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‘Desperate Housewives’ mystery is lagging

New Wisteria Lane matriarch Drea de Matteo is giving it all she's got, but the season-long mystery she helms just isn't all that mysterious — or even interesting.
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Every year, "Desperate Housewives" has a yearlong mystery, usually involving a new family and tying in to longtime Wisteria Lane residents. This year's plot started off promisingly enough, with the casting of Drea de Matteo as Angie Bolen the matriarch of the new family.

De Matteo, who once smoked up Sunday-night TV screens as Adrianna on "The Sopranos,"  is giving it all she's got, although sometimes she still seems to be playing Ade. But she can only do so much when her plot just doesn't seem to have that much going for it.

On Sunday's episode, de Matteo's character finally started to spill some of her secrets, telling Gaby what smart viewers had already guessed: Angie had been a teen eco-activist who got in with the evil Patrick Logan, Danny's real father, and one of their protests somehow took a life.

In the final scene, Angie's mother's neighbor was seen calling Logan, telling him that for a promised $1000, she'd spill the beans on where Angie lived. Previews later confirmed that Logan is apparently on the first plane to Fairview to get revenge on Angie.

This is ABC's big reveal? This is where the major plot of their hit show is going? Violent eco-activism? This sounds like a plot summary dreamed up by The Onion wanting to spoof the ultimate suburban show. What next, killer yoga moves? Poisoned lattes? Tampered-with Priuses — oh, wait.

Sure, Patrick Logan will turn out to be creepy and brutal, and fans will eventually get the details on who died, and how. But it's hard to imagine how that plot can really hold viewers' interest when it's taken this long to develop even this far.

Yes, Julie's attempted murder has yet to be solved, and there are hints that will tie in to the Bolens. But it apparently wasn't Logan who strangled her, since he doesn't seem to know yet where the Bolen family has moved.

The problem with this year's mystery is that so far, it hasn't really involved the other families. The best mystery on "Housewives" remains the first, where Mary Alice Young's suicide turned out to have ties to her illegal adoption of her son, and the murder of his drug-addict mother. That story had reverberations within practically every Wisteria Lane home, and echoed for several seasons afterwards.

Angie Bolen, as played by de Matteo, is a gritty, tough-talking "Housewife" who offers a nice contrast to uber-preppy Bree and control freak Lynette. She's actually a bit like tough-at-the-core Gaby in that she can throw off a quip or a wisecrack in one scene, then pull out her own pair of brass knuckles and take someone down in the next. But she's pretty much spinning her wheels with this slow-to-develop story. Maybe if Patrick Logan turns out to be de Matteo's fellow "Sopranos" vet, Michael "Chris-to-FUH Moltisanti" Imperioli, the show can swing on a dime and recreate the magic of past years, but we're not counting on it.

Thankfully, in Sunday's episode, some of the other plots made up for the dreary mystery. Bree discovered to her horror that ingratiating Sam was really Rex's son. Lynette's creepy control of her children appears to have paid off for once, as she recognized Preston's Russian fiance as a golddigger and managed to successfully hide her grandmother's ring from the grasping beauty. And Gaby rubbed shoulders with old runway pals Heidi Klum and Paulina Porizkova, who turned out to hate her. The former model realized that she had destroyed her own fashion career, and urged Carlos' niece Ana not to make the same mistakes she had.

At least this week, the lameness of the Bolen mystery didn't matter all that much.