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03.26.08

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Phaedra

Suburban Shootout

One disc; Acorn Media; $24.99

By Michael S. Gant


Desperate Housewives wishes it were as flat-out funny as the 2006 British (but definitely not BBC) comedy Suburban Shootout. The first season—only eight episodes of 20 minutes each—jumps off with the world's most violent welcome-wagon visit ever and doesn't let up. In a kind of Hot Fuzz crossed with Weeds premise, ordinary housewife Joyce Hazledine (Amelia Bullmore) and her policeman husband, Jeremy, relocate to Little Stempington, a pristine village ruled by two all-female gangs of gentrification enforcers. Imperious Camilla Diamond (Anna Chancellor, from MI:5) leads a fur-clad outfit that deals in drugs and "industrialized estrogen" ("I passed a teenaged girl today ... licking the head of a pensioner); she is opposed by Barbara Du Prez (Felicity Montagu) and her Glock-packing minions—both sides hate graffiti and want to recruit Joyce. While Jeremy (the very funny Ralph Ineson, of the British The Office) remains supremely clueless, Joyce is initiated into a life of crime. She must, for instance, put the squeeze on Felicity Faversham of the local lending library, who pays "90 percent of the overdue book fines she slaps on the Meals on Wheels Club" in graft to Camilla. Bullmore, wide-eyed and frumpy, makes a perfect straight woman in the midst of over-the-top mayhem, exaggerated sexual innuendo and the kind of low-brow silliness that is so much more funny when done in clipped British accents. Some "behind the scenes" footage and interviews supplement the laughs.


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