What if you took the Desperate Housewives and placed them on an Army base? If that thought has been keeping you awake at night, sleep tight, gentle reader. You can find out simply by picking up a copy of Army Wives on DVD. I’m not exaggerating about this at all. Army Wives has the very same soap opera plotting and tone as the ABC hit does. You gotta really be into that sort of thing if you have any hope at all of keeping up with the antics of these four friends, or of having any desire to. I’m afraid I have to confess that I am not in that group and so found the 19 episodes to be very trying indeed.
The series follows the trials and tribulations of four wives of enlisted Army personnel. They call themselves “The Tribe”. Claudia Joy (Delaney) is the unofficial head of the group. The other women are Denise Sherwood (Bell), Pamela Moran (Brannaugh), and Roxy LaBlanc (Pressman). The show often focuses on their rather emotional situations and makes a center for itself in the idea that these women are there for each other. In this second season the Army life aspect of the show was intentionally held back somewhat, and the stories dealt more intimately with the wives. Likely a good move for the target audience that would have very little interest in the military aspects of the setting.
If you like this idea, you will find a much better job made of it in the series The Unit. There we get mostly the special ops aspect of Army life, but there are some very wonderful moments as the operative’s wives adjust to life on base and deal with the problems that entails. It’s a much stronger show, and I highly recommend you go that way. This is strictly a prime time soap, nothing more.
The third season begins with the fallout from the Denise affair, While Frank is preparing a new mission to Iraq. From then on it’s the typical female oriented soap opera of the ladies’ lives on and around the base.
Each episode of Army Wives is presented in an above average television 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The show is often a little too dark for my tastes, but the image doesn’t suffer in quality from the choice. Black levels are fortunately pretty solid. A taste of grain sometimes works its way to the forefront, but never enough for me to downgrade the quality. You’ll see a little compression artifact from time to time, again made more noticeable by the dark tone of the show. Colors are solid, and sharpness creates a fine element of detail most of the time. Again, I just wish this show were a little brighter.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is everything it is intended to be. There isn’t much in the way of ambient sounds outside of some musical cues. This is a very dialog strong series, so you should expect most of the sound to be in front. Dialog is clear and placed correctly. What else do you really need here?
Stationed In The South: (21:49) The cast and crew talk about life and work in Charlston, South Carolina, where the series is filmed.
Webisodes: A collection of short vignettes featuring Joan, Roland, and Jeremy.
Army Wives Gives Back: Real stories of true Army Wives.
Deleted Scenes and Bloopers round out the collection of extras.
If you’re a fan, the release is actually a pretty good one. It has excellent A/V quality and is stuffed with extras you are very likely to enjoy. If you’re not a fan, no amount of quality or extras in the world can get you through 20 hours of this soap opera world. The show airs appropriately enough on Lifetime, which is a network targeted to women. Unfortunately, we don’t have any female reviewers here. Anyone want the job? Contact me. We could use a female point of view for just these occasions. So, come on in, “the water’s beautiful this time of year”.