The network Lifetime attempted to create a timely television series that would target women, but more importantly military families. Army Wives has certainly developed a strong fan following. Since there are two wars going on for the US right now, there are lots of families who are missing one or more members at the moment or forever. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Army Wives is the most watched thing on Lifetime. The first season of the series was only a mixed bag of goodness, though. Would the second season be any better?
Set on fictional Fort Marshall in Charleston, South Carolina, Army Wives follows the lives of four women and one man who are brought together by a common bond: enlisted spouses. Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney) is the person the other spouses look to for leadership. She has been married to the newly appointed post commander Brigadier General Michael Holden (Brian McNamara) for eighteen years. Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell) is undoubtedly the most conservative of the army wives as she readily admits that her husband of eighteen years, Major Frank Sherwood (Terry Serpico), is the first and only man she has ever slept with. Dr. Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown) is the only male among the army wives. He works as a psychiatrist at the post’s military hospital and is married to Joan Burton (Wendy Davis), Fort Marshall’s first African American Lieutenant Colonel. Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman), a Southern girl from Alabama, married PFC Trevor LeBlanc (Drew Fuller) after only knowing him four days, moving with her new husband and two young sons to the army post in Charleston. Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh) is a former Boston cop. She is married to Chase (Jeremy Davidson), a member of the Delta Force and the secrecy of his missions is a constant strain on their marriage.
The second season of Army Wives picks up where the first season left off. Each of the main characters and their families get there time to shine in this season as well. Claudia Joy copes with tragedy and pain from different angles, but is still determined to put on a brave face for her husband Michael. Denise grows tired of being taken advantage of and rebels in more ways than one. Roland acts as counselor not just to high school students, but to the rest of “The Tribe”, as the group featured on Army Wives is known, and to his pregnant wife Joan. Roxy opens up her own bar under pressure and questions who whether her husband Trevor loves his country or her more. Meanwhile, Pamela grows weary of raising two children practically by herself while her radio show grows increasingly more censored.
Once again, the only star you will recognize on this show is Kim Delaney, who is most famous as being on All My Children. That should tell you what this show is all about. This is more like a day-time soap than any over prime-time soap out there. The storylines are often predictable, the characters are often stereotypical, and the dialogue is often clichÃ©d. But the acting is strong enough to keep most fans interested to see what happens, even though they probably already know. Thankfully, there are more storylines this season that are directly related to military family issues, but not as much as you would like. You also get the feeling that they might be running out of ideas since marital infidelity seems to be a prerequisite to join this group of friends.
There is no doubt that the second season of Army Wives is just as melodramatic as the first season. It’s not really better or worse than the first season, it’s just more of the same. What saves this show from its weak writing is the strong performances. If the acting wasn’t as good, it would be hard to watch for anyone except hardcore day-time soap opera watchers. That is still the audience that will be entertained by this series the most. Army Wives is still nowhere near as good as the early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy or Desperate Housewives, so those that enjoy those types of prime-time soap operas will probably want to stay away.
Episode 1 – Would You Know My Name
After the bombing of the Hump Bar, the Tribe tries to cope with the loss of a loved one. Roxy grows anxious after not hearing from Trevor since his deportation.
Episode 2 – Strangers in a Strange Land
Roxy takes Betty (Patricia French) into her home to recuperate from the bombing. Despite Roland’s obvious standpoint, Joan can’t decide if she wants to keep her baby.
Episode 3 – The Messenger
Tension grows in Pamela’s household when Chase (Jeremy Davidson) confesses he can’t stay long enough to see his children in a play. Finn (John White Jr.) develops a crush on Claudia Joy and asks her on a date.
Episode 4 – Leaving the Tribe
Denise becomes more self-assured when she takes up motorcycle-riding against Frank’s wishes. Joan finally makes her pregnancy public.
Episode 5 – The Hero Returns
Trevor returns home as a war hero but isn’t appreciative of all the limelight. Claudia Joy and Michael are confounded when a Master Sergeant (Dan Lauria) refuses to attend her father’s funeral.
Episode 6 – Thicker Than Water
While going away for chemotherapy, Betty leaves Roxy in charge of re-opening the Hump Bar. Denise’s relationship with Getti (Sean Dever) sets rumor mills spinning.
Episode 7 – Uncharted Territory
Roxy struggles with planning and rebuilding of the Hump Bar while Betty’s away. Pamela attends a cookout at a household that seems overly ostentatious.
Episode 8 – Loyalties
Chase is arrested on suspicion of war profiteering. When Roland is seen in close contact with a student, the administration steps in.
Episode 9 – Casting Out the Net
Frank’s (Terry Serpico) return creates awkwardness between him and Denise. Roland convinces Roxy to pursue her GED, but her old high school habits die hard.
Episode 10 – Duplicity
Joan’s pregnancy runs into a frightening roadblock. Trevor is devastated upon finding out he’s too injured to return to combat.
Episode 11 – Mothers & Wives
Claudia Joy is unpleasantly surprised when her mother (Marsha Mason) shows up unannounced. Roland becomes a mentor to a boy who’s recently lost his father.
Episode 12 – Great Expectations
Claudia Joy’s father (guest Len Cariou) turns up, and she soon finds out hidden truths about both of her parents. Joan is reluctant to have a baby shower thrown for her.
Episode 13 – Safe Havens
Denise’s family is torn apart between Jeremy’s deportation and Frank’s anger over her recent decisions. A friend and associate of Michael gets uncomfortably close with Claudia Joy.
Episode 14 – Payback
Pamela finally comes face to face with an obsessed fan who’s been terrorizing her life. Trevor comes to grips with drug addiction after a rude awakening.
Episode 15 – Thank You for Letting Me Share
In over their heads raising a baby, Roland and Joan are paid a visit by Roland’s mother (Novella Nelson). Denise takes the time away from Frank to re-examine herself and her life.
Episode 16 – Transitions
Unable to find a qualified babysitter, Roland steps up to become a stay-at-home father. Claudia Joy and Michael are concerned about the age and ranking of Emmalin’s pen pal.
Episode 17 – All in the Family
Roxy’s mother (Gigi Rice) returns, but Roxy has difficulty forgiving her for the past. Claudia Joy and Michael offer to babysit while Roland and Joan have an evening together.
Episode 18 – Departures, Arrivals
Marda feels jealousy and regret when she realizes Betty has been more of a mother to Roxy than she has. Michael receives a prestigious promotion that affects his family.
Episode 19 – Last Minute Changes
As Michael and Claudia Joy prepare to move, things already take a turn for the worse as the Connors take over. Emmalin (Katelyn Pippy) makes a rash decision to keep her relationship alive.
The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is enhanced for 16X9 TVs. Transfer is great with minimal distortion. There are no issues here and the quality is a little better than its original broadcast version.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in Spanish and French as well. It’s pretty standard quality for a newer TV show on DVD. The dialogue comes out crisp and clear.
Audio Commentaries –
There are three full-length audio commentaries for three different episodes during this season. Deborah Spera (executive producer), Marshall Persinger (executive producer), Kim Delaney (actress), Sally Pressman (actress), Brigid Brannagh (actress), and Brian McNamara (actor) comment on the “Would You Know My Name” episode. Marshall Persinger (executive producer), Brian McNamara (actor), Catherine Bell (actress), Drew Fuller (actor), and Terry Serpico (actor) comment on the “The Hero Returns” episode. this time joined by actors. While the group reflects on shooting the episode, most of the commentary is spent dishing out praise. Some of the surprisingly snide remarks towards particular story points keep things fun, but not a great deal is gleamed. Marshall Persinger (executive producer), Kim Delaney (actor), Lloyd Ahem (director), Sterling Brown (actor), Wendy Davis (actress), and Jeremy Davidson (actor) comment on the “Safe Havens” episode. This track falls somewhere in the middle of the previous two in terms of presentation. It’s not quite as illuminating as the first track, but it feels more substantial than the second one. It’s also more amusing, especially to hear reactions from the cast members who’ve forgotten most of the episode. For the most part, these all provide a good mix of information and entertainment, since both cast and crew are featured here.
“Active Duty: The Cast of Army Wives at Fort Bragg” Featurette –
This runs 20 minutes and it follows the leading cast members for a day at an actual military base. We see their experience on the base and hear their viewpoints on the different military routines they witnessed. This is an excellent piece and worth watching for sure.
“”Operational Intelligence: Getting the Army’s Support” Featurette –
This runs 9 and a half minutes and it takes a look at the Army’s involvement with the show. We also have roles of on-set advisers explained to us. Pretty much your standard “behind-the-scene” piece.
“The Tribe” Featurette –
This runs 12 minutes and it features interviews with the cast and crew on each of the main characters that make up “The Tribe”. The usual fluffy stuff here.
“‘Army Wives’ Gives Back” Featurette –
This runs 10 minutes and it’s is a series of promotional clips that originally aired on Lifetime. In these clips, all five of the lead female cast members surprise real-life Army wives by granting various wishes and giving away free gifts.
Deleted Scenes –
There are 13 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the season and they total 14 minutes. You can also hear why these scenes were cut from executive producers Deborah Spera and Marshall Persinger. Nothing that is really must-watch, but they are there if you want to see them.
There is 3 minutes worth of gags and mistakes from filming the second season of this series. Somewhat funny, but not non-stop laughing material.
If you enjoyed the first season of Army Wives, you will equally enjoy the second season. It’s especially worth a rental for real-life military wives or husbands, or or those who enjoy soap operas.
Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents Army Wives: Season 2. Created by Katherine Fugate and Marshall Persinger. Starring Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Brian McNamara, Sterling K. Brown, Wendy Davis, Drew Fuller, and Catherine Bell. Running time: 811 minutes. Rated: Not Rated. Released on DVD: June 2, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Army Wives, Lifetime