The Christmas Countdown continues and today we’re checking in on one of TV’s most famous streets. Other than Sesame and Danny. And probably others I can’t think of right now. The point is, we’re headed to Wisteria Lane for some of those Desperate Housewives.
Desperate Housewives – “Boom Crunch”
Original airdate: December 6, 2009
Remember in 2004 when Desperate Housewives and LOST premiered within weeks of one another and suddenly network dramas were cool again? ABC ruled the TV world! I was really into the first season of this show, though that’s a blur because it premiered during my broken leg period and I can’t speak to my tastes at the time. I know I didn’t make it through Season Two, but the first season was plenty of fun. I’m just inherently not a soap opera guy and after building the show around a clear mystery, I had a harder time buying in when Season Two was “Hey, another crazy family is moving in. What’s their secret?”
Coming into this episode, I knew most of the major players but not what had happened to them over the last four and a half seasons. And I chose not to find out because that just made this episode crazier. And then suddenly Dana Delany and Kyle MacLachlan and Drea De Matteo are there and Dana faked a knife attack before the opening credits and holy smokes. I’ll tell you right now that I have no desire to go back and watch all of Desperate Housewives but I might watch like every eighth episode just for the pure whiplash of it all. I love the way these characters are on the sixth season of an over the top soap opera and they are living their lives but also acknowledging that a completely insane thing happens to them every week. You either have to have a soft reset every so often or just lean into, yeah, she’s been shot on two separate occasions. There’s at least one character in this episode who I remember committing several murders back when I watched the show and he’s just chilling out at the Christmas party.
So we kick things off with a bickering middle aged couple who are supposed to buzz a neighborhood party with a banner attached to their small plane. The unpleasant wife and long-suffering husband is a pretty painful trope at this point, but the performances are funny. The husband dies in mid-air leaving his wife in a plane that’s headed straight for Wisteria Lane. And then we rewind to earlier like it’s a J.J. Abrams joint.
I’m going to try and follow all the subplots separately leading up to the neighborhood party. Katherine fights with Mike (Susan’s husband) and tries to get him to stab her. He refuses because of course, so she stabs herself and then blames Mike when the paramedics come for her. He goes to jail. Susan visits Katherine in the hospital to try to get her to recant her story. She doesn’t have any particular plan to accomplish this, you understand. Eventually, after the woman who faked a stabbing won’t listen to reason, Susan calls Katherine’s daughter and gets her to come. Which she probably should have done anyway. But then Susan ambushes her with the truth, when said daughter had heard that Katherine and Mike were married and Susan was his obsessive ex. Susan and Katherine’s daughter confront her and she tries to escape from the hospital and orderlies have to rescue her to the ground. It’s a really good performance from Dana Delany, by the way. What she has to do is objectively ridiculous, but she nails it.
Meanwhile, Lynette is suing Gabby’s husband for unlawful termination – he fired her for being pregnant. Or for lying about her pregnancy. It’s not super clear. This causes some friction between the two friends. Mostly they just snipe at each other but it kinda blows up during the party.
Bree wants to leave her husband, Orson. Unbeknownst to him, she’s cheating on him with her first husband, Karl. This is another plot that just kind of simmers until the party.
Drea De Matteo, and I never did learn her character’s name so I’ll just call her Adriana because of The Sopranos, has a teenage son in the hospital and when he wakes up, he uses a different name. A nosy nurse talks to Adriana and her husband and makes the logical leap that they’re in the Witness Protection Program. She thinks this is pretty cool and when she later brings the son home (because nurses frequently drive discharged patients), she mentions knowing all about it and he mentions terrorism and I guess they’re actually a family of terrorists. Nurse demands $67,000 to keep her mouth shut. What happens next?
Well, it’s the neighborhood Christmas party. Karl shows up but Orson doesn’t know that’s who Bree is seeing and it’s going to get weird when the plane with banner asking her to marry him does a fly-by. Gabby and Lynette fight while they’re performing in a choir and it gets physical. Karl and Orson also fight inside a Santa house. The nurse confronts Adriana and then, the plane crashes. The nurse is clotheslined by one of the wings. Lynette risks her life to pull Gabby’s daughter to safety. The plane flattens the Santa house and we see a bloody hand hanging out of a window while the narrator informs us that not everybody survived! Christmas cliffhanger!
So, Wikipedia says this is one of five “disaster episodes”, which just comes back to my point about how crazy this show is. This started as a slightly heightened soap opera and now every single character is dealing with severe PTSD. But man, I was not bored for even a second.
Best Line: “You beat cancer, I’ll buy you a car. You don’t beat it, I’ll buy you two.” — Jeff Bicks to his wife
Christmas Decorations – You get some decorations in the various homes and the hospital, and then the outdoor party is full of lights and inflatable figures and tinsel. It looks insane. This neighborhood party cost somebody six figures.
Trimming the Tree – There’s a funny passive-aggressive tree-trimming with Gabby just flicking chunks of tinsel at the tree to irritate Lynette.
Christmas Carols – The Jingle Belles perform “Silent Night” until a fight breaks out.
Home for the Holidays – Katherine’s daughter comes home after completely skipping what she believed to be her mother’s wedding and never making an attempt to meet her fake husband. Keep up with your parents. You can prevent psychotic breaks.
Celebrity Guests – I mentioned a bunch of famous people but they were all regulars this season. However, the biggest star of all plays Jeff the ill-fated pilot. It’s Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson! I was very excited about that.
Holiday Cheer-O-Meter – A mixed bag – there’s nothing about this episode that requires it to be Christmas. That party could have been any neighborhood gathering. But the Christmas trappings are so ludicrous and out of step with the subject matter of the episode, that I almost have to give it extra points. I’m giving it a 6 which is pretty good for an episode with at least three deaths.