Rob Owen

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY TV -

FTER eight sea­sons of murder, a tor­nado, shoot­ings, an aero­plane crash and nu­mer­ous car ac­ci­dents, the may­hem on Wis­te­ria Lane fi­nally draws to a close. The show ends with a two-hour sea­son af­ter a tu­mul­tuous sea­son on Des­per­ate Housewives both on-cam­era and be­hind the scenes.

Mike Delfino (James Den­ton) died af­ter be­ing shot by a mob­ster. In real life, mean­while, Den­ton tes­ti­fied at a trial pit­ting for­mer cast mem­ber Ni­col­lette Sheri­dan against show cre­ator Marc Cherry and host net­work ABC.

Sheri­dan sued, claim­ing her Edie Britt char­ac­ter was killed off in re­tal­i­a­tion for her com­plaint that Cherry slapped her on set; the trial ended with a hung jury.

The trial may have dis­tracted from the fic­tional Des­per­ate Housewives uni­verse, but it shared many of the show’s hall­marks – a mix of drama, com­edy and soapy shenani­gans (ob­servers in court said Sheri­dan mouthed ‘‘Bas­tard!’’ af­ter Cherry fin­ished his tes­ti­mony).

For view­ers who drifted away from Des­per­ate Housewives, the fi­nal sea­son has of­fered good rea­son to tune in. The writ­ing is sharper than it’s been for sev­eral years, with plenty of re­minders about why view­ers made the show a habit when it de­buted.

The episode con­tain­ing Mike’s death in­cluded some win­ning comic mo­ments with can­cer-stricken Mrs McClusky (Kathryn Joosten) try­ing to con­vince Bree (Mar­cia Cross) to help her com­mit sui­cide.

The episode about Mike’s funeral showed each of the four women hav­ing flash­backs to mo­ments with the sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers in their lives.

Char­ac­ters from the past have re­turned, in­clud­ing Bree’s gay son, An­drew (Shawn Pyfrom), who in­tro­duced his mother to his new heiress girl­friend.

Bree ac­cused him of get­ting in­volved with the young woman only for her money and even showed how far she’s come in ac­cept­ing her son’s sex­ual iden­tity: ‘‘You love Ital­ian shoes, you love mid-cen­tury mod­ern fur­ni­ture, and ac­cord­ing to your In­ter­net his­tory, you love Army doc­tors giv­ing elab­o­rate phys­i­cals to young re­cruits, but you do not love girls! . . . Honey, you’re here, you’re queer, I’m used to it!’’

As TV shows age and their pop­u­lar­ity wanes, we some­times for­get their im­pact.

How­ever, at a press con­fer­ence in Jan­uary, Des­per­ate Housewives cast mem­bers re­called all the pro­grams that sprang up in the wake of their show’s suc­cess, in­clud­ing the Life­time drama Army Wives and the en­tire fran­chise that be­gan with The Real Housewives of Orange County.

‘‘I think peo­ple will look back on ( Des­per­ate Housewives) re­ally fondly as a very in­ter­est­ing hy­brid,’’ Den­ton says.

‘‘The fact that we’re not a com­edy; we’re not a drama; we’re not a soap. . . . Marc brought some­thing to TV no­body had ever seen be­fore, and I think that’s why it took off the way it did – and part of the rea­son is that it’s re­ally hard to put a la­bel on it.’’

Cherry has had the show’s fi­nal act planned for seven-and-a-half years and he stuck with the idea, even if how the story gets there has taken un­ex­pected paths.

‘‘What was cool was the day that I shared it with the writ­ers, be­cause I had been kind of keep­ing it to my­self, as al­ways hap­pens with my won­der­ful writ­ers, I said, ‘Well, this is what I want to do’, and then they started adding things,’’ he says. ‘‘So it def­i­nitely got bet­ter. ‘‘But the gen­eral premise has al­ways been the same.’’

Cherry says the char­ac­ters he had the least ideas for at the start of the se­ries were Gabby (Eva Lon­go­ria) and Car­los (Ri­cardo Chavira), but they evolved into the show’s go-to cou­ple for com­edy.

Teri Hatcher, Fe­lic­ity Huff­man and Eva Lon­go­ria.

‘‘I’d writ­ten on The Golden Girls, and one of the tricks on The Golden Girls that the writ­ers on that show used to say is how bril­liant Rue McClana­han was, be­cause no mat­ter how self­ish or vain her (Blanche) char­ac­ter acted, you still loved her,’’ Cherry says.

‘‘And see­ing the more self-in­volved and vain and self­ish and ego­tis­ti­cal (Gabby) be­came, the fun­nier she be­came.’’

Cherry says he al­ways wanted to break up the mar­riage of Lynette (Fe­lic­ity Huff­man) and Tom (Doug Sa­vant), but he didn’t think he’d get away with it.

The ac­tors wish he hadn’t put that plot in mo­tion this sea­son. ‘‘We hate it,’’ Sa­vant says. ‘‘We ac­tu­ally started fight­ing off-screen,’’ Huff­man says.

‘‘So art im­i­tated life or life im­i­tated art. It’s the eighth year, so you get to go places you didn’t get to go be­fore and the gloves are off for the writ­ers.’’

Get­ting to sto­ries like the dis­so­lu­tion of the Scavo mar­riage sold Cherry on the idea that it was time for Des­per­ate Housewives to end.

‘‘It’s try­ing to go, ‘OK, what haven’t we done?’ Which, by the way, is one of the rea­sons why I made the de­ci­sion, ‘Let’s shut her down’,’’ Cherry says.

10pm, Seven, Prime7.


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