By Tom Gliatto
Updated September 22, 2006 01:35 PM

Watch It: Desperate Housewives (ABC, 9 p.m. ET)
You can’t care about television and not want the best for this series, which in its first season achieved a perfect synthesis of diva camp and solid serial drama. Then came the second season, a real muddle. Now what about season 3? In the opener, thrust into the foreground is prim Stepford beauty Bree (Marcia Cross). Her new love, the dentist Orson Hodge (Kyle MacLachlan), has a missing wife in his past. This unpleasant fact we learn from that excellent actress Laurie Metcalf (of Roseanne fame), who turns up as a sort of scolding messenger of doom. It’s all very Bronte. There’s something persistent and powerful about the show’s underpinning of (fatally) abused women.

Skip It:

Brothers & Sisters

(ABC, 10 p.m. ET)
Calista Flockhart is a very good actress with her own special squirrelly charm, but she’s miscast as a political pundit who comes home to her large unhappy family and begins unpacking her conservative opinions. She talks about the Iraq war as if she were repeating some embarrassing bit of potty humor. But then, no one in the show’s prestige ensemble comes across as comfortable in their characters – maybe because Brothers seems to be about malaise. Fun! Flockhart’s mother is played by Sally Field, who twitters anxiously like a bird, and her sister is played by Rachel Griffiths, an actress of predatory intelligence: You get the sense she’s roving from scene to scene, hunting for some solid dramatic bit to latch onto. Her stomach must be growling.


Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC, 8 p.m. ET) Ty Pennington kicks off season 4 by building a new home way up at the North Pole in Alaska.

Cold Case (CBS, 9 p.m. ET) Crackin’ open more of those old files like chestnuts – the nugget inside is the criminal truth. Enough with the nut imagery.