The primetime soap opera was heralded as the new and resurgent medium when Desperate Housewives arrived and brought steamy, sudsy television back to the forefront of popular culture. Now, three years later, ABC remains at the forefront of the movement but is not alone: CBS is introducing Cane and Swingtown, attempting to break through on what only ABC has managed to pull off in recent years.
Perhaps attempting to confirm themselves as the destination for primetime soaps without procedural elements or workplace settings, ABC is introducing ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ to the table while ‘Desperate Housewives’ bounces back from a weak couple of seasons and ‘Brothers & Sisters’ takes advantage of late-season momentum.
I am admittedly a sucker for these shows: I might view them with a more critical eye, but I have a penchant for some good family drama. But is it good family drama? And how are the show stacking up this season? Let’s take a gander.
Desperate Housewives – “Now You Know”
I will admit that I stopped watching Desperate Housewives last year, fairly early even. I simply didn’t find the second season interesting enough to justify sticking around during the rather slow start to its third. What has me watching the premiere, then? Mainly the arrival of new characters, new mysteries, and Nathan Fillion. So sue me, I became a Browncoat with Firefly over the summer.
My verdict: Dana Delaney has finally added some spice to the proceedings, the various women of Wysteria Lane are at their best when keeping secrets, and the mystery feels like just the right balance of intrigue and actually interesting material, as opposed to last year’s. It is a creepy dream for a brain-washed girl whose parents are hiding things in a locked room that hides not a chained up male but a hidden past.
It centers on not some secret murder plot or basement dungeon, but a mysterious new neighbour with a past and a future on Wisteria Lane. The drama amongst characters it as much of a retread as before, but it feels fresher as long as some level of change is being promised. And I feel like a new neighbour, and new neighbours to come, might be enough to bring the show back on track.
Brothers & Sisters – “Home Front”
At the end of last season’s finale, the Walker family cleansed themselves with a dip in the pool to signal a new beginning. However, this was really incredibly misleading, as this year’s season premiere showed: in reality, they’re still just as messed up as they were before. Kitty’s neutoric, Kevin’s narcissistic, Sarah’s marriage is a wreck, and the rest of the family are in a state of upheaval.