Picks and Pans Review: Desperate Housewives

updated 10/20/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/20/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC, Sundays, 9 p.m. ET

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Housewives creator Marc Cherry took an unusual gamble with the new season, spinning the plot forward five years. This might seem a desperate way to freshen up an aging show in need of a little Botox—even after a cyclone hit last year, season 4 still felt saggy and slack—but it's paying off beautifully in the first few episodes.

The highlight has been the unveiling of the "new" Gaby Solis, frumpier, grumpier and with two plus-size young daughters. Eva Longoria Parker has always been the show's most freewheeling actress, campily playing up Gaby's vanity and selfishness. But she's just as good as a Mama Gaby who's not only lost her looks but can't bear the thought that her daughters aren't runway-ready Mini Me's. Much of the improvements are more a matter of housecleaning: The Scavo twins are now two tall teenagers, saving us the tedium of marking the year-to-year maturation of the earlier kids. Come to think of it, maybe Grey's Anatomy should try a new decade too.

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