In my opinion, in its first four years on the air, "Desperate Housewives" has had three out of four really good seasons. The first, third, and fourth seasons were excellent. Only the second season wasn't quite as good. So going into the fifth season of this hit show I wondered if it was going to match the greatness of its best years. Sad to say it didn't. The fifth season of "Desperate Housewives" was its weakest season yet. I still liked the fifth season of the show, and I'm giving it 4 stars out of 5 (it falls more under 3 1/2 stars than 4). But I've got a feeling that it might be running out of gas down the road in its later years to come.
For the most part, "Desperate Housewives" season five is still pretty good. There are plenty of moments that are funny, sexy, and suspenseful. There was nothing wrong with the acting. The regular cast is back and the acting is fine as usual. There was nothing wrong with the presence of Teri Hatcher (Susan), Marcia Cross (Bree), Felicity Huffman (Lynette), Eva Longoria Parker (Gabrielle), Nicolette Sheridan (Edie), and season four newcomer Dana Delany (Katherine) on the screen. Same goes for the other cast members as well. Along the way in season five there were some newcomers. The most notable newcomer to season five was Neal McDonough, who plays Edie's new husband Dave. This character provides most of the story arc to season five which means that this character has a deep dark secret that plays out during the season (quite similar to Dana Delany's character in season four). McDonough is very good here and there's no fault in his character's storyline.
There were other newcomers to season five, and many of the new faces were provided thanks to the five year jump that this show took at the end of season four. There are now older actors who are playing the Scavo kids (Lynette's three sons and one daughter). Susan and Mike's son, born at the end of season four, is now five. And Gaby and Carlos have two daughters (also shown at the end of season four). The storyline with the five year jump into the future I think might have hurt the show a little. I think I liked it better with the way it was. It's obvious that "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry wanted to make some changes so that way the show can stay fresh. Not a bad idea, but for me changes don't always cut it.
As for which episodes were the best, I'd have to say the very best episode of season five was the show's 100th episode, titled "The Best Thing That Could Have Ever Happened" (in the show's fifth season, it's episode #13). Here's an episode that takes a total departure from its regular storyline to focus on Wisteria Lane's local handyman, wonderfully played by Beau Bridges. The handyman dies of a heart attack at the beginning of the episode, and the ladies flashback on how this man affected their lives over the years. Bridges' guest appearence provided "Desperate Housewives" with one of its only two Emmy nominations that it received this year. Another good episode was #8: "City on Fire". This was supposed to be the big episode of the season, following on the heals of the tornado episode from season four and the supermarket hostage crisis episode from season three, which rank as the two best episodes of the show so far. In this episode, a nightclub fire puts the housewives and their husbands in danger. However this episode (even though its a good one) isn't quite up to the tornado and hostage crisis episodes from the previous seasons.
Besides Bridges, other familiar guest stars from season five include: Gale Harold ("Queer as Folk") as Susan's new boyfriend Jackson (the mystery man Susan was kissing just as season four ended); Lily Tomlin as Mrs. McCluskey's sister Roberta; Gail O'Grady ("NYPD Blue") as a promoter who Lynette thinks her husband Tom is having an affair with, but it turns out she's having the affair with one of the Scavo twins; Frances Conroy ("Six Feet Under") as one of Carlos' massage clients who integrates herself into the lives of the Solis family which in the process upsets Gaby; Steven Weber ("Wings") as Julie Mayer's much older new beau (Andrea Bowen, who played Julie in the first four seasons but is not a regular in season five reprised her role for this one episode); and Swoosie Kurtz ("Sisters") as a worker at a school that Susan goes to work at who turns out to be a closeted lesbian. Besides Bowen, other regular "Desperate Housewives" actors from the past turn up, including Richard Burgi as Susan's ex-husband Karl; Steven Culp in a flashback scene as Bree's late husband Rex; and Christine Estabrook (also in a flashback) as season one neighbor Mrs. Huber.
Season five of "Desperate Housewives" has some problems. First of all the storyline, even though it's good, isn't as good as past storylines. This lead to a couple of episodes that were just downright dull. Plus a couple of minor storylines were kind of ridiculous. The most absurd was Bree's current husband Orson becoming a kleptomaniac, where he was breaking into houses on Wisteria Lane and stealing items from each house. Another problem was Gaby's selfish behavior, which was funny in earlier seasons but in season five was starting to get tiresome. One of the dumbest scenes of all time on this show comes in season five's first episode, where Gaby plays a game with one of her chubby daughters. It's where Gaby wants her daughter to lose weight by having her chase Gaby's car while Gaby drives a little bit away just as her daughter reaches up to the car. Then the daughter, very tired from all the chasing that her mom is making her do, gets on a bus and takes the bus home much to the chargin of Gaby. This is not "Desperate Housewives" at its best. Plus, Lily Tomlin isn't hardly given anything to do as Mrs. McCluskey's sister Roberta. Tomlin is one of our finest comediennes. Couldn't the writers given her something more to do?
Let's hope that season six of "Desperate Housewives" will be an improvement, but I'm not all that enthusiastic. Nicolette Sheridan is now gone, thanks to her late season departure. That's a shame because Edie was one of the very best characters on the show. But at least a familiar face has joined the cast for season six: Drea de Matteo, best known for her brilliant Emmy winning role as Adriana on the superb HBO series "The Sopranos", will be coming to Wisteria Lane. I'm looking forward to seeing if she can give this once great show a much needed boost.