ABC Promises Return to Form for 'Housewives'

The consensus among TV critics last season was that "Desperate Housewives" had lost some of its bite and was bogged down in increasingly soapy and convoluted plots.

"Creative collapse" was how one reporter put it to ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson on Tuesday.

McPherson, not surprisingly, doesn't share that assessment of the show, which remained ABC's most-watched series last season. He does say, however, that the show will get back to some of the "wicked comedy" that characterized the show's first season.

"I think everyone including [creator Marc Cherry] admitted that at the beginning of last year we stumbled a little bit," McPherson says. "[We] answered so many questions at the end of the first season that he really spent too much time, I think, setting up the mystery, setting up the new arcs, and this year we're going to jump right in."

McPherson won't say just what "Housewives" will jump into when it opens its third season in September. But he does note that Cherry has more of the season mapped out -- a function of his taking over full show-running duties following the departure of executive producer Tom Spezialy.

"Marc has, partly because of the responsibility of 100 percent falling on his shoulders, has really stepped up and gotten out ahead of it," McPherson says. "And we have seen more arcing of the entire season from a specific story standpoint and soap standpoint than we've ever seen so far."

"Desperate Housewives" drew about 22.2 million viewers per week last season, off about 6 percent from the 23.7 million it attracted in 2004-05. It was also the No. 3 show on TV among adults 18-49, trailing only the two editions of "American Idol."

It took a hit in the Emmy nominations earlier this month, however. After 15 nominations and six wins last year -- including statues for lead actress Felicity Huffman and pilot director Charles McDougall -- the show earned only seven this year. It was shut out of the outstanding comedy series and lead actress categories, where Huffman, Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher all earned nods last year.

About the snubs for "Housewives" and last year's best drama winner, "Lost," McPherson can only shrug.

"Who wins the Emmys is one thing, but to have that kind of oversight just, to me, is remarkable," he says. "I think for one year [for 'Lost'] to win it and then the next year to not be nominated, for one year one of the 'Desperate Housewives' to win the best actress and then for none of them to be nominated the next year, there's a problem."