The Husband:

After a much needed winter break, the 2008-2009 television season is back up and rolling this week, and so without any further hesitation we the Children of Saint Clare are ready to dive right back into the comforting glow of the boob tube for our second semester of TV goodness. And what better way to start off the new year than with a bit of chardonnay and chocolate?

Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters both returned last night as a part of ABC’s “Bringing In The New” week (or whatever it’s called) and both suffered at the hands of Father Time. For DH, it was a nearly insurmountable drop of the momentum that gathered so feverishly over the last three or four episodes, which isn’t the fault of the show but simply a victim of the extended break (nearly one month long). For B&S, it was a less-than-stellar 42 minutes that signify the worst of an otherwise first-rate third season, minutes that took a step back from the interesting bits of drama so nicely set up starting last September and kind of made everybody obnoxious.

But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. What’s going down over on Wisteria Lane?

Bree: Easily the most aggravating story of the week, Bree finally meets her gay son’s fiancé’s mother (Joanna Cassidy, being just as big of a self-centered bitch as when she was on Six Feet Under) when Andrew feels it’s best for the two families to finally gather. Almost immediately, the two clash over calling which holidays they would spend with the soon-to-be-married couple, leading later to a major fight as to which town, Fairview or the distant Oakdale, the couple will live. When the mother-in-law tells her son of a vacancy at her local private practice that would be great for him, Bree finally brings out the big guns, bribing the couple telling them that she has bought them a nearby house for their future.

What struck me as so irritating about this story is that I have never liked petty Bree. Give me nice Bree or conniving Bree over petty Bree any day, because her charm and her smarts go completely out the window and all we are left with is childish one-upmanship every goddamn time. What happened, dear Bree? Maybe at this point in the show she is only interesting when near Katherine despite their newfound friendship.

Gaby: Now that Carlos has gained his sight back, he feels that he can no longer work as a masseuse at the local country club. Looking far and wide for meaningful work, he finally settles on helping the blind at the community center so he can give back to all those that helped him through his troubled times. Unfortunately, Gaby has just run into a former colleague of Carlos’, a shark-like CEO who preys on troubled businesses, who just happens to be looking to fill a recently opened position at his company. Gaby is in love with all the perks and the high six-figure income, so she tries her best to convince Carlos to take it, but he has his hesitations. The CEO is really quite a tool, and Carlos doesn’t want to return to the business that turned him into an unhappy monster and convict, so he and Gaby battle over the jobs. Despite his misgivings, Carlos stands up as provider and takes the job.

I feel that the people behind DH really missed a great story opportunity in making Gaby so anti-work. Some of the major Solis family problems would have been solved, or at least attempted to be solved, had Gaby just decided to suck it up and finally join the work force. Even base-level office jobs could have afforded the Solises the opportunity to put their children in day care, and it would have led to some very funny episodes of Gaby finally becoming a responsible adult. But nope. It all rests on Carlos all of the time, and so I fear that Gaby will never truly evolve as a character after so much new promise this season.

Susan: In a goofy but lightheartedly watchable story, Susan is continuing to struggle over whether or not she truly loves Jackson (no worry, you have time until actor Gale Harold recovers from his motorcycle accident), so she decides to accompany Lee to a local gay club and just drink and dance her troubles away. The next morning, she wakes up in her own bed next to a clothes-less Lee and unable to remember much of the night before. Completely convinced that she and Lee slept together, she goes on damage control and tries her damndest not to blurt anything out to Lee’s lover Bob, who is busy representing the Scavos in their own crazy legal troubles. Confronting Lee later that day, she finally learns that, of course, she and Lee never did anything.

“Hello! Gay! Listening to opera in a kimono.” – Lee’s assurance that they did not do the nasty

Lee finally convinces Susan that it’s her own problems with Jackson that informed this freakout, and that she should really consider rethinking their whole relationship and whether or not she should move in with somebody who loves her but she may not love in return.

Lynette: Last time we checked in on the Scavos, Preston had posed as twin brother Porter so Porter could leave town and not face the criminal charges that he set the nightclub fire (he didn’t), but when answering some preliminary questions by Bob the lawyer (Lee’s lover) as to his whereabouts during the crime, Preston cannot seem to recall anything, so the twin switch becomes very obvious to everybody paying attention. Bob has a legal responsibility to report this problem despite the fact that he is representing the family, but Lynette convinces him to hold off for a couple days while she finds Porter. Discovering that Preston and Porter are still communicating via phone, she does something very desperate but very motherly (in a fucked up kind of way): she takes Preston, via car, outside the bar that Mr. Schilling goes to every night, telling Preston that she will do anything to protect their family and implying that she will kill or threaten Mr. Schilling by running him over with her car in order to do said protecting. Preston finally relents and allows her to talk to Porter. The phone call does not last long, but we finally see where Porter has been hiding – with Lynette’s mother, who mysterious now hates her own daughter. We now have a new mystery – what the fuck happened between her and Lynette over that five-year fast-forward? Only time will tell.

I am glad, though, that Lee and Bob are finally characters involved in the lives of the main cast, as before they were simply put onto the show to provide some nice background color. But with Bob finally growing a personality, perhaps they could be seen as indispensable to the overall show.

All in all, DH for the most part just got unlucky with its scheduling, as so much of the drama just kind of seemed to fizzle over the four weeks away from Wisteria Lane. On the other hand, though, two of the characters reverted to their obnoxious former selves in very depressing ways, and all it did was lose whatever charm their stories had this season. I hope somehow the show can get back on track, because lord knows I was not having it for several weeks last fall when the show returned.

As for the episode’s title, “Home Is The Place,” I simply couldn’t place the Sondheim song, which makes sense since it is not from any show but, as research shows, written for a Tony Bennett concert 40 years ago.

Welcome to WalkerLand, can I get you some lemonade?

Welcome to WalkerLand, can I get you some lemonade?

Over in Walker Land on Brothers & Sisters, Kevin is having trouble recovering from his surgery which allowed him to donate a piece of his liver to Tommy’s daughter (who came from Kevin’s seed, so you should check my last B&S post if that is confusing), so he is having some terrible nightmares regarding members of his family, indicated not only his troubled family life but worries regarding starting his own family with Scotty and whether or not they will have children. Frightened as well as fed up with being smothered by Nora and Scotty, he gets Justin to steal him away from Chez Walker and relocates to a beachside hotel. The remaining members of the family descend on the hotel (and Scotty discovers his whereabouts by stumbling upon a robe they stole from the same hotel earlier in their relationship), but they are not necessarily there for Kevin.

Turns out, it’s sort of an intervention for Justin, who needs a job and needs to stop living at home with his mother. Sarah finds him a junky apartment in the city, which Justin reluctantly accepts. (And what does Rebecca think? Who knows. She was absent this week.) And hell, Justin doesn’t need to be around Chez Walker anyway, as Nora is there butting heads with Saul’s choice for who to be the architect to help build Nora’s charity house, a figure 30 years from her past.

Over in the political McAllister world, Kitty comes back onto Robert’s team now that Kevin, his communications director, is bedridden, and they find that they are incredibly turned on by each other when in an office setting, what with hyperactive political mumble jumble leading to some good ol’ “brain sex.” Unfortunately, Kitty cannot balance Robert’s tasks with her impending book tour, so she quickly re-resigns from the position.

What struck me was the complete lack of real-life emotion that defines the show and its overall greatness. Instead of dealing with some harsh truths, the show decided to simply redefine everybody’s problems from two seasons ago, back when I didn’t think the show was as special as it grew to be. Kevin was whinier than usual, Tommy was even more distant, Nora lacked her welcome wisdom, and Saul was once again shortchanged with some dialogue that was anything but realistic. It’s hard when such a great show stumbles so hard.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on the show. I don’t know. But it set the bar pretty high over the fall, and when I can’t have my weekly Monday morning cry as a result of the show, I can get a little cranky. Everyone needs some catharsis at the beginning of the week, man.