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Desperate Housewives

March 26, 2006 - May 7, 2006

Lee Tergesen played Peter McMillian in a five-episode arc. He's the new "addiction" of desperate housewife Bree Van De Kamp, who is played by Marcia Cross.

2.17 - Could I Leave You? - March 26, 2006

Gallery: Screen caps (47 images from DVD)
Video clips:
Scene 1 // Scene 2 & promo

Lee is in two scenes. The first opens as he's leading an AA meeting. When one member finishes telling his story of hitting rock bottom, Lee-as-Peter calls on Bree, who's doing needlepoint. She declines to talk, cheerfully noting that she couldn't possibly top that. 

During a break in the meeting, Peter joins Bree at the snack table, where she's tidying up. "I never realized how messy substance abusers could be," she says.

In fine snarky style, Lee/Peter says: "We usually leave the doughnut crumbs for the Overeaters Anonymous group that meets after us. You know, just to mess with them."

"You're awful," Bree admonishes, obviously charmed.

When Peter quizzes Bree on how long she's been sober, she's evasive. But then she gives him the story about how her son Andrew is petitioning to become an emancipated minor and that he's planning on telling the judge she's some sort of dreadful lush. She says she's not really an alcoholic and that she's only going to the meetings to put on a show that she's changed. Peter is doubtful, though, and gives her his card in case she ever needs help of someone to talk to.

But Bree assures him, "I'm nothing like you people... I just don't have a compulsive personality." Of course, viewers know Stepford Wife Bree all too well. And at the end of the scene, the doughnut table is spotless, with napkins tidily arranged. 

The second scene actually starts with a quick clip of Lee waking up to a phone call. He's groggy, bare-chested and buff. Oh, and the phone call is from Bree. Sure enough, that card came in handy. She passed out in a department store, woke up after hours, and got herself trapped trying to wedge her way out the doors.

When Peter comes to the rescue, the two share a quiet talk in his car. She explains more about Andrew's extortion attempt. His latest ploy is that he will tell the judge about "repressed memories" of abuse. That's what prompted Bree's latest binge. Peter seems impressed that Andrew is "seriously twisted." "I gotta meet this kid," he says. 

After a moment, they share some sweet, awkward glances. Sad smiles. Then, Bree says, "I wish you could have known me when Rex was alive and my kids were young and everything was the way it was supposed to be. I think you really would have liked me. So much."

"I like you just fine," Peter says.

But Bree says quietly, "Really? Because I don't."

It's a beautifully acted sequence. 

2.18 - Everyone Says Don't - April 2, 2006

Gallery: Screen caps (100 images from DVD)
Video: Scene 1
// The other scenes

This episode gets right down to it -- opening with Bree's deepening relationship with her AA sponsor. When she gets a craving for chablis, Peter comes over and they watch a DVD. Merlot? Chardonnay? Peter again, etc.  

On Bree's 20th day of sobriety, the two are playing chess. She gives him a peck on the cheek to thank him for being such a good friend. He's stunned and confesses to her that he's not just a recovering alcoholic, but he's also a sex addict. Any little touch, he says, "gets my juices flowing." She thinks he can handle it and gives him a kiss on the lips. After another stunned moment, Peter is all over Bree, ripping off his T-shirt, shoving the chess board to the floor and pinning her to the dining room table. He comes to his senses quickly, however, and dashes shirtlessly away. Bree is left, dazed, on the table, inhaling his discarded and torn shirt. (Mmmmmmm.)

Peter has a couple of brief appearances throughout the rest of the show. The first comes at an AA meeting as he introduces Bree to her new sponsor, Donna (played by Diane Delano, who can be seen here with Lee in a 1991 TV pilot called "Acting Sheriff"). The butch new sponsor isn't quite Bree's type, though, and Bree later calls Peter to talk him into being friends. He struggles not to give in to temptation and asks her to not to call again. 

But at the end, when Bree gets drunk and passes out in a bar, it's Peter she wants and Peter who comes to her rescue and chivalrously carries her out. (His muttering, "I don't even like redheads," adds a little levity to the sad, sweet, touching scene.)

In the closing scenes, we see him tending to her at home while the voiceover talks about giving in to temptation -- and perhaps regretting it in the morning.

2.19 - Don't Look at Me - April 16, 2006

Video: Lee's scene
Gallery: Screen caps
(12 images from TV)

Lee-as-Peter is in one scene and has one line, and it comes during the opening credits. 

Peter is at the courthouse with Bree, apparently to support her in a long-awaited hearing regarding her son Andrew. Enter Carol Burnett as Eleanor Mason, Bree's stepmother. When Eleanor notices Peter and says hello, she inquires whether he's Bree's lawyer. "Uhhhh no, I'm not her lawyer," he says. Eleanor's relieved, declaring: "Good. The hair had me worried."

Also in the scene, but not quite interacting with Lee, is Ronny Cox, playing Bree's father. The actor played the elder version of Lee's character in "The Boys of Sunset Ridge." And Bruce Jarchow is in the background, missing yet another chance to interact with his old buddy Chett from "Weird Science."

2.20 - It Wasn't Meant to Happen - April 30, 2006

Gallery: Screen caps (23 images from TV)
Video: Lee's scenes

Lee has some nice scenes in this episode, which works hard to show us that Peter is a good person who is working hard to conquer his addictions. It also shows how manipulative Bree can be in going after what she wants. 

Lee's first scene shows him wrapping up an AA meeting with Serenity Prayer. Afterwards, Bree helps him clean up the room and they have a playful banter about the merits of opera. Bree and Peter come close to kissing, but they are interrupted by Claude, Peter's sex addiction sponsor. (Claude is played by M.C. Gainey, who also plays The Other dubbed Zeke and Mr. Friendly in "Lost." His disposition is not much better here.) Claude berates Peter for getting involved with Bree, referring to her as a "lust trigger," a term Bree doesn't take too kindly to. 

To plead her case, Bree later visits Claude at the doughnut shop where he works. When it's clear she's not going to get what she wants, she winds up setting him up on a drug arrest -- effectively removing Claude from Peter's life. Later, while serving Peter cookies and milk, Bree says she could be his sponsor. He warns her that Claude had rescued him from some pretty ugly situations. Peter wonders if Bree could do that. 

To prove his point, Peter calls Bree to come and get him from a sex party. It's a pretty tame scene, but he wanted to see what it could be like if he "slipped." 

The show winds up with Bree reciting the Serenity Prayer during an AA meeting and holding hands with Peter.

2.21 - I Know Things Now - May 7 , 2006

Gallery: Screen caps (25 images from TV)
Video: Lee's scenes

Bree invites Peter over for a family dinner and asks him not to mention that he's a sex addict -- even though her kids know they met at AA. But her evil son, Andrew, listened in on the phone line and he tells Danielle he's got a brilliant way for her to get back at Bree for not letting her see Matthew anymore.

At dinner, Danielle pours on the sex appeal and the double entendres fly. She puts her hand on Peter's knee under the table, and he's puzzled. But when she moves her hand upward, Peter jumps up, makes hurried excuses and dashes away. 

Peter comes by the next day to drop off a college brochure for Andrew, since he's interested in attending the school Peter went to. Andrew seizes his opening for the ultimate revenge on Bree when he realizes that Peter is attracted to men as well as women.

Later, Bree arrives home, looking for Andrew (he had called, saying there was an emergency). She goes upstairs and finds Andrew in her bed, with Peter is coming out of the bathroom in just his underwear, looking for his pants. "Now we're even," Andrew smirks. And Peter is never seen or mentioned again!

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Lee was spotlighted on Court TV's "Hollywood Heat" April 27, 2006.
Click for the clip (.wmv).


The April 10-16 issue of TV Guide, hailed Lee in the "Cheers & Jeers" section:

"CHEERS to 'Desperate Housewives' for casting Lee Tergesen as Bree's sex-addicted Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. Nobody plays seemingly normal guys who reveal a kinky underbelly better than the man who was lawyer-turned-depraved inmate Tobias Beecher on 'Oz' and cross-dressing firefighter Sully on 'Rescue Me.' Plus, doing 'Housewives' must be more fun than Tergesen's low-profile gig as a U.S. Marshal on TNT's routine crime drama 'Wanted.'"


Lee has a connection to "Desperate Housewives" executive producer Tom Spezialy and other members of the DH team.

Spezialy was co-executive producer and creator of the TV series "Weird Science," which Lee co-starred in for several years. Spezialy also directed multiple episodes of "Weird Science" as well as Lee's guest appearance on "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" TV show.