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Old 11-14-2005, 02:53 PM   #1 (Print)
dswallow
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‘Housewives’ desperately needs a makeover (Spoilers Within)

Early hype covered up show’s lack of depth
COMMENTARY
By Andy Dehnart
MSNBC contributor
Updated: 11:29 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2005

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9972219/

The first-season finale of “Desperate Housewives” was a model of perfection. All of the storylines that had developed throughout 23 episodes came together and were resolved, except for one.

Ending with both resolution and a minor cliffhanger let the season finale offer both satisfaction and anticipation, unlike its ABC counterpart “Lost,” which cheated its way through its season finale.

When the second season of “Desperate Housewives” debuted, the lingering plotline was resolved when Mike rescued Susan and Zach ran away. And then the series choked on its own conceit, revealing that, on Wisteria Lane, our attraction to the series may have always been as fake as the grass in front of the flawless phony facades.

With Mary Alice’s storyline all but finished, her narration now makes little sense. Instead of telling her story, she’s just eavesdropping on her neighbors and friends, and her advice has been revealed to be clichéd thoughts that belong on Successories, not in a show that was presumed to be witty and smart.

This season, Lynette is still relentlessly stunted by her out-of-control children, even though she’s working full-time. At her new job, she has another child to deal with: her boss, who’s more of a caricature of an overblown stereotype than an actual character. New playmates for Lynette’s twin boys offered hope for relief, but of course, that ended before it even began.

Gabrielle is still playing the spoiled, childish vixen, and she continues to toy with Carlos even though he’s in jail. She’s pregnant (or is she, after this week’s fall?) and allegedly getting bigger, but neither her body nor her behavior indicates that she’ll be a mother in a half a year or so. Trying to fit into a dress, she enlisted her new gardeners’ help. All three actors valiantly pretended to struggle to get the dress onto her all-too-perfect frame, but not even they believed it. Later, talking to Bree, Gabrielle insisted that she’s grown, but Gabi spoke for the audience when she said, “I’ve changed, and I honestly don’t know how.” Neither do we, because the show’s given us nothing by way of growth or development.

Likewise, Susan acts increasingly immaturely and irrationally.

Her daughter Julie has more intelligence and maturity than most of the adults on Wisteria Lane combined, but she has been tragically absent for most of this season. After finding her mother and father in bed, she admonished Susan, “You slept with him the same night he broke up with” neighbor Edie. Susan responded yet again with another annoying, whimpering confession of her stupidity: “Well, I said it was a good explanation, not a great one.”

Perhaps the only character who truly evolved is Bree, who’s both literally and metaphorically let her hair down, relaxing her tight grip on her imperfect world. But with her children absent, she’s only interacting with (and being pulled down by) George, the pharmacist who probably killed her husband. This week, he proposed marriage. Bree was dumbstruck. “George, Rex hasn’t even been dead for two months,” she said. But then, seconds later, she bafflingly and meekly said “okay” to his proposal. This is not the Bree we know; this is a Bree who has nothing better to do, so she just agrees to get married to a creepy psychopath who later effortlessly murdered her psychiatrist while the music on the soundtrack chirped merrily away.

This season’s murder mystery

Although there are tiny threads from last season that still linger, this season’s central mystery involves new neighbor Betty Applewhite, her too-close-for-comfort son Matthew, and her apparent other son, Caleb, a seeming fugitive who was locked in the basement until the most recent episode. Before his escape, he told his mother that Melanie, the dead girl they left behind in Chicago, “was a bad person. She deserved it.” His mother disagreed, but undoubtedly, he’ll be telling the truth, and perhaps Melanie’s story will connect with one of the existing characters. But that revelation will come way too late.

Now, we’re one quarter of the way through the new season, and the writers have yet to make any of the main characters connect to this storyline or any others in anything but the most superficial ways. The main characters barely interact with each other. Caleb’s escape led him to Gabrielle’s house, but all we got out of that encounter was a regrettable image of a large black man looming in silhouette over a helpless, pregnant woman.

Thus, all we have are fragments, and that exposes last season’s thin premise and shaky foundation. A stronger, character-driven drama would be able to function without a gimmick, as “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” and other series have demonstrated.

Despite the hype, “Desperate Housewives” has never approached that level of televised drama, nor has it tried. The series created its own niche, a sort of dramatic fairy tale.

But the series took itself too seriously and got swept up in the mystery of Mary Alice’s unexpected suicide. All that did, it now seems, was distract from the fact that not much was going on.

Viewers caught up in the mystery never became aware of the absence of depth, because the mystery was fun to watch.

This season, without the cover of Mary Alice’s story, the show’s Botox is starting to wear off, and what’s really there are just characters running on treadmills in front of moving backgrounds, trying to convince us that they’re covering significant distances.

“Desperate Housewives” creator and writer Marc Cherry worked as a writer on the NBC sitcom “The Golden Girls,” which debuted 20 years ago. Despite its age, the sitcom has flourished on Lifetime, watched in college dorm rooms perhaps more than in nursing homes. The series has survived because its plotlines were superficial, serving as excuses to set up hysterical but forgettable jokes. The only other thing that mattered was the interaction between Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia, as it provided the foundation for the series’ acerbic humor and wit.

Especially since ABC let “Desperate Housewives” compete as a comedy series in the Emmys, Cherry needs to look to his sitcom past. Standalone episodes that allow his main characters to interact around quick, resolvable, throwaway stories will draw on the series’ two major strengths: its main characters and the actors who portray them. “Desperate Housewives” is desperately seeking a rescue from its purgatory, and for that happy ending, it needs a new beginning.
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:13 PM   #2 (Print)
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This article contains spoilers from this week's episode, which I haven't seen yet. I stopped reading at the beginning.

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Old 11-14-2005, 03:15 PM   #3 (Print)
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This show would've been much better as a 22-episode mini-series.
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:44 PM   #4 (Print)
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I actually cancelled my SP last night. I had 5 shows built up (all but the first 2, which had watched), and I simply found myself wanting to channelsurf (something I haven't done since I first got Tivo 3 years ago) instead of watching a DH episode. If that wasn't a clear signal of an SP that needed deletion, I don't know what one is.

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Old 11-14-2005, 03:49 PM   #5 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreadPirateRob
I actually cancelled my SP last night. I had 5 shows built up (all but the first 2, which had watched), and I simply found myself wanting to channelsurf (something I haven't done since I first got Tivo 3 years ago) instead of watching a DH episode. If that wasn't a clear signal of an SP that needed deletion, I don't know what one is.

Having that desire for several consecutive episodes would be a clearer signal.
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:59 PM   #6 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dswallow
Having that desire for several consecutive episodes would be a clearer signal.


Agreed.

But having never cancelled a SP before (I don't just assign SP-worthy status willy-nilly), I didn't want to be hasty.

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Old 11-14-2005, 04:07 PM   #7 (Print)
SR2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dafaso
This article contains spoilers from this week's episode, which I haven't seen yet. I stopped reading at the beginning.


Well, the title does say "makeover" so I'd assume they discussed the show.
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Old 11-14-2005, 04:10 PM   #8 (Print)
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Well, I'm not a fair weather Housewives-fan like it seems most of the journalists out there are, LOL. I haven't read a positive word about DH in months. It's to be expected, though - anyone who didn't anticipate the backlash is not familiar with the cycles of popular culture.

I enjoy DH because I'm not watching for something profound, I watch it like I watched Dallas - because I like the characters (mostly...) and it's really fun to see what mess they get themselves into each week. I'm not looking for high art, just a fun, entertaining show.

However, I have to say the editing is embarassingly bad lately. Like, first 1/3 of Alias Season 3 bad-cinematography ("the worst looking show in HD") embarassingly bad. There were issues all through the episode (mostly with over the shoulder conversations), but the absolute worst two offenders were :

Spoiler Alert! (highlight to read)
1) When Susan and Karl were caught in bed together, when the daughter opens the door Karl's legs are spread and one is dangling off the side of the bed, and in the next shot (when supposedly they are asleep and hadn't moved) they were in entirely different positions (with both of his legs on the bed).

2) Then, at the very end, Gabrielle looks at the sonogram, clutches it to her chest, puts her head back, and the lights in the ambulance went out. A second later we are a few feet further back from the ambulance, the lights are still on, and she is back with her head up looking at the picture. No cut, no nothing...bizzare.



Still love DH, they just need to get the continuity and editing people to stop smoking crack, LOL.

AC
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Old 11-14-2005, 05:20 PM   #9 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR2
Well, the title does say "makeover" so I'd assume they discussed the show.

Well obviously they're discussing the show.

But I'm not quite sure how you could tell that the article would contain details of yesterday's episode just from the word "makeover."

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Old 11-14-2005, 05:31 PM   #10 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dafaso
Well obviously they're discussing the show.

But I'm not quite sure how you could tell that the article would contain details of yesterday's episode just from the word "makeover."


If I am the one concerned about a spoiler, and I am the one who suffers the harm, and I see a new article about the show, I think I know which side I would err on.

Open a thread on a show, and you take your chances. However, I think the whole spoiler thing is way overblown anyway.

Last edited by SR2 : 11-14-2005 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 11-14-2005, 06:05 PM   #11 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graymalkin
This show would've been much better as a 22-episode mini-series.


I totally agree.

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Old 11-14-2005, 06:24 PM   #12 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreadPirateRob
Agreed.

But having never cancelled a SP before (I don't just assign SP-worthy status willy-nilly), I didn't want to be hasty.


That's funny. I'm extremely willy nilly with my sp, I figure that's what it's there for. If I was engraving it in stone, I'd be back with the old stone age vcrs. No status involved, nothing but the mood that strikes me!

But back on track, I agree DH sucks. I can't even force myself to watch last night's episode.
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Old 11-14-2005, 06:58 PM   #13 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR2
If I am the one concerned about a spoiler, and I am the one who suffers the harm, and I see a new article about the show, I think I know which side I would err on.

Open a thread on a show, and you take your chances. However, I think the whole spoiler thing is way overblown anyway.
From "Posting Guidelines For The Now Playing Forum"

Quote:
2. If the thread title does not have the date, or the word spoilers in the title, please be considerate of people who may not be up to date with their tv viewing.

How 'bout we follow the rules of this forum and not make up our own.

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Old 11-14-2005, 07:13 PM   #14 (Print)
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One thing not mentioned is that the we know Caleb is leaving the show due to the actor's personal life and drama off the set. Then again, is he leaving, or are they going to test us to see if indeed, all black people look alike? It's not like an actor hasn't been changed before and the character staying on.
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Old 11-14-2005, 07:34 PM   #15 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dafaso
From "Posting Guidelines For The Now Playing Forum"


How 'bout we follow the rules of this forum and not make up our own.



You mean the firm "rule" of "please be considerate?" Well, the title said it was about the show and it is a new post and article. That seems "considerate" to some degree. It could have said "Popular Show Needs Makeover."

Moreover, I don't need rule or guidelines to use common sense. If I see a headline such as this one and willingly view the thread and see something I don't want to see, the rules and guidelines won't really help me out much. It doesn't matter what "rule" is violated when I am the one who clicked the thread knowing it is about the show.

As I said, click the subject line and take your chances. This thread is obviously a great example.
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Old 11-14-2005, 08:11 PM   #16 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR2
You mean the firm "rule" of "please be considerate?" Well, the title said it was about the show and it is a new post and article. That seems "considerate" to some degree. It could have said "Popular Show Needs Makeover."

Moreover, I don't need rule or guidelines to use common sense. If I see a headline such as this one and willingly view the thread and see something I don't want to see, the rules and guidelines won't really help me out much. It doesn't matter what "rule" is violated when I am the one who clicked the thread knowing it is about the show.

As I said, click the subject line and take your chances. This thread is obviously a great example.

Wow. I can believe you're still arguing this when the written rules of the forum are totally against you. This thread does not have an episode date or a spoiler warning. Therefore spoilers are not allowed. Those are the rules plain and simple. They're not up for interpretation. You agreed to them when you signed up for this place.

I knew this rule existed when I started reading this thread. Therefore, I didn't think there were spoilers in the thread or the article.

I guess if the many thousands of members of this forum all had the EXACT same thought patterns, intellect, and common sense the YOU possess, the rules wouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Not everybody thinks like you. That's why there's a clear and precise rule to refer to.

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Old 11-14-2005, 08:15 PM   #17 (Print)
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I really wish the spoiler whiners would go find their own thread. They're cluttering up this one.
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Old 11-14-2005, 08:35 PM   #18 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dswallow
I really wish the spoiler whiners would go find their own thread. They're cluttering up this one.

Just put the word "Spoilers" in the thread title as the forum rules require and this'll all go away. Otherwise, I'll haunt you forever.

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Old 11-14-2005, 08:38 PM   #19 (Print)
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Originally Posted by Dafaso
Wow. I can believe you're still arguing this when the written rules of the forum are totally against you.This thread does not have an episode date or a spoiler warning. Therefore spoilers are not allowed. Those are the rules plain and simple. They're not up for interpretation.


You think the "rule" to "be considerate" is "plain and simple," and "not up for interpretation." Now that is funny.

More importantly, you need to try to read and understand what you are reading. The point is clear. Someone else's violation of these rules to "be considerate" does not absolve you from the risk you take when you open a thread. Again, this thread is a good example. It isn't like you can go back in time, or sue for damages.

Quote:
You agreed to them when you signed up for this place.


OK, I'll "be considerate" from this point on.

Quote:
I knew this rule existed when I started reading this thread. Therefore, I didn't think there were spoilers in the thread or the article.


You didn't know, so you erred on the side of taking the risk. Your decision.
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Old 11-14-2005, 08:47 PM   #20 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR2
You think the "rule" to "be considerate" is "plain and simple," and "not up for interpretation." Now that is funny.

More importantly, you need to try to read and understand what you are reading. The point is clear. Someone else's violation of these rules to "be considerate" does not absolve you from the risk you take when you open a thread. Again, this thread is a good example. It isn't like you can go back in time, or sue for damages.



OK, I'll "be considerate" from this point on.



You didn't know, so you erred on the side of taking the risk. Your decision.


Why do you keep saying that the rule is simply "be considerate" while ignoring what comes before and after those 2 words? Do you choose which parts of the forum rules to follow and which to disregard?

Here's the rule again, in case you forgot:

2. If the thread title does not have the date, or the word spoilers in the title, please be considerate of people who may not be up to date with their tv viewing.

There are 32 words there. Not just 2.

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Old 11-14-2005, 08:52 PM   #21 (Print)
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***THIS THREAD HAS SPOILERS REGARDING DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES***

Now please let it go.

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Old 11-14-2005, 08:57 PM   #22 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR2
You think the "rule" to "be considerate" is "plain and simple," and "not up for interpretation." Now that is funny.

More importantly, you need to try to read and understand what you are reading. The point is clear. Someone else's violation of these rules to "be considerate" does not absolve you from the risk you take when you open a thread. Again, this thread is a good example. It isn't like you can go back in time, or sue for damages.



OK, I'll "be considerate" from this point on.



You didn't know, so you erred on the side of taking the risk. Your decision.

Maybe it would help if I quoted what's written as the intro to this rule:
Quote:
As you all know, this is the forum to discuss our favorite TV shows. Since practically all of us have TiVos, we have tried to police ourselves and not give away surprises to shows that people may not have watched yet. Many people use spoiler tags (and I'll go over how to do that below), while others don't. Here are some of the conventions we have been using:


Then comes rule #2:
Quote:
2. If the thread title does not have the date, or the word spoilers in the title, please be considerate of people who may not be up to date with their tv viewing.


Is the rule clearer now?

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Old 11-14-2005, 08:59 PM   #23 (Print)
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Originally Posted by dswallow
I really wish the spoiler whiners would go find their own thread. They're cluttering up this one.


Spoiler whiners only show up when long time members violate posting rules.

Shame on you Doug.
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Old 11-14-2005, 09:15 PM   #24 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dafaso
Maybe it would help if I quoted what's written as the intro to this rule:


Then comes rule #2:


Is the rule clearer now?


Maybe if you post it another few times, the action verb will be something other than "be considerate." I tend to doubt it. However, as is quite clear, that is not really the primary issue I raised.
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Old 11-14-2005, 09:26 PM   #25 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy66
Spoiler whiners only show up when long time members violate posting rules.

Shame on you Doug.

If peopleread the first 4 lines of a posting and see it's an article and got a date, and they're worried about spoilers, and they keep reading... what makes you think the concept of the word "spoiler" will be meaningful to them either?

There are people here born to be complainers. And nothing you do will stop them from being complainers.
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Old 11-14-2005, 09:34 PM   #26 (Print)
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Makeover? Will they get rid of the bags under Susan's eyes?!

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Old 11-14-2005, 09:36 PM   #27 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SR2
Maybe if you post it another few times, the action verb will be something other than "be considerate." I tend to doubt it. However, as is quite clear, that is not really the primary issue I raised.

Regarding your previous post, I've been a member here 5 years. I did know this rule before entering the thread. Please don't accuse me of lying. The rule was written 2 years ago, but followed way before that. The reason it was written was mainly because new-comers wouldn't follow it, thinking "what's the big deal. "

The "action verb" is in reference to threads exactly like this one - where there's no episode date and no "spoiler" warning. Why even write rule number 2 if "be considerate" means do whatever the heck you want? The rule is there because if there's a general discussion thread about a particular show, some OPs allow spoilers and some don't. According to the rule (which I won't post again), since the word "spoliers" is not in the title, this thread should not have them.

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Old 11-14-2005, 09:43 PM   #28 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dswallow
If peopleread the first 4 lines of a posting and see it's an article and got a date, and they're worried about spoilers, and they keep reading... what makes you think the concept of the word "spoiler" will be meaningful to them either?

There are people here born to be complainers. And nothing you do will stop them from being complainers.

Doug, not everyone thinks the same. That's why the rule exists.

Some articles are just general discussions of the show without any real specifics. I thought this was one of them. That's why I stopped reading the article when I realized there were spoilers from yesterday's episode.

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Old 11-14-2005, 09:45 PM   #29 (Print)
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I agree with most of the article. My big complaint this season is really that the main characters don't seem to interact with each other anymore without the Mary Alice/Dierdra storyline to pull them together. Mary Alice's narration now is a little weird now that season 1 solved her mystery. I actually thought it might be funny for an episode or two to have Rex narrate with her. (not seriously though)

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He was dead all along.
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:18 AM   #30 (Print)
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I gave up on DH after it took me three weeks to watch this year's season's opener.

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