into the ground. Now he’s back in the corporate game. Bree (Cross) was married to Orson (MacLachlan), who has had more than one ex-wife turn up dead. Unfortunately for Orson, it is the husbands who are expendable in this show. And now he’s out of the picture and in a wheelchair. 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 Carlos (Chavira), a wealthy and successful businessman. 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.
There are some new faces on Wisteria Lane this year. Vanessa Williams joins the cast as Renee. She’s an old college friend of Lynette’s who married a big-time baseball player and has been living the high life. But that’s all about to come to an end. She’s getting divorced and moving into the hood. That could spell trouble, because she once spent a secret romantic weekend with Tom and isn’t over him yet. The hood also grows by another rather unexpected resident. Gone is Katherine without even a mention.
Paul Young (Moses) returns to Wisteria Lane. His wife was Mary Alice Young, who killed herself and now narrates the show. He was wrongly convicted of killing a woman who framed him by chopping off her fingers and making the cops think she was dead. He’s been freed, but no one on the street trusts him. Of course, they shouldn’t. He did kill a woman, just not the one he was convicted of. His wife Beth, played by Emily Bergl may have a big secret of her own. Bree has a new man in her life, the much younger handyman Keith played by Brian Austin Green. To raise money, Susan ends up cleaning house in her lingerie on the internet. It’s big bucks and might just get the family back on the lane, that is if she can keep it a secret from everyone, including Mike.
The catastrophe of the year is a riot that leaves Susan needing a new kidney. It’s all the result of Paul’s diabolical plan for revenge on the people he blames for abandoning him while he was in prison. Larry Hagman guest stars on a couple of episodes in a hoot of a role. Lynette’s mother is marrying the caustic bigot for his money. The actor is barely recognizable these days. It’s his voice that gives him away.
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. They look identical to previous releases. 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 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?
Desperate For Trivia: (4:37) Play Desperate Housewives trivia with the cast.
Growing Up On Wisteria Lane: (9:55) The child actors gather to share their memories of growing up working on the show.
Deleted Scenes: I’m not sure any of these added anything. They are mostly extra character moments and pretty much more of the same.
Bloopers (4:18): You know what these are, right?
With all of the ladies pretty much in stable relationships, there is less of the sexual innuendo on the series than ever. For me, it makes the series a tad more enjoyable. It’s possible fans might have the opposite reaction here. There is talk that the upcoming 8th season will be the show’s last. I can kind of see that coming. I’m wondering just where else this show might have to go. Still even with stability, there are some shocking moments that “you’re just never going to believe”.