With the first season's mystery surrounding Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong, still around as the narrator) revealed--though repercussions were still flying--the show's intrigue came from a new character, Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard), and her son (Mehcad Brooks), who try, unsuccessfully, to fit into Wisteria Lane while harboring their own secret. While Woodard is a great actor, her storyline tended to drag down the action, the brilliant Cross was saddled with two dismal character developments, and the housewives spent far too little time together. There were laughs to be had, however. Huffman's interplay with Savant was a highlight, and Gabrielle's conflict with a perceived rival named Sister Mary Bernard (Melinda Page Hamilton) was the funniest of the season. No longer as fresh as it had been in its debut season, Desperate Housewives ended up taking a back seat to its Sunday-night running mate, Grey's Anatomy, and was shut out of the major Emmy awards, but its late-season resurgence was a positive sign going into the third season. With Lesley Anne Warren as Susan's mother, Sophie; Bob Newhart as Sophie's beau; Andrea Bowen as Susan's steadfast daughter, Julie; Jay Harrington as Susan's doctor; Mark Moses and Cody Kasch as Paul and Zach Young, who continue to be plagued by Felicia Tilman (Harriet Sansom Harris) about what happened with Mary Alice; Shawn Pyfrom as Bree's rebellious son; Carol Burnett as Bree's stepmother; and Kyle MacLachlan as an oddball dentist.
On the DVDs
Creator Marc Cherry dominates the DVD features. He has a conversation with his muse, his mother; he comments on 27 minutes of his favorite scenes; and he has optional commentary on both the deleted scenes (15 minutes) and on the two unaired story lines. The longer of the story lines (11 minutes) focuses on Susan and her novel, with some nice interplay with Bob Newhart. In the shorter one (4 minutes), Lynnette tries to sneak in a phone call aboard a plane. The five lead actresses do get a chance to talk about their "juiciest bits" (about two minutes of recapping the season's kisses, etc.), the making of an episode, costumes, and their characters compared to TV's past housewives (with contributions from actresses such as Happy Days' Marion Ross and The Partridge Family's Shirley Jones). --David Horiuchi