Army Wives: The Complete Second Season Review

Bordering dangerously close to soap opera melodrama, Army Wives caters to the patriotic female crowd. Yes, it’s Lifetime, so the more discerning TV audiences need not apply – but for those who feel television doesn’t offer enough pure, red-blooded American nationalism, Army Wives might fit your tastes. In accordance with the Lifetime status quo, the series maintains a fabricated appearance even in its second season, using very little to distinguish itself from similar dramas.

The basic premise of the show sees Roxy (Sally Pressman) moving to a nearby army post after marrying Trevor LeBlanc (Drew Fuller), an enlisted soldier. On the base she finds herself bound to a group of women affectionately known as Army Wives. Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney), Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh), Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell) and honorary “army wife” Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown), whose wife just returned from a tour in Afghanistan, make up the rest of the army wife crew and each experiences a series of trials in accordance with their role on the post.

The first season ends with a soldier on the post, suffering from psychosis, going into the Hump Bar and detonating a bomb strapped to his chest. Even with subpar writing, the effects of the bombing on the characters make for an interesting first six or eight episodes in the season. Huge dramatic events like a bombing make for great season finales and interesting new season resolutions in opening episodes – though there is a point where you’d almost forget the bombing happened at all midway through the season. Some characters remain stagnant in the bombing’s aftermath, while others march forward.

After the dust settles, the individual storylines pick up just as they’d left off. Roxy takes in Betty, the cancer-stricken owner of the Hump Bar, and finds herself charged with re-opening it using the insurance money. Denise’s marriage to Frank (Terry Serpico) runs into a few snags as her relationship with a younger man awakens a spirit of independence that frightens her husband on tour. Pamela deals with secrets kept by her husband and the presence of a stalker who strays too far into her personal life. Roland’s wife Joan (Wendy Davis) decides to carry the pregnancy and finds her life and Roland’s changed in unexpected ways by parenthood. Meanwhile, throughout the story arcs of all the other characters, Claudia Joy simmers in a pool of depression over the loss of her daughter – her character drops back to a more supportive role for other characters.

Some characters undergo actual growth while others seem entirely neglected throughout the season. But even this lack of balance pales in comparison to the show’s largest detractor: poor writing. The basic premise of the show feeds on a perceptually “neglected” audience of women whom are either army wives themselves or are drawn to shows which ram American values and the importance of service down our throat. If there’s any silver lining to be found it’s in the cast. Sally Pressman and her cohorts filling out the Army Wife quintet provide a little bit of strength to a show where all other muscle has atrophied.

DVD Bonus Features

Army Wives: The Complete Second Season comes replete with a healthy stockade of extras for the truly interested – anyone else would be wise to steer clear entirely. Of the three main featurettes, “Active Duty: The Cast of Army Wives at Fort Bragg”, “Operational Intelligence: Getting the Army’s Support” and “Army Wives Gives Back”, only the first two are even moderately interesting. The first shows the cast reflecting on past moments, working with the other actors and various recollections of why certain folk were chosen for their roles. Before touching on the second one, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the title that flashed at the end of Sgt. Bilko (the movie) regarding the U.S. Army’s total lack of assistance in filming the movie. So when you watch a featurette detailing how the army offers its support for Army Wives, it gives you the impression that our armed forces might in fact view this TV show as positive press. After that we have a blooper reel and some deleted scenes – again, only for the truly devoted.

"Army Wives: The Complete Second Season" is on sale June 2, 2009 and is rated NR. Drama, Television. Directed by Lloyd Ahern II, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Chris Peppe, Peter Werner. Written by Tanya Bank, Katherine Fugate. Starring Sally Pressman, Drew Fuller, Kim Delaney, Brigid Brannagh, Catherine Bell, Sterling K Brown, Terry Serpico, Wendy Davis.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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