ABC Studios // 2009 // 989 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // December 8th, 2010
Susan: If you don't get out of my face, I'm gonna ram this Thigh Master down your throat.
Desperate Housewives sailed on to a sixth season fresh off a five year jump in the story line from the previous year. This group of episodes retain what is charming about the show including witty lines, physical comedy, strong drama, and a couple of new mysteries to keep things moving towards the climax. Desperate Housewives still has one of the strongest casts on network television, but the question is can it stay interesting after half a decade of Wisteria lane antics? The sudsy silly soap soldiered on with a smorgasbord of subplots and surreal stories.
We start off with our cast of characters recovering nicely from the previous happenings in the neighborhood. Susan (Teri Hatcher, Tomorrow Never Dies) and Mike (James Denton,The Pretender) decide to remarry in the first episode, and this spins Katherine (Dana Delany, Kidnapped) in to a jealous rage of epic proportions. Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman, Georgia Rule) is expecting twins, and meanwhile her husband has decided to go back to college. Bree (Marcia Cross, Melrose Place) continues her clandestine affair with Karl, but worries how Susan will react if she finds out she is in love with her ex-husband. Not to mention Orson (Kyle MacLachlan, Dune) is still around. Gabrielle (Eva Longoria Parker, Over Her Dead Body) has her hands full with her near adult niece Ana who has moved in with her and Carlos (Ricardo Chavira, Piranha 3-D).
But don't think the mysteries don't pop up soon enough to trouble the residents and shake up their world. A strange new neighbor appears on the infamous lane named Angie Bolen (Drea De Matteo, The Sopranos), and she has quite a few secret bombs that will come back to haunt her. Also, there is a strangler loose who happens to go after Susan's daughter. And an ex-stripper has her eye on Katherine who just might be feeling something strange for her. The big disaster this year is the plane crash at Christmas which makes everyone's fate hang in the balance.
Desperate Housewives struggled a bit during this year both with stories and ratings, but it stayed true to the formula creator Marc Cherry kicked off since it debuted in 2004. The darkest of comedies, the show plays out as if a prime time soap like Dallas mated with a traditional sitcom such as The Golden Girls. The series is ironically filmed on the same set that was home to Leave it to Beaver, and it remains a sardonic look at the lives of suburban housewives who seem to have endless drama to spare. The biggest challenge to the production this year was the imminent departure of Dana Delany who was offered a lead in another network show. How could they get her character out of the way so the actress could move on? The answer was to have her fall in love with an unlikely object for her affection.
The biggest criticism of season six is that it dealt with a whole ton of story lines, and many of them did not revolve around our core characters as a group. The show is at its best when the housewives work together to solve a problem or find out about a mystery, but seemed like this year didn't give them much of a chance to interact or intertwine. When things would happen like Susan and Gabby coming together to get back at Mike and Carlos it had a spark that seemed lacking sometimes in the other plots.
The DVD set retains a good technical quality, but it too seems to a little less ample than previous seasons. On broadcast it comes in crisp high definition, so everything looks quite clean and well balanced. There is not many digital artifacts and the colors are sumptuous throughout. The package itself though is a little slimmer than what had come before...literally. Previous seasons came in elaborate box sets that folded out with nice booklets and photographs. This time it is a rather compact single size DVD case with a cardboard slip cover that looks oddly tiny sitting next to my first five year sets. Also skimpier are the supplemental features which only include Marc Cherry's favorite scenes with optional commentary, a visit to the set from Miss Piggy, a short feature on the acting methods used on the show, a blooper reel, and a handful of deleted scenes. This time around there are no commentaries or extended episodes. It seems like even the DVDs are experiencing the law of diminishing returns and lowered expectations.
Despite any stumbles or rambling on about downsizing, Desperate Housewives does remain a great showcase for its incredible cast. Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, and Teri Hatcher still know how to play the heck out of any sudsy situations sent their way. Dana Delaney does a smash up job too of taking her bow as Katherine Mayfair, and hopefully she will return since her series Body of Proof tanked almost immediately. Guest stars Drea De Matteo and Julie Benz (Dexter) add to the excellent cast, and the acting remains as strong as ever. The sixth season of Desperate Housewives has some great moments thanks to a topnotch group of thespians who decide smartly how to mix the comedy and the drama with expert flair.
No matter what happens on Wisteria Lane, you at least know it's going to be funny and sad all at once. The mysteries may not be as inventive as the used to be, the back and forth on the relationships may well make you crazy, and the soap elements seem to keep going on defying any and all logic, but the women remain funny and strong, and that gives you hope for this and the coming year. Desperate Housewives: The Complete Sixth Season offers a little less in packaging and extras than previous DVD seasons, but still manages to give you all the episodes in a technically impressive set. There's still much to love, but I'm not applauding quite as hard as I did that first year.
Still a guilty pleasure even with the soap getting a bit sudsier.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Studios
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 989 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Master Class
* Official Site