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THE TINY SCREEN: Desparate for a Plotline?:

Has “Desperate Housewives” really jumped the shark? So soon? There are whispers around town that the campy series has already run its course and that the novelty from the first season has worn off. Is it really true?

This season’s “Desperate Housewives “ does indeed lack much of the shock value factor – we already know who is who and what is what. The Zach (Cody Kasch) storyline has mostly crapped out – he’s now Mike’s son and being paid by Susan (Teri Hatcher) to “leave Julie alone,” Julie being her beloved only daughter.

Anal Bree (Marcia Cross) has gone from being someone we all love to hate to someone we feel desperately sorry for and can relate to. Edie (Nicolette Sheridan) has been reduced to a dull cliché and represents no threat whatsoever to the other women, despite the plot twist of her getting together with Susan’s ex. Edie might as well leave the show for all of the intrigue she brings. And here’s a tip – that’s why we tune in. The intrigue and the creepiness.

Gabrielle has gone from being the pampered Latina princess we all loved to hate to a pregnant, wanna-be married lady who is suddenly faithful to her husband and trying to free him from prison. No, no, no. That plotline needs some serious TLC. Gabrielle can’t have reformed overnight (an another tip, Gabrielle doesn’t look or act pregnant).

Lynette (Emmy winner Felicity Huffman) has left the nightmare of being a mother at home (which, frankly, was most of the reason Yours Truly tuned it – I could relate to her foibles, struggles and traumas in failing miserably at being ‘supermom’) and now works for some silly corporation where she is ridiculed for not wearing the nicest suits. Again, the storyline lacks the passion and humor of the previous one. Also, the husband at home doesn’t work either.

The need to inject a black character forced them to put poor Alfre Woodard in some uninteresting jibberjabber about someone in the basement, a murder, and other things that seem like maybe they might be interesting on down the line but now aren’t anything more than an obvious desire to multiculturalize.

There is one story that may produce an interesting conflict: Bree’s son Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom) who has revealed in various episodes a very dark underbelly – one that is bound to eventually wreak all sorts of havoc.

Here are a few suggestions as to how to spice up the show. Invite Heather Locklear to waltz in and save the day. How can she do that? By seducing one or all of the men, of course. Or perhaps a Lolita femme fatale. A very young, very evil girl who can manipulate the characters from behind the scene. In short, we need somebody to hate. Hatred is key in a prime time soap – where would “Dynasty” have been without Alexis? “Dallas” without J.R.? Where is the J.R. for “Desperate Housewives”?

Additionally, they could introduce more conflict between the main characters, who get along much too well these days. Why do they have to be all supportive and kind? Shouldn’t they be bitchy and nasty? It would make for better television.

What often happens, sadly, with characters who are adored by the public, is that they start to think that we like them and therefore they should do no wrong. Who could forget how The Fonz changed from being a gang banger to being the town hero? That’s when a show jumps the shark. ‘Jumping the Shark’ is a term that refers to the moment when The Fonz jumped the shark on his motorcycle – that was when it all came to a screeching halt. It was over.

Is “Desperate Housewives” over? Or can it be rescued? It can be rescued, but the writers are going to have to take no prisoners – find the original housewives who were full of faults and problems, who had horrible, problematic relationships (sexy nannies, men with money and guns hiding in their cupboards etc.) and were about as imperfect on the inside as they were perfect on the outside.

Until then, we’ll have to slog through in hopes that, at some point, something more interesting happens to the gals on Wisteria Lane.

This Week’s

Notable TV

Thursday, November 10

Rachel Ray’s Thanksgiving in 60, 8 p.m., FOOD-TV.

When Harry Met Sally (**), 8 p.m., FAMILY.

Paula’s Southern Thanksgiving, 9 p.m., FOOD-TV.

Twister (**), 9 p.m., TBS.

Friday, November 11

Jurassic Park (***), 8 p.m., BRAVO.

Saving Private Ryan (***), 8 p.m., TNT.

Secretary (***), 8 p.m., OXYGEN.

The Wizard of Oz (****), 9 p.m., TBS.

Saturday, November 12

Ghost (***), 8 p.m., FAMILY.

The River Wild (**), Meryl Streep gets muscled up, 8 p.m., WE.

The Last Waltz (***), 8:45 p.m., IFC.

Old School (***), hilarious Will Farrell movie, 9 p.m., ABC.

Sunday, November 13

Mulan (***), 8 p.m., DISNEY.

Category 7: The End of the World, 9 p.m., CBS.

The Last Temptation of Christ (****), 9 p.m., SUNDANCE.

Masterpiece Theatre: The Virgin Queen, 9 p.m., KCET.

Monday, November 14

The Naked Gun (****), 8 p.m., AMC.

The Women (****), 9 p.m., TCM.

Bush’s Brain (****), 10 p.m., SUNDANCE.

Medium, 10 p.m., NBC.

Tuesday, November 15

The CMA Awards, yeehaw! 8 p.m., CBS.

The Jerk (***), 8 p.m., AMC.

I Married a Witch (***), 8:15 p.m., TCM.

The Old Spaghetti Factory, taking a look at the old haven from San Francisco, 10:30 p.m., KCET.

Wednesday, November 16

Casino (***), 7:30 p.m., BRAVO.

I Walk the Line: A Night for Johnny Cash, U2 performs, among others, 8 p.m., CBS.

Criminal Minds, the best new show on TV, 9 p.m., CBS.

In Search of Myths and Heroes, 9 p.m., KCET.

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