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I'm gonna address something in a serious tone, that is way unlike the
premiere of Desperate Housewives. Television, has gotten entirely too
serious. It has! Even its comedies can be horribly depressing.
As I sat watching the premiere of Desperate Housewives, I found myself doing something I haven't done in quite some time, and that is "smiling," No, I mean, a huge smile, a GRIN of thankfulness.
I have a theory that most pilot scripts suck, because they are establishing a series, I have hardly ever liked a PILOT script, even if they do their job well which is establish character and the mood of the show. The great story telling comes after the pilot.
The only good pilot I have seen in recent years, was the pilot for ALIAS (brilliant) now a week ago, I saw the PILOT for LOST (edge of your seat good). But even those were topped by the intricate, hysterical, amazing pilot script for DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. If the writers are out there, reading this, 1. Thank You. 2. why are you reading this, get to writing more of this wonderful show.
They also have gotten a superb cast of women. OLDER WOMEN! WOMEN WOMEN, not some 20 something year olds with bland looks on their faces and pouty lips! But Talented, amazing, beautiful, WOMEN (and I'm a guy in my 20's) I appreciate that... WOMEN over 40 ROCK! I speak of course of Felicity Huffman, who can do more with one line of Dialogue, than any other actress I know. This show, brings also the RETURN of Terri Hatcher, THANK GOD! It's about TIME!! And it also brings me, MARCIA CROSS, an actress who should have been given an EMMY for her brilliant, heartbreaking work in EVERWOOD last season.
The producers/Direction/showrunners of the show, have established a look for the show. it's American BEAUTY on ACID. A gorgeous use of color and cinematography, of scoring, and well, I mention it again, because it's so important... GREAT WRITING!
On every level, the PILOT for DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES impresses. It has bite, humor and heart. I hope that it will be around for a long time. But even this one episode is enough to remind people everywhere, that network television can still be FUN!
Here it is! The best show to hit the prime time dial in years! Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Nicolette Sheridan, and James Denton create the most bizarre and un believably satirical world of Wisteria Lane, a beautiful neighborhood with beautiful woman, each lives the perfect life...on the outside! Matching "American Beauty" with "Melrose Place", this fresh, raunchy, and intelligent show revolves around four women who begin uncovering a series of mysteries when their best friend commits suicide. Susan Mayer(Teri Hatcher) is a Striking, chirpy woman with a beautiful daughter and a great romance with Mike Delfino(James Denton), but her flaw of natural klutziness gets her in trouble. Hatcher is irresistibly funny, and brings hysterics to the screen. Bree Van De Camp(Marcia Cross) is the stereotypical "Stepford" wife who brings jealousy to the most sweetest of ladies with her perfect life, blue flowers, smart kids, and exceptional marriage...RIGHT! Her life consists of struggling to retain her marriage, or lack there of. Her children hate her most of the time, and her husband can't stand her perfection. Cross is remarkably powerful in performance, and displays witty charm, and howlingly hilarious reactions to the events surrounding her. Not to mention being gorgeous beyond belief! Lynette Scavo(Felicity Huffman) gets the most sympathy from us as the successful woman, on her way to becoming the most powerful woman in business, and then pregnancy after pregnancy takes it all away. Now, she struggles with the most out-of-control children in television history, and a husband who just doesn't get it, or any thing else! Huffman is exceptional in this role, and deserves the recognition for her efforts. She gains so much sympathy when she breaks on children's medication, Lynette is one most people would love to sit and "bitch" with, I know I would. Next is Gabrielle Solis(Eva Longoria), the perfect woman, the rich marriage the most dreaming life of the block...AS IF! She sleeps with teens, and worms her way in and out of situations both good and bad, but she has her funny moments. Longoria is predictably slutty temptress, with minor qualities to redeem, so far. With a little learning for Gabrielle, we might see more than pretty faces with Mrs. Solis, but Longoria is alright. Last, but NEVER least, is Edie Britt(Nicolette Sheridan), a man-hungry woman with a wip and handcuffs! She will walk all over you to get to your man! Watch out for Edie! Sheridan is just right for this caustic, little sexy villainess of the street. Yes, all the women shine in their glory of the show! Better than anything else on TV right now, and probably in the future, "Desperate Housewives" will satisfy to the very touch of perfection, and beyond! Marc Cherry has created a masterpiece with this one! Thank the almighty for this one coming to the TV screen! May we be blessed with this show for many, many years to come!!!!! A perfect 10/10, 100% brilliant!
Some thirty years ago now, a fledgling writer and self-admitted
'desperate housewife' herself, one Susan Harris was sitting watching
the gawd-awful writing and acting being perpetrated on some daytime
sudser and said, "Well, hell! I can do this, and I can do it better!"
And so she sat down and started work on what became one of the most
ground-breaking series of its time, SOAP.
Fast-forward to 2004. Miraculously, and not a moment too soon, the can-do spirit and twisted, blackly comic sensibility that Susan Harris blended into her frothy concoction has seeped into the consciousness and the pen of one Mr. Marc Cherry, and television right now is all the better for it.
It was high time, in a slate of shows that range from the ones that take themselves all too seriously (THE WEST WING, ER and about any other medical or cop drama you can name), to the ones that have no shame at all (AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS, FEAR FACTOR and every 'reality show' going), that somebody took the complete, over-the-top ridiculousness of both day-and-night-time soaps and gave them a good, hard shake.
DESPERATE is not a sitcom, but nothing on television right now makes me laugh harder. It isn't a straight drama, but I find myself just as involved as if I were watching LOST or THE SHIELD. It's not some stiff, stodgy or saccharine, treacly morality play, but when it comes to having a sense of those "family values" that certain politicians are so fond of emphasizing, it carries in one episode more commentary about love, compassion and caring for one's fellow man than all the seasons of JOAN OF ARCADIA and "that show with Della Reese" combined.
Not that it's going to receive the Nobel Prize anytime soon. I would just as soon settle for seeing every member of the terrific cast win an Emmy every year this show runs, and sooner or later, I have no doubt that it will happen.
But besides bringing us a terrific show to look forward to on Sunday nights, (something that hasn't happened for me personally since the heyday of THE X-FILES), let us give thanks for something else that TV has been far too slow in acknowledging...the value of beautiful, brainy and talented actresses over 40.
For realizing that Teri Hatcher DESPERATELY needed a role that would prove she could do a helluva lot more than play yet another version of Lois Lane. That Felicity Huffman, one of our most under-appreciated talents, DESPERATELY needed the sustenance of a role like Lynette Scavo to sink her teeth into. That Marcia Cross DESPERATELY needed the kind of showcase for HER talents that the likes of Frances Conroy, CCH Pounder, Sharon Gless and other top notch actresses only get on cable, and that Bree Van De Kamp will prove once and for all what we always knew from MELROSE PLACE--this woman ROCKS!, and for giving Eva Longoria something that all actors as gorgeous as she have DESPERATELY needed forever...the chance to prove that being a treat for the eyes, does not automatically mean that your acting talent is about as deep as a kiddie wading pool.
Thank you, thank you, thank you...and thank you for making us all DESPERATE for more of the shady doings on the sunny side of the streets of Wisteria Lane.
One of the TV reviewers for "Time Out"'s London edition wondered why
"Desperate Housewives" has so handily repeated its American success in
Britain. Since not every show that's a hit in America exports well to
the UK ("Friends" gathered plenty of them over here, and "CSI: Insert
Subtitle Here" has consistently been a key player for what used to be
called Channel 5; on the other hand, "Murphy Brown" landed on stony
soil when it was shown on BBC2, and don't get UK fans started on how
"The West Wing" fares here), that's a good question. Fortunately, there
is an answer. In fact, several...
1. Germaine Greer, Janet Street-Porter, the editor of "Cosmopolitan" (UK edition) and the TV critics of "The Times" and "The Mirror" have all pooh-poohed it. Since I respect their opinions in the same way I admire Britney Spears purely for her music, this is pretty much a glowing recommendation.
2. Never discount prior experience; just as many critics noted David Chase's work on "The Rockford Files" when "The Sopranos" started here (and never once gave due credit for that beloved '70s show to Stephen J. Cannell and the late Roy Huggins, but that's another story), so creator Marc Cherry's years on "The Golden Girls" (another show that did well here) may have counted. And though I admit I've never liked her, the goodwill Teri Hatcher built up among viewers of both sexes from playing Lois Lane for four years cannot be overlooked.
3. It strikes a major blow on behalf of those of us who don't give a rodent's rump about reality TV.
4. It fills the "Melrose Place"/"Knots Landing"/primetime soap-sized hole that's been gaping for a while now, even down to having former cast members of same, and does it without wildly OTT acting (making it closer to "Knots Landing" in terms of temperament).
5. The series wisely makes at least one of its main characters (Felicity Huffman's Lynette) seem like someone you could actually imagine meeting (key rule of TV: never make everyone too implausible OR too plausible - if everyone really wanted reality no one would have a TV. Or fiction books...).
6. It's both emotional and funny; and it may take a while to wrap up its plot lines, but if the alternative is a whole load of wad-shooting, I'll be patient.
7. The acting. Hatcher may have top-billing and a Golden Globe (and don't bet against her adding an Emmy in September), but five minutes watching Marcia Cross or the aforementioned Miss Huffman will tell you who the real stars are, acting-wise (the ex-Kimberly should have won the GG, not the ex-Mrs. Superman).
8. The eye-candy; never mind "Which desperate housewife are you?" think "Which desperate housewife do you want to sleep with?" Teri still has plenty of devotees and Nicollette Sheridan remains as hot as she was on "Knots Landing" (even if it's not real, it's spectacular) but it's Eva Longoria who really regularly leads viewers into temptation. And please do not deliver us from Eva. (I'll move on before making a "rod and staff" joke.)
9. They had the good sense to get Danny Elfman to do the theme, and unlike "Point Pleasant," I can understand why he said yes.
Welcome to Wisteria Lane. A great place to visit, thus far.
Think of it as Twin Peaks without the midgets and hunchbacks --and Kyle
MacLachlan eating dessert.
This show is just bizarre and enigmatic enough to hook the broad and deep audience that deserted network series television so long ago that they find themselves doubting now whether TV was ever worth the trouble.
I have a hard time selling this series to the guys I know because they assume it's another night time soap ala Melrose Place. But I do try. Really dangerously funny stuff. I predict a popular backlash against this show, and have in fact seen some evidence of it already, simply because so many people are crazy about this show and cannot say enough good things about it. People are tiring of hearing that. But have patience, and don't try to read between the lines of fan praise. It is worth a watch. If only once. Three episodes in, there hasn't been a dud yet. These people will make a mint on First Season DVDs, and deserve to. The sharpest, wittiest, most wildly unpredictable writing now being done. --Makes other "well written" shows, like the CSIs, look as drab as Dragnet.
The bar has just been raised for those making series television. Most TV writers and producers will have to ignore the influence, though, because they won't be able to touch it.
Ten stars, times ten. -------------------
The above review was written close to the beginning of the series. As we get as deep into the second season as we were in the first season where I wrote the above review, a revisit of the series is needed.
Brie is decidedly less funny over time. Maybe more satisfying in a mean way, but less ha ha funny. They have stopped writing those screamingly funny scenes for her, that hinged on what was essentially a neat freak, prim and retentive personality disorder. Remember the burrito sliding off the nightstand at a strategic moment? The tossing of the specimen on Rex at the golf course? The comment on Rex's crying at a dinner party? These scenes, built around Brie, comprised the best moments of the first season, and gone they are, apparently for good, from the second season. This is part of the shows overall shift toward making the luckless, loveless, hard-scrabbling housewives (who overall have a blend of great luck and foul luck, just like real life) "empowered" and impervious. It's inevitable that, with that agenda, the writers are not going to have as much funny stuff for any of the characters to do.
Perhaps as writing chores are handed around-- or more retentively screened by the cast or the powers that be at ABC-- the writers are beginning to write some of the cast "out of character." For example, Gabrielle cracks snide at some rough looking characters at a prison marriage counseling session, when 1) last season her character would have pulled a funny face, maybe insulted their wardrobe, like the essentially clueless and rapacious Barbie doll she is, and gone on or 2) in real life, they'd have mopped the floor with her. She is too prissy, and anorexic-looking for that matter, to deliver some of the tough-girl lines they are handing her. Sorry, but this much is obvious. They are writing Gabrielle and Brie out of character this season.
Other than these flaws -- which are major, in my opinion -- the series still has its moments. But the humor is starting to take precedence behind the conflict and mysteries. We draw closer to the non ironic melodrama world of Dynasty and Melrose Place than we were in the first season. Once, you could have said there was no show with quite the attitude and ambiance of Desperate Housewives first season. Now, you can say that again. The show we knew is slipping away into mundane sameness, and its unpredictability is becoming too patented and predictable. And I find that really too bad.
The show has fallen from 10 of 10 to more like 6 of 10.
All I can say about this show is: You gotta love the dirty laundry!
At first when I saw the pilots, it was like: What the heck? Are they serious that they were going to make a show about a bunch of shallow people living on a street having sex and complaining about not having enough sex? But at the end, I was wrong.
This is a show about misunderstood and troubled people who really cares about each other and shows it. They are human and they hurt people like everyday-people do. I love this show and it is so humane and the characters are so likable in every single way.
The desperate housewives are portrayed by Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, and Eva Longoria. As much I hate the character Gabrielle, I have to say, I have to love Eva Logoria's charm because she is delightful to watch as a person in interviews. I love the character Bree. She is so stunning to watch as this perfectionist with a family that is nothing but 'perfect.' Felicity Huffman plays the real everyday-mom who's stressed - Lynette, who's also an great character. There's Teri Hatcher's character, Susan, which I liked at first but she gets boring but she does have a great cheerleader, her daughter Julie, who is probably much more likable than her.
And there's Edie Britt ... the 'slut' of the neighborhood. I hated her at first, but then, slowly, loved her.
What makes this show so creative is that it is narrated by a housewife that committed suicide on episode one. It is an extremely nice turn in television.
This is my favorite show ... next to Lost. ABC is doing very well this season.
The time Desperate Housewives came into advertising moments at Studio23
it didn't catch my attention immediately. I thought it was just one of
the usual drama series that inadvertently attracts the attention of any
melodramatic viewers, however I was totally wrong with my primary
impression, it wasn't dramatic at all, comedy and puzzling twist where
one of its successful magnetism that will always keep you hanging at
the edge of your seats. The series is starred by four "Desperate
Housewives" in its usual episodically scheduled time in Studio23,
namely: Susan Mayer, Bree Van De Kamp, Lynette Scavo, Gabrielle Solis
played by this wonderful stars: Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity
Huffman and Eva Longoria respectively.
Even for a guy like me could embrace and yearn for this kind of drama series. It even made weep many times; I thought it was a lowly dramatized play that couldn't even catch the interest of ordinary viewers, but it was the best realistic series that anyone could actually love. Witty moments were one of its attracting element, Desperate Housewives never lacks on it, every episode were complete, mystery, intrigues, drama, jokes, crime and hilarity always coalesce every episode that appear. I would even scamper instantaneously to finish washing dishes and bathe myself around 9:30 at night to capture the beginning of each episode.
For sure if anyone had followed the mystifying story of Mary Alice Young, going to every inhabitant of Mysterial Lanesuburban neighborhood, you would really appreciate the beauty of the plot of "Desperate Housewives", keep watching
I had approached "Desperate Housewives" with a certain amount of
suspicion as I was never a fan by any means of "Sex and the City" and
thought this would basically be the same sort of show. In some ways, it
is. Men are still represented the same way -- to be blunt, idiots --
and it's still very targeted towards females.
However what I found is that "Desperate Housewives" contains a very funny satirical, dark edge to its humor that elevates it above "Sex and the City" and some other such shows that were previously on television... as a result it can be enjoyed by men and women -- if you like dark suburban comedies such as "The War of the Roses" and "The 'burbs" you'll probably love this.
It centers around a neighborhood of housewives who are trying to figure out who may or may not have killed one of their friends, a woman who supposedly committed suicide.
Meanwhile the show focuses on their relationships, trials and tribulations, mainly the character of Teri Hatcher, who is the one we are meant to feel the most sympathy for.
Although "Desperate Housewives" is rather silly at times and perhaps a bit too smug and clever for its own good, I find it very easy to watch and one of the better entertainments available on television at the time. I'd recommend it to anyone who can appreciate absurd dark humor set in a realistic environment. It's just good fun!
Network: ABC; Genre: Guilty Pleasure, Comedy, Drama, Crime & Mystery;
Rating: TV-14 (for suggested sex and sexual content, language and
violence); Available: DVD; Classification: Contemporary (star range: 1
Seasons Reviewed: Season 1
When neighbor Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong) unexpectedly commits suicide it brings murder, mystery and scandal to the already desperate lives of the suburbanites of Wysteria Lane; including Susan (Teri Hatcher, "Lois & Clark") who competes for the heart of mysterious new neighbor Mike Delfino (James Denton), Lynette (Felicity Huffman, the overlooked "Sports Night") dealing with her own rambunctious young boys and workaholic husband, Gabrielle (Eva Langoria) a philandering trophy wife to her domineering husband Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira, "Six Feet Under") and Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross, "Melrose Place") whose picture perfect outward image will be shattered by the indiscretions of her family.
"Desperate Housewives" is a wild show that lifts up the rock of suburbia to find the muck underneath and mines its absurd scenarios for all they are worth. It is also cause for a lot gloating for everyone, like myself, who said back when the networks weren't listening (putting all their eggs in fad reality series and ultimately collapsing because of it) that the way to make a long-lasting hit was through scripted TV. Vindication came when wives and mothers across the country made this quirky live-action cartoon a monster hit - ABC only won back it's audience with, yes, a scripted show and it now appears to mark the beginning of the end of the gluttonous "reality" show nightmare. With it all bringing hype that "Housewives" probably doesn't deserve, but criticism it doesn't either. Don't take it too seriously and you will have a blast.
One of the nasty realities of network TV is that the networks are insist your show appeal to an entire family of demographics. That desire to be everything to everybody is usually a deathblow to any vision-less series, but creator Marc Cherry ("The Golden Girls", still popular) pulls it off striking just the right cords with every oscillating tone in "Housewives". The show is like a holographic picture that becomes something else when you shift it in the light. It is equal parts a serious soap opera, soap opera parody (perfect soap names like Mike Delfino and Dr. Rex Van De Kamp crack me up every time), a comedy and a murder mystery, a sympathy card to the pressures of raising a family and a satirical jab at suburbia and women who can always find something to gossip and complain about. Undeniably, these tonal shifts make for more than a few imbalances and awkward mixes between the campy and the serious. It isn't quite clear if the show itself knows what it is. If you asked, I'm sure Cherry wouldn't care what our reaction was as long as there was one.
Cherry does this all with just enough skimpy clothing to please the network, a narration (by Strong) that speaks a lot over the images but really says nothing and a gang-busters intro scored by Danny Elfman that brings down the house and sets these schizophrenic tones perfectly. What you wouldn't know at first glance is that "Houswives" writes both sides in the battle of the sexes with equal thought, intelligence and culpability. Any perceived male-bashing gets swept under the rug as every character on the show is fleshed out to 3 dimensions wonderfully. There aren't any caricatures here, but real people put up to a fun house mirror. The show's willingness to cut the cord and kill them off ("24"-lite), is bold and truly shocking. When the season's murder mystery is wrapped up, it won't knock you down, but it does appear to have been meticulously planned from the beginning. All the T's are crossed and I's dotted.
The ladies really make it work though. Huffman's story lines are always the sharpest and most grounded (an episode where she leaves her kids on the side of the road is extremely gratifying). Newcomer Langoria starts out weak in a meaty and controversial double-standard exploring story that boldly asks us to root for her not to get caught sleeping with the gardener (Jesse Metcalf). Both evolve to a point where an ensuing cat-and-mouse game with Carlos becomes the most fun dynamic. Conversly, Nicollette Sheriden's overblown appearance as street hussy Edie Britt gives her nary a page of dialog an episode and young Andrea Bowen plays Susan's daughter as if she is a higher-up's daughter who never had a day of acting class in her life.
But special attention must be paid to Marcia Cross who approaches a level of understated brilliance as tightly-wound, tough-as-nails, misplaced 50s housewife Bree Van De Kamp. Bree is a classic character and Cross nails all of her complexities so peerlessly she about brings a tear to the eye. Cross is not just Emmy-worthy (deserving every award Teri Hatcher won instead), but belongs in the hallowed hall of TV fame for this work. "Housewives" is worth a watch for her alone.
"Desperate Housewives" may be a big hit for ABC, but don't be fooled - this isn't the type of show that usually is a hit. It is too quirky, too wacky and too open to interpretation. Just when you think it has fallen off the wagon and into stupidity it reclaims face with good performances, nasty surprise twists and dead-on writing.
"Desperate Housewives" is a first-rate guilty pleasure. Sharp, trashy, funny, socially conscious and a little twisted behind it's shallow exterior. Only Cherry's fertile comic mind knows what the future holds for the ladies of Wysteria Lane and where this large-scale, genre-bending domestic comedy goes. Even better, "Desperate Housewives" is a blast of cold air blown across the TV landscape knocking over the piles of reality show garbage. It is the most richly entertaining piece of shallow, mass-pleasing TV in quite a while.
* * * / 4
When "Desperate Housewives" first premiered in early fall of 2004, it
was a major and vast hit: It was the number one show of television for
the week, and audiences all over were enthralled and taken with the
likable characters and equally likable actors who portrayed them. The
show then was able to make more appropriate ends meet; there were
magazine articles, and reviews hysteria, with each one of the
'housewife' actresses getting the proper amount of attention and
stardom. The ratings soared, and sky rocketed; the producers, and
writers were satisfied, the plot lines worked perfectly. Each housewife
had a storyline that lasted the entire season, only one really big
desperation for each one, but one that was real and enough to soak up
the satire and make it last an entire season, while giving audiences
something to think about. Each housewife represented you or someone you
knew, male or female, and though juiced with satire, the show had a
gritty realism that was hard to shake off. When a housewife made a
decision, shocking, or expected, it was with requited realism. and
enough down to earth material, so that when a big moment occurred, it
was Big! And it kept audiences tuning in for more week after week.
After twenty - two episodes of almost perfect, entertaining satire, and
wit, the season finale aired, and gave Mary Alice Young, the show's
unseen narrator, a real purpose (not to mention a damn fine finale
monologue) and gave audiences a real cliffhanger, everyone was waiting
to see what was next....
Next came in the form of an episode called 'Next', as the season two opener. Though starting with a not so witty, more of an expected one note commentary by Mary Alice, who has no real value to the show anymore, and clumsy comedy that was inserted where it was not needed, the show still showed promise for an exciting season. But that is where I was wrong. The show had lost all that had made it work. It lost that fresh charm, the new realism, and likable wit and satire. Mary Alice speaks in monologues that are irrelevant, and some do not seem to make sense when you think about it. The characters are not the strong women that they were, they are false, and totally bogus, not believable for a second, except for a few good turns by Felicity Huffman, and Marcia Cross, and a couple by Teri Hatcher, but as for the rest of them, they all seemed to become more like caricatures instead of the characters we came to love. They act out of line, like complete idiots who don't know what to do with their lives, and the story lines became short lived, and some real good ones were never resolved, while others were far fetched and resolved in a short second, then dropped as if they never happened. Most of all, the biting satire, the women in power, and the 'all is well that ends well as long as I said so' motifs are completely gone and forgotten.
Alas, 'Desperate Housewives' has become just another nighttime soap opera. It always was, but as I said, it had a biting satire, comedic touch, that no one could really label. It was new, fresh, original, and in your face. No matter what you thought, you could not turn away from it, and had to know more. Now, about 3/4 through the second season, I honestly dread to think how they are going to pull the show back together. The ratings are dropping ever so slightly, and there seems to be more stupid plot development and bad episodes. The only thing desperate about it now is that the characters are no longer desperate, and the audience seems to be flailing. It is typical dysfunction among the crowds and in a few seasons, two or three, at the most, the show will disappear, and people will forget all about it, because there is nothing memorable about it anymore.
This show went from a seemingly loud message begging to be heard, to pure escapism, not a formula that suites it. I guess I can say I was with a show of pop culture phenomena for awhile, but this just goes to show that nothing good lasts forever. Oh well, as a review said about another wasted opportunity of a show: There was almost a good show there once.
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