Desperate Housewives may be well past its prime, and yet Marc Cherry and his crack team of suburban snarkologists still find ways of channeling glimmers of Wisteria Lane’s former glory. Look no further than last night’s episode, “Flashback,” which featured one of the most hilarious tributes to Weekend at Bernie’s this side of The Office. I mean, this show has given us a lot of great images over the years: Gaby cutting her lawn wearing Versace; Paul Young killing Mrs. Huber with a blender; Felicia Tillman leaving two severed fingers at a faux crime scene; John Slattery’s Victor getting impaled on a picket fence. And right up there is the macabre sight of Lynette keeping the corpse of Larry Hagman’s Frank in her house overnight, so that her mother could inherit his fortune. Actually, “Flashback” was a solid episode.
Your usual chronicler of all things Wisteria, Tanner Stransky, was off partying with Lady Gaga at the Grammys last night, so I, Christian Blauvelt, am covering the Housewives beat this week. Let’s back up to the beginning. Lynette’s cantankerous ma, Stella (played with ornery glee by Polly Bergen), finally married Larry Hagman’s rude, unapologetically racist Frank for his money. I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t messin’ wit no broke geezers. (Stella may be an octogenarian, but Kanye’s lyrics still apply.) Frank wanted to take a family photo with Stella, Lynette, Tom and the kids that he could then send, gloating, to his former families. Of course, not content with the Scavo living room as it was, he demanded that Porter and Preston rearrange the furniture for the shoot shouting, “Cagney and Lacey, grab the end of this couch.” A TV icon referencing other TV icons!
Of course, the moment the camera shutter opened, Grandpa Frank dropped dead. (Maybe Australia’s aborigines are right for thinking a camera can take your soul.) It shouldn’t surprise, I guess. Considering that Hagman’s J.R. Ewing is the most famous gunshot victim in the history of TV (and set to appear in TNT’s Dallas reboot!), issues of mortality are always present whenever he shows up on screen, but I would have loved it if he could have stuck around for just a few more episodes. A little Major Nelson makes everything better. How adorably kid-appropriate was Penny’s response to her would-be Grandpa’s demise? “Is his ghost going to be trapped in our house? Is he going to haunt us?” she asked.
Stella wasn’t concerned about that. She had other worries—namely, that Frank’s new will, declaring her his sole inheritor, wouldn’t go into effect until tomorrow. There was only one solution, creepy—and possibly illegal—though it may have been. Yes, they had to keep Frank’s body in Casa Scavo overnight and only in the morning report his death. Lynette hesitated at first, but the idea that her mother would not only be financially set for the rest of her life but be able to provide for Parker, Penny, and Paige’s college tuitions settled it. In the morning, the paramedics declared his time of death to be 3:00am, so the Scavo family was in the money.
Unfortunately, now that Stella had a few pennies to rub together, she felt she could exert a little bit more pull on her daughter. When she invited Lynette over for dinner on Sunday, Lynette said she couldn’t make it. “I’ll see you on Sunday,” Stella said. She suggested to Lynette that she should consider whether crossing her is a good idea now that she has money. “Are you blackmailing me?” Lynette asked. “No, I’m inviting you to dinner,” Stella replied. The greatest Desperate Housewives lines always mix malice with politeness, and that one was no exception.
NEXT: Bree and Susan try -- and fail -- to get out of their unbelievably lame circumstances. Plus, a Requiem for Zach.