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Fans Flock to Wisteria Lane for Finale


AP Television Writer

NEW YORK - In May 2004, no one had heard of Wisteria Lane, now TV's go-to address for sexy suburban angst, and "Desperate Housewives" was just a pair of words.

And during a single week that May, Steven Culp both died (on "Star Trek: Enterprise") and was left for dead (on "JAG"). Now Culp lives to marvel at his transformative year on "Desperate Housewives," which has become a juicy topic on the lips of everyone, including First Lady Laura Bush. "At first I thought, `ABC is never gonna pick up this pilot,'" Culp recalls. "Then I thought, `OK, they picked it up, but it's too quirky to succeed.' Then the critics gave it raves and I thought, `Great, we'll get one or two seasons out of it and then move on, with the cachet of having been on this cool show.'

"I'm delighted to be so wrong!"

As devotees eagerly await the season finale (airing 9 p.m. EDT Sunday), they have long since set Culp straight. Some 23 million viewers each week have made the show a national phenomenon as they savor its lighthearted take on blackmail, murder, adultery and sisterhood.

This is a show that hooked America from its first-place premiere last October when, among many twists, its narrator gave a play-by-play of her own suicide.

Exactly why Mary Alice Young, the Desperate Housewife Emeritus of Wisteria Lane, put a bullet in her head will be explained on the finale. A new housewife, played by Alfre Woodard, will take up residence with her own set of secrets. A cliffhanger is promised. And another death.

So goes this kooky melange of melodrama, whodunit and dark comedy which, cooked up by series creator Marc Cherry, has seized the nation's eyeballs and imagination like no new show in years.

One easy reason why: the disparate desperate women of Wisteria Lane, who are bonded by proximity and gender as they represent a variety of female distress. (ABC's "Desperate Housewives" Web site offers a quiz to "see which Wisteria Lane housewife you are ... or which one is your perfect love match.")

The series has launched or resurrected (as the case may be) the actresses who play this lovely foursome

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Guest ranster627

from AfterElton:

Desperate Housewives Outs Gay Teen With a Kiss

by Sarah Warn, February 21, 2005


The fact that Desperate Housewives's 16-year-old Andrew Van de Camp (Shawn Pyfrom) is gay hasn't exactly been the best-kept secret in town: the spoiler was all over the news a few weeks ago along with the rumor that actress Marcia Cross, who plays Andrew's mother Bree, was going to come out as a lesbian in real life (a rumor eventually denied by the actress).

But even with advance notice, Andrew's outing on last night's episode of the hit ABC drama was a welcome development in gay visibility on primetime network TV. It also made Desperate Housewives one of the few network TV series ever to air a gay kiss.

In episode 15 ("Impossible"), housewife Susan (Teri Hatcher) finds Andrew making out in the pool with teen gardener Justin (Ryan Carnes, who also stars in the new indie gay comedy Eating Out). The boys, who are naked and kissing in a dark corner of the pool, duck under the water when Susan initially mistakes them for her daughter and her boyfriend; when they can't hold their breath any longer and are forced to surface. Susan realizes her mistake and stares at the two boys in surprise, while Andrew blurts out "I'm not gay!"


New character Justin is revealed to be gay earlier in the episode, when he admits to his employer, Gabrielle (Eva Longoria), that he tried to sleep with her because he's afraid he might be gay. "I've been fooling around with a buddy," Justin tells her, which is "no big deal," except lately, he's started to develop real feelings for his friend. "My buddy and I have been messing around for awhile, and this whole time I kept telling myself it didn't really mean anything, you know? Guess I've just been kidding myself, huh."

Gabrielle responds that "we're all in denial about something," but commends him for "finally facing the truth." Then she kisses him passionately on the way out, and when he admits it didn't do anything for him, she pats him on the cheek and pronounces, "Yep, definitely gay!"

While scenes showing two women kissing have slowly gained some acceptance on network TV, kisses between two men are still very much taboo. A planned romantic kiss between two men on the FOX primetime drama Melrose Place in 1994 generated so much backlash the network ended up cutting away from the actual kiss to show a straight character's reaction instead.

It wasn't until 2000 that we had the first gay kiss on network TV, on the NBC sitcom Will and Grace, but that was a "protest kiss" between two gay male friends, rather than two men in a romantic relationship. The first romantic kiss on network television didn't occur until a year later, on a 2001 episode of the WB's teen drama Dawson's Creek. A few gay kisses have followed on network TV since then--on an episode of Boston Public at the end of 2001, then on Dawson's Creek and The O.C. in 2003, and episodes of Will and Grace and Joan of Arcadia in 2004, and now Desperate Housewives in 2005.

But this still brings the total number of network TV shows airing gay kisses over the last twenty years to only six--compared with over 30 network TV shows airing kisses between women during the same time period.

Which is why this scene on Desperate Housewives, however brief, is so significant. It isn't nearly as explicit as any randomly chosen gay scene on premium channel shows like Queer as Folk and Six Feet Under, but it doesn't have to be explicit to be progressive for network TV--it simply has to air.

On the surface, a series about suburban housewives may seem an unlikely candidate to push the envelope on gay visibility. Boycotted by various conservative groups even before its first episode aired last fall, Desperate Housewives (whose creator, Marc Cherry, is openly gay) lost advertisers like KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut--who pulled their ads from the show because of its racy (heterosexual) content--and were temporarily the subject of an FCC investigation for a risque ad that aired during Monday Night Football in the fall.

But the constant controversy has only helped the show's ratings, and the show doesn't seem to be having much trouble attracting enough advertisers--which is why it is perfectly positioned to introduce a realistic gay storyline. Two teenage boys kissing in a pool isn't going to raise many eyebrows on a show that features storylines about a housewife seducing her teenage gardener, a PTA mom working as a high-class call-girl on the side, and a husband and wife exploring S&M.

Andrew has his flaws. Some big ones, in fact, like smoking pot and feeling little remorse after accidentally running over an elderly woman in a previous episode. He's not exactly the poster child for a wonderful human being--but in that respect, he's no different from all of the other residents of Wisteria Lane, few of whom you'd actually want to live next door to.

Despite Andrew's shortcomings, if Desperate Housewives sensitively explores his coming-out and integrates his sexuality into the storyline on an ongoing basis, it will be one of the few dramas on primetime network TV to do so. That it happens to be a series that receives around 22 million viewers every week just makes it that much sweeter.

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Guest ranster627

from AfterElton ...

Bad Bi Boys and Desperate Housewives

by Malinda Lo, May 2, 2005


When 16-year-old Andrew Van De Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom) was outed on ABC

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TV critics hot for 'Housewives'

By Cynthia Littleton

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC's red-hot "Desperate Housewives" picked up a leading five nominations for the 21st annual Television Critics Assn. Awards, while stablemate "Lost" and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" earned four nods apiece.

"Housewives" and "Lost" both earned mentions in the categories of best new program, program of the year, and in their respective comedy and drama program categories. Fox's "House," UPN's "Veronica Mars" and FX's "Rescue Me" rounded out the competition in the best new program heat.

The TCA Awards will be presented July 23 at the Beverly Hilton in conjunction with the summer TCA press tour presented by the major broadcast and cable networks.

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Charge on 'Desperate' Actor to Be Dropped


NEW YORK - Marijuana possession charges against "Desperate Housewives" teen actor Cody Kasch will be dropped a year from now as long as he doesn't get into any additional trouble, a judge decided Monday.

Kasch, 17, who plays Zach Young on the ABC television series, was arrested on May 17 in Manhattan's East Village after plainclothes police officers allegedly spotted him smoking marijuana in public.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Evelyn Laporte ordered Kasch to come back to court on June 20, 2006, at which time the fifth-degree drug possession charge will be dismissed if he has not had any further arrests.

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Guest ranster627

FROM TV GUIDE: Entertainment News

HOUSEWIVES GET NEW NEIGHBORHOOD: To fill the void left by the sudden snuffing of Welcome to the Neighborhood, the controversial reality series which was to debut July 17, ABC is moving its summer repeats of Desperate Housewives up an hour to 9 pm/ET. Grey's Anatomy will replace Housewives at 10 pm.

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Next season on "Desperate Housewives": darker storylines and some dastardly deeds by a new neighbor.

So says the show's creator, Marc Cherry, still buoyant from the show's 15 Emmy nominations, tying "Will & Grace" as the year's top-nominated series.

"Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled!" Cherry said. "I can't even think of another word. I was just really, really happy."

He promises that next year will bring "more surprises, twists and turns.

"We're going darker with some of the storylines, and Alfre Woodard's (new neighbor) character is just up to no good on that street," he said.

Cherry and series star Marcia Cross, who plays "Housewives"' uptight heroine Bree Van de Camp, carefully dropped second season tidbits Saturday at a panel discussion dubbed "Queer is Just a Frame of Mind on Wisteria Lane" -- part of Outfest 2005: The 23rd Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Cherry is gay, as are some of the others on his writing staff -- and many fans.

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Guest ranster627

FROM Sci-Fi Wire

12:00 AM, 29-JULY-05

Lack Of Clones Flatters Cherry

Marc Cherry, creator and executive producer of Desperate Housewives, told SCI FI Wire that he was surprised that, unlike last year's other hit series, Lost, his show did not inspire a batch of imitators in the new fall season. "I heard the nicest complement," he said in an interview at the ABC press party for the Television Critics Association in West Hollywood, Calif. "Apparently, a television executive was asked why there weren't more clones of Desperate Housewives, because certainly shows have come up that are like Lost. And this person said, 'Well, the difference is, Lost is easy to copy because it's a genre [show]; Desperate Housewives is almost impossible to copy because it's a voice.' And I took that as one of the nicest compliments I've gotten all year long."

Cherry added that he wouldn't necessarily mind if other writers were inspired by his show. "I do like to think that my voice is very specific, and it's not just another soap opera," he said. "That being said, I actually hope that people start to use humor more in serialized shows. I think that it's an underserved element of that genre, and I think that it could be very advantageous to some networks to go in that direction."

The next season of Desperate Housewives will have darker mysteries, Cherry promised, as well as the addition of Joely Fisher as the demanding boss of Felicity Huffman's former stay-at-home mom, Lynette. Cherry also said scenes featuring new neighbors played by Alfre Woodard and Mehcad Brooks, which were cut out of the season finale for time, will be edited into the season premiere. Desperate Housewives returns for a second season on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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I think DH actually lacks some good music. It'd be awesome if they can add some fun music to the epsiodes. I'm really in love with Tracy Bonham's "Blink the Brightest" album and i wonder if there's any song in it that can be used for DH. btw, you guys heard of Tracy Bonham at all? my bf and I are sooo crazy for this girl these days.

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Guest ranster627

FROM TV GUIDE: Entertainment News

DESPERATE MEASURES: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has agreed to move this year's Golden Globes telecast from its traditional Sunday perch to Monday to avoid a head-to-head collision with ABC's Desperate Housewives. NBC requested the change after January's telecast drew its lowest ratings in nearly a decade

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China Hot For 'Desperate Housewives'

by Elizabeth Guider


'Desperate Housewives'

ABC's hit soap opera "Desperate Housewives" will premiere this fall on Chinese TV. It was just a matter of time. Despite recent tightening by the Chinese authorities to keep U.S. pics and TV operators on a short leash, "Desperate Housewives" is about to explode onto the Chinese mainland.

The ABC soap opera will premiere this September at 10 p.m. on the Everyday Jiayi block of primetime programming, which airs on state-run CCTV-8. Zone Vision operates the one-hour block, which airs seven nights a week on the broadcaster's countrywide cable system, reaching a whopping 700 million eyeballs, or about 180 million TV households.

Whether any scenes or dialogue will have to be cut from the racy show remains to be seen, but even so, Chinese viewers will be exposed to a new level of Western-style sizzle. (A locally originated call-in sex show, a la 'Dr. Ruth,' was nixed last year by Beijing authorities as too risque.)


'Desperate Housewives'

It's unclear precisely how the series will be scheduled, but typically Jiayi, which translates loosely as "Must See TV," runs telenovelas or Korean dramas every night until the episodes are exhausted. Right now a Latin telenovela is nearing the end of its run on the block. As for the American suburban 'Housewives,' they will be dubbed into Mandarin.

The deal was unveiled August 11 by Steve Macallister, senior VP and managing director of BVITV-AP, and Chris Wronski, chairman of Zone Vision Networks. Zone Vision Networks recently acquired Encore Intl. Beijing, and this program acquisition is the first under the new ownership.

"As part of our commitment to our relationship with CCTV and our viewers in China, we have made it a priority to acquire more notable Hollywood series and award-winning programming from around the world," Wronski said.


'Desperate Housewives'

No figure was available for the cost of the series to Zone, but it's thought the channel operator will be looking to acquire other current U.S. series for exposure in China. 'Housewives' will be the only U.S. series to air though in the year 2005.

It's extremely rare for U.S. series and movies to end up directly on CCTV's domestic-oriented over-the-air channels anyway, so programming blocks like that on cable network CCTV-8 are the next best bet for wide exposure. Better a little money than none at all, a Hollywood distributor of series is likely to reason.

On the other hand, a number of U.S. TV series are available on pirated DVD -- how widely is hard to ascertain. "Desperate Housewives" has already generated "a lot of press coverage and excitement in China," said Sarah Jiang, general manager of Encore Intl. Beijing. "Acquiring a series of this caliber underscores our commitment to this market as well as to our partners at CCTV-8."

To date, the ABC hit is licensed by Disney's Buena Vista Intl. unit to 150 territories worldwide -- and is raking in $1 million-plus an episode from its overseas deals. For BVITV-AP, the agreement with Zone Vision was negotiated by the unit's China-based head Mark Chan.

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Guest ranster627

FROM TV GUIDE: Ask Ausiello

Question: For the record, you are missed. Got any good stuff on Desperate Housewives?

Ausiello: Marc Cherry's No. 2 guy, Michael Edelstein, is bolting after this season's first 13 episodes, and sadly, there's no big scandal afoot. "It was a quality-of-life issue," he says. "It came down to, 'Do I want to spend 18 hours a day working on something that I've already built, or do I want to go build something else?' I'm an adrenaline junkie, and I realized that what I really want to do is launch another show."

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Los Angeles, September 19, 2005 - In 2004, an outrageous new TV series got everybody's attention. Desperate Housewives" served up the perfect recipe for success. Mix in the ingredients -

lust, love and add five tempting goddesses all primed for a comeback - and what have you got?

One sinfully delicious hit! Off-camera, the girls of 'Wisteria Lane' created their own buzz. Still, success brought pressure - and sometimes the claws came out. But if you think this fab five makes waves on

TV-wait 'til you hear their real life dramas! Just in time for the second season premiere, this two-hour episode explores the careers of actresses Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross and Nicollette Sheridan leading up to the legendary casting and creation of Desperate Housewives, the alleged ast catfights on- and off-screen, and the phenomenon of this overwhelmingly successful series "The omen of Desperate Housewives: The E! True Hollywood Story," premieres Sunday, September 25, at 7:00PM T/PT. In the two hour episode:

Eva Longoria (archival) on the ingredients of the women of Wisteria Lane - "Sex, sex, and um, more sex." Eva Longoria's friend, Kiki Melendez, on Eva's unflattering childhood nickname, "Prieta Fea," Spanish for "Ugly Dark One" - "I always thought she was bullshitting about that to be honest...And then I saw a picture f er when she was little. And I was like, 'Oh, ok. Now I got it...She's not lying.'"

Creator Marc Cherry (archival) on his motivation for "Desperate Housewives" - "I was sitting at home with my mother in Orange County, watching coverage of the Andrea Yates trial. The woman who tragically drown er children in the bathtub. I said, 'Gosh, can you imagine a woman being so desperate, that she would hurt er own children?' And my mom turned to me and said, 'I've been there.' The idea for the series was born ight then and there."

Marcia Cross (archival) on her struggle before "Desperate Housewives" - "I had kinda given up actually, I lean I just thought it's either going to happen or it's not." E! Online television columnist Kristin Veitch on trained relationships on Wisteria Lane - "There was some tension behind the scenes, clearly. With women in that situation who've been in the business that long, who are all so hungry for this kind of comeback. It's, of course, only natural that they would have some sort of tension about who's gonna wear what, who's gonna tand where, how these sorts of things were gonna go down."

Cherry (archival) on his initial rejection for he TV series - "I released it and sent it all over and everyone said 'No.' About six different networks passed on the script and the one place we hadn't sent it to was ABC, you know because I was desperate, but not

that desperate."

Longoria (archival) on her view of fellow cast mates - "They've all been there and done that and they're ver the diva-ness. They're just happy to be there." Journalist Dawn Yanek on Marc Cherry's casting for character Susan Mayer - "He was actually looking at Mary Louise Parker and Calista Flockhart."

Yanek on Terri Hatcher's struggle for success - "She had been through a really rough time with her divorce in 2003 and she wasn't working., She wasn't even on the list when Marc Cherry started thinking about who

would be Susan"

Teri Hatcher (archival) on her connection with her character Susan Mayer - "I'm not exactly her, but I get her. I get her insecurities and her flaws."

Kiki Melendez on Eva's appetite - "The woman eats like a truck driver. (Laughs) And she just has that etabolism. A flat stomach. She's so tiny, you know. Her arms are tiny...she's got a nice butt. I'm like, Damn, Eva. You got a nice ass. How the hell did that happen?'"

Veitch on Marc Cherry's casting for Marcia Cross's character - "The role of Bree Van de Camp was modeled after Mark Cherry's own mother. And he has said that he actually thinks he was frightened of casting Marcia

in that role because she actually reminded him of his own mother, and he was terrified."

Jesse Metcalfe (archival) on his Wisteria Lane experiences - "My time's pretty evenly divided between owing the lawn and you know, making out."

Cross (archival) on her character's seductive wardrobe - "I was in a bra and panties and was complaining orever. It was miserable. Let Teri do it and Eva do it, that's how I feel about it."

Hatcher (archival) on her Emmy

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Questions Abound As 'Housewives' Returns

By FRAZIER MOORE, AP Television Writer


Marcia Cross as Bree appears in a scene from the series' second season premiere,

telecast September 25, 2005.

NEW YORK - "Desperate Housewives" featured a desperate widow Sunday night. Bree (Marcia Cross) was coping with the sudden death of husband Rex as the reality of his passing set in.


From left, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria, appear

in a scene from the season premiere, telecast September 25, 2005.

But her usual ice-queen demeanor was put to the ultimate test with the arrival of her mother-in-law, Phyllis, a chronic buttinsky who clashed with Bree on every detail of the funeral arrangements

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'Housewives' returns with new secrets.



'Desperate Housewives'

With Jesse Metcalfe moving out of Wisteria Lane, Mehcad Brooks wants to make himself feel right at home. "There's a 15-minute scene of me and Eva (Longoria) I wrote. I keep trying to slip my pages into the script, but they don't allow me to do that," he says during a phone interview from Los Angeles.

For the moment, Brooks -- who joins the hit ABC soap opera Desperate Housewives as Alfre Woodard's son in tonight's season premiere at 10 p.m. on ABC and CTV -- will have to wait for his close-up with Longoria and just be satisfied with working on one of TV's most-watched series.

This, of course, comes with its own peculiar pressures.

The show may have averaged more than 23 million viewers last season, but that sort of success is difficult to sustain and already pundits are questioning whether or not the dramedy can maintain its ratings momentum. "I don't even think about that. It was a big hit last year -- I hate to anticipate that everyone's going to watch, but I'm crossing my fingers. I'm hopeful," says Brooks. "I really don't feel any pressure, which is strange. But everyone has made it so smooth. It's hard to feel pressure when you're with people who feel so comfortable."

Comfortable? On a set that has been famously described as rife with tension, anxiety, catfighting and backstabbing?

Don't its leading ladies start fighting as soon as the cameras stop rolling? "Only over me and I'm like, 'Ladies, there's enough of me to go around.' But no, I've never seen anything like that. "I'd heard about the Vanity Fair shoot and thought, 'Oh my god, I'm going to be in the middle of it and there's going to be all this drama.' But I've been severely disappointed. Off-screen, we fit in just fine. Everytime we go out to a press thing or we're out promoting the show, it's like we're all friends.

"There's no drama. Marcia (Cross) and Teri (Hatcher) get on just fine. Eva gets along with everyone just fine. "They all get along with me and Alfre. I don't want to say it's all just media hype, I don't know -- maybe it helps the show ... The entire world wants to know what they're like and they're so cool and down-to-earth. I thank my lucky stars."


Woodard's character -- who was introduced at the end of last season -- is expected to be at the centre of this season's new year-long mystery.

Understandably when the subject of what his clan's secret is, Brooks is coy. "Let's just say they fit in extremely well in that everyone else also has some dark secrets they're trying to hide. "Ours is a much different secret, but at the same time, it's being hidden for the same reasons -- out of desperation and love."

One thing Brooks will confess to? He wasn't a fan of the show last season. "I didn't see it a lot. I was aware of it. With all the media attention, I knew it existed. I saw a few scenes here and there and actually liked it. I was like, 'I can't believe I liked this show.'

"But I never thought I'd be on Desperate Housewives. It just didn't occur to me. But when I read the part of Matthew, I was taken aback. I thought, 'This is really for me' and I wanted to see what I could do with the character.

"Hey, if I could get into Teri Hatcher or Eva Longoria's house -- that's right up my alley."

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Knotty Problems

by Michael Slezak


Marcia Cross as Bree

In the second-season premiere of ''Desperate Housewives,'' both Bree and Lynette make sudden changes, while Gabrielle and Susan seem stuck in relationship ruts

CASKET CASE Bree made sure Rex will keep up appearances eternally

Leave it to the cheeky writing staff of Desperate Housewives: After making us wait an interminable 126 days for a new episode, they further delay our gratification with a particularly sleepy opening 20 minutes in the second-season premiere.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Just as Bree politely waited till 9 a.m. to inform her friends of Rex's death and drop off a welcome basket to her new neighbor

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Can you trump the tales of Desperate Housewives' Bree, Susan et al.? ABC.com is soliciting salacious stories from all you married ladies out there for "Confessions of a Desperate Housewife," a series of video montages to be shown on the net's website and distributed wirelessly this fall. For details and a list of the topics you must address in your tawdry li'l confessional, visit DesperateHousewives.com


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Violence Is Golden

Entertainment Weekly


BOOBY PRIZE Gabrielle kept

the money intended for

breast-augmentation surgery

On ''Desperate Housewives,'' Bree slaps her mother-in-law, Susan injures Edie and the paperboy, and Gabrielle lets Carlos take a beating by Michael Slezak

If you'll forgive a really bad pun, this week's Desperate Housewives put the punch back in the television punch line. Not since the days of Wile E. Coyote getting crushed by the anvils he dropped on Road Runner do I recall so much violence getting packed into a single hour

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"Housewives" Get Lost in Translation

By Gina Serpe


James Denton ABC's Desperate Housewives

Ay, ay, ay!

Gotta hand it to those Desperate Housewives--they deliver great drama on and off the small screen.

Fans in both Los Angeles and Canada were left desperate themselves Sunday night after two separate technical glitches interrupted the show's broadcast.

Nearly 200,000 Southern California viewers found themselves muy confused last week when a local cable operator accidentally aired the first 50 minutes of the show in Spanish.

Adelphia Commmunicatons felt the wrath and complaints of wannabe Wisteria Lane residents after an equipment mishap picked up the Spanish language simulcast of the episode.

The cable company quickly placed blame elsewhere, namely on damage caused to equipment from the nearby wildfires raging in the region. Adelphia was forced to reroute its cable signal to a different location, which caused the soundtrack snafu.

Unfortunately for viewers of quality television, the Desperate Housewives glitch wasn't the only problem for the cable company. The provider was also forced to repeat last week's Lost Monday night after a power outage last Wednesday left hatch-crazy fans in the dark.

As for Desperate viewers to the north, there was no need to be bilingual, but some psychic ability wouldn't have hurt. In the last half of the show, Canuck station CTV reportedly aired several scenes multiple times and dropped other scenes from its broadcast entirely.

Both stations have promised to re-air the episodes, glitch-free.

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'Housewives' is dragging desperately

By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY

The folks at Desperate Housewives do know the season has started, right?

After three episodes, this hugely popular ABC soap-com still seems to be in some offseason transition, clinging to old plots while fumbling with new ones. Perhaps it was too much to hope that the second season of Housewives would get off to the same kind of explosive start as the first. But we do expect the series to do more than just mark time.

Let me hasten to add that I'd still rather spend time with these Housewives than with almost any other TV show. Even at a reduced gear, Housewives is one of the medium's rare pleasures, one that should be able to ride on our affection for its actors and characters long enough for the writers to find their way home again.

Part of the problem, perhaps, is that Housewives creator Marc Cherry has yet to write an episode this season. TV is a collaborative medium, so it is likely that Cherry has made major contributions to all the scripts. But that's not the same thing, and so far, neither is his show.

Of course there have been entertaining moments, and Sunday night's return of Harriet Sansom Harris may be a sign of more to come. But too many of the setups don't pay off - such as Lynette's ( Felicity Huffman) attempt to video-conference her way to her son's first day of school, or Bree's ( Marcia Cross) flat act-break insult to the detective. And the writers seem to be drawing some of the characters too broadly, making Gaby ( Eva Longoria) too selfish and Susan ( Teri Hatcher) too stupid.

What's worse, too many of the scenes are rehashing stories we thought we had left behind. Do they really expect us to believe Gaby was considering getting back together with John?

Yet more than anything, what's missing is an overarching story strong enough to tie the episodes and the housewives together. Mary Alice's suicide didn't just launch Housewives. By forcing the remaining friends to re-evaluate their lives while uniting them in a quest to understand Mary Alice's death; it set the tone for the show and lent it depth.

So far this year, there's no such link among these four women. Indeed, in three weeks we've hardly seen the four stars together. And they didn't share a scene last night at all.

If Alfre Woodard's man-in-the-basement story line was supposed to be the tie that binds or a suitable substitute for the Mary Alice story, it isn't working. Woodard is one of our best actresses; but the story is far-fetched even for Wisteria Lane. And even if it weren't, her character is too peripheral for her plight to have much emotional impact on the four main housewives. She's barely a neighbor, let alone a friend.

Still, the season is young, and good shows often suffer from slow starts. The situation's troubling, yes. But desperate?

Not yet.

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Tool Time?

by Michael Slezak


TELEPARENTING.. Lynette (Felicity Huffman)

took her son to school online.

On ''Desperate Housewives,'' the women of Wisteria Lane employ computers, drills, and even hedge clippers to maintain a little control over their lives.

Those Desperate Housewives writers sure do love to weave a theme, and this week's message was all about better living through technology. Whether it was Lynette employing the latest in online video conferencing, Bree taking a lie-detector test, or Gabrielle getting her hands on some discarded hedge clippers, the women advanced their causes, and their story arcs, with a little mechanical help. Even Betty, the newcomer on the block, got in on the fun, benefiting from that power tool her son

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Cleanup needed for 'Housewives'


Eva Longoria and Jesse Metcalfe wrap up their story line.

Last year, when one of the opening images in the premiere episode of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" was that of cherry preserves being mistaken for blood, it signaled a sensibility and creativity that was fresh and funny. Last Sunday, when one of the images in the latest episode of "Housewives" was that of Alfre Woodard's Betty claiming that the blood on her clothing actually was cherry preserves, it signaled something else entirely. In a word, laziness.

We're now three episodes into the second season of "Housewives," and the show still doesn't seem to have any traction. Even the twists aren't as twisted as they used to be: The climax of Sunday's show had George (Roger Bart) passing a lie-detector test, even though we know he killed Bree's late husband, Rex, by slowly poisoning him.

How did he pass the test? As Norm Macdonald used to say when hosting "Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live," "Ripped from the pages of Duh! magazine ..." George has access to every pharmaceutical there is, and certainly one of them would keep him calm under the duress of such a test. It's a no-brainer. It's also a no-exciter.

What's wrong so far this season, for the most part, has been the tone. Seeing Felicity Huffman's Lynette back in the corporate world was a good touch, but not when her boss, played by Joely Fisher, is such a cartoonish shrew. Subtle digs, jabs and thrusts, not cartoon mallets and anvils, should be the weapons of choice. Think of the smug sexiness last season of neighborhood madam Maisy Gibbons (Sharon Lawrence), and her verbal jousts with Marcia Cross' Bree, to recall what's missing so far this sophomore season.

Splitting up the four main housewives, and giving them nothing unified to do, hasn't helped things, but this guy-in-the-basement thing with Betty thus far has wasted not only Woodard's talent, but our time as well. The Gabrielle-Carlos scenes, with Eva Longoria and Ricardo Chavira, have been the best-written this year, but there's only so much you can do when separated by a prison table. Longoria's scenes Sunday with Jesse Metcalfe, as her ex-lover John, close a story line that already ended. She did, however, get a new car - but when an Aston-Martin is more memorable than these leading ladies, the writing's to blame.

Perhaps George can snap, and start killing the residents one by one, and force the housewives to band together, Nancy Drew-style, to catch the murderer. Or the unresolved stories and departed characters from last season can return. Or series creator Marc Cherry can write a script for a change. Anything that would help is needed, before "Housewives" goes from stalled to stagnant.

By the way, this isn't knee-jerk-reaction, sophomore-season sour grapes. ABC's "Lost" is in its sophomore season, too, and it knocks my socks off. "Lost" isn't lost at all, but "Desperate Housewives" is leaning dangerously in that direction.


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Desperate Housewives

At last! A poker-game scene with all the housewives together. Well, all but Lynette, who certainly had her hands full. Taking her crabby boss Nina out every night to the pickup bar certainly was taking its toll. At least getting Nina laid temporarily resolved her crabbiness problem. Loved when Lynette finally came out of her shell, showing us what a sexpot Felicity Huffman actually is. Her transformation scene totally reminded me of Sandy at the end of Grease. I was waiting for her to say, "Tell me about it, stud!" And I must say I love Joely Fisher on this show. Her comedic talents weren't exactly up to their potential on Ellen since she sort of had to play the "straight" man, even when Ellen wasn't out yet. While I'm on the subject of loving, I'm also loving Adrian Pasdar as David, Gabrielle's lawyer. That man has really aged well since the underrated Profit. Maybe being married to one of the Dixie Chicks makes you look younger? Nice effort to convince Carlos to hire him back: "I can't sleep with clients." But how stupid can Carlos be? Definite highlight of the episode was Bree's triumphant Steel Magnolias-like monologue at the cemetery, when she was chastising Rex for thinking that she was trying to murder him. Definite lowlight was Wallace Shawn's Lonny trying to kiss Susan. He looked like Wilbur from Charlotte's Web. Meanwhile, we finally got to learn why Betty Applewhite is locking away that man in her basement. But all this time, I thought it was her husband. Her saying to Matthew "They're not gonna care how slow Caleb is" instead of calling him "your father" makes me think Caleb is her son and Matthew's brother. The fact that Caleb innocently murdered a woman named Melanie Foster answers the question of why they moved away from Chicago. (I moved because of the weather.) Speaking of my hometown, go White Sox!

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