There's a good amount of content packed into the fourth-season set of Desperate Housewives, which should come as good news to viewers who were drawn into this season by new regulars Dana Delaney (formerly of China Beach), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Gary Cole (Office Space) and Justine Bateman (Family Ties). ...Okay, so maybe Justine Bateman didn't draw anybody in. Still, a lot of talent was added to an already talent-packed show, and the DVD set doesn't disappoint. Here are the special features you can find under the Sizzler Steakhouse-style cover of the "Sizzling Secrets" edition... which seems to be the only version available. Apparently, non-sizzling just isn't an option with this show.
Not every episode gets a commentary, but a respectable six out of 17 episodes do, and one of them even gets two different tracks. Series creator Marc Cherry, executive producer Bob Daily and consulting producer Jeff Greenstein comment on the first episode, "Now You Know," where Edie pretends to hang herself. They reveal some interesting behind-the-scenes factoids, like the fact that Standards and Practices didn't allow them to show her with the noose around her neck, which is why it was artfully shot with close-ups. The other commentaries are all "Couples Commentaries," with the couples of Wisteria Lane each talking about an episode. "Now I Know, Don't Be Scared" has commentary by Marcia Cross ("Bree") and Kyle MacLachlan ("Orson"), "Distant Past" has commentary by Delaney ("Katherine") and Fillion ("Adam"), and "Something's Coming" has commentary by Eva Longoria Parker ("Gabrielle") and Ricardo Antonio Chavira ("Carlos"). Also, "Welcome to Kanagawa" has commentary by Felicity Huffman ("Lynette") and Doug Savant ("Tom"), and "Mother Said" has two commentary tracks, one by Teri Hatcher ("Susan") and James Denton ("Mike") and one by Nicolette Sheridan ("Edie"), Marc Cherry and director David Warren. For such a big cast, getting to hear from pretty much the entire ensemble, plus the creator and director, is pretty great, even if it's only for one episode each.
Getting Desperate: From Beginning to End
This making-of documentary follows the creation of the tornado episode, "Something's Coming", from beginning to end, including script, music, fight choreography, practical effects, computer effects, voice-overs and whatever department is in charge of stabbing John Slattery with a fence picket. Although cheaper to make than the original sweeps idea of a flood would have been, it was still the most expensive episode they've ever done, and it took the longest to shoot. The feature is pretty interesting, especially when they show how they messed up Wisteria Lane to depict the tornado's aftermath. Apparently, they destroyed the McCluskey house with glee, because nobody liked it, and some of the rubble they used came from a recently broken-down Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull set. (I looked for a beaten-up refrigerator with an old man crawling out of it, but no luck.)
Spare Time: Hanging With The Men of Wisteria Lane
On a show where the women are the stars and the men are the arm candy, this is the equivalent of a regular show doing a bikini car wash feature. All of the guys from the show get together at a bowling alley and haphazardly roll some balls while swapping insults with each other and their high opinions of the women on the show. (Thanks to editing, nearly every roll is a strike.) There's a whole lot of goofing off -- and pondering when their characters will get killed off -- but no real behind-the-scenes information, although it's worth watching to hear Nathan Fillion doing his spot-on Christopher Walken impersonation.
Cherry Picked: Creator Marc Cherry's Favorite Scenes
This is pretty much self-explanatory, as Cherry chooses scenes that spotlight each of the Housewives (except Edie, strangely) and explains why he loves the actresses so much. Most of them are just really funny, slapstick-y scenes, like Bree getting stabbed in her fake belly with a barbecue fork and Susan getting a gynecological exam, but there are also a couple of serious scenes, like Lynette getting her cancer diagnosis and Katherine having her first face-to-face with Wayne. There's a little bit of interesting information, like the fact that Bree was originally supposed to just fall on her belly, and the fact that the exam scene was the first scene Teri Hatcher had with Nathan Fillion after meeting him. Awk-ward!
Marc Cherry shows the original scene he ended the season with, which has the women talking about their new "Five Years Later" lives in a walk down Wisteria Lane, but only really takes us into Susan's home life. Apparently, ABC president Steve McPherson was disappointed in the ending and told Cherry there should be more to tease the next season, so Cherry got the gang back together to film four new scenes that went into everyone's home... a week before the episode aired on television! As stressful as that must have been on everybody, it was totally necessary -- the original ending is really pretty dull. (Ironically, they seem to have had the same problem with last season's cliffhanger, according to the episode 1 commentary. As it was originally written, Bree's fake belly was the big shocker, and Edie hanging herself was a network-mandated, back-to-the-drawing board solution.)
While there are about a dozen deleted scenes, most of them are just short, funny moments that were cut for time, although some of them were also cut for not being funny enough. The original lead-in to the episode "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover" shows Bree and Orson coming up with an elaborate story for why their baby doesn't look like them, even though nobody seems to notice -- it was filmed before an entirely new, shorter teaser was written.
Yeah, there's a blooper reel. What can I say about Teri Hatcher mispronouncing things that hasn't been said before? It's adorable?