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Army Wives on DVD: Season 1 • Season 2

"Army Wives" The Complete First Season DVD Review

Buy Army Wives: The Complete First Season from Amazon.com Army Wives: Season One (2007)
Show & DVD Details

Creators: Katherine Fugate, Marshall Persinger / Regular Writers: Tanya Biank, Katherine Fugate, Rama Stagner / Directors: Ben Younger, Perry Lang, Patrick Norris, Michael Lange, John T. Kretchmer, Kevin Dowling, Joanna Kerns, Rob Spera

Regular Cast: Kim Delaney (Claudia Joy Holden), Sally Pressman (Roxy LeBlanc), Brigid Brannagh (Pamela Moran), Brian McNamara (Michael Holden), Sterling K. Brown (Roland Burton), Wendy Davis (Joan Burton), Drew Fuller (Trevor LeBlanc), Catherine Bell (Denise Sherwood)

Recurring Characters: Richard Bryant (Jeremy Sherwood), Jeremy Davidson (Chase Moran), Terry Serpico (Frank Sherwood), Kim Allen (Amanda Holden), Kate Kneeland (Marilyn), Melissa Ponzio (Angie), Caroline Pires (Emmalin Holden), Rhoda Griffis (Lenor Baker), Patricia French (Betty), Gigi Rice (Marda) / Notable Guest Stars: Ann Cusack (Hannah White), Barbara Eden (Victoria Grayson), Robert Forster (General Hugh Grayson)

Running Time: 552 Minutes (13 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: June 10, 2008 / Season 1 Airdates: June 3 - August 26, 2007
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Six-sided fold-out Digipak with cardboard slipcover

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By Kelvin Cedeno

War has been on the American public's mind quite a bit lately. Leaving loved ones behind in order to defend one's country can be daunting as well as emotionally draining. Regardless of the politics involved in these situations, it's hard to debate the courage it takes to face such burdens.
What one doesn't often hear about, though, is the courage of the spouses who are left to raise a family and keep morale up. These unsung heroes are the basis for the Lifetime television series "Army Wives".

The show tells of four women and one man who cope with the lifestyle of being married to someone in the army. Each of them is affected by the pressures in a unique way, and the series explores their individual (and overlapping) threads.

Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman) is the new girl of the group, a carefree spirit who has trouble adjusting to the strict organization around her. Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh) can't seem to sit back and enjoy a life with her husband and kids because she's constantly trying to keep things afloat with what little she has. Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell) is reserved and low-key, struggling to find her own voice amidst a controlling husband and a blatantly disrespectful son. Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown) is an on-base psychiatrist who hasn't seen his wife in two years; when she returns home, he finds her too aloof to really connect with. Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney) is the matriarch and voice of reason, and with her husband being a colonel, she faces the challenge of not letting personal matters get entangled with governmental ones.

Trevor (Drew Fuller) agitatedly whispers advice to Roxy (Sally Pressman) at their first army banquet. Denise (Catherine Bell) and Roxy (Sally Pressman) watch as their husbands fly to the Middle East for an undetermined period of time.

"Army Wives" starts out somewhat awkwardly. It throws so many characters and storylines at the audience at once that it has some trouble finding the right footing. Without a central character, it's hard at first to get really involved. Add to this the fact many of the issues presented
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are ones seen before in many other series and aren't necessarily inherent to being an army wife. About a third of the way into the season, though, things start to change.

The fourth episode, "One of Our Own", finally explores the dilemma of what happens when morality and duty are at odds with each other. From here on, the show takes on weightier subject matter and satisfactorily digs into hardships that the war and Army both bring. Thankfully, it doesn't wallow in misery. There's enough humor and levity to not only bring optimism to a very serious subject, but also help make the more emotional aspects all the stronger.

The cast members uniformly turn in excellent performances and really help make things memorable. While the scripts are initially indecisive about how to handle and juggle these characters, the actors ensure each is distinctive from one another. Once the storylines utilize the cast better, the actors onboard have something to sink their teeth into. They avoid potential melodrama and instead portray these characters tastefully and naturally.

Pamela (Brigid Brannagh) starts to feel more at ease with her new radio show. Roland (Sterling K. Brown) and Joan (Wendy Davis) get intimate in hopes of patching up their relationship.

Dialogue is the only thing "Army Wives" really struggles with consistently. Lines meant to convey to the audience a character's history tend to come across as forced. Each character's thoughts and motives are completely spelled out for viewers. Not a single decision is made without someone later spilling all their feelings to someone else. Film is a visual medium where a simple look can tell you right away about someone. The series is filled with these subtle and nuanced moments, but they're often negated by a subsequent scene that explains what just happened. Because of that, "Army Wives" almost could work better as a radio series than a television one.

Apart from this, though, "Army Wives" is well-made. The cast has great chemistry and helps make the material convincing. The storylines exist independently enough to avoid the sort of contrivances and coincidences similar dramas face. There's no resorting to cheap sentiment or even a cold harshness. The tone finds a comfortable middle ground that, while taking a while to get going, manages to deliver in the end.

Claudia Joy (Kim Delaney) and Roxy (Sally Pressman) try to figure out what to do with Pamela's babies in "After Birth." Roland (Sterling K. Brown) is held at gunpoint by a soldier (Jason Wiles) trying to get in contact with Joan in "One of Our Own."

Disc 1

1. A Tribe is Born (42:38) (Originally aired June 3, 2007)
Roxy moves to the base of her new husband Trevor (Drew Fuller).
It's not quite easy for her to adapt to this new lifestyle, however. Pamela's pregnancy causes gossip and controversy.

2. After Birth (42:38) (Originally aired June 10, 2007)
Pamela hides her babies at Claudia Joy's home, much to the dismay of Claudia's husband Michael (Brian McNamara). Denise tries to deal with her abusive son Jeremy (Richard Bryant).

3. The Art of Separation (40:52) (Originally aired June 17, 2007)
Roland and his wife Joan (Wendy Davis) have trouble reconnecting now that she's back home. Trevor tries to persuade Roxy's ex-husband to sign the adoption papers for Roxy's two sons. The effort to hide the truth about her pregnancy becomes harder and harder for Pamela.

4. One of Our Own (41:18) (Originally aired June 24, 2007)
A troubled soldier who's been deeply affected by his time in the Middle East holds Roland and Claudia Joy hostage. Joan explains to Michael her connection with this soldier. Meanwhile, Denise buckles under the possibility that her husband Frank (Terry Serpico) may be dead.

The army children put on their own special show for the Independence Day picnic. Roxy (Sally Pressman) and Pamela (Brigid Brannagh) relax in the sun as their children play.

Disc 2

5. Independence Day (42:37) (Originally aired July 1, 2007)
Claudia Joy arranges her annual Independence Day picnic despite dwelling on her hostage experience. Roxy finds out that Marilyn (Katie Kneeland) is having an affair. Joan's recent decisions threaten her stance in the army.

6. Who We Are (42:13) (Originally aired July 8, 2007)
Trevor injures his knee, causing his deployment to be postponed. Roxy is less than thrilled that her mother Marda (Gigi Rice) comes to visit.
Jeremy confesses his abuse of Denise to Frank. Michael and Claudia Joy disapprove of their daughter dating Jeremy.

7. Hail and Farewell (42:35) (Originally aired July 15, 2007)
Roxy has trouble warming up to Marda even with Marda's attempts at reconciliation. Michael and Claudia Joy reveal Jeremy's abuse problem to Amanda. Frank shuts out Denise for not speaking up about Jeremy and tries to get rid of all his belongings.

8. Only the Lonely (42:54) (Originally aired July 22, 2007)
Denise decides to return to nursing in order to clear her mind and establish an identity for herself. Roxy befriends a widow who is forced to leave the base. Pamela finds that her children's art teacher is an old friend of hers and may have some intimate feelings towards her.

9. Nobody's Perfect (41:43) (Originally aired July 29, 2007)
Joan does her best to rekindle the flame in her marriage, but Roland is burdened with guilt over cheating on her. Frank grows increasingly aggravated at much how time Denise is spending at her new job. Pamela and her husband Chase (Jeremy Davidson) cherish what little time they have left before he's deployed.

Joan (Wendy Davis) coaxes a sullen Roland (Sterling K. Brown) to come home with her. Amanda (Kim Allen) confides in Claudia Joy (Kim Delaney) regarding her relationship issues with Jeremy.

Disc 3

10. Dirty Laundry (41:47) (Originally aired August 5, 2007)
Claudia Joy's old friend plans on testifying to Congress when there are conflicting reports regarding her husband's death. Claudia Joy debates on where her loyalty lies: with her friend Hannah or with Michael. Roxy feels her marriage is in turmoil when Trevor becomes too tired and busy for sex.

11. Truth Consequences (42:32) (Originally aired August 12, 2007)
Lenore Baker (Rhoda Griffis) spreads rumors about Claudia Joy in order to push her husband's position forward. Pamela starts a new job as the host of an on-base radio show. Roland confesses his affair to Joan.

12. Rules of Engagement (42:38) (Originally aired August 19, 2007)
Even though Joan wishes to patch things up between her and Roland, he's determined to stay separated. Michael is promoted to Brigadier General, which brings about certain complications. Claudia Joy and Michael's daughter decides not to go to college due to Jeremy.

13. Goodbye Stranger (42:00) (Originally aired August 26, 2007)
When weapons go missing, the Army prepares for a terrorist attack. All of the army wives prepare for their husbands' deployments, inspiring different reactions. Marilyn finally decides to leave her husband, but he doesn't respond to this lightly.

Trevor (Drew Fuller) ensures Roxy (Sally Pressman) that they will adapt to their new home. Jeremy (Richard Bryant) tries to placate Denise's (Catherine Bell) anxiety over Frank’s disappearance.


"Army Wives" comes in a 1.78:1 anamorphic ratio. Overall, the transfers are very good. The series features a warm color palette, and these appear to be replicated well. Sharpness overall is solid, though sometimes a bit soft. While the show was shot digitally, it only occasionally shows as the image tends to have a smooth filmic look to it.
The few times it's obvious (usually under dark lighting), motion can be somewhat blurred, but these moments are rare. Overall, the quality is pleasing.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtracks don't really take advantage of the soundfield, but those expecting them to are being unrealistic. This is a dialogue-heavy show and as such, the front and center speakers get the most usage. Speech is crisp, and the music (which is where the surrounds are used) is robust without being overpowering. The sound is as good as to be expected from a recent drama of this nature.


"Army Wives" contains a fair platter of supplements starting with audio commentaries. The pilot episode, "A Tribe is Born", contains two tracks, the first featuring creator/executive producer Marshall Persinger and executive producer Deborah Spera. The two engaging speakers openly discuss problems with the shoot along with deeper meanings behind the characters and stories. This enlightening chat is worth listening to. The episode's second commentary, by director Ben Younger and director of photography Lloyd Ahern, isn't quite as easy to enjoy. It still holds some good information on casting and locations, though little is said about how it was all shot.

"Independence Day" comes with a commentary from Persinger, creator and executive producer Katherine Fugate, and actresses Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell. The four offer thought-out insight into the psychology of the characters as well as behind-the-scenes stories, making the track informative and entertaining. Fugate and Persinger return on "Dirty Laundry", where they're joined by cast mates Brian McNamara, Sterling K. Brown, and Wendy Davis. This one doesn't work quite as well since there's a lot more praise. Some interesting stories do pop up, especially regarding fan reactions to certain stories, but not much else is to be gleamed.

The last track, on season finale "Goodbye Stranger", brings back Fugate and Persinger. This time, they're accompanied by actors Brigid Brannagh, Sally Pressman, and Drew Fuller. This is the least informative of all the commentaries, and yet what it lacks in education it makes up for in entertainment. The participants tease each other and offer tongue-in-cheek comments on the on-screen action. It's more like watching television with some friends than listening to a commentary from those involved, which may or may not be the listener's cup of tea.

Brian McNamara makes a face at the camera as he tries to run over Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell with his truck in the outtakes reel. The Army Wives perform at a charity event in what the DVD producers call a "deleted story line." A real Army wife tells Sterling K. Brown of all the different places she's moved to since she married her husband.

The video features start with "Army Wives Gone A.W.O.L." (4:08), actually just an outtakes reel. The bits of actors flubbing their lines isn't anything new, but the on-set antics (which take up most of the reel) are amusing.

"Missing in Action: Deleted Scenes" (6:41) presents eight brief cut scenes. While one that gives away too much of the season's last scene was a wise cut, the other's wouldn't have harmed anything. Optional commentary by Fugate and Persinger doesn't offer anything valuable as the duo confirms that all of the scenes (except the spoiler-filled one) were cut merely for time.

"Hump for the Lump: Deleted Story Line" (2:47) is misleadingly named for, as one can see by the running time, it's really just a lengthy deleted scene that was meant to open the season finale. Commentary with Fugate and Persinger explains that, once again, time not quality was a factor in the removal.

"Wives on the Homefont" (11:49) originally aired on Lifetime and is really a promotion for the Operation Homefront, a charity designed to help Army wives and their children. Footage of such people meeting the stars of "Army Wives" is seen and mingled with cast interviews about the event. Some of the real-life wives share remarks about their husbands, but we don't get to hear very much, making this somewhat of a missed opportunity.

The cast obviously enjoy each other's company while answering fan questions. Executive producers Deborah Spera and Mark Gordon talk about how much they love their own show. The main menu shows an Army father walking along with his child as the American flag waves in the background.

"Have At It with Army Wives" (14:07) is a question-and-answer session with the cast hosted by creators Katherine Fugate and Marshall Persingers. The questions asked were submitted by fans via Lifetime's website, so they range from the banal to the thought-provoking. The cast luckily is comfortable enough with each other to make their answers fun and honest. This featurette ends up being more entertaining than it probably should be.

The final feature, "Have At It with the Executive Producers" (3:17) is a waste. It's merely an interview with executive producers Deborah Spera and Mark Gordon talking about how great the show it. The promotional tone coupled with annoying editing makes this a sour note with which to cap off the supplements.

On disc three is a "Sneak Peeks" section with trailers for National Treasure: Book of Secrets, College Road Trip, and Enchanted.

The main menus on all three discs feature vocal music from the pilot while a montage plays. The submenus are all static but feature unique pieces of score. Each of the three discs contains a silver, fingerprint-attracting surface with a few different cast members. They come packaged in a six-sided Digipak that lists the episodes and supplements on one of the panels. The outer slipcover features some very light embossment.

Claudia Joy (Kim Delaney) tries to explain how she must support her husband even above other friends. Roxy (Sally Pressman) and Trevor (Drew Fuller) muse over their future together.


"Army Wives" doesn't always offer the freshest storylines, but it presents them in a unique setting and with excellent actors. After a shaky start, the drama rectifies its woes and turns into something more confident and balanced. Picture and sound are decent for a series of this sort. The bonus material is a mixed bag, but there is enough present to satisfy. There's no reason for fans not to pick this set up. The list price is a bit risky for blind buying, so it's recommended to rent the series or catch it on Lifetime first.

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Reviewed June 23, 2008.