Fast for­ward for time warp on Wis­te­ria Lane

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

Five-year plan: Eva Lon­go­ria, Fe­lic­ity Huff­man, Mar­cia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Ni­col­lette Sheri­dan MANY fans of this satire-cum-soap will be aware that the lat­est se­ries has jumped for­ward by five years. Is this a des­per­ate mea­sure for a show that has passed its use-by date or a creative break­through? Judg­ing by tonight’s episode, it’s a bit of both.

First, an up­date. As the fifth se­ries opened sev­eral weeks back, Bree ( Mar­cia Cross), whose do­mes­tic per­fec­tion­ism con­trasts with her messedup emo­tions, has mor­phed into Wis­te­ria Lane’s an­swer to Martha Ste­wart. For­mer ca­reerist Lynette ( Fe­lic­ity Huff­man) is still am­biva­lent about be­ing a house­wife, partly be­cause her mon­strous twin boys have grown into mon­strous teenagers.

Su­san ( Teri Hatcher) and Mike ( James Den­ton) have split up in the af­ter­math of a tragic car ac­ci­dent and have had a late-in-life son, while Edie ( Ni­col­lette Sheri­dan), the neigh­bour­hood har­lot, has a new hus­band who skulks about like a vil­lain from a Christ­mas panto. Al­though time has moved on, Wis­te­ria Lane’s hot­ties haven’t aged, ex­cept for Gabrielle ( Eva Lon­go­ria), the for­mer model who is now a washed-out mother of two obese daugh­ters.

Tonight’s episode sees Bree achieve overnight suc­cess as a celebrity cook. But as the sooth­ingly fa­mil­iar voice-over by the all-see­ing nar­ra­tor Mary Alice in­sin­u­ates, the green-eyed mon­ster is stalk­ing the ruth­lessly clipped lawns of Wis­te­ria Lane. ( Mary Alice kick-started the whole Wis­te­ria Lane psy­chodrama by top­ping her­self.)

It seems Bree’s neigh­bourly girl­friends and hus­band are proud but bit­terly en­vi­ous of her good for­tune ( stereo­type, any­one?). Bree dis­cov­ers, mean­while, that out­ward suc­cess does not al­ways equate to in­ner hap­pi­ness.

In part, tonight’s show achieves what this dram­edy has al­ways done best: set up fa­mil­iar archetypes ( women who are in­her­ently en­vi­ous and in­se­cure), only to sub­vert them through sly hu­mour. Still, it lacks the un­pre­dictabil­ity and jet-black hu­mour of Des­per­ate Housewives ’ rat­ings­bust­ing de­but sea­son.

It seems to me that tonight’s show has more to do with the quiet des­per­a­tion of the sub­urbs than with jeal­ousy: Lynette is in mourn­ing for the high-fly­ing ca­reer she gave up for fam­ily rea­sons, and Mike is mourn­ing the close re­la­tion­ship he en­joyed with his son while he was still with Su­san.

Gabrielle wor­ries her looks have faded and grieves for her old life in which she drove flash sports cars, wore cou­ture out­fits to the lo­cal shops and was a round-the-clock sex­pot.

Still, we know they will sur­vive. Wis­te­ria Lane’s mot­ley crew has seen it all: sui­cide, a mur­der cover-up, can­cer, jail terms, se­cret chil­dren, fake preg­nancy, up­per-mid­dle-class pros­ti­tu­tion. By th­ese stan­dards, fast­track­ing the char­ac­ters into ir­re­versible mid­dle age seems tame.

Rose­mary Neill

Ev­ery­thing old is new again. The res­ur­rec­tion of this news-based satir­i­cal pro­gram with Paul McDer­mott, Mikey Robins and Claire Hooper must give pro­gram­mers hope. How long can it be be­fore crashes back into our lives? Or how about

or an all new ? Why cre­ate some­thing new when an old jalopy gets mileage like this? If you were of the mild sus­pi­cion that Sally Field, pic­tured, could still be a - style pain in the neck, even in her ad­vanc­ing years, her irk­some per­for­mance tonight as Nora Walker en­list­ing her loaded fam­ily to help her fa­cil­i­tate a garage sale will ce­ment your opin­ion. Blame the writ­ers. Do peo­ple this rich re­ally have garage sales? Don’t they just phone some­one when they need junk cleared out? Speak­ing of clear­ing out, Kitty has to help find a re­place­ment for her­self in the se­na­tor’s of­fice. It started in prime time over sum­mer, then it dis­ap­peared, then it suf­fered the tele­vi­sion equiv­a­lent of a long, painful death. Hour by hour, moved fur­ther into the night un­til now it’s ac­tu­ally on the next day. This is the sea­son one fi­nale, poignantly ti­tled

. If there is any­one left who could care less, the post is put on high alert when a ter­ror­ist at­tack is sus­pected. Some­how I doubt we’ll see se­ries two any­time soon.

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