Marciacross_desperatehousewives_240_002After last season’s up-and-more-often-down season of Desperate Housewives, series creator Marc Cherry seems to be saying, "OK, I hear you" with Sunday’s third-season premiere.

You want more interaction between the women referred to in the title? Check. A mystery more integral to their lives? Check. Gabrielle being bitchily funny, Bree being uptight and Susan still romantically at sea? Check, check and check.

Even Cherry, who co-wrote the premiere, has acknowledged that last season didn’t click the way that Housewives‘ first year did (when it also had the advantage of being new). Critics have variously blamed the letdown on the fact that the show’s core cast didn’t spend as much time together on camera and that the mystery arc involving new neighbors the Applewhites didn’t worm its way through the neighborhood the way the Mary Alice story did in season one.

Things did pick up some in the season’s final episodes, though, and that momentum carries through to Sunday’s premiere. Six months have passed, and Bree is still making spectacularly bad choices in men following the death of her husband, having fallen for Kyle MacLachlan’s character, last seen running down Mike with a car.

Eva Longoria gets to showcase her considerable comedic chops as Gaby grows ever more tired of tending to the needs of Xiao Mei, her baby’s surrogate mother and Carlos’ ex-mistress. Susan, meanwhile, is still doting on the comatose Mike, though she meets another man (Heist star Dougray Scott) at the hospital.

The only real sour note in the premiere for me was the increased role for Nora, the mother of Tom Scavo’s illegitimate daughter, who was gratingly annoying in her brief time last season and remains a petulant, whiny drag on Tom and Lynette in this episode. (Her presence does give rise to one of the episode’s best lines, though, as Tom is forced to concede his wife strikes greater fear in him than Nora: "You scare the hell out of me, babe.")

Desperate Housewives got off its game last season by trying to top its first year at every turn. Now it feels more like the show has given itself permission to play things a little smaller, and the result (after one episode, anyway) is a little more satisfying.

Posted by:Rick Porter