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HTF DVD Review: Army Wives - The Complete Second Season


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#1 of 1 Neil Middlemiss

Neil Middlemiss

    Screenwriter

  • 2,604 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2001
  • Real Name:Neil Middlemiss

Posted June 07 2009 - 02:51 PM

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Army Wives
The Complete Second Season




Studio: ABC Studios
Year: 2008
US Rating: TV-14 LS
Film Length: 811Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: French and Spanish




US Release Date: June 2, 2009
Review Date: June 7, 2009

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People who aren't in the military don't understand the unique bonds that are forged so quickly on an army post. Maybe it's because we move so much. You know when you rarely spend more than two or three years in one place, it forces you to get to the heart of things. That's why when one of these people who we've come to care about, like they're our own family, slips away, leaves us forever, the loss is almost unbearable.



Army Wives is getting ready to begin its third season. This Lifetime Network show centers on the spouses of men and women serving in the US armed forced; how they live with the stress of their loved ones being in harm’s way in a foreign land, as well as the close-knit relationships that develop on base – along with the complications and melodrama of dealing with friends, family, fighting and fun in those conditions.

This show has found a solid audience who enjoy both its relationship drama and topical and current premise setting and the best of the show can be found in understanding the toil and trauma of living on base as an Army Wife (or husband). The personal relationships that develop under compressed timelines (due to the transient nature of living within the army) create a constant boiling pot of plot ideas.

The show has developed more than just a fan following – it has extended successfully online via fan posts and blogs; fans who relate to the relationship dramas or relate to being married to a soldier – who appreciate simply a show that is set in their world and express dramatically the fears, friendships and fights that army wives (and husbands) experience.

Army Wives has a big cast filled with actors who are often given sizable onscreen moments to delve into and make dramatic dishes from the ample screen time. Refreshingly, this is female heavy cast whose stories go beyond the traditional trappings of non-male hour long dramas. The cast includes Kim Delaney as Claudia Joy Holden. Her storyline in season two is among the most trying born from the tragic opening episode. Her short-run in C.S.I Miami was a blessing in disguise and she performs well in this show and with this character. As Pamela Moran is the petite Brigid Brannagh. She has appeared in a slew of television shows as a guest star – everything from Angel to K-Ville, but her character is not the easiest to like – or perhaps it is her performance – but there is a something amiss in her character as presented in this season. Sterling K. Brown plays the troubled Roland Burton, whose indiscretions created quite the predicament for him as the ‘army husband’ to the superior officers, Joan Burton – played by Wendy Davis. Their plotline through season two, as they recover from infidelity and the weight of whether to have the child Joan is pregnant with, is among the most interesting. The rest of the cast handle their roles well, never letting the melodrama of the writing and plots get in their way too often. Brian McNamara in particular as Michael Holden, with his regimented mentality; stern but not aggressive is a welcome portrayal providing a good balance for the show. The beautiful Catherine Bell, of J.A.G Fame has a solid role also.

Army Wives is certainly not the best written or portrayed show on television, but it is a well timed premise, as American Soldiers fight in two wars overseas, and is a canvass for giving a strong female cast meaningful (yet unabashedly melodramatic) onscreen moments. This show is not my cup of tea at all, but I know of people who enjoy, and to some extent, relate to the world portrayed here.

The Episodes

Disc One
1.Would You Know My Name
2.Strangers in a Strange Land
3.The Messenger
4.Leaving the Tribe


Disc Two
5.The Hero Returns
6.Thicker Than Water
7.Unchartered Territory
8.Loyalties

Disc Three
9.Casting Out the Net
10.Duplicity
11.Mothers & Wives
12.Great Expectations

Disc Four
13.Safe Havens
14.Payback
15.Thank You for Letting me Share
16.Transitions

Disc Five
17.All in the Family
18.Departures, Arrivals
19.Last Minute Changes




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Army Wives: The Complete Second Season is presented on DVD over five discs in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The show presents reasonably well on DVD, though softness pervades the series. The show has a warm color palette generally – but not a particularly broad palette. I have seen commercials for the third season and the quality on this DVD set is clearly better than the standard (non-HD) broadcast version but isn’t standout. For fans of the show, this presentation won’t disappoint.



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The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound option available doesn’t get flexed in this chat heavy audio. Activity in the center channel and fronts carry most of the duty and handle that job pretty well. The show frequently breaks into songs with guitar strums and angst voices to carry the onscreen drama over into the emotional pulling of heartstrings – and it is at those moments that you can find activity in the surrounds. Good enough.


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Active Duty: The Cast of Army Wives at Fort Bragg - (19:56) – The cast and crew of Army Wives visited Fort Bragg in my home state of North Carolina to research what life is like on a military post. We follow their time on base during this day in March 2008.

Operational Intelligence: Getting the Army’s Support - (9:29) – Cast and crew discusses how the military has provided open access to equipment, procedure and more to create a more authentic feel for the show. The military actually approached the show to offer support, indicating an approval of how this show highlights the soldiers, their families and the military life.

The Tribe - (12:15) – The band of friends that make up the core cast of characters on the show are referred to as the tribe – cast and crew discuss the family dynamics of these people
.
Army Wives Gives Back – Broken into 5 segments running a couple of minutes each, we follow the main cast members ‘giving back’ by helping out real families, giving rooms makeovers and surprising real ‘army wives’ and giving away mopeds and such. A nice special feature that fans of the show will REALLY love.

Deleted Scenes - 13 deleted scenes with optional commentary available from Executive Producers Deborah Spera and Marshal Persinger.

Bloopers - (3:11) – Onset cuts ups and line flubs.


Final Thoughts

Army Wives is not my kind of show – to be honest, I find how comfortably it veers into melodrama beyond my taste, but I can appreciate the space that it fills – the premise and the characters that are explored on television as I have not seen done before. For many fans, who relate to life on base, this is an important show and for them, season two represents an emotional, exciting and important collection of 19 episodes.

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Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
My DVD Collection