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More desperate than ever: Seasons One and Two of “Desperate Housewives”

Molly Griffin | Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Something is rotten in the suburb of Wisteria Lane. The suicide of seemingly happy housewife Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong) disrupts the placid surface of the street and incites the drama that makes up ABC’s hit show, “Desperate Housewives.” Part soap opera, part mystery and showing echoes of both “Melrose Place” and “American Beauty,” the show has made domesticity fascinating in ways that Martha Stewart never dreamed of.

Season One DVD ReviewThe DVD set of the first season recaps the scandal, humor and intrigue that made the show a hit while adding some fantastic extras that are just icing on the cake. The set comes out just as the second season is beginning, and the new batch of episodes is proving to be juicier and darker than the inaugural season had even hinted at. “Desperate Housewives” packs a lot into each episode. Along with the mystery of the suicide that started the show, there are five main characters with wildly different story arcs. Add husbands, children, mysterious neighbors and a host of other individuals, and it becomes the television equivalent of a Dickens novel in terms of sheer bulk of characters. Having the entire first season will seem like a godsend to fans of the show who can now obsessively catch up before plunging into the depths of Season Two. The show follows the adventures of a group of women who live on the same suburban street and must grapple with their lives in the wake of a friend’s suicide. In spite of these dark origins, the show manages to balance humor with pathos in a masterful way. The women of Wisteria Lane are a wildly mixed but wholly entertaining bunch. Susan (Teri Hatcher) is a bubbly, klutzy divorcee raising a precocious daughter and looking for love. Bree (Marcia Cross) is a domestic tyrant who obsessively pursues perfection and rules over her family with an iron fist, housed in a perfectly tailored, hand-sewn gloves. Lynette (Felicity Huffman), a former career woman, is forced to grapple with four boys and a suburban world far removed from the boardroom. Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) is a young, spoiled trophy wife who gets what she wants, including the gardener. Edie (Nicollette Sheridan) is a man-eater who is willing to do anything to beat another woman for a man’s affection. A host of extras are included with the episodes themselves, and the producers took great care in choosing material that would fit in with the darkly humorous atmosphere of the show. Disc one includes the feature, “A Walk Down Wisteria Lane,” which features creator Marc Cherry being interviewed by “The View”‘s Meredith Viera. There is also audio commentary from Cherry on the pilot episode, as well as several deleted scenes. Disc two features two episodes with commentary from Cherry and from director Larry Shaw. There is also a feature entitled “Desperate Housewives Around the World,” that reveals how the show is translated into other languages. “Multi Language Sequence: Bree’s Dinner Party” includes a sample of dubs from different languages put together in one sequence. Disc three contains a feature about the fashion of “Desperate Housewives” called “Dressing Wisteria Lane.” There are also deleted scenes and optional commentary from Cherry.Disc four contains deleted scenes and audio commentary.Disc five has one deleted scene and features the stars of the show sharing their favorite scenes in a features called “Audio Commentary: The Ladies’ Favorite Scenes.” The sixth and final disc contains the most bonus material. “Oprah Winfrey is the New Neighbor,” features the talk show host spliced in with scenes from the show to create a humorous skit. “The Secrets of Wisteria Lane” provides an inside look into how the show is written and put together, while “Bloopers from the Set” supplies the requisite DVD extra of mess-ups from the show. The feature “Behind the Scenes on Wisteria Lane” shows Meredith Viera interviewing various members of cast and crew about working on the show. There are also deleted scenes and audio commentary from Cherry. The DVD set provides a great background and homage to what has emerged as a humorous and innovative show.

Season Two PreviewThe second season of “Desperate Housewives” picks up where the emotionally intense season finale of Season One left off. It not only continues the first season, but actually manages to up the magnitude of drama on the show as well. The first episode, “Next,” is full of intense revelations and life-changing events. The origins of Zach (Cody Kasch), Mary Alice’s son, are revealed. Susan (Teri Hatcher) and Mike (James Denton)’s relationship is tested by information that comes to the surface. Bree (Marcia Cross) has to deal not only with the sudden death of her husband Rex (Shawn Pyfrom) but also with the fact that her mother-in-law Phyllis (Shirley Knight) is now meddling in her life as well.Lynette (Felicity Huffman) returns to work and must deal not only with an unsympathetic boss but also with the fact that her husband is less than skilled in the domestic sphere. Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) visits Carlos (Ricardo Chavira) in jail, and the two of them must reevaluate their relationship.In “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” the second episode of the season, Susan finds out that her ex-husband sleeping with Edie (Nicollette Sheridan), and her relationship with Mike is strained at best at the moment.Bree and her mother-in-law, Phyllis, continue to square off, and Phyllis suspects that Bree actually killed Rex. Carlos and Gabrielle are still on tenuous terms, and Lynette goes to elaborate lengths to make her husband keep the house clean. A new neighbor, Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard), is introduced and she is revealed to have an unusual secret. In the third episode of the season, “You’ll Never Get Away from Me,” Bree learns that Rex has been exhumed due to the suspicions surrounding his death. Gabrielle begins to follow John, the gardener, around after their affair ends. Lynette must deal with balancing home life with work, and Susan and Edie begin squaring off when Julie needs a partner for a church talent show. The show will more than likely take these burgeoning plotlines and fill them out, as well as create the inevitable twists and turns that the first season indicated the show was capable of pulling off.If there is one thing that’s for certain about “Desperate Housewives,” it’s that nothing is quite what it initially appears to be.