Directed by David Warren et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 993 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, 2.0 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French
Release Date: September 4, 2007
Review Date: August 24, 2007
When Desperate Housewives premiered in September 2004, it was an immediate ratings smash and a critics’ darling. The story of four wildly different ladies and their families living on Wisteria Lane hit a chord with the public that has allowed it to withstand a wildly erratic and mainly unsatisfying second season and now in its third season, represented on this latest box set, a return to much of what made the series so successful: unpredictably comic and melodramatic events in the lives of four very different ladies: klutzy Susan (Teri Hatcher), frazzled Lynette (Felicity Huffman), surfacely picture perfect Bree (Marcia Cross), and sexy ex-model Gaby (Eva Longoria).
Though the writers ridded themselves of the miserably unsuccessful Applewhite saga at the end of season two, there remained two unappetizing and irritating remnants of season two that had to be dealt with in season three: the obnoxious, overbearing, and emotionally blackmailing Nora (Kiersten Warren) who bore a love child twelve years before with Lynette’s husband Tom (Doug Savant), and the always complaining, revenge seeking Xiao Mei who’s the surrogate mother for Gaby and Carlos’ baby. Better were the storylines involving Susan in a season-long pursuit by two men, millionaire Ian (Dougray Scott) and awakened-from-his-coma Mike Delfino (James Denton), and Bree‘s courtship and subsequent marriage to the mysterious Orson Hodge (Kyle MacLachlan) whose previous wife had disappeared under very peculiar and possibly homicidal circumstances. Also, due to the real-life pregnancy of co-star Marcia Cross which removed her from the last third of the season’s shows, more was found to do this season with the “fifth desperate housewife” Edie Britt (Nicolette Sheridan). Her involvement first with Mike and later with Carlos during the season kept both of those storylines hopping and among the most involving of anything that was attempted this season.
Creator-executive producer Marc Cherry made one significant behind-the-scenes hire for this season: writer Joe Keenan (multiple Emmy winner for Frasier). Keenan’s outstanding ability to juxtapose multiple stories that share a theme within an episode was obvious through much of the season but especially noteworthy in the season’s best episode “Bang” which involved several important characters in a hostage-ransom scenario in a local supermarket (if Felicity Huffman wins another Emmy this season, it will be partially due to her sterling work in this episode). Sadly, Keenan left the series at the end of the season.
As for the cast, Teri Hatcher had her best season yet as Susan Meyer. Loosened somewhat from her accident-prone persona and given honest emotions in dealing with her two loves and with her perfect daughter who this season developed some less than perfect attitudes, the actress rose to the occasion brilliantly leading to the season finale in which she featured prominently. Also excellent this season was Nicolette Sheridan whose Edie continued her bitchy and manipulating ways but whose character was given deeper layers of emotion which Sheridan handled with aplomb. Among the guest stars who frequented Wisteria Lane this season were Dixie Carter, Ernie Hudson, Laurie Metcalf (superb as an unbalanced, cheated-upon spouse), Lynn Redgrave, Paxton Whitehead, Jason Gedrick, and Polly Bergen (doing a wonderful job as Lynette’s tough-as-nails mother).
Here is the list of this season’s episodes (continuing the tradition of basing episode titles on Broadway musical song titles or lyrics, mostly by Stephen Sondheim):
1 - Listen to the Rain on the Roof
2 - It Takes Two
3 - A Weekend in the Country
4 - Like It Was
5 - Nice She Ain’t
6 - Sweetheart I Have to Confess
7 - Bang
8 - Children and Art
9 - Beautiful Girls
10 - The Miracle Song
11 - No Fits, No Fights, No Feuds
12 - Not While I’m Around
13 - Come Play Wiz Me
14 - I Remember That
15 - The Little Things You Do Together
16 - My Husband the Pig
17 - Dress Big
18 - Liaisons
19 - God, That’s Good
20 - Gossip
21 - Into the Woods
22 - What Would We Do Without You?
23 - Getting Married Today
The 1.78:1 aspect ratio of the high definition broadcast has been captured in this 480p anamorphic transfer. The images look a little darker than they did on the HD broadcasts, but otherwise, the sharpness and color are spot-on, and there are moments when the image is as good as any available in standard definition. Each episode is divided into 9, 10, or sometimes 11 chapters.
The show is dialog-centric, of course, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack manages to find much music and even some ambient sounds to go into the surrounds. What’s more, there is some noticeable use of the LFE channel in times of danger much to the credit of the sound designer. It’s not groundbreaking audio, but it’s certainly a clear representation of the network broadcast.
Disappointingly, there are no running commentaries on any of these episodes. Instead, the set offers five featurettes:
“On Set with Eva” is a 5½-minute love letter to co-star Eva Longoria from her fellow players and her boss. Included are a few clips from this season along with rapturous comments from her castmates and from producer Marc Cherry. It is presented in anamorphic widescreen.
“Here Comes the Bride” is a 7-minute look in anamorphic widescreen at the three very different weddings that take place during the course of Season 3. The show’s production designer and costume designer both comment on the rationale behind the looks of each of the weddings.
“Amas de Casa Desesperadas” is a throwaway 6-minute comparison between the American and South American renditions of Desperate Housewives. Scenes are shown first from Season 1 and then from the Spanish-language reinterpretation with a Latino cast. Producer Marc Cherry is on hand to comment on the casting and look of the “sister” show.
“Desperate Moments” presents an anamorphic 8-minute overview on the major storylines that run throughout the season for the five main ladies. Subtitled “Reflections on the Season,” that’s exactly what it is. This is the best of the five featurettes.
“Cherry-Picked” features his six favorite scenes from Season 3 as selected by producer Marc Cherry. He and I both agree that “Bang” was the highpoint of the series during this season. The featurette is presented in anamorphic widescreen and runs for 7½ minutes.
Also included on the disc are eight deleted scenes in non-anamorphic letterbox running about 6 minutes. The viewer can turn on or off producer Marc Cherry’s comments on why the scenes were discarded.
There are also about 2½ minutes of bloopers presented in non-anamorphic letterbox as the cast breaks each other up ruining many takes and when there are a few lapses when lines just won’t come to the actors.
The sixth disc concludes with the usual array of Disney/Buena Vista trailers: Ratatouille, Wild Hogs, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Enchanted, Brothers & Sisters, and Lost.
Desperate Housewives returned somewhat to form in its third season. Though the plotting continued to be up and down in quality through the season, at its best, the show continued being an involving, entertaining and sophisticated enterprise. This set is a welcome remembrance of an above average season for the show.