The most desperate thing about

Desperate Housewives

is the way the show keeps playing the "shocking death" card.

For two weeks, ABC teased Sunday's storm's-a-comin' episode as the curtain call for one of Wisteria Lane's leading lights.

So who died in the tornado? Victor and Sylvia. That's not a plot twist. It's housecleaning - getting rid of two minor characters whose stories had played out.

Remember Season 1, when Desperate Housefraus promised that in the next episode "one of their own is murdered"?

They bumped off poor Martha Huber, who wasn't exactly part of the inner circle. She was just Gladys Kravitz without the laughs.

At the end of Sunday's episode, Lynette regards the storm's devastation, seeing the ruins of the house where her husband and children took shelter, and begins screaming like Jamie Lee Curtis.

That's the cliffhanger we're left with until the writers' strike is over. But I'm not buying it. In fact, if Tom or any of the Scavo kids turns up dead, I will eat my keyboard.

Head for the root cellar. An astute reader pointed out that this has been quite a week for tornados in prime time. "First, a tornado is a major plot element & hits hard the good folks of Wisteria Lane," he writes. "The very next night another one hits the set of Saving Grace & again plays a major destructive role. On top of this, it all happens the same week as The Wizard of Oz remake Tin Man with its own twister. Maybe the screenwriters were trying to send some sort of message in anticipation of the strike?"

Crank it up. Best use of music this week: J.J. Cale's "Crazy Mama" playing as Riggins discovers the meth lab in his slovenly new roommate's trailer on Friday Night Lights. Not for nothing, but that's got to be the fattest, slowest-moving speed freak in Texas.

It's just a shot away. Next best use of music this week: The pixilated opening strains of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" playing on Monday's Life as Crews has his pivotal encounter with Beth in the elevator.

I could also swear this episode was resurrecting Lenny and Squiggy in the persons of dopey dot-com entrepreneurs Ryan and Sean. In large part, that's because Todd Giebenhain (who played Ryan) looks eerily like David L. Lander (Squiggy).

Everybody sing: "Schlemiel, schlemazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated."

The good, the bad, the elephant. Verizon used to have terrible commercials, with that guy wandering around constantly asking, "Can you hear me now?" But lately they've been on a roll, culminating with their latest gem featuring three girls in a backyard, glumly regarding a pugnacious pony. The topper is delivered with perfect timing: "Does it bite?" asks one. "Yeah," answers the other before the question is finished.

Compare that to the awful campaign for DSL with that creepy girl wandering around with an elephant, whispering, "It's in the mirrors."

Pray for the cavemen. My vote for the most progressive woman on daytime TV is The View's Sherri Shepherd. Earlier this year, she maintained on the show that the Earth is flat.

On Tuesday, as Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg debated the chronology of Egyptian and Greek cultures, Shepherd set them straight: "The Christians came first . . . Nothing predated Jesus."

OK, if you say so, Sherri, but this is going to come as quite a surprise to the dinosaurs.

Contact TV editor David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://
go.philly.com/daveondemand.