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''Desperate Housewives'': Crimes and cover-ups

Crimes and cover-ups on ”Desperate Housewives”: Hiding a problem — whether it’s infidelity, contagious disease, or bad plumbing — can only make it worse

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Teri Hatcher, Nicollette Sheridan, ...
Desperate Housewives: Danny Feld

”Desperate Housewives”: Crimes and cover-ups

If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

Fortunately, the residents of Wisteria Lane have no problem with that slogan. After endless weeks of reruns and preemptions, our beloved Desperate Housewives characters were finally back in our living rooms, behaving really, really badly — and getting (in a lot of cases) their delicious comeuppances. In less than one hour, this week’s episode packed in acts of theft, breaking and entering, bribery, prostitution, driving under the influence, and inappropriate acquisition of medical records — pretty much every crime short of boiling the Easter bunny.

Not that Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction has anything on Bree Van De Kamp. Bree’s deliciously warped sense of right and wrong — coupled with a ferocious need to protect her family’s good name — led to the two best moments in a truly classic episode. Indeed, while I howled when Bree (wearing a stylish orchid trench with a coordinated scarf) took back the muffins she was offering as a bribe to jailed local prostitute Maisy Gibbons, I’d give the slight edge to Bree’s hilarious emasculation of Rex over dinner at the country club.

Watching the tormented couple realize that all of their peers were staring and laughing at them because they’d found out that Rex was among Maisy’s favorite customers, you just knew Rex was going to get a heaping plate of just deserts along with whatever else he ordered. I can’t blame Bree for demanding that Rex pick up his menu and order like a man; why should their neighbors have had the last laugh? And anyway, did Rex really think he was going to leave Bree alone at their table? Certainly not after her beautifully tight-lipped monologue, which I will now print in its entirety, so that unhealthily obsessed Housewives fans can commit it to memory for this afternoon’s water-cooler discussions:

”Rex, if you walk out of this restaurant, I will scream. I will scream about your cruelty. Then I will scream about your infidelity. And just to make sure it really hurts, I will scream about your distasteful sexual habits. You want to know what true humiliation is, you just take one step.”

Folks, TV hath no fury more delectable than Bree Van De Kamp scorned. Now where the heck is Marcia Cross’s Emmy? (Speaking of award worthy, let’s hope Sharon Lawrence’s floozy Maisy doesn’t get a life sentence in the local jail. Her villainous vixen has already brought out the delightful worst in both Bree and Lynette this season; surely, she can trade barbs with Susan or Gabrielle or Edie during May sweeps.)

Rex seems scheduled for some additional pain: Once again, this episode found the philandering jerk feeling under the weather. Could his wife’s not-so-secret admirer (desperate pharmacist George) still be toying with Rex’s heart meds?

Unlikely allies Susan and Edie also got comically criminal — getting hammered at happy hour (with one of them apparently driving home!), then breaking into Paul’s house to discover Mary Alice’s magical mystery Utah tape. But while Susan (who’d have guessed her house smelled of apricot candles?) lucked out by escaping Paul’s house unnoticed, poor Edie paid the price — having to make out (and possibly more) with the murderous sociopath when he discovered her hiding behind the couch. Talk about taking one for the team!

Hooking up with Paul is about as appealing as having raw sewage back up into your shower, a fate suffered by Gabrielle and Carlos. Again, the show’s most materialistic couple got taken down a few notches; they were forced to do their laundry in the hot tub and clandestinely borrow friends’ washrooms. But Gabrielle scored points for the most delightfully daft crime of the week: coming across a construction-site Port-a-Potty during her daily jog, she decided to push it all the way home. The whole scenario set up Gabrielle to be the week’s one-note comic relief — but her surprisingly moving game of dueling confessions with Bree changed all that. One question: Could Gabrielle’s frequent trips to the loo be a sign of early pregnancy? With her tampered birth-control supply and a husband who can’t leave the house, the likelihood of a mini-Solis is increasing. And wouldn’t it be hilarious to see Gabrielle trade parenting war stories with Lynette?

Speaking of which, I wish the frazzled mother of four had had a little more confrontation time in that bouncy house with Popular‘s Lisa Darr, but it seems like the show’s writers sometimes punish Wisteria Lane’s most realistic, least criminal character by giving her mundane problems like her twins’ head lice. Felicity Huffman’s outsize talent shines brightest when she’s scheming to take down indignant rivals like Maisy or the receptionist at her yoga studio, so how about raising the stakes and giving her a prolonged story arc that pits her against a formidable archrival? How about Ally Walker or Raquel Welch or Jackée Harry?

I bet any of those fine actresses would jump at a chance to kick-start their careers on Desperate Housewives, a series where the writers are thankfully in no hurry to write off interesting supporting players. Indeed, while the show’s heart will always beat with Susan, Lynette, Bree, Gabrielle, and yes, Edie, there’s enough criminal activity to go around for everyone.

What do you think? Which actress would you like to see spend some time on Wisteria Lane? Are the show’s writers taking Lynette for granted? And which mysteries are you dying to see cleared up before this season ends?