Desperate Housewives & Lost: The Complete Third Seasons (January 16/08)
Season three proved to be a make-it-or-break-it proposition for both Lost and Desperate Housewives, as the former found itself saddled with a disastrous opening slate of episodes and the latter was looking to bounce back from its disappointing sophomore season.
Lost's problems started after clueless executives at ABC encouraged the show's creative team to essentially break the season into two distinct parts, with the first six episodes dealing almost exclusively with the imprisonment of three core characters (Matthew Fox's Jack, Evangeline Lilly's Kate, and Josh Holloway's Sawyer) at the hands of the sinister Others (led by, of course, Michael Emerson's Ben). Viewers of the show were subsequently treated to a series of increasingly irritating vignettes in which our charismatic heroes were dominated by thoroughly unlikable villains, as Kate and Sawyer were forced into hard labor and Jack found himself at the mercy of Elizabeth Mitchell's shifty and unpleasant Juliet.
Fortunately, Lost improved steadily once the trio were reunited with their island brethren - to such an extent that, by the time the season ended 17 episodes later, there was simply no denying that the series had recovered definitively and completely. The inclusion of a mind-bending season finale only cemented Lost's status as one of the most creative and challenging network programs in television history, and it should be interesting to see if the powers that be are able to keep the momentum going through the show's remaining 48 episodes.
The third season of Desperate Housewives was trumpeted as a return to form for the series by the press, though - as became evident early on - the show was just as sharp and funny as it had ever been. Aside from the inclusion of a few go-nowhere subplots, Desperate Housewives has remained remarkably consistent over its three-year run - with the uniformly affable performances and barrage of soapy twists ensuring that viewers can't help but tune in week after week.
There's subsequently little doubt that a lot of outlandish things occur over the course of the set's 23 episodes, including a case of amnesia for Mike (James Denton), a marriage for Bree (Marcia Cross), and an illegitimate daughter for Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom (Doug Savant). The latter ultimately proves to be the source of one of the season's few missteps, with the antagonistic relationship between Lynette and the girl's biological mother (Kiersten Warren's Nora) nothing short of exasperating (to such an extent that one can't help but rejoice when she's gunned down in the aptly-titled "Bang" episode).
Both shows have undeniably earned their permanent place within the pantheon of serialized television dramas, and there's certainly something to be said for watching shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost in exhilarating marathons (an opportunity afforded to the viewer vis-a-vis these deluxe DVD boxed sets).