Sunday Night TV has lots of drama

Tonight there are no shortage of options for quality TV:

AMC has RUBICON and MAD MEN, HBO has the 2nd episode of the critically adored BOARDWALK EMPIRE and I’d assume, on cable, the most eagerly anticipated show is on Showtime, where DEXTER has its 5th season premiere. The events pick up mere seconds after the shocking conclusion of the 4th season. I expect series highs for this show tonight.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and BROTHERS & SISTERS return to ABC tonight for their 7th and 5th season premieres, respectively. I have seen both, so here are some brief thoughts.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES – The highlight is the introduction of new cast regular Vanessa Williams. I think this is a coup for the show and could be the thing that will re-energize DH for the future. Vanessa is a huge TV star. Her Wilhemina Slater from UGLY BETTY is one of TV’s greatest characters and dare I say she was robbed of an Emmy.  Her character here, Renne Perry is a rich New York woman who was a college friend of Lynette’s. There’s a little Wilhemina here but it’s not the same character. Their friendship is quite different than any that has ever been displayed on the show before and should create some interesting storylines. Her character is mostly introduced tonight and she’s already a presence, but I expect her to have more to do in the coming weeks. The other storylines pick up from seeds dropped in the finale – namely Paul Young’s return to the neighborhood and the Wisteria Lane baby that was switched at birth. You find out in the first act which housewife is raising a child not biologically hers.  A lot of introduction tonight, including a brief scene with Bree’s new “contractor”  played by Brian Austin Green and Kyle McLachlan’s Orson gets written out tonight too. As a result it’s a little lighter on laughs than most DH episodes but sets up what could be an interesting season.

BROTHERS & SISTERS – This season picks up 1 year later after the shocking cliffhanger. Suffice it to say tonight’s episode is darker than most. Rob Lowe, as everyone knows, did not return and Emily Van Camp will exit in a few weeks but she is not present for tonight’s episode. There are some nice acting moments especially from Dave Annable who is doing some of his best work on the series, as his character seems to have grown the most from the events of the last year. One of my favorite actors on the show, Rachel Griffiths (and her character Sarah) seems to be the only one not adversely affected by recent events and as a result she seems sunnier than everyone else on tonight’s episode, which is kind of weird. I assume B&S will go back to its lighter tone in the coming weeks but it’s pretty serious tonight. This is the most streamlined the cast has ever been and while I assume a lot of that was done for budgetary reasons, I think it will help the show. Overall, even though there are some moments I questioned, this is still one of the finest casts on TV and I just like these people, so it was fun to see them again. Hopefully they (and the show) will lighten up in the coming weeks.

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