Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season Review
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Last fall, as the premiere of the fifth season of Desperate Housewives approached, long-time fans of the series crossed their fingers, anxious to see what was in store for the women of Wisteria Lane. After all, following a couple of so-so seasons, the show finally hit its stride again with season four. Then, at the end of the season, creator Marc Cherry threw fans a wild curveball—one that could make or (seemingly more likely) break the award-winning show.

The show’s fifth season begins five years after the end of the fourth season. But while plenty has changed on Wisteria Lane, some things remain the same: the drama, the suspense, the comedy, and, of course, the deliciously juicy scandals.

The five-year jump finds Susan (Teri Hatcher) once again separated from Mike (James Denton). A fatal car crash tore their marriage apart—and Susan’s now enjoying a fling with her painter, Jackson (Gale Harold). Tom and Lynette Scavo (Doug Savant and Felicity Huffman) are struggling with a failing business and a pair of unruly teenagers while Bree (Marcia Cross) is running a successful catering business with neighbor Katherine (Dana Delany), leaving her floundering ex-con husband, Orson (Kyle MacLachlan) feeling left out.

Meanwhile, neighborhood bad girl Edie (Nicollette Sheridan) returns to Wisteria Lane in the middle of the night, with her mysterious new husband, Dave (Neal McDonough), in tow. And—in the season’s biggest change—former model Gabrielle (Eva Longoria Parker) has gone from fabulous to frumpy, following two pregnancies and five long, hard years of caring for her blind husband, Carlos (Ricardo Chavira).

Though Desperate Housewives has been through its share of highs and lows, good and bad in its five-season run, it’s still a delightfully dishy drama, filled with scandal, lies, and backstabbing—and that’s why millions of viewers (myself included) keep tuning in every Sunday night. It’s a prime-time soap that isn’t afraid to crack a joke while tackling some tough issues. And, best of all, the cast has such wonderful chemistry that they’re just plain fun to watch.

Still, the fifth season is another shaky one. From the beginning, the five-year jump feels awkward and unnecessary—and, well, lazy. Mostly, it just seems like an excuse to dump some plotlines that weren’t really going anywhere and pick up some new ones without taking the time to develop them. It also sets the season up for an exhausting number of flashback episodes.

As for those new plotlines—and the new characters that come with them—none are particularly noteworthy. Gaby’s humanity (and humility) doesn’t last very long. And after four seasons of near misses and fighting to make their relationship work, Mike and Susan’s divorce feels like a cruel joke. Edie’s new husband, Dave, meanwhile, may add some suspense to the ongoing story, but he’s so obviously sinister that it’s frustrating—because crazy old Mrs. McClusky (Kathryn Joosten) is the only one who can see through him.

Throughout much of the fifth season, Desperate Housewives seems to be treading water. Fortunately, though, despite its stops and starts and its skipping through time, the show still has a taste of the spice that first made it a hit. Here’s hoping that the show can kick it back up a notch for season six.

DVD Review:
The seven-disc Red Hot Edition DVD release of Desperate Housewives includes a couple of episode commentaries, along with a full disc of bonus features. Here, you’ll find a few of the DH standbys: a handful of deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and Cherry-Picked—creator Marc Cherry’s favorite scenes of the season (which you can watch with or without his commentary—though I’m not really sure why you’d want to watch them without it).

Other extras include So Very Teri, a tribute to Teri Hatcher, featuring her best moments and her favorite scenes. ”What More Do I Need?” A Very Good Read takes a look at one of the cast’s weekly table reads (with one of the cast members not-so-subtly blurred out). And, finally, I Know Things Now goes inside the show’s 100th episode (which, incidentally, was one of the season’s three flashback episodes). This feature also includes interviews with various cast and crew members from throughout those 100 episodes (Remember nosy Mrs. Huber?)—all of whom reflect on their experiences and discuss what makes Desperate Housewives such a great show.

Though none of the season’s bonus features qualify as must-sees, it’s fun to watch the interaction between cast mates. So if you have a little extra time after making it through the season—and you’re desperate for more from the Housewives to tide you over until the premiere of season six—be sure to take the time to peruse the seventh disc.

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