19 October 2004 | tostinati
Not just a cult show, but the best show on television.
Think of it as Twin Peaks without the midgets and hunchbacks --and Kyle MacLachlan eating dessert.
This show is just bizarre and enigmatic enough to hook the broad and deep audience that deserted network series television so long ago that they find themselves doubting now whether TV was ever worth the trouble.
I have a hard time selling this series to the guys I know because they assume it's another night time soap ala Melrose Place. But I do try. Really dangerously funny stuff. I predict a popular backlash against this show, and have in fact seen some evidence of it already, simply because so many people are crazy about this show and cannot say enough good things about it. People are tiring of hearing that. But have patience, and don't try to read between the lines of fan praise. It is worth a watch. If only once. Three episodes in, there hasn't been a dud yet. These people will make a mint on First Season DVDs, and deserve to. The sharpest, wittiest, most wildly unpredictable writing now being done. --Makes other "well written" shows, like the CSIs, look as drab as Dragnet.
The bar has just been raised for those making series television. Most TV writers and producers will have to ignore the influence, though, because they won't be able to touch it.
Ten stars, times ten. -------------------
The above review was written close to the beginning of the series. As we get as deep into the second season as we were in the first season where I wrote the above review, a revisit of the series is needed.
Brie is decidedly less funny over time. Maybe more satisfying in a mean way, but less ha ha funny. They have stopped writing those screamingly funny scenes for her, that hinged on what was essentially a neat freak, prim and retentive personality disorder. Remember the burrito sliding off the nightstand at a strategic moment? The tossing of the specimen on Rex at the golf course? The comment on Rex's crying at a dinner party? These scenes, built around Brie, comprised the best moments of the first season, and gone they are, apparently for good, from the second season. This is part of the shows overall shift toward making the luckless, loveless, hard-scrabbling housewives (who overall have a blend of great luck and foul luck, just like real life) "empowered" and impervious. It's inevitable that, with that agenda, the writers are not going to have as much funny stuff for any of the characters to do.
Perhaps as writing chores are handed around-- or more retentively screened by the cast or the powers that be at ABC-- the writers are beginning to write some of the cast "out of character." For example, Gabrielle cracks snide at some rough looking characters at a prison marriage counseling session, when 1) last season her character would have pulled a funny face, maybe insulted their wardrobe, like the essentially clueless and rapacious Barbie doll she is, and gone on or 2) in real life, they'd have mopped the floor with her. She is too prissy, and anorexic-looking for that matter, to deliver some of the tough-girl lines they are handing her. Sorry, but this much is obvious. They are writing Gabrielle and Brie out of character this season.
Other than these flaws -- which are major, in my opinion -- the series still has its moments. But the humor is starting to take precedence behind the conflict and mysteries. We draw closer to the non ironic melodrama world of Dynasty and Melrose Place than we were in the first season. Once, you could have said there was no show with quite the attitude and ambiance of Desperate Housewives first season. Now, you can say that again. The show we knew is slipping away into mundane sameness, and its unpredictability is becoming too patented and predictable. And I find that really too bad.
The show has fallen from 10 of 10 to more like 6 of 10.