I was struck by two very different thoughts while watching TV last night. The first is that it's awfully hard for a show to do the kind of episode Desperate Housewives did this week. I think that they did it well, it's just a difficult task.
What, pray tell, do I mean by that? Ah, good question – last night Desperate Housewives went out and created a brand new character, Eli Scruggs, who they then made a crucial element of so many of the decisions made by the women of Wisteria Lane. Here's this guy, this handyman, who has been in no episodes before last night and (as he died in the episode) will presumably not be in any again, but we are made to believe that he was present around the time of so many of the crucial decisions which have shaped the show, that he's been there in the background, behind the scenes.
It's a tough sell. If this guy was as all-important as last night's episode led us to believe surely we would have seen him before now. Of course, prior to the writing of last night's episode, Scruggs had never been conceived of, no one ever imagined he existed, which is why we've never had any indication of there being such a person involved with these women (IMDb claims that Beau Bridges appeared as Scruggs in the episode last week as well, but ABC's press website seems to indicate that he did not, and, for the life of me, I don't remember him being there, but, even if he was, the point holds true, save for the conception starting one episode earlier).
There were a couple of moments where Scruggs being around definitely did not ring true, most notably his pushing Bree to write her cookbook and his being present at Mary Alice's just prior to her committing suicide. However, for the most part, I think that the producers were able to wedge Scruggs into old plotlines in a believable manner, particularly his getting Lynette's daughter out of the car, as that was a crucial, though very small, moment.
In the end, I think it was a good way to do something different and special for the show's 100th episode. It wasn't big or flashy; instead it was a revisiting of great old stories from a new perspective. It may have been a safe choice, but it was carried out exceedingly well.
My other thought last night was that last year's writers' strike is still affecting things. Big Love and Flight of the Conchords returned last night to HBO after, I think, about a year and a half (maybe slightly less) of being gone. That is not just because of HBO's sometimes overly long production cycles (Sopranos anyone?), but because the strike mucked with the production cycles. Look at Rescue Me, or, try to even find Rescue Me; they managed to air some webisodes last year, but haven't yet aired a new season due to the strike.
It's amazing to me, it really is. The effects of the strike are incredibly far-reaching, and aren't done being felt. I hate to be so clichéd, but it really is the throwing a pebble into a lake (not that the writers' strike was a pebble). It all makes me wonder what else would have been different if the writers hadn't been on strike. Would NBC have had time to develop enough programming that they wouldn't be giving Leno five hours a week of primetime next year? Probably, but who knows what could have been.
Maybe I'd have been given five hours of primetime — think what a wonderful world that would be.