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Friday, May 11, 2012

The 5 Best and Worst Episodes of Desperate Housewives

I've had a love-hate relationship with ABC's Desperate Housewives, which airs its series finale on Sunday after eight seasons and 180 episodes. It's definitely been a roller coaster ride of both good and bad storylines over the years, so I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my five favorite episodes - as well as my five least favorite. So here are both lists in chronological order:

5 Best Episodes

1) "Pilot" (Episode 1, Season 1 - October 3, 2004)
Creator Marc Cherry introduces us to the lovely ladies of Wisteria Lane - Susan, Bree, Gaby and Lynette, who are shocked by the suicide of their friend and neighbor, Mary Alice. Susan meets handsome plumber Mike Delfino and accidentally burns down the house of Edie Britt, her sexy competition for his affections. Meanwhile, Gaby is having a steamy extramarital affair with her 16-year-old gardener John (a hunky Jesse Metcalfe, who certainly spiced up the first season). And over 21 million people tune in to this entertaining first episode.

2) "Guilty" (Episode 8, Season 1 - November 28, 2004)
Paul Young learns that Martha Huber (the wonderful Christine Estabrook) was the one who wrote the blackmail note to his wife Mary Alice, which led to her suicide. He then kills her. I think Paul (played by the talented Mark Moses) was one of the series' best and most interesting characters.

3) "I Know Things Now" (Episode 44, Season 2 - May 7, 2006)
This is a great Bree and Andrew episode, in which he seduces his mother's bisexual boyfriend Peter (Lee Tergesen from HBO's Oz). After discovering that they have slept together, she drives Andrew out in the middle of nowhere and leaves him there.

4) "Bang" (Episode 54, Season 3 - November 5, 2006)
This tense episode features an outstanding performance from guest star Laurie Metcalf as Carolyn Bigsby, who goes crazy due to her husband's affair and holds Lynette and others hostage in a supermarket. And one of the most annoying characters on the series, Nora (the mother of Tom's illegitimate daughter), is killed by Carolyn.

5) "Free" (Episode 87, Season 4 - May 18, 2008)
My favorite season finale of the series ends with a five-year jump into the future, which gave new life to the show. We briefly get to see Gaby looking less than glamorous for the first time as she is now the mother of two daughters, while Susan kisses a mysterious new man (played by Queer as Folk's Gale Harold).

5 Worst Episodes

It was much more difficult narrowing down my list of least favorite episodes - but I'm not choosing one from the second season featuring new neighbor Betty Applewhite because I actually liked the character. Unfortunately, Marc Cherry stuck her in the endless "son-in-the-basement" storyline, and actress Alfre Woodard - who received an Emmy nomination for her performance - deserved better.

1) "The Miracle Song" (Episode 57, Season 3 - November 26, 2006)
This episode features the truly awful ending to the most dark and disturbing storyline of the entire series - Lynette's crusade against Art, whom she suspects is a pedophile. After an ugly neighborhood protest in front of his house, Art's sister dies from cardiac arrest, and he then decides to move away - but before he goes, he finally reveals to a horrified Lynette that he is indeed a pedophile.

2) "A Spark. To Pierce the Dark." (Episode 105, Season 5 - March 22, 2009)
The beginning of the end of the series - at least for me. After learning the shocking truth about her mentally deranged husband, Edie crashes her car into a telephone pole and dies from an electric shock. I loved Nicollette Sheridan's scene-stealing performance as Edie, and the show definitely lost some spark when she left.

3) "If..." (Episode 122, Season 6 - January 3, 2010)
I HATED this episode because Marc Cherry chose to kill off the sexy and hilarious Richard Burgi as Karl, Susan's ex-husband and Bree's current boyfriend, instead of getting rid of Kyle McLachlan's increasingly irritating Orson Hodge. Such a bad decision because Burgi and Marcia Cross were great together as a couple.

4) "Epiphany" (Episode 131, Season 6 - April 25, 2010)
After an entire season centered around the identity of the Fairview Strangler, we finally learn that it's a young man named Eddie, who apparently has been living among the women of Wisteria Lane since childhood. And now an entire episode is devoted to the troubled past of this stranger whom we don't care about. What a disappointing end to a good mystery.

5) "Down the Block There's a Riot" (Episode 144, Season 7 - December 12, 2010)
There has been a lot that I've disliked about the series' eighth and final season - the sudden transformation of Bree's sexy boyfriend Chuck into a dick, the excruciating return of Orson, Susan's painfully boring art class, and Mike's pointless murder (why couldn't they just let him and Susan live happily ever after?). However, for my final "worst" selection, I decided to go with this bizarre seventh season episode, in which a riot erupts on Wisteria Lane due to Paul Young's halfway house for ex-convicts.

Despite my frequent displeasure with Desperate Housewives, I kept tuning in every week because I've always enjoyed the amusing performances of my two favorite housewives - Bree (Marcia Cross) and Gaby (Eva Longoria) - and the many memorable supporting characters and guest stars, including Bree's first husband Rex Van de Kamp (Steven Culp), Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delany) and her husband Adam (Nathan Fillion), gay couple Bob and Lee (Tuc Watkins, Kevin Rahm), Karen McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten) and her sister Roberta (Lily Tomlin), Bree's stepmother Eleanor (Carol Burnett), Lynette's brief flirtation Rick Coletti (Jason Gedrick), Felicia Tilman (Harriet Sansom Harris), Renee Perry (Vanessa Williams), and especially Andrew Van de Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom), whose difficult and evolving relationship with his mother was the series' best ongoing storyline.


Anonymous said...

I lost interest somewhere in the third season. The increasingly soapy storylines, and I couldn't stand Teri Hatcher's predictable klutziness.

Ian said...

I watched, I cried, I wished things had been different - I too have no idea what the pointless murder of Mike was for. There was too much going on too fast - episode did not give the resolution that knowing the series was going to end that I would have liked.

I'll still miss it...What to watch on Sundays now?

Anonymous said...

The death of Karl Mayer was truly the point at which the show jumped the shark. There was no turning back from that point, the final two seasons were practically unwatchable.

However, I enjoyed the reveal that Eddie was the killer. It was so out of nowhere and ridiculous, that I kind of respected it. No answer would have been satisfying, and it was the only flashback episode that propelled the plot forward. All the other ones provided no new information, or just had dead characters influence everyone's lives in monumental ways. Or the magical stripper.

Marc said...

Thanks for all the comments!

I watched DH for its soapy storylines - and I think Hatcher's klutziness during the first few seasons was funny. However, once she and Mike settled down, her storylines were bad (sexy online cleaning, boring art class).

What to watch on Sundays? How about "Once Upon a Time", "Mad Men", and this fall "Revenge" and "666 Park Avenue".

Anonymous, I agree with you 100% about Karl's death - such a terrible decision to kill him off. But I kindly disagree about Eddie - it was so out of nowhere and ridiculous that I was very disappointed.