The Good

The Bad

I was staying in New Jersey for 3 months when I first started hearing talk about Desperate Housewives. Working on an internet news show, the Producer of the show very much resembled and reminded me of Marcia Cross. Then, when we got a new editor on the show, he and her started commiserating about Desperate Housewives As is usually the case, I was in my own world, with my own thoughts on my animated movie 1985-1986. Yet, I still could not escape this show. Then one day, I managed to catch a scene of Nicollette Sheridan washing her car on the show. Remembering her from the film The Sure Thing, I figured that this 1 hour drama, with a cast of other very good looking women probably had a bit more to offer than the usual eye-candy. The fact that most of the women were past their prime (in Hollywood’s terms, not mine) made me think that a network had finally tapped into something that had been neglected for many years...

The suburban housewife.

Yet, even with all signs pointing in the right directions, I still didn’t watch this show. It wasn’t until MovieWeb gave me this box set to review that I took the plunge and decided to get to know the women of Wisteria Lane. After watching Desperate Housewives - The Complete First Season, I think I know a bit more about why this show has become the phenomenon that it has become. Quite simply, the network took a chance on showing a TV show that was a cross between real life and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. How else to describe a show where everything looks perfect, yet underneath all of that things clearly aren’t? It isn’t as if this show is saying that all housewives are not happy with their lives, it’s just that I don’t think we ever give much thought to these women we call “homemakers.” We just assume that they are content being who they are, and while most probably wouldn’t find fault with their own lives, it takes a show like Desperate Housewives to let us know that things may not always be as they seem.

Features

Commentary Tracks

There are a decent amount of these on here for such episodes as the “Pilot”, “Guilty”, “Anything You Can Do,” etc. Series creator Marc Cherry handles most of the commentary duties along with director Larry Shaw. The “Housewives” only give commentary tracks on their favorite scenes. Truthfully, I would have liked to have heard more from them, but Cherry and Shaw do a commendable job of keeping us informed on the actors performances and their decisions for key things that happened throughout the episodes. While I think they went a bit overboard (sometimes what Cherry had to say was a tad redundant), on the whole I think that hardcore fans of the show will really enjoy these tracks.

Unrated/Extended Scenes, A Stroll Down Wisteria Lane, Desperate Housewives er Party and Dressing Wisteria Lane

I didn’t notice anything about these scenes that would warrant the term “unrated,” but maybe my view of what is acceptable runs contrary to what the FCC finds acceptable? Whatever the case, many of these scenes were obviously taken out for time reasons, but I don’t think that they are illuminating anything we don’t already know. The other featurettes like “A Stroll Down Wisteria Lane”, “Bree’s Dinner Party and “Dressing Wisteria Lane” take us more behind the scenes and show us why Desperate Housewives looks the way that it does. We see how the homes are all put together to emphasize certain traits of each character, and also how certain ideas and decisions were made in regards to how each character should be played. “Desperate Housewives Around the World” was my favorite featurette because we are shown the chord this show has struck with audiences not just in the US but overseas. It very very interesting seeing how this show speaks to so many different people, from so many varied backgrounds.

Behind the Scenes with The View’s Meredith Viera, Secrets of Wisteria Lane, Bloopers and Oprah Winfrey is The New Neighbor

Meredith Viera takes us behind the scenes of the show and we get to hear from the people involved about their take on Desperate Housewives. Nothing too amazing is illuminated here, but I think people who are interested in these characters beyond the show will very much enjoy it. “Secrets of Wisteria Lane” are supposed to give us an inside look on those things we don’t notice on the show. I found this interesting if not a bit overdone. The “Bloopers” were pretty standard but then again I am someone who usually laughs when I see footage of any actor or actress messing up a line. “Oprah Winfrey is The New Neighbor” is a short segment in which the Divine Miss O moves to Wisteria Lane. I don’t know that I would want to live next door to all of these strong willed ladies.

Video

Anamorphic Widescreen. 1.85:1. When I saw that this show was going to be in widescreen I expected Desperate Housewives - The Complete First Season to be stiff and stodgy. Then I realized how funny and shocking it was and it turned out my fears were unwarranted. This show is highly stylized with a nice use of solid colors to bolster character and themes, yet I never felt that the show was “working on me” in a subconscious way. Actually, I very much appreciated the fact that it seemed like this show pretty much puts everything out there, and it’s up to the viewer to decide for themselves what they do or don’t think is important.

Audio

English - Dolby Digital 5.1. As this is a mainstream TV show, made by a major network, how is it not going to sound great? Even on my crummy 13” in TV with one speaker, I heard everything fine. I especially like the music that has been employed, because I really feel it contrasts the perfection on the screen. It’s as if we are seeing something that looks right, yet the music informs us that something is just a little off. I also like that this show employs narration. Not that I want to see that in every show, but there has been a lot of anti-narration sentiment over the years and it’s great to see something as powerful as TV getting passed that.

Package

This 6 disc set is neatly housed inside a vinyl cardboard cover. The front picture featuring Langoria, Cross, Huffman and Hatcher perfectly captures the overall idea behind this show. These women are up to something. I love the use of white which seems to defy classical color conceptions of a layout. I do think that Nicollette Sheridan should have been on the front cover. The back has some more pictures from the show, a description, an extras listing and some technical specs. Overall, this packaging is solidly put together and not nearly as bulky or cumbersome as I initially thought it would be. I also like that even the cover defies convention.

Final Word

Any show that can begin with the suicide of a neighbor and then have that person narrate the show from the grave has got to be special, right? It seems as if the creators of Desperate Housewives have out HBO’ed HBO. This show seems like something that would clearly have benefited from being on cable, but the network execs went another way and realized they could make this show work on regular television. Honestly, I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this show and was able to get into all of the characters.

There has been a lot of talk that Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer is the person to watch on this show, but I find Eva Langoria, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Nicollette Sheridan all compliment one another perfectly. In fact, should they start leaning toward one character over the other, I think that that will ultimately spell this shows demise. Sort of like how they tried at one time on “Happy Days” to make the show about Fonzie. Executives don’t seem to realize that as much as an audience loves a character, part of the reason they love that character is because they don’t get to see him or her all the time.

Desperate Housewives - The Complete First Season is a show that I probably never would have screened had I not been asked to by MovieWeb. A show like this gives me a lot of hope for other fare that regular TV will put out in the future.