February 12, 2009 12:00 AM

The news that Nicollette Sheridan will be out of Desperate Housewives in April is quite a jolt if you’ve been following the show since its premiere in 2004.

True, her character, Edie Britt, has never been completely integral to the little Wisteria Lane social network — Edie has been exiled as an enemy in the course of practically every season — but she has been a wonderfully entertaining character, and you can’t help but look forward to her appearances.

She was a cougar before the word gained currency, a vamp, a sneak, a liar, a flirt, a seducer, a schemer. But Edie is also fundamentally vulnerable and lonely, drawn to the wrong men (her current marriage to psychopath Dave Williams should be ending — badly — very soon) and capable of unexpected alliances (with old Mrs. McClusky, for instance, or the awful Martha Huber, murder victim from season 1).

And Sheridan’s performance has been consistently underrated. I’ve always preferred her low-down, sexy comedy to Marcia Cross’s brittle satire as Bree.

But it was probably inevitable that a central cast member would eventually be dropped, sent away or, one hopes, killed off. Creator Marc Cherry is always willing to gamble with the show’s formula, and he tends to rub out characters with gusto. They get shot by crazed women at the supermarket, or carried off by tornadoes. When Edie appeared to commit suicide at the end of season 3, I thought that very well might have been her end. She survived, of course. She’s Edie. Let’s hope Cherry has something suitably over-the-top planned for Ms. Britt.

And yet, why couldn’t we have gotten rid of Dana Delany’s Katherine? The character remains a sort of duller sister to Bree. Maybe Cherry will make her awful, awful, awful. Wisteria Lane needs someone who’s good at being bad.

That was Edie. — Tom GliattoRON TOM/ABC


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