STUDIO: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
MSRP: $59.96
RUNNING TIME: 1036 minutes
• Desperate Husbands: See the men of Wisteria Lane "dish" on TV’s hottest housewives
• Complete unaired storyline featuring Teri Hatcher
• Meet TV’s most iconic housewives: Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show), Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family), Marion Ross (Happy Days) and more
• Marc & Mom: Interview with the series’ creator and his mother, the muse
• Directing Desperate Housewives: An episode from Concept to Completion
• Cherry-Picked: Creator Marc Cherry’s favorite scenes
• Fashion & Couture with Costume Designer Cate Adair
• Juicy Bites: Housewives of Wisteria Lane reveal their juiciest moments
• "The Whole Story" Promo
• Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary from Marc Cherry

The Pitch

Think Sex and the City by way of Twin Peaks.

The Humans

Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Nicollette Sheridan.

Brenda Strong after learning she was going to be killed off in the first episode.

The Nutshell

This is Season 2 of the breakout ABC hit about a gaggle of femmes who are partaking of the married bliss such as it is and finding themselves in weird little suburbia storylines of every shape and form, including murder, infidelity, alcoholism, and breast feeding issues. This is the show that dug up the career of Teri Hatcher, performed voodoo on it and made it walk the earth again; and also introduced America to the two-time queen of the Maxim Hot 100. It’s given The Sentinel (you know, the guy who could hear an angel taking a fart from two hundred paces and watch it at 300), a place to hang his hat. It’s taken the Sports Night news chick and the Melrose Place psycho chick and bumped them to the A-list, and shown us that Mrs. Ex-Hamlin is a far cry removed from Spy Hard…physically and career-wise. Oh, and it also happens to be narrated by a dead chick.

"Hey, did I mention by the way that I’m a pre-op tranny?"

The Lowdown

To try to describe all of the storylines that are at work in this show is the stuff of Masters theses, Senate subcommittees…or your standard Harry Knowles review. There’s probably enough going on in DH for any two sudsers. Given that they’re also unabashedly skewed to the female sensibilities, you have the makings of instant Nielsen latinum. DH has successfully re-ignited the primetime soap opera in the tradition of Dallas or Dynasty, and given a sort of Twin Peaks slant to it. It’s unique, granted; and chances are if you’re sporting some Dos Equis chromosomes, or you give half of a shit to what’s said on either The View or Dr. Phil, you probably live for this show. If not, you’re where you should be on Sunday nights, catching up on the day’s football action.

Yep, looks like Mike Figgis got his hands on another TV show…

Of course there’s another subset of humanity that are contributing to the boffo numbers this show is racking up: straight, manly guys who like to watch shit blow up but happen to be in a relationship / marriage and don’t have the balls to lay down the law with their women and instead be catching up on Manning’s or Vick’s latest torching of a 3-4. That’s pretty much me (although the jury’s still out on the manly part…I’m doubtful of the verdict). So fortunately for yours truly, I’ve already seen all this shit, which definitely makes this pittance of a review that much easier, because to sit and watch an entire season of DH within a few days is to invite a possible aneurysm in trying to keep up with all that goes on within the confines of 24 episodes.

"So let’s see if they are real and if they are spectacular…"

First of all, you have Hatcher as Susan Mayer, a divorced single mother who has a penchant for finding herself in bizarre situations from locking herself out of her house naked, to being held at gunpoint by her teenage daughter’s teenage psycho stalker, to accidentally burning down her neighbor’s house, to having to remarry her philandering ex-husband just to get his health insurance. Hatcher is seemingly harkening back to her Penny Parker (MacGyver) goofiness and tossing in a dash of her Lois Lane (Lois and Clark) resolve to create this character, and so far it seems to be working for her. She admittedly was watching the Emmys from her house one year, unable to get any solid work to come her way, and 12 months later she’s back at the Emmy’s nominated for Best Actress. It’s a career comeback on par with Travolta’s Pulp Fiction rebirth.

The result of a cheat code from the upcoming Grand Theft Auto: Wisteria Lane

Felicity Huffman had had some success on the great Sports Night, as well as amassing several notable film and TV credits, but never quite reached the same level of success as her husband, Lord (William H.) Macy. But like Hatcher, her career has skyrocketed since being cast on this show. In fact, whereas Hatcher has gotten the press, Huffman has gotten the hardware, picking up the Emmy, which she, Hatcher, Sheridan and Cross had almost swept the nominations in the category. She also had the fine turn in TransAmerica, garnering an Oscar nomination in the process. Two years ago, highly doubtful she would have been within a hemisphere of that role. In DH, Huffman plays Lynette Scavo, the happily-married, but not always happily-mothered matriarch of four who, in Season 2, finds herself switching roles with her husband, Tom (Doug Savant), whose career she incidentally sabotaged so he could spend more time with the family. So he flips the script, quits, and makes her go back to work after being a housewife for several years. She then has to balance jumping back into the workplace with maintaining a happy home life.

Finally putting to rest those rumors that Nicollette Sheridan’s looks have gone downhill…

Next is Bree Van De Kamp, played by Marcia Cross, whose most notable work was probably playing the psycho Dr. Kimberly Shaw on Melrose Place. Of the five major characters on the show, it’s easy to say that Bree had the most tumultuous year. Her husband Rex dies of heart failure, and Bree has to reconcile her relationship with her mother in law, who’s a whiny, clingy, major pain in the ass. So much so that Bree has to raise Rex out of his coffin at his funeral and remove the hideous tie that his mother had put on him and replace it. Bree then segues into an ill-fated relationship with her pharmacist, George (Roger Bart), who just so happens to be a murderous stalker. With all of that going on, Bree also has to deal with her shitbag son, Andrew (nicely played by Shawn Pyfrom), who is gay, probably out of spite to his mother as much as personal choice.

"Alright, that’s one I’ve screwed to death. Who’s next?"

He’s determined to get his trust fund and seeks to be emancipated from Bree when she won’t let him have it. When he also finds out about Bree’s involvement in George’s death, and the fact that George was involved in his own father’s death, he’s determined to punish Bree by any means possible. With Bree’s daughter, Danielle (Joy Lauren) also sliiping away from her, Bree decides to turn to her closest friends: white wine and red wine…lots of it. This leads to passing out in a clothing store while trying on a dress, passing out and losing Lynette’s kids while babysitting, eventually AA, an infatuation with her sponsor, and a shocking resolution to both her problems with him and her son. Her final solution to dealing with her son is sweet by the way as she drops him off in the middle of nowhere and tells him to piss off. At the end of it all, Bree has the makings of another relationship, this time with a homicidal dentist (Kyle MacLachlan). So it was definitely a memorable season for her.

Then there’s Nicollette Sheridan as vixen Edie Britt. Basically she’s doing Susan’s ex (Richard Burgi) and is planning to marry him. When she finds out that he still has feelings for Susan, and that they in fact married behind her back so Susan could get his insurance for an operation, she returns the arson favor on Susan’s house.

The fact that Tony Parker suddenly burst into flames before her eyes was bad enough…the fact that Eva hadn’t yet married him and wouldn’t be seeing a dime as a result was simply too much to take…

Last is one of the biggest breakout TV stars of the decade, Eva Longoria, as hot newlywed, Gabrielle Solis. Gabrielle spent most of the first season nailing their teenage gardener behind her rich husband, Carlos’ (Ricardo Chavira) back. When he gets sent to prison, she then has to figure out how to live a Paris Hilton lifestyle on a budget. This season, the main things that Gabrielle has to deal with is trying to have a baby, and having to deal with another woman who’s trying to steal her husband away from her: a streetwise nun who’s not afraid to throw some punches (Melinda Hamilton). No sooner has Gabrielle dealt with that issue than she finds her Chinese housemaid, Xiao-Mei (Gwendoline Yeo) has designs on Carlos herself. Add in the fact that Gabrielle had a baby that they adopted (i.e. bought) taken away from them, and it was a fairly eventful year for her as well. There’s no doubt that Longoria is smoking hot. She’s the two-time defending Maxim Hot 100 champ and is getting bedded by French NBA star Tony Parker. Her career has shot into the stratosphere faster than just about anyone in this new millennium, but she currently is being saddled with a diva rep that threatens to bring her back to terra firma. Her recent comments that once she’s done with DH she’s never doing TV again only adds to that.

"Alfre, was that actually -"
"Yeah, I think it was…another black person…"

There are definitely some things to like about Desperate Housewives, no matter what your chromosome makeup turns out to be (shout out to all my XYYs currently in lockdown). It’s certainly not lacking for plot and the addition this season of Alfre Woodard as a mother who kept her retarded and supposedly dangerous son locked in her basement added another layer to an already stacked cake. There’s also no denying that the show is hitting on all the right cylinders right now. But it reminds me a little too much of another quirky show that was coasting along and that had launched a few careers itself: Ally McBeal. The quirkiness of that show wore off and it was canned only a couple of years after winning the Best Comedy Emmy. We’ll have to see how things play out here, but for right now, this thing is a Nielsen beast.

The Package

Calling this set the Extra Juicy Edition is pretty accurate in that there’s a ton of extra features of various forms offered up here. The first is a nine-minute making-of called Marc & Mom which highlights series creator Marc Cherry and his mother and how she was the inspiration for creating the show. Then Directing Desperate Housewives is a 16-minute behind-the-scenes where the five stars of the show comment with the filmmakers and the crew about what it takes to create one-hour show from week to week, using a single episode from start to finish. It’s pretty good and gives a nice step-by-step of the production process. Desperate Role Models is an eight-minute piece that features commentaries on and interviews with actresses of past TV shows including Marion Ross (Happy Days), Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family), Jane Wyatt (Farther Knows Best) and Joanna Kern (Growing Pains) who portrayed housewives and inspired the various characters on the show.

To say that Lois didn’t react well to Kal-El’s dumping her for a certain Amazon is putting it mildly…

Cherry-Picked features 11 of Marc Cherry’s favorite scenes with his commentary and goes on for nearly 30 minutes. Some of the scenes he picks includes Rex’s funeral where Bree switches out his tie, Gabrielle’s fight with Sister Mary Bernard, Lynette kissing Carlos to show Gabrielle how uncomfortable it can feel to have another woman, even a friend kissing her man, George’s death where Bree just sits and watches him die, and Bree telling her son to hit the road…literally. Unaired Storylines is a 15-minute piece focusing on two storylines from the season that didn’t make it air, one involving Susan and the other involving Lynette returning home from discovering that Tom has been seeing another woman (although not for the reason that she thinks). Cherry provides good commentary on these two storylines and it’s a pretty good way to see why certain material doesn’t make it into a show. They’re not just random scene clips but actual entire sequences. Then there’s over 15 minutes of deleted scenes from the span of the season with more optional commentary by Cherry. These are pretty good as well, but I’ve always preferred the deleted scenes of a box set like this be with the episodes rather than clustered together. They tend to lose context.

Fashion and Couture is a 10-minute feature on the fashion designs on the show. I fast forwarded that one, I’m not going to lie. Juicy Bites is a three-minute feature where the five stars discuss their juiciest moments of the season, mixed with clips. The Whole Story is a one-minute recap of the entire two seasons done as a season premiere promo for ABC. Rounding out the features are a trailer for Desperate Housewives: The Game and sneak peaks. Most of the features follow the same formula and involve talking heads mixed with clips from the show. There’s almost as much stuff here about the show as the show itself, which is good if you’re a fan.

8.1 out of 10