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Babies, weddings, food fights fill ‘Housewives’

“Desperate Housewives” sped through its storylines this abbreviated season, re-marrying Carlos and Gabrielle and birthing Mike and Susan's baby in record time, but let the central mystery — Katherine's puzzling return to Wisteria Lane — drag.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

When the residents of Wisteria Lane only have seventeen episodes in which to wreak the usual havoc, who really suffers? The fourth season of "Desperate Housewives," shortened by this winter's WGA strike, was regarded by many fans as a retread of the first: traded-out children, mysterious deaths, a hit-and-run. But there was compensation — the world's longest tornado warning. Only twelve hours until touch down, everyone! Stock up on the bottled water!Apparently to compensate for the missing episodes, the season sped through its storylines, re-marrying Carlos and Gabrielle in about four minutes and birthing Mike and Susan's baby in less than a quarter of that. The only plot to drip along slowly was the central mystery: Katherine Mayfair's puzzling return to Wisteria Lane and the true identity of her suspiciously amnesia-prone daughter, Dylan. There's still the May 18 finale to go, but season four of "Housewives" has offered both elements to love and new characters to hate on sight. Here's a look back at its many ups and downs:Nudest Husband: Orson. Sleepwalking Orson, who likes to sit in Susan's kitchen in the altogether and confess to attempting to run down Mike. You decide which is more horrifying.Most Touching Use of a Coaster: Andrew makes a little home for himself in Crackville, and a repentant, worried Bree pays a visit. He busts out a coaster as they sit down to share a drink, and Mama beams, thrilled that she raised her son right. Well. Except for the whole hit-and-run thing, but who cares? The boy's got coasters!Best '80s Shout-out, Part I: Wayne, Katherine's ex (played by Gary Cole, the boss from "Office Space," sans TPS reports) confirms what was broadly hinted at in the first part of the season: Dylan Mayfair is not, in fact, Dylan Mayfair. He drunk-watches some VHS tapes of her first bike ride from back in The Day. Little Dylan has a scar, Current Dylan does not. But this raises an even bigger mystery: Who seriously still has a VHS player?

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Best Use of Fence Post: Here's your suburban symbolism, says show creator Marc Cherry, as a picket fence post was rammed directly through Victor Lang's chest. Excellent death.

Worst Use of the Toys 'R' Us Catalog:  Kayla Scavo, who's what — 12 years old? 13? We don't care, she's evil — was seen very calmly combing a doll's hair as she informed Lynette that she manipulated her little brothers into setting fire to Rick's new restaurant. Fondest Callback to Karen Walker: Mike's endless search for prescription drugs left us wisful for Grace Adler's secretary, who could just ring up "Pharmacist" and have a big ol' load of downers delivered stat. This is how the other half lives.Mary Beth Ellis is the author of Drink to the Lasses and the webmistress of BlondeChampagne.com.