'Desperate Housewives' a Godsend for ABC The ABC hit series Desperate Housewives finishes its phenomenal first season tonight. Sheilah Kast talks with Brian Lowry, TV critic for Variety, about how the program has transformed the network's ratings.

'Desperate Housewives' a Godsend for ABC

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Sheilah Kast.

(Soundbite of music)

KAST: Tonight will be your last chance to glimpse the residents of Wisteria Lane for at least a couple of months. The ABC hit series "Desperate Housewives" will conclude its first season tonight. What a season. As Susan, Bree, Gabrielle and Lynette polish their homes to gleaming perfection, ABC is polishing off a season with a smash hit.

Brian Lowry is a columnist and TV critic for Variety. He joins us from Los Angeles.

Hi, Brian.

Mr. BRIAN LOWRY (Variety): Hello.

KAST: What's the big appeal of "Desperate Housewives"?

Mr. LOWRY: I think there's multiple appeals in it. It's a mystery, which I think started it off. Then it became just a really interesting exploration of different choices women make in their lives, and finally, there are just really good soap opera elements and a tremendous amount of comedy, and I think you put it all together in one package, and it became a really beguiling show.

KAST: Do you think there'll be interest next season after viewers find out whodunit?

Mr. LOWRY: You know, I think this show has done a really remarkable job of sort of avoiding "Twin Peaks" syndrome. That was what ABC executives were afraid of when they ordered it, which was that once the mystery was solved or figured out, that there would be nothing more, and I think they've actually managed to slowly reveal more and more about the central story that got it all started, while adding new wrinkles along the way. So I think at this point, you know, barring some kind of creative self-immolation, this show will be very, very strong for several years to come.

KAST: Well, creative self-immolation might be worth tuning in for. What has this show done for ABC's ratings?

Mr. LOWRY: It's been a huge success for ABC. I mean, you have to go back to a year at this time, ABC had just blown out their top two programming executives. They were fourth in the key demographics ratings-wise, and to establish that they could put on a huge hit really jump-started the network, especially the one-two punch of "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost." And then in the latter half of this season, "Grey's Anatomy," which is also doing very well. Put on three shows with that kind of appeal in one year is an accomplishment for any network.

KAST: Will we see a big shift next season in dramas and comedies pulling away from reality-based TV shows?

Mr. LOWRY: Well, for the start of the schedule, you're definitely going to see more dramas. Comedy is really in a difficult point right now. There aren't really any breakout hit comedies. You know, it's very difficult to have a comedy self-start in the way that "Desperate Housewives" did. So what--I think we will see more dramas on in the fall, with the disclaimer, of course, that once some of those dramas start to fail, you'll see reality series right behind them. In a way, reality series are sort of the--like the crazy aunt who's kept locked in a room. And when the dramas start to fail, all of a sudden, the reality series come out.

KAST: Brian Lowry is a TV critic and columnist for Variety. Thanks so much, Brian.

Mr. LOWRY: Thank you.

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