Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Desperate Housewives: What? It's Good?

So, we’ve been reading these stories about how ratings are universally low for these post-strike episodes of virtually everything. Lost and Grey’s Anatomy both hit all-time lows, and, no, we’re not going to blame that on Jate. As I finally emerge from my weekend of Jate-induced addle-mindedness, I wanted to take a look at a show I’ve never blogged about here—but that I’ve also never missed an episode of.

Desperate Housewives
had a show-stopping first season. It was consistently good and ever-compelling. I watched that first season finale with as much anticipation and edge-of-your-seat-ness as I now watch Lost. (I. Know.) Many would agree with me when I say that the second season was a huge slump. It’s sort of surprising and sort of predictable. Predictable because from episode one, people were comparing Desperate Housewives to Twin Peaks, which (hehe) peaked in its first season. Surprising because of the four hit shows that premiered that year (2004-2005), the other three massively hit their stride in their second seasons—Lost found the hatch, The Office won big with “The Dundies,” and Grey’s Anatomy introduced Addison and became everyone’s favorite show. But for Desperate Housewives, the addition of Alfre Woodard and her basement-bound son was silly, and I just didn’t follow the mystery of season two with as much intensity as I had the year before. Ditto season three, which threw Trey MacDougall, Dixie Carter, and that mom whose kid Dr. Ross killed on purpose into the mix. That mystery was so lame they solved it halfway through the season and let the back half play out without an overarching storyline.

A lot of people wrote it off, but I could not.

There are precious few television series that I have written off mid-run, and they are ER and Gilmore Girls. Destroy my OTP and I will destroy you, I say. [You listening, Mr. Lindelof?]

And since I’ve never had a Desperate Housewives OTP, the show is probably safe.

I did get a little bored there in the middle, but I was a fledgling college student without a job or a boyfriend. There wasn’t anything better to do.

Cue this season, where I’m consistently compelled by the mystery week after week, I’m laughing, I’m touched, I’m surprised. This show is good again, y’all!

Dana Delany as Katherine Mayfair is an excellent addition. I love the competition between her and Bree and genuinely appreciate the character implications her entrance has had for Mrs. Hodge. There was an episode earlier this season where, upon coming to blows with Katherine, it is revealed, quite sweetly, that Bree cares more about her friends and being genuinely liked than on maintaining appearances. Katherine, meanwhile, is just one big ol’ façade of a lady.

WHAT DID SHE DO?

Obviously, the drama of the Mayfairs is coming to a head. I can’t wait! I want to know! It better not be a cop-out resolution, because I’ll be legit disappointed if I don’t get some juicy-ass details about how Katherine’s past all played out.

Why doesn’t Dylan remember anything? Did Katherine knock the baby around, too?

In season one’s Mary Alice mystery, there were several people, it seemed, who knew a few little things. Paul Young was the only live person who knew the whole story, and it wasn’t until the finale that all the little pieces came together to make this awesome story.

But now, with the Katherine mystery, there are a handful of people who know a LOT, and at least two people—Katherine and Adam Mayfair—know the whole darn story. It’s a frustrating—and kind of uncommon—television technique to have the characters know significantly more than the audience. I feel like usually it’s the other way around.

Regardless of how the mystery turns out, I really hope Katherine’s around to stay. She really creates some excellent drama, and I’m intrigued to see how the Katherine/Bree catering business turns out. Ha ha ha, Bree with a job. That cracks me up.

Also, apparently a female character is kickin’ the bucket by the end of the season. Kristin Veitch (I spit on her) speculates it’s Edie, but, to me, all signs are pointing to Kayla Scavo. SpoilerTV flat out says to expect “the death of Kayla,” and Marc Cherry said earlier this year, “I will probably do a storyline about one of the women, probably Lynette, dealing with the death of a child because I think it’s one of the saddest things that can happen to a human being.”

Frankly, I support this dramatic choice. I was actually disappointed that the Desperate Housewives writers weren’t risky enough to actually off a major character in that tornado last fall. I mean, come on, we didn’t care about any of those characters! Killing off one of the twins would have been the absolute definition of shock-and-awe. Yeah, if you’re going to leave us on a huge cliffhanger of maybe-Lynette’s-kids-are-dead, at least have the decency not to make the whole damn natural disaster totally dramatically worthless.

Seriously.

Then there’s this rumor going around that the show’s going to jump forward into the future. I mean, I’m intrigued. The stories of the seasons are all pretty self-contained. It’s a little like 24 in that respect. Since each year covers one mystery (more or less), it doesn’t necessarily matter in what time they take place. There’ll be some initial shocks (What! Carlos isn’t blind now!), some puzzles (Wait! Tom is a woman?), and some questions (Julie Mayer went to college—WTF?), but ultimately the show won’t really change. Didn’t One Tree Hill do the exact same thing this season?

The only people I can imagine this affecting profusely are the Scavos. If we really are jumping forward in time, how are we going to work this? For, say, little Benjamin Hodge or Susan’s dumb baby, you just get new actors. For Julie Mayer or Dylan Mayfair, you just make ‘em look a little older. But the Scavo kids—even Penny—are at an age where we recognize their appearance (doesn’t that Parker Scavo look just like his dad? It’s uncanny!) and will appreciate neither new actors nor lies that this nine-year-old is supposed to be fourteen. That’s a big difference.

Maybe ALL of the Scavo children will be killed in the finale. Wooo shocker.

That’s not funny.

Good TV, though.

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