Even after so many years of following the same basic formulas, Cherry & Co. have managed to keep the story arcs relatively fresh with the trademark blend of camp, sharp humor, and cutting drama that's not so real to be a total bringdown, even when it involves insolvency, death, disease, and disfigurement. Season six has all those familiar elements, thankfully propelled forward by the original core cast of Teri Hatcher (Susan), Felicity Huffman (Lynette), Marcia Cross (Bree), and Eva Longoria-Parker (Gabrielle). Dana Delany, who joined the cast in season three, makes her final appearance here in six as Katherine, who provides one of the more titillating story lines of desperation as the episodes progress and her mental state deteriorates (thanks to the predatory actions of Susan). But the four core housewives still seem to be in it for the long haul. Lynette is aghast at the prospect of her later-life pregnancy (with twins!), not to mention a close encounter with a friendly neighborhood serial murderer. Bree goes through a welter of guilt and exasperation over her husband Orson's snickeringly horrible disability (Kyle MacLachlan again adds a welcome dose of pungent wit to his turn as the disgruntled Orson), and Susan discovers her daughter may not be such a prodigy after all. Gabrielle is exasperated over her motherly duties, especially remembering what life used to be like when she hangs out with the super-fun gay couple down the street. The newest housewife on Wisteria Lane is Angie (Drea de Matteo, bringing lingering remnants of her role as Adrianna on The Sopranos), who also adds a dangerous mystery to the seasonal arc. Like all the other stretchy narrative threads, it has well-intoned elements of both menace and outrageous farce. As a package deal, season six keeps pulsing with the Desperate Housewives ethos, which is still defined by the clever device of a long-dead narrator (Brenda Strong as Mary Alice) commenting on the behind-closed-doors doings from beyond the grave.
The special features included on the DVD set are slimmed down compared to other seasons' offerings. There's the obligatory blooper/gag reel, what's billed as a "Master Class" series of interviews with the stars explaining how hard they work to make the sometimes credibility-straining plot threads come to life, and a nice collection of Marc Cherry's favorite scenes, which really do showcase what's best about each element of the show. A silly segment titled "Miss Piggy Gets Desperate" follows the Muppet diva onto the set for her own round of interviews, which eventually belie her true motive--to win a role as the latest inhabitant of Wisteria Lane. It's silly, but funny and smart, which is a pretty good way to describe the lasting fun of Desperate Housewives. --Ted Fry