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‘Desperate’ fans will want the DVD

Jen Chaney The Washington Post

The Desperate Housewives not only have dark secrets. They also have impeccable timing.

Two days after winning two Emmy Awards – including a surprise victory for lead actress Felicity Huffman – and less than a week before beginning their second season, the deliciously wicked women of Wisteria Lane make their DVD debut. Not that this attractive six-disc collection needs any promotional help from awards shows or season premieres. Hardcore fans likely will be tripping Susan Mayer-style to get their hands on a copy of “Desperate Housewives: The Complete First Season,” and they won’t be disappointed.

The “Desperate” DVD – like the recent box set of “Lost,” also released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment – includes widescreen versions of the episodes from the hugely successful first season along with numerous bonus features. Those ample extras include deleted scenes, six audio commentaries, a blooper reel, several featurettes and extended versions of select episodes.

Viewers eager for juicy tidbits will be pleased by some elements of the set and disappointed by others. On the positive side, the extended episodes – particularly the season’s fourth installment with an enlightening scene involving nosy neighbor Mrs. Huber – often shed new light on the show’s central characters. Same goes for “The Secrets of Wisteria Lane,” a short documentary that peeks into a meeting among the show’s writers as they discuss potential plot developments for season two. (If you hate spoilers, by all means, skip this one.)

Anyone hoping for more dirt on the alleged tension among the show’s stars won’t find much muck to rake. Huffman, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria and Nicollette Sheridan separately recorded commentaries about their favorite scenes, but the women never team up for a cast commentary on a full episode, a standard on most TV DVDs. If these actresses like each other as much as they suggest – “Her and I, no matter what the press says, get along great. Better than anybody,” Hatcher says of Sheridan during one interview – it would have been nice to see them prove it by recording an audio track together.

Admittedly, some of the extras are extraneous. Still, the overall quality of the set – not to mention the meaty mystery and dark comedy of the series itself – makes “Desperate Housewives” worth owning. Like the anal-retentive Bree, I wanted this collection to be spot-on perfect. But like the klutzy Susan, I realize it’s OK if it occasionally falls on its face.

Bonus with the best dish: “Secrets of Wisteria Lane” not only eavesdrops on the writers, it also reveals other production tidbits, like what’s actually behind the facades of those beautiful Wisteria Lane homes and what Hatcher was really wearing when her character, Susan, got locked out of the house naked.

Most repetitious bonus: At least once during every interview or audio track, show creator Marc Cherry mentions that the Van de Kamp family is based on his own relatives. “She has a real disconnect about how much of this is about her,” Cherry says of his mother, who inspired the character Bree, during the featurette “A Stroll Down Wisteria Lane.” After this DVD, that may no longer be the case.

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