By ANDREA HIGBIE
Last night's Season 5 "Real Housewives of New York" premiere was "Desperate Housewives" meets "Dr. Oz."
The ladies -- minus Jill, Kelly, Alex and the vajazzling Cindy, all fired by Bravo -- spent the hour and a half one-upping one another on medical tragedies mixed with emotional dueling.
The Countess LuAnn served as informal narrator as the show opened, quickly letting the TV audience know that Aviva Drescher "is poised and graceful and charming -- you'd never know that she has a handicap."
Thanks, LuAnn, for pointing that out. Please remind me to ask you to introduce me on national TV.
It's not until later that we find out what that handicap is, during Aviva's pedicure with Sonja Morgan.
A prosthetic leg!
Actually, two prosthetic legs. One for flat shoes and one for high heels. And, yes, all the toenails had to be polished.
How did she lose a leg, you ask. A barn conveyor belt injury, when she was 6.
Naturally, the "Housewives" try to get a leg up, immediately putting whatever foot may be available into their mouths. Heather Thomson, who is new and has a shapewear line (just like Jill and her Skweeze!), announces that one of her best friends is blind. Also, that her mother's "boyfriend when I was a kid had a prosthetic leg."
When Heather's son was born he needed a liver transplant.
Ramona Singer's daughter, Avery, almost died at birth.
Well, Heather's father died. Died! No almost about it. And just the other day.
As for emotional warfare, it turns out that LuAnn and Sonja both "dated" Harry Dubin, Aviva's ex-husband, whom she divorced in large part because he enjoyed "too much partying." (Otherwise, the consensus was, he is a dear man who means well.) A clip is shown of Harry, drink in hand, standing by Sonja at her costume party last year, when she "forgot" to wear panties.
Ramona and her husband, Mario, and Heather fight about who is interrupting whom the most.
LuAnn demands that Ramona apologize to her for last season's faux pas, telling all about LuAnn's teenage daughter, Victoria, and drugs. LuAnn whispers to all the others that Ramona has now threatened her. Apparently a school friend of LuAnn's teenage son passed out at his party. Blackmail may well follow.
Ramona, left, and the Countess, without apologies.
And Carole Radziwill, widow of Lee Radziwill's son who died of cancer, is annoyed that while she had a best seller when she wrote about his death, she is now asked to write about the Kardashian sisters.
On the up side, for all those who miss Simon van Kempen, Alex's husband, there was a man at a party last night wearing bright red pants. No sequins though.
So reality life -- as petty and vicious and silly as it can be -- goes on.