Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Extended Scene, Deleted Scenes

In the long, sweeping opening crane shot, the camera pans down from high onto Wisteria Lan – actually the Universal City suburbia back-lot. Behind closed doors, couples argue about money and sex. A neurotic housewife battles her four young children, including two obnoxious twin boys. One lonely wife starts an affair with the gardener. A recent divorcee stares wistfully at the handsome new neighbor across the street. And every now and then there is a murder. But this is Hollywood television. These aren't real people. Or are they?

As the series begins, the narrator, Mary Alice, tends to her everyday household chores. But one day she takes out a gun and kills herself. The actual cast of the show gather together at Mary Alice's wake. We meet Bree Van de Camp (Marcia Cross), a precision home-maker, and beautiful ex-model Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria), who is about to have an affair. Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) was divorced last year, and now lives with her daughter. And don't forget the ever-plotting Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan). Four housewives trying to deal with their own personal issues, and also trying to figure out just what drove Mary Alice to suicide.

The real star of the show is Teri Hatcher. In an early scene, a man interrupts her during her shower. Dressed only in a towel, she follows him outside to his car. He speeds away, accidentally grabbing her towel in the car door as he drives on. Things get a little worse when she discovers that she's locked out of her own house. Fragile and warm, Hatcher transcends the make-believe world around her.

But the episodes always wind back to Mary Alice's death. In one episode, Gabrielle has sex with a young boy. "Why are we doing this?" he asks her and Gabrielle answers, "So I don't blow my brains out." "Desperate Housewives" gives you no answers, but rather, dissects the American Dream – marriage and family. Some will like it, and some will not. Few will be able to look away.

In episode 8, a finely tuned drama dances like a waltz, as simultaneously, Susan embraces her lover, and across the street, a terrible secret is exposed. "She killed herself because of what she did to her baby…" Or is that true?

Expertly written and directed, "Desperate Housewives" promotes wonderful performances and quirky, dark humor. Cameras peer out from the back of refrigerators, mail-boxes, and kitchen cabinets, adjusting on the actor's faces. The creator of the original "Batman" soundtrack, Danny Elfman provides haunting, memorable theme music.

One year ago, "Desperate Housewives" pulled the ABC network ratings from last to first place and as of October 11, 2005, "Desperate Housewives" is still in second place. This beautiful new first-season DVD has been released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The handsome, sexy hard-cased DVD is a six-disc set, filled with 23 episodes, commentaries, documentaries, previews, and extended episodes. One unrated, deleted scene ("Edie and Mr. Shaw") features Nicollette Sheridan in a bikini.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is rich and nicely reproduces th show's aural presentation, though the mix is noticeably louder than many other dolby Digital mixes.

The show is presented in anamorphic widescreen with natural color balance and an image that is free of defects.

However, episode 9 looks grainy for some reason, with some pinkish reds and dull flesh-tones. Some guys will say they're not interested in late-night TV melodrama, but I found "Desperate Housewives" an original and spunky treat. I don't know about you, but I don't mind watching Eva Longoria take a bath.