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Case Number 17215

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Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season

ABC Studios // 2008 // 1032 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 9th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum desperately remains a fan of housewives.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season (published October 10th, 2005), Desperate Housewives: The Complete Second Season (published September 11th, 2006), Desperate Housewives: The Complete Third Season (published August 28th, 2007), Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fourth Season (published September 18th, 2008), Desperate Housewives: The Complete Sixth Season (published December 8th, 2010), and Desperate Housewives: The Complete Seventh Season (published September 14th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

Bree [Reading Lynette's proposal]: "Let Mrs. Van De Kamp turn your oven into a time machine."
Lynette: "I see women really responding to that."
Bree: "You do? Because I see children crawling into their ovens hoping to see dinosaurs."

Opening Statement

Season Five of Desperate Housewives bumped all the story lines up five years to kick start the series, and to make sure our leading actresses stayed age appropriate for the characters they have been playing for half a decade. It was a bold move, and one that paid off as it wiped the slate clean to start with a new mystery and plenty of fresh drama.

Facts of the Case

Five years in to the future, and not much has changed on Wisteria Lane as it remains the tangle of secrets and dysfunction it always has been. Edie Britt (Nicolette Sheridan, Code Name: The Cleaner) shows up with a new husband in tow (Neal McDonough, Star Trek: First Contact). He's super handsome, but hides a deadly secret that will have him gunning for revenge against one of the housewives before too long. Meanwhile Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher, Spy Kids) has split from the love of her life (James Denton, The Pretender), Bree Hodge (Marcia Cross, Melrose Place) runs her "Martha Stewart" empire with an iron fist, Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria Parker, Over Her Dead Body) struggles on with her blind hubby (Ricardo Chavira, The Alamo), and Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman, Transamerica) soldiers on with her twin boys now in high school. Before the season is over someone dies, a business is burned to the ground, children go on trial, guns are shot, lovers are deported to Canada, Lily Tomlin (I Heart Huckabees) shows up to snoop, Beau Bridges (Norma Rae) appears as a deceased handyman, and the perfect husband turns out to be the perfect thief.

The Evidence

This season of Desperate Housewives started off with a bang, but faded out to a whimper. We got to see a horrific car crash to kick things off, and then Edie's husband provided a creepy mystery everyone hoped would lead to some elaborate twist. The five year jump also made everybody wonder what changes were going to be wrought on the ladies of Wisteria Lane. Unfortunately none of these elements paid off as well as they could have, but the cast remained committed to playing out the brilliant dialogue and slapstick comedy full throttle. It seemed Desperate Housewives stayed true to form with the actresses carrying the show, the one-liners zinging left and right, and the story not quite living up to the first year's emotional mystery. The original season remains classic television, and here we have just another good run of entertaining episodes that showcase a great cast. The show retains one of the best casts on television with quotable moments in every airing.

Truly a joy to unwrap, this Season Five DVD set lives up to previous seasons in terms of quality of transfers and supplemental material. The anamorphic widescreen shots look sumptuous, and you can tell the show was broadcast in high definition. The surround sound is lively and it's always nice to hear all the atmospherics drifting around the living room as you watch Desperate Housewives. This is a prime example of how to do TV on DVD right, and how to keep up the quality year after year as the show matures and unfolds. The supplements are quite good with a ton of bonus features to keep fans engaged.

Extras include:

• Audio Commentary "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow" by Larry Shaw (executive producer), Doug Savant (Tom Scavo), Kyle MacLachlan (Orsen Hodge), and James Denton (Mike Delfino): This is a chatty conversation with a producer and the men who play the "husbands." There's not much insight in to the creative process, but good to hear the guys banter and kid each other.

• Audio Commentary "The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened" by Marc Cherry (creator) and Brenda Strong (Mary Alice Young): Cherry gets to talk about his concept for that milestone 100th episode which featured guest star Beau Bridges as a handyman. This is the one to listen to on the set, since Marc and Brenda really dish and talk about more substantial topics than the other commentaries.

• "What More Do I Need?" A Very Good Read—From Script to Screen: Basically a nicely produced featurette that showcases how Desperate Housewives holds a traditional reading by the cast to figure out what works and what does not.

• "I Know Things Now: Desperate Housewives Celebrates 100—A Look Back At 100 Episodes Of Comedy, Drama And Cake Fights: Basically this is just a chance for everybody to marvel at how long the show has been running. We do get to see some long gone faces from season one up until now.

• "So Very Teri—Wisteria Lane's Favorite Girl Next Door…Funny, Beautiful, And She Does Her Own Stunts": A look at what it is like to work with Teri Hatcher. She seems particularly skilled at the physical comedy, and has been the breakout star in many ways with her career revival happening thanks to the series.

• "Cherry-Picked": Creator Marc Cherry's Favorite Scenes with commentary by Cherry (Gaby's New Game, Croquembouche, Pot Roast, Edie & Eli, Quite The Ad Wig, Jackson?): Just a collection of clips that Marc Cherry tells us about, and he brands them as moments from season five that he is especially proud to display.

• Bloopers: It's the traditional gag reel!

• Deleted Scenes ("What More Do I Need?" Alternate Opening, Out In The Open, Memory Lane, Aversion Therapy, Last Call, Mike Takes The Blame, Goo Goo Eyes, The Right Choice): All of these are just minor beats that were cut for time from episodes.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I will go on record as being a true fan of Desperate Housewives, and this year was another reason to cheer the ensemble. My only real gripe with the fifth season is we were promised a complex interesting mystery with tons of twists, yet by the finale things seemed pretty predictable. The big grand arc revolving around Edie's mysterious husband concluded without the major fireworks it was leading up to. This year seemed to be an entire season of daunting problems solved with quiet tidy endings. I believe the cast can handle better plots, and they have proved that in the past. I hear Marc Cherry has a plan to wrap the show up in another season or two, and I wonder if he'll be allowed to stick to that. Let's hope he finds a way to let the girls go out with a big bang, because after five series where the women carry everything, they deserve it.

Closing Statement

It's another round where the cast of Desperate Housewives stayed strong even when the plots ran out of steam. This fifth season set is certainly entertaining enough, crammed full of extras, and presents a gorgeous picture with great sound. Unfortunately the mystery never lives up to the promise of everything else, but it's still a wickedly funny ride through suburbia despite any bumps along the way. The show remains gorgeous eye candy, brilliant satire, even if the mysteries don't quite live up to the rest of the elements. Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season is red hot thanks to the cast and extras.

The Verdict

Still a guilty pleasure past one hundred episodes and five seasons.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 94
Audio: 94
Extras: 90
Acting: 96
Story: 82
Judgment: 91

Perp Profile

Studio: ABC Studios
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 1032 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Episode Commentaries
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Bloopers


• IMDb
• Official Site

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