Once you have a hit television series, it’s hard for any network to let go of it. Even if the original cast decides to call it quits, the show could go on, if the writers and network executives think it can still get ratings with new actors. This is not limited to just the “Big 5.” Cable channels are also now producing original programming that they have to decide when to cancel. Such is the case with Army Wives, Lifetime’s top-rated night-time soap.
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 fourth season picks up with the fallout from the third season. Denise discovers that her son is still suffering from things that happened during his first tour of duty. In addition, Claudia Joy has a hard time dealing with her daughter Emmalin’s (Katelyn Pippy) final year of high school and knee injury, which could end her dream of playing college hockey. Claudia also discovers she wants to return to law school and become a lawyer, which leads to arguments between her and Michael. Elsewhere, Joan suffers an injury that could end her military career along with causing more friction in her marriage with Roland. Meanwhile, Roxy suffers from an extremely tragic event, and the deployment of Trevor, who was supposed to get to stay in the states, but is deployed due to his experience. Finally, Pamela finally forces her husband to chose either her or Delta.
The fourth season is overall a very emotional and dramatic one as far as the storylines are concerned. The massive deployment to Afghanistan affects everyone, and there are few happy times to be seen. There also are a lot of medical issues affecting almost every family this season. So in a way, things are still fairly predictable. However, this season is not as melodramatic as the past couple of seasons have been. That’s not to say that this isn’t still a night-time soap opera, because it ultimately still is. But some of the soap opera elements (dramatic background music, staging, etc.) have been toned down this season.
Fortunately, the acting is still solid. The characters started out as stereotypical, but by this season you start to see new depth to some of them. They are still given a lot of cliched dialogue, but the actors make you want to continue watching episode to episode. Also, in the positive department is the fact that the writers at least attempted to fix the lack of military family issue storylines, and reinject some storylines that relate directly to love ones have to go off to fight in wars.
Looking back at Army Wives, it still remains a big soap opera for sure, but suitable for audiences that enjoy that sort of thing. Seasons two and three got even more melodramatic and soap opera-ish. They even started to drift away from what made this series the most interesting: its military family drama. Thankfully, somewhere between the end of season three and the end of season four, the writers finally got back to the more interesting military-related storylines.
Episode 1 – Collateral Damage
The season starts off with a bang off as Denise and Frank try to figure out why Jeremy fired his dad’s gun at home,and hoping their marriage can survive this tragic moment. Roland learns about some injuries Jones sustained while fighting in Iraq. Pamela takes a much needed vacation with the kids to get her mind off of her marriage.
Episode 2 – Scars & Stripes
Roland not only has to worry about his daughter and figure out if he can support his wife side in Germany while still recovering from injuries. Denise and Frank still support their son as he deals with the death of his friend and fights for is own life.
Episode 3 – Counterattack ( aka Homefront)
Lenore causes big trouble at a breakfast, after hearing news that Emmalin was at a party on post where one of the girls was drinking. Terrence Price returns to the office suddenly. Finn and TJ learn that they will soon have a baby brother or sister.
Episode 4 – Be All You Can Be
Pamela faces a big problem as she continues with divorce proceedings against her husband Chase. Pamela may have to find somewhere else to live and possibly lose military benefits because she lives on post. While choosing perspective colleges for Emmalin Claudia Joy reconnects as with an old friend and. And while away from home Joan is unable to help in the preparations for Sarah Elizabeth’s party.
Episode 5 – Guns & Roses
As Claudia Joy as begins preparations for the annual mother’s day brunch, Michael gets a visit from his aunt Edie and the reason for the unexpected visit comes as a shock to both Michael and Claudia Joy. Roland plans a mother’s day party for his wife and gets a surprise he didn’t expect. Trevor has an awful time planning the perfect mother’s day for Roxy.
Episode 6 – Evasive Maneuvers
Marisol Evans moves to Fort Marshall hiding a dangerous secret. When rumors of suspected domestic violence began to surface and the army wives hope to underscore the importance of getting some help in an abusive relationship.
Episode 7 – Heavy Losses
Pamela isn’t sure if she should believe the effort he wants to put back into their relationship will work. Claudia Joy begins taking steps to finish of her law degree and has an interview with the dean of admissions. When Roxy begins suffering complications in her pregnancy Trevor isn’t sure where to go for help in dealing with those so he seeks out Roland’s guidance as to where to go from here. After receiving a promotion to specialist Jeremy hopes that Denise will give him the permission to enlist again.
Episode 8 – Over and Out
Joan is very anxious to return home after rebuilding schools in Iraq she hopes the news she will receive will be orders that she will be allowed to go back with her unit before she got injured. A broken leg could end Emmalin’s dreams of being a professional hockey player. Pamela and Chase take the steps to change something in their marriage after their children began to sense that that thing is very bad.
Episode 9 – New Orders
Denise and Frank help babysit Sarah Elizabeth while her parents are going for a bike ride. Frank suddenly remembers what raising a baby can be like.
Pamela must adjust to life without the base privileges and realizes that without those privileges things are a lot harder to get.
Episode 10 – Trial & Error
Claudia Joy is in for a surprise when Professor Chandler asks her to finish the argument regarding parcel 217, including why the housing office didn’t do anything with it for two years and move the contaminated site somewhere else.
Episode 11 – Safety First
Fort Marshall is on its 99th day without a single fatality and if they get past this day the soldiers at Fort Marshall will get a well-deserved day off. Denise is on dispatch duty and receives a call from a little boy who is asking for help her, but her boss believes the call is just a prank.
Joan finally learns what is wrong with her, when she learns about her diagnoses and is disappointed that she can go back to the brigade with her troops. While doing field exercises, Trevor is striving to lead his men through the field exercises successfully.
Episode 12 – Change Of Station
Pamela begins to doubt the intentions of Chase’s new neighbor after the kids spend too much time with Kristy. The news Emmalin receives about her knee is that she’s still exactly where she was the last time in her recovery which is about eighty percent. She feels that even with the exercises she won’t ever play hockey again, but when Michael tries to help his daughter recover from her knee injury he begins to lose sight of what his daughter really wants and focuses in on what he wants.
Episode 13 – Army Strong
Denise and Frank finally decide to learn the sex of their baby. Joan has difficulty accepting the fact that she has a traumatic brain injury and is unable to deploy with her unit. Pamela considers the possibility of dating again.
Episode 14 – AWOL
Fort Marshall begins adjusting to life without their loved ones on post, a mom is handcuffed and arrested after missing deployment and her daughter is also taken away from her. Claudia Joy must figure a way for the young mom to get her daughter back. The woman also has must decide which obligation comes first; her obligation to the army or her obligation to her daughter. While away in Afghanistan Jeremy falls in love with a nurse and learns he has something in common with her.
Episode 15 – Hearts & Minds
Claudia Joy’s daughter, Emmalin is allowed to go back on the ice and while doing that she makes a video for perspective colleges to see. Joan is finally allowed to slowly ease back into Army life by the handling the communications side and spend time with her daughter by herself.
Episode 16 – Mud, Sweat & Tears
Denise to get a visit from her sisters Beth and Suzanne but the visit may be unpleasant from the start because Denise unfortunately gets caught up in their latest argument. Fort Marshall gets a very special visit from Dr. Jill Biden helps kick off the local fun run that helps support a summer camp for military children and families. Elsewhere, Trevor and his unit could find themselves in a life threatening situation. Chase comes to Roland for help to resolve some issues he’s been having.
Episode 17 – Murder in Charleston
When Pamela and Boone arrest a young girl at a murder scene, Gina Maddox, a detective from Atlanta, comes to clear Jasmine’s name. Pamela is assigned to help Gina with the investigation. Michael is sent on a mission to talk with some of the community elders, which takes him away from the camp and any contact with Claudia Joy.
Episode 18 – Forward March
Claudia Joy anxiously awaits word on Michael’s fate as Joan tells her more about the mission he was on. Pamela decides if she will go back to being a cop with Gina or stay at Fort Marshall. While getting the latest update from her son Jeremy, Denise finally goes into labor, but will Claudia Joy get there in time to get her to the hospital?
The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is great with colors generally looking bright and vivid details everywhere. No major or minor problems at all here, and on par with previous seasons of this show.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, French, and Spanish as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either.
“Safety First: From Script to Screen” Featurette – This runs 30 minutes and it’s a look behind-the-scenes of how an episode is made. Pretty in-depth, if you want to know all about that.
“Southern Cooking Army Wives Style” Featurette – This runs 8 minutes and the cast gets a Southern cooking lesson.
“Military Jargon” Featurette – This runs 3 minutes and the cast are tested on all of the military language they have been taught so far.
Deleted Scenes – There are 18 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of this season. All of them likely cut for time reasons, but nothing really must-watch. You also have the option to hear commentary from executive producer, Jeff Melvoin, on why these scenes were cut as well.
Bloopers – This is the usual collection of unfunny gags and mistakes from making this season.
This is really a show you have to start with season one to enjoy fully. That said, season four is a lot better than seasons two and three, but not as good as season one. So if you enjoyed the first three seasons, you will certainly enjoy season four. But again, if you don’t like soap operas, this isn’t the series for you.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Army Wives: The Complete Fourth Season. Created by Katherine Fugate and Marshall Persinger. Starring Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Brian McNamara, Sterling K. Brown, Wendy Davis, Drew Fuller, Catherine Bell, Terry Serpico, Richard Bryant, Katelyn Pippy, and Jeremy Davidson. Running time: 774 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: December 14, 2010.
Tags: Army Wives, Lifetime