Desperate Housewives & Lost: The Complete First Seasons (September 23/05)
It seems fitting that the first seasons of both Desperate Housewives and Lost are arriving on DVD at roughly the same time, given that the two shows essentially reinvigorated the network serial last year. In an age where there are, combined, six different variations on CSI and Law & Order (not to mention countless imitators), serialized programs like Desperate Housewives and Lost are becoming more and more scarce. Fortunately, both shows were huge hits almost right from the get-go, and it's not difficult to see why. With an emphasis on quirky storytelling and genuinely engaging characters, Desperate Housewives and Lost are undoubtedly a welcome change of pace from the plethora of crime-solving shows that have dominated the airwaves.
Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry is no stranger to female-dominated television shows, having worked on The Golden Girls as a writer and Designing Women as an assistant. With Desperate Housewives, though, Cherry has fused a typically trashy nighttime soap (ie Melrose Place, Dallas, etc) with a contemporary sitcom - with the result a surprisingly funny and often intriguing hybrid. The show revolves around the residents of Wisteria Lane, a seemingly normal suburban neighborhood that is revealed to be anything but. We meet: Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher), a klutzy single mother whose natural curiosity gets her into an inordinate amount of trouble; Bree Van De Kamp (Marcia Cross), an anal-retentive housewife; Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman), a former advertising executive who's stuck at home raising three rambunctious boys and a baby daughter; and Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria), the trophy wife of a jealous and controlling businessman.
Lost, on the other hand, deals with over a dozen central characters and almost as many sub-plots. The story concerns the survivors of a plane crash that find themselves stranded on a desert island, where exceedingly strange things are afoot (ie mechanical monsters are running about, mysterious figures pop up now and then, etc). Some of the more notable characters are: Dr. Jack Sheppard (Matthew Fox), whose medical skills turn him into a reluctant leader; John Locke (Terry O'Quinn), a shady figure who believes the plane crashed for a reason; James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway), a sleazy scumbag who's always armed with a sarcastic putdown; and Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews), a former Iraqi soldier with a haunted past.
While there's no doubt that both programs require obsessive viewing habits from their respective audiences - miss one episode and you're hopelessly lost (no pun intended) - Desperate Housewives and Lost are, as a result, far more intriguing and compelling than most other shows on the air. The sharp writing is certainly a big reason that both shows are so popular, though - generally speaking - it's the performances that keep viewers coming back for more. Teri Hatcher and Matthew Fox quickly emerged as the breakout stars of Desperate Housewives and Lost, respectively, but the two programs feature a cavalcade of talent on display.
Lost, in particular, is peppered with a variety of familiar and not-so-familiar faces - including Lord of the Rings' Dominic Monaghan, former Oz inmate Harold Perrineau Jr, and the Stepfather himself, Terry O'Quinn. There's not a poor casting decision to be found in the bunch, something that's equally true of Desperate Housewives (although asking Nicollette Sheridan to play a loose floozy isn't exactly a creative move).
It's interesting to note that, in its season finale, Desperate Housewives solved the mystery that kicked off the series - while Lost added even more dimensions to the various questions surrounding the island. At any rate, it's clear that both shows are going to be around for a long while - which certainly bodes well for fans of television shows that don't revolve around cops and detectives.