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Army Wives: The Complete First Season (DVD Review)

27 Apr, 2008 By: Anne Sherber

Prebook 4/29/08; Street 6/10/08
$39.99 three-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Kim Delaney, Catherine Bell, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Brian McNamara, Sterling K. Brown, Wendy Davis, Drew Fuller.

“Army Wives” is a contemporary take on the familiar television drama with interlocking storylines. In addition to all of the trials and challenges of modern family life, the show's Army base setting brings the added and constant threat of soldiers having to leave home and go to war. The characters are all hyper-aware of the sword that hangs over each of their heads.

The base is a cross section of America, populated by a diverse array of characters. One woman, tired of struggling financially, becomes a surrogate for a childless couple. Another, unwilling to obey the edict that army wives don't work outside the home, takes a job as a bartender. And when his wife returns home from Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, an Army husband must help her to recognize that if they are to continue as a couple she can't hold everything in.

The last episode ends with a cliffhanger that leaves in question who will make it to season two.

In addition to all 13 episodes of the Lifetime series' first season, the set includes a number of extras that will interest fans of the series.

There is the obligatory blooper reel, which is mainly outtakes of actors blowing lines and cracking up. There are a few deleted scenes as well as interviews with many of the series' actors and both executive producers. The series' creators and three actors are included on a commentary track.

More interesting are scenes that flesh out what, in the series as it appeared, is an abbreviated storyline in which the owner of the local watering hole is diagnosed with breast cancer and can't afford to have the surgery that would save her life.

Of even more interest is a documentary in which actual Army wives talk about their experiences while their spouses are at war. Although the producers take the opportunity to include some gratuitous praise for the program from the women and men actually living the experiences the series explores, there are some very moving moments when the left-at-home spouses talk about their pride, their fears and their day to day struggles.

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