Army Wives: Season 3
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Army Wives: Season 3

It has been said that war is good for ‘absolutely nothing’ this is true from a moral perspective but for those in the entertainment industry war has traditionally ushers in a time of increased revenues. In World War Two food, gasoline and other essentials may have been rationed but people still gathered around the radio in the living room and saved up to take in a motion picture at the local movie house. During these stressful times entertain is elevated above being a luxury and becomes a necessary part of keeping the morale up. Films made during or just after the war typically depicted the heroic measure the men of the armed forces gave in the defense of their country. Over time the frequently jingoistic themes of military based entertainment became tempered with movies and television series containing a decidedly anti war sentiment with shows like M*A*S*H*. Once again our nation is engaged in armed conflict on foreign shores while many may openly oppose our entanglement the general consensus is to disagree with the war but support the troops. Lifetime has applied their well known feminine touch to the service with a prime time soap opera, ‘Army Wives’. Now referring to the series as a soap opera is in no way considered a pejorative comment. There is a reason why some soaps have lasted literally a lifetime; the format of the serialized story is an extremely effective and efficient way of telling a story. In this case it is the all too frequently overlooked story of the spouses of are fighting men and women. It is sort of like a more upscale ‘Peyton Place’ with rank and parade drills. This series is much better constructed than most of the genre. It is normally not something I would follow on my own. When the first season came out on DVD I watched and discovered I had had become a fan. I’ve been watching ever since and it is now set as a season pass on my DVR.

The core of this series is friendship as seen through the female perspective. Men tend to gloss thing over while women have a need to become emotionally vested in the problems of close friends. Within the context here the women share a very special bond waiting at home while their husbands off in the thick of the action. This allows the writers to broaden the scope of the stories allow for more robust plot lines. It also gives the audience a behind the scenes glimpse at a side of the army rarely if ever depicted on TV. Just to be politically correct one of the ‘wives’ is a man whose wife is an officer in the army. The army is by its ancient nature built upon the foundation of a strictly enforced hierarchy. All it takes is a brief glance at a person’s shoulder to see where they are relative to you. Bars beat strips, leaves beat bars and stars glisten above them all. While the wives are not issued insignia to denote their rank the do seem to arrange themselves according to their spouse’s position. In this tight knit group there is little doubt that Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney) is the queen bee. She is married to Brigadier General (Brian McNamara) a fast rise officer in the service. At the start of this season the General has received new, fast track position to NATO requiring the family uproot and move to Brussels. Claudia Joy is looking forward to the move and watching her husband’s career progress. Unfortunately their moody teenage daughter Emmalin (Katelyn Pippy) demands to stay behind even after she breaks up with solider boyfriend. They try to run off to get married but when daddy has a big star on his shoulder expect a corporal knocking on your door to bring the girl home. The father may be in charge of thousands of soldiers but when it comes to his daughter he seems to be fighting a losing battle.

Claudia Joy’s best friend is Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell) the wife Major Frank Sherwood (Terry Serpico). He is on a frequently deployed team and is prone to having to leave the base for long periods of time. Frank takes on some of the most dangerous missions expecting to return home with everything exactly as he left it. Unfortunately Denise craves change. In the previous seasons she returned to school to finish her nursing credential and bought a motorcycle; neither went over well with Frank. This season it came out that he had an affair with a patient. When Frank finds out he throws her out of their home. The other wives begin to cool significantly towards her resulting in a division in the normal tight group of friends. General Holden’s assistant is Lt. Colonel Joan Burton (Wendy Davis). She is determined and efficient; equally dedicated to her husband Roland (Sterling K. Brown0 and their infant daughter. As a woman she has to work harder than any man in the same rank but does so without complaint. Her husband is a physiatrist who gave up a well respected career to be an army husband. This season he begins to have some misgivings about his career being reduced from respected author to working in a clinic. Roland is frequent the one the other wives seek out for level headed advice.

This group of close friends is not restricted to officers; enlisted men are represented. Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh) is the out spoken one of the group. In fact most would call her a loud mouth. Her personality is a fiery as her red, Irish hair and she is not the type to back down or avoid a confrontation. She is not your typical mother of two, Pam is married to Sergeant First Class Chase Moran (Jeremy Davidson) who is part of an elite special operations group and is subject to deployment at a moment’s notice. Pam grew up with a bunch of brothers and followed the family business by becoming a police officer in Chicago. This makes her better equip for this environment than most. Here best friend is Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman) who comes closest to Pam in shooting off her mouth. In this season Roxie’s Bar and Grill falls into financial problems with the IRS and has to take on a new partner to revamp its image. They make the place more of a good time honky tonk which does begin to turn things around.

This series is extremely addictive. I’m admittedly not in the target demographic but I am a loyal fan of the show, the writing is excellent providing realistic situations and a character driven show that is the basis of some excellent performances by a cast of well season actors. Even if prime time soaps are not your thing give this one a chance.

Posted 01/02/03/2010

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