- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

‘Desperate’ return

After a less than stellar sophomore season, “Desperate Housewives,” once considered Sunday night’s guilty pleasure after its triumphant 2004 debut, returns for its third year in its familiar 9 p.m. slot.

Now, though, with changes both behind and in front of the camera (series creator Marc Cherry is taking a more hands-on approach to the production, and the story line involving Alfre Woodard’s creepy Betty Applewhite character is nowhere in sight), the campy nighttime dramedy appears to be back on track.

In Sunday’s season opener (titled “Listen to the Rain”), we catch up with the women of Wisteria Lane six months later. With a baby on the way and her marriage on the rocks, Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) finds she has more than she can handle; Lynette (Felicity Huffman) tries to embrace a newly discovered stepdaughter — conceived before she and Tom (Doug Savant) were married — and Dr. Orson Hodge’s (series newcomer Kyle MacLachlan in a recurring role) mysterious past begins to unfold.

Meanwhile, plumber Mike Delfino (James Denton), having been hit by a car driven by Orson, remains in a coma. And Susan, his on-again/off-again love meets a charming Englishman (Dougray Scott) while visiting him in the hospital.

Although ABC is keeping mum, “Housewives’” new season includes a wedding and a murder and, according to published reports, Mr. Cherry plans to write co-star Marcia Cross’ (Bree Van De Kamp) real-life pregnancy into the story line.

‘South Park’s‘ best

“South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker say that choosing their favorite episode would be like choosing between their children.

Not that they’re above that.

The duo handpicked their 10-most-beloved episodes of the long-running Comedy Central show to appear on the new “South Park the Hits: Vol. 1” DVD, due in stores Oct. 3. The new DVD also includes four bonus episodes and “The Spirit of Christmas,” a never-released animated short, Associated Press reports.

Among the episodes reprised on the DVD:

“Best Friends Forever,” which Parker described as “a final battle between heaven and hell,” “Good Times With Weapons,” and the infamous “Trapped in the Closet,” featuring a cartoon version of “South Park” nemesis Tom Cruise.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a single episode that has stirred up this much unwanted and wanted attention,” Mr. Parker says.

“South Park,” which debuted in August 1997, begins its 10th season on cable’s Comedy Central on Oct. 4.

Bravo site crashes

On Monday, it appeared as though Bravo’s “Fall Season Death Watch 2006” Web site — which asks users to cast votes on new shows most likely to be canceled — had met its own untimely end.

However, Bravo said the site crashed when the number of users jumped to more than 15,000 and half a million page views were requested, reports TVWeek.com. Bravo shut the site down and moved to a new dedicated server that should stand up to the demand.

“Death Watch,” part of Bravo’s “Brilliant But Cancelled” broadband site (www.brilliantbutcancelled.com/deathwatch/), also asks users to vote on when shows will be canceled. Last week, no shows bit the dust, which means all voters were eligible for the weekly prize of a video IPod offered on the site.

The site also posts odds for shows that will be canceled based on users’ votes. According to votes cast by users, shows most likely to face the ax in the first wave of cuts are Fox’s “Happy Hour,” with 3-to-1 odds; ABC’s “Men in Trees” at 4-to-1 and ABC’s “Ugly Betty” at 11-to-1 — even though it hasn’t debuted.

The boys are back

A day after deciding not to renew its multicamera sitcom “Lucky Louie,” HBO announced it has picked up “Entourage” for a fourth season, ordering 12 episodes, MediaWeek.com reports.

While it hasn’t been a runaway hit, averaging about 2.5 million viewers for its Sunday airings this summer, “Entourage” is a critics’ darling, winning an Emmy last month for co-star Jeremy Piven as best supporting actor in a comedy. And while viewership for the series — which stars Mr. Piven, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly and Adrian Grenier — was up nearly 30 percent over last season, HBO, as a premium service, doesn’t place a lot of stock in ratings, notes MediaWeek.com.

Thirty-four original “Entourage” episodes have aired to date. The show wrapped its 2006 season last month, and the remaining eight episodes from the third season will debut in early 2007, HBO said.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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