When ABC changed its fall lineup in order to air “Alias” in a continuous week-to-week block of new episodes last season, few expected its replacement, a show about middle-aged women in suburbia, to explode into an overnight sensation.

TV/New Media Reviews
Insert awkward, dead voice-over chick here. (Courtesy of Buena Vista)

“Desperate Housewives,” an hour filled with attractive but lovably neurotic 40-somethings and a neighborhood of dirty secrets, plays off the chemistry and impressive acting ability of the four main characters, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman and sizzling newcomer Eva Longoria. Packaged with a clever script, a compelling plot and an active undercurrent of morbidly dark humor, it turned out to be a recipe that women (and yes, even men) were willing to devote an hour to every Sunday night. By avoiding the common pitfalls of primetime drama, such as tired plot and reiterated characters, “Desperate” managed to point a refreshingly entertaining – if slightly disturbing – lens at the quiet suburban neighborhoods of average American life.

The series’s main plotline revolves around four neighborhood friends’ attempt to find out why their neighbor, Mary Alice Young, unexpectedly killed herself. Along the path of this main story are intriguing character developments involving steaming infidelity, rambunctiously out-of-control children, marital woes and even murder. The rich detailed relationships and character background produce a textured and developed plot.

The DVD set is packed with special features and extras. Unrated and extended episodes add new layers to the already thick storyline, along with behind-the-scenes looks and the typical audio commentary. It also includes a vividly satirical clip in which Oprah Winfrey moves in as a new neighbor on Wisteria Lane. Oprah is inserted into hilarious clips from original episodes and gets a startling taste of the suburban lifestyle.

The DVD set’s greatest virtue, however, lies in its presentation of all the episodes in a conveniently coherent package. Those who were unwilling to wait a week between episodes for the answer to the latest plot turn will be satisfied at having each and every juicy detail at their fingertips. Those who are just getting introduced to the scandalously addictive series will be quickly and easily drawn in by the show’s irresistibly contagious drama. Every domestic conflict, mysterious intrigue and romantic twist is now easy access – and Wisteria Lane is right around the corner.

Ratings:

Show: 4 out of 5 stars 

Picture/Sound: 3 out of 5 stars

Features: 4 out of 5 stars

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