The Husband:

Just like Fox’s Sunday Animation Domination and NBC’s Thursday comedy block, I have decided to combine ABC’s Sunday night of Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. They are both at least three seasons into their run, and while I enjoy watching both, I doubt I will have enough to say each week for each show to constitute its own post. Nor will I be grading each episode, unlike the other block write-ups. This is more a discussion.

Much was made of Desperate Housewives’ twist at the end of last season – that the show was jumping five years into the future for the rest of its run. (Marc Cherry says he has three more seasons in him, but in the world of TV who knows how long things can actually last.) I thought it was risky and bold, much like how One Tree Hill decided to just skip over all the characters’ college years and pick up post-graduation. That one made sense.

Here, I’m not sure if it did at all. As far as the first episode of s5 is concerned, I am not liking the new direction of the show. I understand that I have a full season to really get used to it, but if I’m going off my gut reaction, I’m happy with very little of what’s happening now on Wisteria Lane.

Gabys newest diet plan involves using really skinny women as motivational tools.

Gaby's newest diet plan involves using really skinny women as motivational tools.

Let’s go through them.

Gaby: Now with two young children, Gaby has gone from former fashion model goddess to a downtrodden, unkempt and very tired woman. Her two daughters are obese, though, and since Gaby has never really had any experience parenting or ordering around anybody, she doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Her solution of the episode: have Juanita, the 4-year-old, run alongside the car in a “game” designed to get the poor girl some exercise. Yeah, because cruelty is hilarious. Next!

Bree: Once a high-strung housewife with pain-in-the-ass kids, she is now the Martha Stewart of Fairview, a book-writing chef and event planner, now with the help of her former-gigolo son. We find out that she has been more or less stealing recipes from Katherine Mayfair – a character who has gone from one season as a terrifying control freak and fascinating character to a whiney, overly sensitive and toothless weakling who can only muster up a quick prank when furious with Bree.

Oh, and that illegitimate child that Bree’s daughter gave birth to? Gone. We find out in a quick flashback (hello and goodbye, Joy Lauren!) that the daughter busted into the house, took her child and left. There goes that story. Watch it as it wafts away into the Land of We Didn’t Know Where We Were Going With That Story.

Susan: The episode tries to rope-a-dope us into believing that, after a big honking car crash, Mike was dead, but then whoever even threatened that idea in the writers’ room was overruled when it became known that the car crash actually killed a mother and child in the other car, and the guilt split up Susan and Mike. Thankfully, Desperate Housewives knows the difference between conflict and endless suffering. Conflict is keeping Mike alive and still giving us hope that he and Susan may get back together again (with their oh-so-cute five-year-old boy) even though they are apart and she is secretly banging her house painter. Endless suffering, on the other hand, would be to really kill Mike, which would mean that after Mike was suspected of being a killer in s1, put into a coma for s4 and then finally marrying Susan at the end of last season, Susan would still have to suffer some more.

Susan’s plot really isn’t working, but I have more hope than the ones for Gaby and Bree.

Lynette: As usual, I like Lynette’s story most, this time probably because very little has changed from five years earlier. Now that Tom’s little brat of a bastard girl is gone away for all her evil misdeeds, the focus can return to the family itself, but now the twins are in high school and causing a different kind of ruckus. (i.e. running an illegal casino in the family’s restaurant.) I’ve always like the interplay between Lynette and Tom, and that is in full swing here. They are still a very healthy couple with a unique way of handling things, so I’m curious to see how the show is going to rope them into someone else’s story.

Central Mystery: Okay, I will admit I am intrigued by the presence of Neal McDonough (Band Of Brothers in the hizzouse) as a potentially escaped mental patient, but I hate Edie and will always hate Edie, so his marriage to her may always cloud my interest in him as a character.

Those who live in Glass Houses probably shouldnt throw anything. Or live in something so structurally unsound.

Those who live in Glass Houses probably shouldn't throw anything. Or live in something so structurally unsound.

On Brothers & Sisters, however, the show hit a bit of a reset button last year in the form of making Emily VanCamp’s Rebecca not, actually, a true member of the Walker family but merely a girl confused about who her real father was. That gives us the opportunity to get back to the Walker clan themselves and their own mess of problems.

I always say that if you really want to expose a family’s every dirty little secret, just put them all in a house together at the exact same time. When I told my wife of how B&S did this very exact thing by putting all the Walkers together in Kevin’s boss’ beach house for the weekend, she said it was “just like A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, only without the morphine.”

What secrets, all of them completely awesome, came out at the house?

  • Justin and Rebecca, who last season thought they were half-siblings, are now dating.
  • When asked to write a statement that would help Kitty adopt a child, she pushed the responsibility onto Mamma Nora instead and then lied about it.
  • Tommy tells Kevin that Ojai Foods, the Walkers’ company that then shifted ownership to their dead father’s mistress, cannot afford to employ Kevin and his law firm, and that he was fired as counsel for the company
  • Kevin comes out with the truth that there is, in fact, another Walker out there somewhere by the name of Ryan
  • Those bitch-ass children actually broke that really fucking expensive glass whale in the beach house and not Justin, and the whale-breaking could get Kevin fired from his law firm

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This show has always been good about stacking the deck really high, but is better at giving it a humorous spin than it used to. (I actually gave up watching halfway through the first season as a result of all the melodrama, but was convinced to rejoin upon the start of s2.) Now that Kitty is married Robert and Kevin to his partner Scotty, the ensemble has grown to a point where if one story is too heavy-handed, you have a dozen other people to look forward to. And that, my friends, is a very comfortable place for a show to be.