Lynette's mom returns with Larry Hagman as her fiancé; Gaby's beloved doll stolen; and Paul Young realizes Zach's back.

By Tanner Stransky
January 17, 2011 at 08:34 AM EST
Ron Tom/ABC
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Last week, Susan’s mother appeared on Desperate Housewives in the form of Lesley Ann Warren, and she memorably toted along a beloved television star from yesteryear in Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda vet Valerie Harper, who played her sister Claire. Well, the mother-with-former-small-screen-star formula continued yet again this week on Housewives, as Lynette’s mother—deliciously portrayed both crusty and uncouth by Polly Bergen—resurfaced, this time toting along another beloved (and possibly the most beloved ever) television star from yesteryear in Dallas alum Larry Hagman. And good news: Just like with Harper, enlisting the former J.R. Ewing proved quite savvy, as Hagman served up a rather enticing guest spot as the racist, inappropriate fiancé to Bergen’s looking-for-love (and a fat inheritance) Stella. I couldn’t stop laughing at all his various and hilarious sound bites.

“Call me dad,” he told Lynette when she was introduced to him for the first time. She seemed shocked and unwilling to do so, and he quickly added: “Wouldn’t it be awful if I was that guy?” Zing! But wait for it—there’s more! Before we knew it, however, Hagman’s too-blunt Frank was throwing totally inappropriate racial epithets out by the handful. Annoyed that he wasn’t getting service quick enough at the meal where he met Lynette, Frank told the Mexican-looking server: “What do I have to do to hurry over? Build a fence?” I shouldn’t laugh at such things, but you have to admit it’s pretty funny. Mostly because everyone knows some old codger like this (read: your grandfather) who is so far beyond the line that you can’t do anything by let out a chuckle and know that they’ll never change. It didn’t stop there. After Frank’s food order wasn’t right, an irritated Lynette offered to trade food with him and offered him her salad. “Lemme check,” he said, snappily. “Nope, still got a penis!” I guess he was insinuating that real men don’t eat salad? Ha! Not even sure what that means, really, but it’s so stupid it’s funny.

Bergen as Stella, too, offered up one of my favorite lines of the night, right after she first appeared on screen. She was wheeled into the Scavo household, announced that she was going to marry Frank that coming Saturday, and told Lynette she could meet her future husband the following day. “Come by tomorrow,” Stella said, hilariously adding: “We’ll squeeze you in between Nothing to Do and Waiting for Death.” That line just kills me! Nothing to Do and Waiting for Death. Tee hee hee. I plan to use it in the not-too-distant future, and often.

While Lynette dealt with her mom’s seemingly reckless fourth marriage, Gaby was still obsessing over her doll, Princess Valerie. Mrs. McCluskey found out about her obsession and spilled the beans to Carlos, who went ballistic that she was using the doll to replace Grace. “The doll makes me happy!” Gabby told Carlos, in the heated moment. “What do you care?” And then she threw the no-talking-about-Grace rule in his face. “No, we’re not supposed to talk about it!” she screamed, as she stormed off, in reference to him walking to discuss the Grace issue. “That was your rule!”

Things only progressed to weirder territory, nearer to the end of the episode, as Gaby and Carlos headed out for dinner—with Princess Valerie strapped into a car seat in the back seat. Yes, I really did just type that Princess Valerie was strapped into a car seat in the back seat. Good Lord, I didn’t think this storyline could get nuttier. And then, of course, Carlos and Caby got carjacked (because Fairview has so many sketchy areas!), and Gaby couldn’t get Princess Valerie out in time, which sent her into a tailspin. “It’s not Grace,” Carlos yelled at her, as the car sped away with Gaby’s doll inside. Well, any sane person could have told her that. Where this all goes from here is beyond me.

NEXT: Susan’s lame storyline gets lamer; Bree learns a big secret about Keith—and hides it from him; and Beth is spared when Paul learns that Zach has returned.

Dying for another storyline that’s seemingly going nowhere? Susan Delfino’s I’m-on-kidney-dialysis-and-trying-to-make-friends-while-I’m-getting-my-blood-scrubbed storyline. I don’t even know what to say about what’s going on with Susan anymore. She spent the episode trying to convince a guy not-so-subtly named Dick to play Scrabble with her. “You know, Dick,” she told the old curmudgeon, “sometimes when I meet people, they say you don’t seem like a Susan. But you…” That was about the extent of her story this week. I honestly almost forgot that she was there. Sad.

Bree, meanwhile, was still dealing with growing pains in her relationship with Keith. A mysterious woman named Amber James appeared at Bree’s house asking for Keith. Eventually, Bree learned that Amber had a kid with Keith when they dated several years before, but Amber left Keith before he even knew she was pregnant. Bree, however, kept the news from Keith, and relayed to Amber that Keith didn’t want to have anything to do with the little boy, Charlie. What this basically sets up is the future demise of Bree’s relationship with Keith, when he learns the truth. Yawn. Brian Austin Green should probably take off his shirt several times before this arc ends and he’s off the show, so at least some good comes of all this.

Renee, finally, had her own story arc this episode that didn’t include her going head-to-head with any of the established ladies on the Lane. This week we found her decorating the bedroom of Bob and Lee’s new, adopted daughter, which came with the revelation that—totally, totally didn’t see this one coming—that Renee had, at one time, wanted children. Cue Bob and Lee bringing their new daughter over to Renee’s house, followed by Bob asking Renee to be on call when the gal needed help or advice from “old auntie Renee.” Renee agreed, but then Vanessa Williams served up her gem quote of the evening: “And if she ever calls me ‘old auntie,’ I will kick her.” Can I just reincarnate as Vanessa Williams please? Thanks.

Finally, we circle around to Paul Young and his increasingly meek wife Beth. As we saw last week, Paul has learned that Beth is Felicia’s daughter. So this week consisted of him being really creepy and planning a weekend away at a remote cabin where, as far as I could tell, was planning to kill her for all the lies she’s spun. But just before they were to leave, the police arrived and showed Paul the gun that was under Beth’s pillow at Bree’s last week—and Paul recognized it as Zach’s and not Beth’s. Thus, Beth is spared, at least for the moment, and it seems that Paul will now pursue Zach instead. Is he going to go after his son? Seems possible, especially when you’re as deranged and rage-filled as Paul Young. As a somewhat nice button on the whole thing, Paul told Beth after he recognized Zach’s gun: “Trust me, Beth, I think you dodged a bullet here.” That made me smile.

Also, shouldn’t the writers have somehow incorporated Larry Hagman into Paul Young’s storyline? I thought that would sort of be part of the idea, since they’re sort of playing Paul’s storyline as a “Who shot J.R.?” type of thing. Anyway, maybe that’s not it for Hagman, but seems like the wink potential of that whole thing could work nicely.

But what do you think of last night’s episode, Desperate Housewives viewers? Do you think Paul is going to tussle with Zach soon—or will we have to wait until the season finale in May? Is there any juice left in this Gaby-with-baby-doll-obsession storyline? Are Bree and Keith long for this world as a couple? And just how soon do you want Larry Hagman to return for another episode? Let me know in the comments below!

Eva Longoria Parker, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, and Felicity Huffman star in the soap set on the dangerous Wisteria Lane
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