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STUDIO: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 552 minutes
- Bloopers and Outtakes
- Q & A sessions with the Cast and Producers
- Deleted Scenes
It’s like if The Unit just focused on the wives instead of the awesome stuff. Sexism!
Created by Katherine Fugate. Acted by Sally Pressman, Kim Delaney, Brigid Branagh, Catherine Bell, Sterling K. Brown, Brian McNamara, Wendy Davis, Drew Fuller, Terry Serpico and Katelyn Pippy.
The show follows the day to day lives of four army wives and an army husband as they try to cope with kids, army post politics and not seeing their spouses for months at a time. Roxy (Pressman) meets Pfc. Trevor LeBlanc (Fuller) in a bar in Alabama and spontaneously decides to marry him after knowing him for two days. She moves with her new husband and two kids (both with different fathers) to an Army post in South Carolina, where she meets the other wives (and husband). Lifetime Channel drama ensues.
Allow me to be painfully obvious for a minute and state that I am not the target audience for this show and I am probably light years outside of its intended demographic, due to my never having served in the military, never having lived on an Army post and never having grown my own vagina. Even if you don’t relate to the first two, as long as you have that third one then I think you’ll be safely inside Army Wives’ wheelhouse and guaranteed to at least enjoy certain aspects of this show. Not to say that men won’t enjoy the show (because I did, to some small extent), but there’s absolutely nothing that made me want to tune in to the next episode, other than a few characters I enjoyed watching. The continuity is light and the drama is heavy, so watching the show tended to make me feel like I was watching a soap opera without homicidal identical twins, convenient amnesia or possible alien invasions and, if I’m going to watch a soap opera, that’s the kind of shit that I need.
I was initially very impressed with the character of Roxy LeBlanc (even though her name is a little too similar to every porno name I’ve ever heard). I can’t think of too many shows where the lead female character has two kids from two different fathers and marries someone who’s basically a stranger in the first episode. Roxy is impulsive to a fault and the writers do a pretty good job of setting her up as someone who excels at living in the moment but has no facilities for viewing the big picture. The television word for her character is “feisty” and Sally Pressman plays it beautifully (if without much nuance). As the season progressed, however, her character showed such stunted starts and stops of growth that her sometimes childlike sense of right and wrong started to wear on me. Roxy is at her worst with her new husband, as her increasingly desperate clinginess is balanced by her pathological need for constant sexual attention. Yet, when she’s with her friends, she is patient, empathetic, caring and an overall doll to be around.
The other Army Wives are as follows:
Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney): She’s the colonel’s wife and the one that seems the most together by outward appearances. She seems like she’s going to be some evil Stepford Wife at first, but she’s actually just a really nice lady with a dark and tragic past. Her marriage with Col. Michael Holden puts her in the position of being the de-facto leader of their little group, which she never uses or abuses.
Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh) She’s smart mouthed and sassy like Roxy is, but she’s also been an Army wife for a long time and raising two kids while her husband is always off at war is starting to wear awfully thin. It’s especially difficult since her husband, MSG Chase Moran (played by the excellent Jeremy Davidson) has to leave with no notice at times, due to him going on undercover missions in terrorist cells and other hardcore activities. Her husband’s state of constant danger leaves her a bit frazzled and exhausted.
Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell) Denise is the quiet, conservative wife who has no idea that she’s being played by Catherine Bell, so is completely unaware of her stunning beauty. We meet Denise while her husband is on deployment and she’s living with her teenage son who hits her when he gets angry. I don’t think I have ever seen that particular plotline before and it’s resolution was original, if somewhat disappointing. Her husband is COL Frank Sherwood (played by Terry Serpico, who was so wonderful as Denis Leary’s scumbag cousin Eddie on Rescue Me) and he’s so regimented and serious that their marriage and sex life has been flat for some time.
Dr. Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown) The only Army husband. He’s extremely manly and doesn’t wear his shirt very much, so I’m pretty sure if someone called him an Army wife, he might crush them. At the very least you should have to call him Dr. Army Wife. He’s married to COL Joan Burton (Wendy Davis), who comes back from the war with some post-traumatic stress and several episodes worth of drama for them to deal with.
The first few episodes deal with these ladies bonding over a shared experience (one of them gives birth on a pool table in the bar Roxy works at) and then slowly becoming family. The interactions between these five characters is the primary reason to tune into the show, because there’s really nothing else to drag you back every week. The acting is powerful and lovely from almost everyone involved (the only person I had trouble with was Wendy Davis, who is frankly stiff as a board), but they’re surrounded by such low production value and consistently flat direction that it was an uphill battle to keep me interested. There is such a complete lack of flair visually that you want to beg them to buy a damn crane for every couple of episodes or at least to move the damn camera around once or twice an episode. Something, anything, to make the show nice to look at (aside from the effortlessly sensual Catherine Bell).
The biggest surprise I had while watching the show was the lack of jingoistic flag waving and the attention paid to multiple viewpoints of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, there are characters who spout easily consumable soundbites, but there’s more characters that just want their husbands and wives home and some that come home as extremely different people, forever marred by their time in the Middle East. There are some characters that just don’t believe in the war, period. I truly didn’t expect that. The life of an Army wife is made to look difficult and fairly miserable at times. I really don’t think this show can be labelled propaganda, but just because it’s not propaganda doesn’t make it an entirely compelling show.
My parents really like this series and a few of the females I’m friends with do as well. It’s designed for people who like a little drama mixed in with their easy to swallow entertainment and more power to them. Those people need entertainments, too. I think Army Wives is on Season 6 right now and I still have Season 2 of the series sitting next to me, ready to be reviewed. When I signed up to review this show, I mostly did it as a joke and to be forced to watch things outside of my comfort zone. As I went through the season I came to the realization that, while I didn’t like the show very much, I liked the characters quite a bit. Sometimes that’s all you need to keep you watching something. And I’m gonna keep watching, mostly because I have to, but also because as long as there is war, there will be the Lifetime Channel.
There’s a Q&A session with the producers and actors that is pretty inf……. no, I didn’t watch it. I almost lied to you and you never would have known. I did watch the blooper reel and Brian McNamara is a frigging jokester who seems to always be pulling shit on the ladies. I can’t tell if they find it charming or annoying.
The transfer is sort of flat and lifeless, but that’s the way the show looks, so I wasn’t really expecting any different. The sound quality also ranges from quiet and muffled to “old VHS tapes that had all the episodes of Silk Stalkings on it and has been rewound 100 times too many in my pre-teenage hunt for nipple”. For whatever it’s worth.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars