Other than the courtroom drama surrounding Nicollette Sheridan's lawsuit against series creator Marc Cherry, the final season of "Desperate Housewives" has been sort of a slog, including its own (yawn) trial over the killing of Gabrielle's stepfather.
Before the series breathes its last with this Sunday's two-hour send-off, though, it's worth saluting -- and remembering just how nowhere ABC was when it improbably introduced two huge hits, "Housewives" and "Lost," in 2004.
What I really remember about that first season of "Desperate Housewives" -- beyond Eva Longoria mowing the lawn to cover up her infidelity with the gardener, and Marcia Cross' never-to-be-forgotten delivery of the dinner-party line "Rex cries after he ejaculates" -- is how much story the show chewed up. Even at the time, it seemed extraordinarily bold to so quickly exhaust stories and pursue new ones, given how soap operas, even in primetime, had a history of doing a lot of running in place.
"Housewives" also helped significantly blur the line between comedy and drama by being entered in the former category for the primetime Emmys -- a move designed more to maximize its chances of winning, clearly, than reflecting where it rightfully belonged. Of course, since then we've had "Glee" do the same and a lot of half-hour cable shows that seem better suited to drama than comedy, so turnabout is apparently fair play.
While "Lost" clearly had a more potent and creatively influential cultural impact, "Housewives" was the more formidable player in turning around ABC, which followed its fall coup with the spring introduction of "Grey's Anatomy." Seldom has a network that appeared to be so deeply in the toilet pulled itself out quite as quickly.
Rereading my initial review, I was amused by this passage: Unlike most of this fall's promising newcomers, the residents of Wisteria Lane have all kinds of fertile avenues to explore in future episodes. The one cautionary flag is preventing the soapy elements from bubbling over the top, as they threaten to do on only a few occasions in the premiere.
In hindsight, the show bubbled over the top pretty frequently (tornado, anyone? Or the guy kept hidden in the basement?), and "Housewives" still kept going and going, Energizer Bunny-style. All that's really left, in fact, are the bubbles that can be used to toast what it accomplished -- in a cup that, for most of the principals, has clearly runneth over.