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Life's Rich Pageant

On ''Desperate Housewives,'' Gaby trains a group of beauty-queen wannabes; plus, Susan invades Ian's space, and Bree sends Orson packing

Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives | TWEEN ANGEL Gaby brought some glamour into the girls' lives
Image credit: Desperate Housewives: Craig Sjodin
TWEEN ANGEL Gaby brought some glamour into the girls' lives

''Desperate Housewives'': Walking the walk

We witnessed a bunch of sudden shifts on Wisteria Lane tonight. Gaby found a way to do something productive while staying true to herself. Bree finally kicked Orson out after being told he'd cheated on Alma with Monique. And Carlos made a seamless (give or take a ''nobody really knew you all that well'') transition into the coveted role of Mike's best friend. (Speaking of change, I'm taking over Desperate Housewives duties from your usual TV Watcher, Lindsay Soll, who will be covering The Real World: Denver starting this Wednesday.)

For me, Gaby had the most compelling story line. As a beauty consultant for her friend Vern's new pageant-training business, Gaby initially was horrified by the plain-Jane runway show; later, she accidentally endorsed bulimia and cigarettes to a group of preteens while reminiscing about her catwalk days. But without any prompting, Gaby surprised herself by starting to care. The writers worked out a healthy balance between real issues and superficiality — making an impassioned plea to the mothers to let her return, Gaby hinted at the black-market diet pills she could score for them, in bulk. Those ladies were lovin' that idea, and I was lovin' how realistic the 12 new mother and daughter characters were. Gaby hilariously called them a ''petting zoo,'' but I'll go with ''refreshingly unglamorous.'' I hope they'll keep coming back, at least for a few more eps.

I can't say the same about Susan's new dilemma. Ian's butler, Rupert, doesn't like her one bit; this somehow translated into multiple scenes revolving around a single frickin' drawer. This conflict between a housekeeper and a new woman is basically the plot of Hitchcock's Rebecca, with more color, less dread, and a somewhat similar mansion facade. Susan's new foe is certainly nasty, but I can't hate him too much because he's Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld. I so hoped that instead of a tart for breakfast, he'd have brought her a Snickers bar and silverware.

Ian contributed very little to this new development — I realized his delivery left something to be desired when I found myself staring incredulously at the ''sliced-thigh'' pattern on his hip designer jeans instead of absorbing his big line: ''If I can make room in my heart for both of you, I can certainly make room in my bureau.'' Gross! I'm not feelin' Ian and Susan's relationship. She claims he won't have to push his comatose wife out of his life in order to let her in, but isn't that exactly what he'd have to do? And while I'm on a rhetorical-question kick, on IMDb, Ian's last name is Kavanaugh, and Rupert's is Cavanaugh. What's that about? Ditto on Susan's hat.

Back at the Lane, Lynette went into full-on warrior mode, barging into new neighbor Art's house and running downstairs to find his Neverland-esque playroom stripped bare, its contents donated to a children's hospital. Yes, Lynette was way out of line, but I think she had more than enough reason to panic when Parker, who idolizes ''Mr. Protector Man,'' went missing. I just wish she'd have confronted Art about the photos sooner.

Seeing Tom, Carlos, and Mike chill out together was a welcome change. I loved it when Carlos whipped the chicken wing at the TV in disgust. A few weeks ago, Gaby hurled a lime at Susan — maybe they're the perfect couple after all. Is shacking up with Mike a sneaky way for Carlos to stay close to Gaby?

In any case, it should be amazing to see him interact heavily with Edie. Fairview's premier real estate agent got only a bit of face time this week when she showed a house to Bree, Orson, and his mom, Gloria, but Edie's ''What do you think this is, Tara?'' was my favorite line, because she mispronounced Tara — and wouldn't change the way she said it even if you pointed it out. More Edie!

Less Mike, if possible. It's not, because he got caught trying to bury his toolbox by the guy from Ghostbusters, which was fitting because Mike's been a zombie this whole season. He suddenly (and unconvincingly) began soul-searching tonight, asking Carlos and Tom to tell him all about his personality. And how about that seemingly meaningful Mike-to-Mike moment he had in his car? Rearview mirror, will you tell me who I am?

Then there's Bree, who wised up and realized that Orson's undying love scares the hell out of her. It doesn't look like her decision to eject him will stick — in the scenes from next week, the couple seem to be together, and Bree uses ''our.'' What's spookier than possessive pronouns? Thanks for the suspense there, ABC!

What do you think? Is Art a pedophile or just an exceedingly dedicated swim coach? Who really killed Monique, and where is Alma? And how long will Gaby's new hobby last?

Originally posted Nov 20, 2006
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