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Desperate Housewives on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5

"Desperate Housewives" The Complete First Season DVD Review

Buy Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season from Amazon.com Desperate Housewives: Season One (2004-05)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Directors: Larry Shaw, Arlene Sanford, Jeffrey Melman, Fred Gerber

Regular Cast: Teri Hatcher (Susan Mayer), Felicity Huffman (Lynette Scavo), Marcia Cross (Bree Van De Kamp), Eva Longoria (Gabrielle Solis), Nicollette Sheridan (Edie Britt), Steven Culp (Rex Van De Kamp), Ricardo Chavira (Carlos Solis), Mark Moses (Paul Young), Andrea Bowen (Julie Mayer), Jesse Metcalfe (John Rowland), Cody Kasch (Zach Young), Brenda Strong (Mary Alice Young), James Denton (Mike Delfino)

Recurring Characters: Doug Savant (Tom Scavo), Harriet Christine Estabrook (Martha Huber), Sansom Harris (Felicia Tilman), Roger Bart (George Williams), Shawn Pyfrom (Andrew Van De Kamp), Joy Lauren (Danielle Van De Kamp), Shane Kinsman (Porter Scavo), Brent Kinsman (Preston Scavo), Zane Huett (Parker Scavo), Lupe Ontiveros (Juanita Solis), Lesley Ann Warren (Sophie Bremmer), Sam Lloyd (Dr. Albert Goldfine), Sharon Lawrence (Maisy Gibbons), Richard Roundtree (Mr. Shaw), Bob Gunton (Noah Taylor), Bob Newhart (Morty), Alfre Woodard (Betty Applewhite), Marla Sokoloff (Claire), Heather Stephens (Kendra Taylor), Kathryn Joosten (Karen McCluskey), Lucille Soong (Yao Lin), Mark L. Taylor (Mr. Steinberg)

Notable Guest Stars: Ryan O'Neal (Rodney Scavo), Marlee Matlin (Alisa Stevens)

Running Time: 997 Minutes (23 episodes) / Rating: TV-14
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: September 20, 2005
Season 1 Airdates: October 3, 2004 - May 22, 2005
Six single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $59.99
Eight-sided fold-out Digipak with clear slipcover


Page 1: Show Discussion, Discs 1-4
Page 2: Discs 5-6, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

A star () denotes my eight favorite episodes from the season.

Bree confesses she would love her son even if he were a murderer...though his gayness seems to be a different story. Gabrielle and her teenaged gardener/lover share a moment. Looks like Susan picked the wrong private dick.

DISC 5

17. There Won't Be Any Trumpets (43:19) (Originally aired April 3, 2005)
Mama Solis finally wakes up from a coma, but it's not for the better, causing Carlos and Gabrielle even more financial worries...for the moment. Lynette makes a new friend in a deaf woman (guest star Marlee Matlin) whose kids also attend Barcliff Academy, but finds it a little hard to be a true friend to her. Bree and Rex deal with more problems surrounding Andrew and they realize he needs major intervention. Susan gets asked out again by another hunky guy and once again finds herself competing with Edie.

18. Children Will Listen (43:19) (Originally aired April 10, 2005)
Gabrielle trumps Carlos's effort to force a post-nuptial agreement on her, but he gets what he wants in the end. Susan's mother drops by for an unexpected visit when she is having problems with her love life. Meanwhile, Lynette and Bree go a few rounds after Bree spanks Porter. Later, Andrew confesses the reason why he has been acting out to Bree and Rex: he thinks he might be homosexual. However, the most shocking revelation is made by Zach to Felicia.

19. Live Alone and Like it (43:19) (Originally aired April 17, 2005)
Lynette makes an unlikely friend in Mrs. McCluskey after she saves her life, but of course, there are strings attached. Susan's mom tries to revive the romance in her and her daughter's lives, but when Susan catches her mom with a man in the kitchen, she tells her mother that he has to leave. Sophie retaliates by setting Susan up on a disaster of a double date. Gabrielle is cut off by Carlos financially and retaliates by starting up her relationship with John again. Andrew confides in a priest about his new feelings, and Bree makes some startling revelations at the dinner table.

20. Fear No More (43:19) (Originally aired May 1, 2005)
Julie is stalked by a very unfriendly Zach, after a night of wooing goes awry. Paul questions Edie about the night she broke into his house and, of course, she blames the whole thing on Susan. When Susan's kitchen catches fire, she suspects Paul and hires an investigator. The very creepy George the pharmacist re-enters Bree's life, a fact which Rex does not take well. Lynette looks to Edie for advice on how to cope with Tom's ex-girlfriend working with him again. Gabrielle plans a farewell party for Carlos before he heads to the big house, then she fears she may be pregnant and discovers what Carlos has been doing behind her back.

After some unease, Morty (Bob Newhart) and Susan's mother Sophie (Lesley Ann Warren) seem to have straightened things out. Bree and George encounter each other while shopping for food. Pop quiz hotshot, what do you do?

DISC 6

21. Sunday in the Park With George (43:19) (Originally aired May 8, 2005)
Gabrielle confronts Carlos about the tampered with birth control pills and he blames the whole thing on his mother. Pharmacist George Williams tries to work himself between Bree and Rex. When George and Bree have dinner at a fancy restaurant, Edie suspects there may be something more to their friendship. Lynette passes out waiting for Tom to come home from work...unfortunately, she's wearing a skimpy maid outift when she blacks out. Susan's investigator, who is actually working for Paul, fabricates a false history for Mary Alice Young to satisfy her curiosity, but Susan isn't buying it.

22. Goodbye For Now (43:19) (Originally aired May 15, 2005)
Lynette meddles in Tom's affairs at work, ultimately leading him to lose his job. Mike tells Susan he wants to move in with her, making Edie insanely jealous. A hot-headed Carlos makes another serious mistake about Gabby's affairs, which lands him in jail a little sooner than he expected, not to mention longer. George lies to Bree about information he discovers between her and Rex. When Bree approaches Rex about it, he has another heart attack. Mike finds Paul and beats him up, after he is tipped off by Felicia to his whereabouts. Finally, a new family moves onto Wisteria Lane.

23. One Wonderful Day (43:11) (Originally aired May 22, 2005)
All the secrets of Wisteria Lane's complex mystery are revealed. You'll just have to watch to find out what happens in this episode!

Lynette has her boys captive, but they're not as amused as when the super nanny reads to them. Gabby is happy to see John Rowland (Jesse Metcalfe), her male lover on the side.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Desperate Housewives" is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen (the aspect ratio of its high definition broadcasts) and is enhanced for 16x9 TV screens. Each episode is shot on high quality film, which is standard with most hour long dramedies of today, and its high production values are evident in its cinema-worthy visuals. The lighting and contrast in each frame is both dramatic and effective at pulling the audience into the disarming comforts of Wisteria Lane.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is rich and balanced. Music cues are mixed perfectly with the dialogue, rising and falling at exactly the right moments. (Each episode is beautifully scored by Steve Jablonsky, who finds the same tone as Danny Elfman's opening theme.) When a tense moment arrives, the music in the rear speakers makes the hair on your arms stand up. Conversely, when an emotional scene calls for tears, the soothing bass of a cello and the soft plunks of a piano help urge you closer to your Kleenex box. Be sure and notice to the "neighborhood sounds" as crickets chirping and birds singing subtly engulfs you in most outdoor scenes.

"Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry introduces an extended episode. In this deleted scene, Gabby and John don't appear to see eye-to-eye on the nature of their affair. The Solis' maid Yao Lin plays her cards in this telling excised sequence.

BONUS FEATURES

The Complete First Season of "Desperate Housewives" quite possibly has the largest number of bonus features I have ever seen in a DVD box set. Instead of putting them all on one disc, like most sets do,
the creators have chosen to sprinkle them throughout each disc with no clear rhyme or reason. Catching them all is a rather messy and tedious process, but they provide more than five hours worth of further viewing.

Four episodes out of the 23 provided are presented in extended versions in addition to the 43 1/3 minute broadcast cuts. None of the prolonged cuts add any more than 3 minutes, but they restore scenes intended for the episodes that were deleted typically for time constraints. Each extended version is introduced by creator Marc Cherry, who explains in detail how they differ from the aired versions. "Who's That Woman?" contains extra footage explaining why Martha Huber is desperate for money (a reality which fuels her blackmail of Susan); its restoration offers insight into the characters of Martha and sister Felicia. "Anything You Can Do" adds a brief portion in which Rex continues to talk to his kids after he and Bree have broken to them news of their divorce plans; I'd have opted to keep it in, for it shows exactly what kind of guy Rex really is, but he shows his true colors later anyway. In the funny and poignant "Every Day a Little Death" addition, Carlos' vocalization of a desire for offspring amusingly sends Gabby off the deep end. Finally, the longer version of "Impossible" adds two entertaining but disposable scenes. First is a discussion between Rex and Bree about their daughter's sexual explorations which results in Bree's typical disturbance by Rex's reaction; second is a conversation between Susan and Julie about their relationship problems.

Deleted scenes not edited back in are offered on eight different episodes throughout the set. These break little ground and the longest runs just 92 seconds, but fans should be interested to see some brief bits that didn't make it to air. Each is presented with optional commentary by Cherry. Brief descriptions of the resurfacing excised sequences follow, listed by episode title. "Ah, But Underneath" contains a scene (1:14) in which Gabby makes sure John understands that their relationship is purely physical, despite the teen gardener clearly not taking it well. "Guilty" contains a very short addition (0:17) of a sexily-dressed Edie seducing Mr. Shaw, the private investigator, in a foreshadowing of the infamous NFL promo featuring in-character Nicollette Sheridan and the Philadelphia Eagles' Terrell Owens. "Running to Stand Still" merely extends what it is already in the show (1:29), where Gabby discovers John is "friends" with Bree's daughter Danielle. It's a shame they had to trim this funny double entendres-loaded sequence. "Suspicious Minds" has a similar (but pointless) extension of existing material (0:44), featuring Gabby walking down the runway. "Your Fault"'s deleted scene (1:31) is more worthwhile, for it depicts Carlos' struggle to remain the rich man he no longer is, Gabby's attempts to show her husband they need money more than "stuff", and most hilariously Yao Lin's disgust with the spoiled Soils family. I am glad to see it made available, for it says much about these three characters in little time. The removal from "The Ladies Who Lunch" (0:57) oddly paints Edie Britt as a racist, as she gives an appraisal of the Solis' home with unsubtle disgust of the high society couple. "There Won't Be Any Trumpets" contains a scene (1:32) between the Van De Kamp parents and Andrew's school principal that was cut because of it focuses too much around the principal and its closing joke is, in Cherry's words, "not our best." Finally, in season finale "One Wonderful Day", the ladies discuss Martha Huber's journals at the hospital without shedding any new light; Lynette has some funny lines, but Cherry states the camerawork here bugged him.

Marc Cherry takes Meredith Vieira on "A Stroll Down Wisteria Lane." One of the show's many international fans expresses its appeal. Marc Cherry accepts a Golden Globe in front of his leading ladies, as seen in the featurette "Desperate Housewives Around the World."

Five scattered episodes are accompanied by show-length audio commentary from creator Mark Cherry. He is joined on three of these tracks by director Larry Shaw, who was in the helm on nearly one-third of the season's episodes. On the "Pilot", Cherry flies solo and breaks down the complicated opening shot. More interesting (and humorous) is the creator's apparent cattiness towards the actors and director, as he lightly dances over creative differences between what he envisioned and how it turned out. A great listen if you like to hear good dirt! Discussion from Cherry and Shawn on "Anything You Can Do" is a tad boring, as the pair drones on, pointing out obvious bits about the theme of competition. "Guilty" features Cherry alone and it picks up again, for the creator reveals an interesting lot about Bree, and the reasons for her unsettling nature as Donna Reed with a dark side. "Impossible" pits together Cherry and Shaw and treads little new ground; Cherry waxes reminiscent, relating the Van De Kamps' problems to his own repressed youth, while Shaw compliments his fellow speaker repeatedly. By this point, you should already know about the inspirations, making this track one to skip. Finally, the duo discuss the season finale "One Wonderful Day", one of Cherry's favorite episodes. The creator reveals his secrets of shooting scenes in threes and laughs about flubs the public has overlooked. Director Shaw offers no insight, merely agreeing again and again, but it's still a commentary worth listening to.

On Disc 1, you'll find "A Stroll Down Wisteria Lane" (11:37), a short featurette hosted by "The View"'s Meredith Vieira. It basically offers an in-depth interview with show creator Marc Cherry, who reveals he doesn't yet know who the father of Gabby's baby, but does know what horrible secret Andrew plans to spring on his unsuspecting mother. Though I quickly grew tired of Vieira's fake interview style, it's an interesting and entertaining piece, that would have worked even better as a single camera confessional "sit-down with Marc Cherry." The placement of this supplement is really unfortunate, as it gives out many plot spoilers and could potentially ruin several of the season's surprises (through the season finale) to those who haven't seen all the episodes prior to owning the DVDs. As such, it belongs on the last disc, not the first.

Disc 2 holds a pair of internationally-oriented features. First is "Desperate Housewives Around the World" (8:00), in which fans from different parts of the globe proclaim their love for the series in every language. We get to see various overseas ads, interviews with international fanatics, and even First Lady Laura Bush admitting "Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife!" (Good to know!) A pretty fun watch, and enlightening as I didn't realize that it was such a hit overseas. There is also a multi-language sequence of Bree's Dinner Party (1:25), briefly glimpsed in the previous featurette. It is what it says, as the hilarious dinner party scene in which Bree blurts out possibly the season's most embarrassing line is depicted, beginning in English and cycling through foreign tongues of Castilian, Italian, French, Spanish, and German. It's a clever inclusion which I hadn't seen done before, and brief enough to recommend.

And all this time I thought he was Hispanic! Inspirational images are seen on board in "Dressing Wisteria Lane." Yay! "Oprah is the New Neighbor"! That's great!

Disc 3's lone featurette, "Dressing Wisteria Lane" (12:29) takes viewers on a nice little behind-the-scenes trip. It's interesting to learn how the characters were written and dressed so explicitly; no stone is left unturned when it comes to finding the perfect ensemble for each housewife.
The most amazing thing, though, is how real the sets look - it's incredible to think that the interiors of these homes are fake! This fun little piece is worth a look for sure, despite the oddly-placed Nissan ad at the end. I have no idea what that is all about.

Disc 4 holds the only Easter Egg (0:59) I was able to uncover in the set. It's one that will give Jesse Metcalfe fans a big reason to search around the platter. Let's just say Miguel Lopez Fitzgerald never, ever gave us this much of a show.

Unique to Disc 5 are audio commentaries on selected favorite scenes from the five leading ladies. The scenes are presented in fullscreen (as they were for standard transmissions). Eva Longoria talks about some of her unintended mishaps: spraining her ankle and getting a mouthful of grass during her "Mowing the Lawn" sequence, and nearly drowning while "Laying in the Tub." Oh, and ladies, not to worry: that was a stunt double Gabby throws out the window, not Jesse Metcalfe. But you really do see his butt in the last shot. Scandalous. Felicity Huffman comments on her intense "Dream Sequence" and the "Aftermath of the French Maid outfit" sequences, praising the former's unrelenting rawness and the latter's introduction of relationship issues for Lynette and Tom. Marcia Cross discusses her nonchalant lingerie scene (which she has a hard time watching, despite the funny truth behind the falling burrito) and the true feelings presented in "Rex in the Hospital" which leaves her speechless. Nicollette Sheridan giggles about the retakes that falling oars required for "Spreading the Ashes" while revealing the true contents of the urn; she also reflects on pushing the boundaries by popping up unannounced in "Breaking Into Paul's House." Lastly, Teri Hatcher unsurprisingly discusses the hilarious scene "Stranded Naked in the Bushes" (her idea and uncomfortable, but classic), the also funny "Singing New York, NY", and "Discovering the Real Mike" (in which she praises her character's vulnerability which she has fought for).

The remaining bonus features can all be found on Disc 6. First up is "Oprah is the New Neighbor" (8:25), in which daytime talk show diva Oprah Winfrey, as usual, finds her way into the middle of something big by planting herself in the middle of Wisteria Lane. With a bit of newly-filmed material and clever re-editing of the most notable "Desperate Housewives" moments, Oprah witnesses Susan naked in the bushes, Edie washing the car la Cool Hand Luke, Lynette yelling at her kids, John and Gabrielle caught in their act of infidelity, and so on. Karen (Oprah) decides to move out when she sees Mrs. Huber's body being buried and receives the unsettling note which started the series' mystery. I have to admit that this has its cute moments, but it is basically just another promotion for Oprah.

A behind-the-scenes look at the series' production. Golden Globe-winner Teri Hatcher discusses her character in "Behind the Scenes of Desperate Housewives." Oh no! Gabby ripped the potato chips bag! Got milk?

The only non-narrated feature, "Secrets of Wisteria Lane" (10:44) offers a silly look into the production of "Desperate Housewives." The longest portion of it is spent listening in one of Marc Cherry's meetings with fellow writers. It's interesting to see them spin story ideas and piece together the convoluted plot twists. The best part, though, is the tantalizing teaser into Betty Applewhite's big secret, which will leave you asking, "What happens next?"

"Behind the Scenes of Desperate Housewives" (25:23) provides the second part of Meredith Vieira's exclusive DVD interview feature. In this behind-the-scenes look, we learn that Wisteria Lane is actually the famous Colonial Street backlot where exteriors for shows like "The Munsters" and "Leave it to Beaver" were shot. What I really enjoyed in this montage was the rush of chaos on the set. It proves that putting together a Hollywood show isn't just fun and games, but a lot of work too. Definitely check this out if you would like to know what the set of an Emmy award-winning show is like.

Finally, there is your run-of-the-mill blooper reel (4:54), which is something of a standard inclusion, but quite funny. I've always been a sucker for gag reels simply for the fact that I like to see celebrities screw up! It's cute and quick, too.

The typical Buena Vista sneak peeks are offered on Disc 1. Trailers for Flightplan, Buena Vista's TV shows on DVD, "Alias" Season 4, and "Scrubs" Season 2 play at the start of the disc, while additional previews for "Lost" Season 1, the new season of "Desperate Housewives", and ABC Daytime soaps "General Hospital", "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" can be accessed via the shameless promotion of the Sneak Peeks menu.

After a prolonged intro, Disc 1's Main Menu appears. The six-disc set is packaged thusly. Look at that snazzy see-through slipcover!

MENUS, PACKAGING, and DESIGN

As one who dislikes long, drawn-out menus (I prefer getting to watch the show right away), I have to say the menu opening is a little long. It runs about 30 seconds, and although very cute (and skippable), it takes up too much time. The 1950s retro-pastiche opening would have been acceptable in its long form on the first disc and then cut down for the remaining five, but I suppose this is where the "Skip" button comes in handy.

The navigation quality of the DVD is top-notch. The menus are clear and easy to read and use an easy-to-see apple (that changes color from to disc to disc) as a cursor. This is all appreciated, since there is a large amount of Bonus Features to be waded through on each disc. Though no scene selection menus are provided, each episode is broken into ten chapters for quick and easy access within shows.

The packaging is very clever. The discs are stacked in groups of two, one on top of the other. My only complaint is that you have to remove the top disc in order to reach the next disc, but that is a very minor nuisance in the long run. The inside pocket contains the image of the infamous blackmail note, surrounded by Mary Alice's picture and a gun. The box features a satin-like top that fits nicely into a clear slip cover, which provides "dressing" for our four leading ladies.

Susan and Bree comfort Lynette after she comes down from her ADD medicine high. The desperate housewives of Wisteria Lane make a toast.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I'm not lying when I say that there is a lot to conquer in this Season 1 "Desperate Housewives" set. With that in mind, I think this makes the perfect addition to any DVD collection. Whether it's mystery, comedy, drama, or romance, you can find something in this series to suit your taste and easily get hooked on. Creator Marc Cherry does a wonderful job getting into the female mind and constructing a group of lives that almost any woman can relate to. He also offers insight into the way men think and how it drives women insane!

The set won't leave special feature enthusiasts desiring more either, with the more than five hours of audio commentaries and video bonuses providing a wealth of inside information. Though these supplements are a bit difficult to navigate, the treasure hunt can actually be fun and rewarding.

Overall, with a rating of 4 stars out of 5, I highly recommend this set, even for those who have never watched a single "Desperate Housewives" episode prior to reading this review.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Page 1: Show Discussion, Discs 1-4
Page 2: Discs 5-6, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed September 25, 2005.

Desperate Housewives

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