On ''Desperate Housewives,'' the ambiguously gay Andrew fools Bree again, but most of the other story lines bog down in conversation

By Ann Hodgman
Updated April 18, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
Desperate Housewives: Bob D'Amico

Desperate Housewives

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”Desperate Housewives”: Bree’s ambiguously gay son

Hey, I’ve just started to wonder: Why does Carlos wear pajamas? All guys his age wear a T-shirt and boxers to bed if they wear anything at all. And wait a minute. In that baby picture Bree shows Andrew, she claims he’s four weeks old — but the Gigantor in the photo appears to weigh about 30 pounds. And if John’s just kissing Gabrielle on the neck, why does he call it ”making out”?

These are the main questions raised by tonight’s episode — a placeholder if there ever was one. ”Don’t worry!” the writers seemed to be reassuring us. ”We’re saving everything good for the season finale!” This week’s plot advances approximately one eighth inch forward, as if the writers wanted to give us time to digest everything they fed us last week. There’s no further news on Gabrielle’s pregnancy; okay, Carlos tears up the postnup at the end of the episode, but that only means that he and Gabby are back where they were two weeks ago. Andrew’s a swine, but who didn’t know that? Though it’s a nice break to see Lynette without her kids, she spends the whole hour running errands for Mrs. McCluskey. Worst of all, Sophie’s still hanging around getting in Susan’s way.

Sophie will be a problem for this series unless she, too, can manage to get herself murdered. Every time she’s on screen (Look at me! I’m stealing the scene!), the show devolves into generic sitcom and becomes an old Bewitched episode where Endora drops in uninvited. Part of what makes DH work is its claustrophobic, sealed-in quality. When secondary characters breach the security of the DH hothouse, they dilute its atmosphere, especially if they’re strong character actors. (Bob Newhart was an especially jarring example last week as Sophie’s ex.)

Another problem this week: the dialogue. Say it, say it again, and say that you’ve said it! That was the mantra for this evening. ”You tear up that post-nup!” ”No, I won’t!” . . . ”Mom, stop flirting!” ”I’m not flirting, Susie! You just don’t know how to have fun!”. . . ”Mrs. McCluskey, are you okay?” On and on and on it went, with only two notable exceptions. The first of these was Bree’s attempt to ”deprogram” Andrew from his possible gayness. That moved right along, from Bree’s vow that she would love Andrew even if he were a murderer, to her inviting Reverend Sikes to dinner, to her blurting out that she’s afraid Andrew won’t go to heaven unless she can save him from himself. Once again, Bree somehow manages to move from ludicrous narrow-mindedness to genuine pathos, pausing in the middle to snap at Andrew, ”It’s no wonder you’re perverted. Look who your parents are!” (That was the episode’s second-best line. Best: ”These are trained technicians, and I’ve got a roast in the . . . freezer.”)

Speaking of Andrew, whom I’ve started to develop a motherly crush on (I’m sure if I could talk to him, I could nicen him up): Is there any reason — besides telegraphing his intentions to the audience, I mean — that he spills his guts quite so wholeheartedly to Reverend Sikes? I realize their conversation is confidential, but wouldn’t it be more Andrew-ish to con the good pastor along with Bree? Generally, when you plan to do something so awful it’s going to rock your mother’s world, you don’t fill grown-ups in on your scheme.

But back to the second example of dialogue that didn’t repeat itself — that, in fact, zipped by way too fast. When Mike asks a police officer — who’s smuggling him a file about Deirdre’s murder — how much it costs to buy a homicide cop, and the officer beats Mike up and calls him a cop killer, well, we all know Mike’s too cute and tortured not to have some mitigating circumstances regarding his manslaughter conviction. But the cop angle is new. Will this loose end be tied up, or even mentioned again, by the end of the first season? Or are the writers hoping we’ll just forget to keep track of it? If the next episode doesn’t move along a little faster, we may never know the answer.

What do you think? Was this episode a frustrating stall or a nice breather? Will Mike confront Deirdre’s killer soon? Do you think anything will be resolved by the season finale?

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Desperate Housewives

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