Ex­pect an emo­tional over­load on Des­per­ate Housewives’ fi­nale

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Lynn Elber

LOS AN­GE­LES — Des­per­ate Housewives” made sub­ur­bia sexy — and funny and mur­der­ous and touch­ing — and it didn’t stop there.

ABC’S se­ries about the messy lives within Wis­te­ria Lane’s tidy houses proved how low com­edy and high drama can be a TV mar­riage made in heaven. It showed that women of a cer­tain age — mean­ing over 25, in Hol­ly­wood­speak — can be al­lur­ing and com­pelling.

It in­tro­duced the witty voice of cre­ator Marc Cherry, and rein­tro­duced (with an­other ABC pro­gram, Lost) the con­cept of se­ri­al­ized sto­ry­telling at a time net­works were stuff­ing view­ers with a heavy diet of cheap re­al­ity and stolid crime-of-the-week pro­ce­du­rals.

Now, eight years on, Des­per­ate Housewives is sign­ing off Sun­day (8-10 p.m.), and we must swap farewell air kisses with Teri Hatcher’s Su­san, Felic­ity Huff­man’s Lynette, Mar­cia Cross’ Bree and Eva Lon­go­ria’s Gabrielle.

As the end nears, the four­some are keep­ing a se­cret that could put Bree away for a mur­der she didn’t com­mit. Su­san is cop­ing with the af­ter­math of hus­band Mike’s death and her un­wed daugh­ter’s preg­nancy. Lynette’s bid to win back Tom (Doug Sa­vant) has led to painful soul-search­ing, while Gabrielle tries to ex­on­er­ate Bree with­out im­per­il­ing hus­band Car­los (Ri­cardo An­to­nio Chavira).

In other words, it’s busi­ness as usual for the se­ries that be­gan with a buried body and the sui­cide of Mary Alice (Brenda Strong), whose lilt­ing nar­ra­tion from the af­ter­world has guided view­ers through Wis­te­ria Lane’s many plot twists and turns.

Cherry, who was per­suaded by ABC ABC/CTV Sun­day 8 to 10 p.m. to ex­tend the show into year eight, is ready and will­ing to say good­bye.

“It’s time,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “We had a won­der­ful ride and I’ve en­joyed it, but I re­ally felt this should be the last sea­son. Peo­ple keep ask­ing me if it’s bit­ter­sweet, and I keep say­ing, ’Mostly sweet.’ ... I feel re­ally good about my decision.”

De­voted fans are, if not des­per­ate, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sepa­ra­tion anx­i­ety. Shelly Robin­son, 28, of Oak­dale, Calif., a home­maker with three chil­dren, said she hopes the fi­nale brings “the best for the char­ac­ters” and has crafted her own ideal end­ings for them (“I hope Tom and Lynette grow old to­gether”).

“I can­not be­lieve that I only have two hours left with them!” Robin­son said in an email.

Cherry has re­mained largely mum about the final episode, but he said it in­cludes a long-en­vi­sioned scene that was fore­shad­owed in last week’s episode when Hatcher’s Su­san talks about leav­ing the ’hood.

“When Su­san drives off the lane, I’ve had that end­ing in mind for seven years. We filmed it just like I saw it in my head, which is in­cred­i­bly grat­i­fy­ing,” he said.

Does he ex­pect to hit the sweet spot for his au­di­ence? Cherry is philo­soph­i­cal — and braced.

“Look, The Simp­sons just did their 500th episode and they had a very funny ti­tle card at the end of it that said, ’Can you please wait a few min­utes, fans, be­fore you start com­plain­ing about this episode on the In­ter­net,”’ Cherry said.

“You re­ally just go, ’I’m go­ing to do the best job I can.’ Hope­fully peo­ple will like it and you just cross your fin­gers.”

The au­di­ence em­braced Des­per­ate Housewives when it de­buted in 2004. It was an in­stant hit, quickly gain­ing more than 17 mil­lion view­ers and fin­ish­ing among the top-rated shows for the sea­son.

ABC lav­ished at­ten­tion on its crit­i­cal and rat­ings dar­ling, with such clever mar­ket­ing ploys as Des­per­ate Housewives dry-clean­ing bags im­printed with the say­ing, “Ev­ery­one has a lit­tle dirty laun­dry.”

But the buzz for Des­per­ate Housewives has faded, along with the rat­ings. This sea­son, it’s av­er­ag­ing 8.5 mil­lion weekly view­ers, com­pared with the 19 mil­lion-plus each for broad­cast’s rat­ings lead­ers NCIS and Amer­i­can Idol.

Cherry is reluc­tant to judge his show’s legacy, although he’s glad that it “breathed new life” into se­ri­al­ized sto­ry­telling, which lives on in ABC’S Grey’s Anatomy and new­com­ers in­clud­ing Re­venge and Scan­dal. Des­per­ate Housewives also be­gat the Real Housewives fran­chise, but Cherry doesn’t de­serve the rap for that.

He is very proud to have con­trib­uted to fe­male em­pow­er­ment. The writer­pro­ducer gave star­ring roles to ac­tresses in their 30s and up, es­pe­cially im­por­tant at a time when big-screen op­por­tu­ni­ties for older women were con­tract­ing.

He has a new se­ries, the Bev­erly Hills-set De­vi­ous Maids, that’s be­ing con­sid­ered by ABC for its new sched­ule.

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