ARMY WIVES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Catherine Bell as DENISE SHERWOOD
Brigid Brannah as PAMELA MORAN
Wendy Davis as JOAN BURTON
Sally Pressman as ROXY LEBLANC
Kim Delaney as CLAUDIA JOY HOLDEN
Studio: ABC Studios
BY KEVIN CARR
I will admit that I procrastinated in watching the DVDs of “Army Wives: The Complete First Season.” And I’d like to think that I have a very good reason… I’m a dude.
It wasn’t as much the title of the show, but rather I saw that the series was produced by Mark Gordon from Grey’s Anatomy, which I find to be way too whiney for my tastes. Add to the fact that this show is broadcast on the Lifetime network, and my dude excuse comes into play again.
However, one weekend with nothing else to watch, my wife and I put “Army Wives” into the DVD player and began watching the series. At first, it was exactly what I expected… a movie-of-the-week show that focused on the struggles of the women on the homefront.
I have nothing against real-life Army wives. In fact, I have an overwhelming amount of respect for them. After all, I know how hard it is to raise kids, let alone do it by yourself while your husbands are overseas and in danger. But strip away the fact the show’s set on a military base, and you’ll find just another suburban soap opera.
In many ways, this show reminds me of the FX series “The Unit”… well, at least half of it focusing on the wives on the base. The difference is that “Army Wives” never shows us the macho, testosterone-inspired action of a special forces team infiltrating enemy territory overseas.
“Army Wives” follows the women keeping the family together back home. The anchor characters include Roxy, a southern girl who marries her paratrooper hubby on a whim after only four days; Claudia Joy, the veteran wife whose husband is second in command on the base; Pamela, the repressed career girl who is trying to manage the family and the money with many challenges; and Denise, the conservative girl whose gung-ho husband doesn’t know their son is abusing her. To add some spice to the mix, we also have Roland, whose wife is a commander in Iraq, so he takes on the role as a base wife to the girls at home.
While the show didn’t initially grab me, I have to say it’s well written enough and well acted enough that it did grow on me a little. I wouldn’t count myself as a fan, but I made it through the season without much complaint. Unlike “The Unit,” in which the stories on the base are more distracting than anything, “Army Wives” manages to bring the peril and drama to the viewer.
I do commend the show for being patriotic enough to support the families and troops while keeping politics out of the show, for the most part. There is one episode which features a woman testifying in Congress against a friendly-fire cover-up, and that gets a bit preachy at times, but otherwise, the show is very supportive of the military and its families.
The first season DVD comes with bloopers, several audio commentaries, deleted scenes including an entire deleted story arc, a Q&A session with some cast members answering fan mail and a tender look at the real-life Army wives who provide support for our heroes back home.