While the Lifetime network has gained a reputation of offering largely "movie of the week"-type dramas, the network has taken steps to turn this perception around, which new shows such as "Army Wives". "Wives", from "Grey's Anatomy" exec producer Mark Gordon, is a drama that focuses on the wives of men currently serving in the armed forces. The series does occasionally find itself in soap opera territory, but the characters and situations are well-written and emotional moments often seem earned and not manipulative.
The main character is Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney), who's joined by a varied group of other women, including: former cop Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh) , Joan Burton (Wendy Davis), Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell) and Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman). The series follows the women as they try to cope with the stress of having their loved ones very potentially in harm's way. Their enlisted husbands are Brigadier General Michael Holden (Brian McNamara), Major Frank Sherwood (Terry Serpico), PFC Trevor LeBlanc (Drew Fuller and Chase (Jeremy Davidson). In a reversal, there's also Dr. Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown), who is married to colonel Joan Burton (Wendy Davis).
While the primary plotline of the series is the emotional hardship that those at home have to face with their loved ones away, the series does weave in some additional storylines beyond that, including Pamela's decision to become a surrogate mother as a way to try to climb out of her debt, as well as relationship strains for Joan - difficulties with her relationship with Roland become a focus later in the season - and the other women.
The performances are generally above-average, although the series is especially helped by the duo of Bell and Delaney, who lead the show with two compelling, powerful performances. Also engaging in supporting efforts are Brown, Brannagh and Pressman. Overall, this is a promising, often moving drama that generally manages to keep from getting soapy.
1. 1- 1 3 Jun 07 A Tribe Is Born
2. 1- 2 10 Jun 07 After Birth
3. 1- 3 17 Jun 07 The Art of Separation
4. 1- 4 24 Jun 07 One of Our Own
5. 1- 5 1 Jul 07 Independence Day
6. 1- 6 8 Jul 07 Who We Are
7. 1- 7 15 Jul 07 Hail and Farewell
8. 1- 8 22 Jul 07 Only the Lonely
9. 1- 9 29 Jul 07 Nobody's Perfect
10. 1-10 5 Aug 07 Dirty Laundry
11. 1-11 12 Aug 07 Truth and Consequences
12. 1-12 19 Aug 07 Rules of Engagement
13. 1-13 26 Aug 07 Goodbye Stranger
VIDEO: "Army Wives" is presented by Disney Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Episodes looked surprisingly good for a basic cable program, as the show offered fine cinematography, as well as good use of locations. The transfer certainly presents the show well, as the episodes appeared consistently crisp and well-defined. While a few minor instances of artifacting appear, the picture otherwise appeared clean and smooth. Colors looked warm and rich, with very pleasing saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a dialogue-driven presentation, with relatively little in the way of surround useage (occasional slight ambience, largely.) Audio quality is fine, with crisp, well-recorded dialogue and clear, full-sounding music.
EXTRAS: Commentaries are includes on "A Tribe Is Born", "Independence Day", "Dirty Laundry" and "Goodbye, Stranger". Participants include: executive producer Deborah Spera, creator Katherine Fugate, director Ben Younger, cinematographer Lloyd Ahern, co-exec producer Marshall Persinger, actors Kim Delaney, Sterling Brown, Wendy McNamara, Wendy Davis and Catherine Bell.
We also get several deleted scenes, a deleted storyline, two "Have At It" featurettes ("With The Army Wives", "With The Executive Producers"), bloopers and "Wives on the Homefront" featurette.
Final Thoughts: "Army Wives" is an enjoyably acted and relevant drama that boasts a good ensemble cast and writing that manages to only occasionally cross the line into soapier territory. Overall, it's frequently a genuinely moving drama that may signal Lifetime beginning to try and change. The DVD set boasts fine audio/video quality, as well as a very nice selection of supplements. Recommended.