'Desperate Housewives' bids farewell with grace and humor

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
By Frazier Moore, AP

NEW YORK--There was nothing desperate about this finale. ABC's “Desperate Housewives” concluded its rocky, racy and macabre eight-season run with a tidy, affectionate send-off.

For those who haven't yet made their farewell visit to Wisteria Lane, be advised: Plot spoilers from the finale await.

Suffice it to say, everyone seems destined to live happily ever after. At least, with the exception of Karen McCluskey (Kathryn Joosten), the cranky but lovable senior who was battling cancer. But she dies peacefully at home, the way she wanted, with a favorite Johnny Mathis record serenading her.

By this point, she has saved the day for Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross), who was on trial for murder — an accidental homicide that was actually committed by Carlos (Ricardo Antonio Chavira), the husband of Bree's fellow housewife, Gabrielle (Eva Longoria).

Bree was prepared to loyally take the fall for her friends, but, at the last moment, Karen steps in and confesses to the crime.

Besides her false confession, Karen voices on the stand a tender summary of life in the “Desperate Housewives” neighborhood: “It's not just a bunch of houses in the same place. It's a community — people who care about each other.”

The charges are dropped against Bree, who overcomes her fear of commitment and settles down with her cute lawyer, Trip (Scott Bakula), after he assures her that her tarnished past doesn't bother him: “All those ugly details you're talking about, they just prove that you're human,” he says lovingly.

Lynette (Felicity Huffman) and Tom (Doug Savant), whose marriage seemed on the rocks, reconcile passionately in the middle of Wisteria Lane in the romantic glow of streetlights.

Preparations are afoot for the gala marriage of Renee (Vanessa Williams) and Ben (Charles Mesure), with all the expected hysteria and confusion. For instance, en route to the ceremony in a stretch limo, Renee's expensive wedding gown is soaked by pregnant Julie seated beside her, whose water inconveniently breaks. But with Gabrielle as an accomplice, Renee steals a replacement gown from a bridal store.

Then Julie (Andrea Lauren Bowen), the daughter of Susan (Teri Hatcher), gives birth at the hospital as, in cross-cuts, the wedding reception takes place and Karen breathes her last. Life, nuptials and death: a bittersweet confluence.

The ratings and heat that greeted “Desperate Housewives” eight years ago have faded during the series' run. The season finale for its first year drew more than 30 million viewers, while, this season, the series has averaged 8.5 million each week.

But Sunday's two-hour finale (whose second hour was written by series creator Marc Cherry) was a reminder of why “Desperate Housewives” struck such a chord with its arrival in fall 2004.

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