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Featured TV on DVD Review: Army Wives: Season Four

December 26th, 2010

Army Wives: Season Four - Buy from Amazon

The fourth season of Army Wives arrived at my desk a little late, but I was finally able to get to it. I've reviewed the previous three seasons and the first was surprisingly good avoiding most of the soap opera pitfalls I thought it would languish in. The second season, unfortunately, fell into that trap a few too many times, while season three was a marked improvement. With a mixed track record, season four could go either way. So did it stumble, did it soar, or was it somewhere in-between?

As usual, the five families that are the focus of the show are dealing with a wide array of problems, most of which were important parts of last season. For instance, Pamela and Chase's marriage continues to disintegrate with Chase's extended deployments and constantly putting family second. Meanwhile, Roxy LeBlanc and Trevor are expanding their family, which causes their financial problems to grow even more. And that's not the only pregnancy of the season. Speaking of babies, last season Joan and Roland have to deal with raising their newborn baby with her deployed overseas, while at the end of the season, Joan's unit came under attack and she was left with some serious injuries. Season four ended in the most dramatic way for Denise and Frank Sherwood. (As they were walking towards the home of their son, Jeremy, they heard a gunshot.) And while the news was not as bad as it could have been, it still had a major impact for the season.

And Claudia Joy is up for Army Spouse of the Year. Okay, more happens to her than that, but compared to the other early stories, it seems kind of fluffy. And yes, this family does have a lot more emotionally deep stories later in the season.

Actually, the lighter nature of the initial story is kind of a good thing, as a lot of the stories this season were rather heavy with several characters having to deal with medical or emotional problems brought on by combat, a marriage falling apart and the effects that has on the children, getting back into the workplace, the world of dating, etc. This is both a good thing, as it adds emotional weight. But there are times when they get a little ham-fisted in the handling of some of the plot points. Early in the season, while recovering from her injuries, Joan talks to a wounded soldier who is also recovering in the same army base, but from much worse injuries. Joan is a bit upset, as she's not being sent back to active duty and instead is going to be in charge of overseeing the construction of schools. However, the soldier explains to her that the only time she was thanked by an Iraqi citizen was for a school being built. Now I understand that they are trying to emphasize the importance of winning the hearts and minds of the civilians as part of winning the overall war, but it was not done in a way that felt natural. The intentions were good, the execution was a little rough.

Overall, season four is arguably not quite as good as season one, but it is close enough to recommend.

The Verdict

Extras on the four-disc set are a little on the light side again. There are deleted scenes spread throughout the DVD. The rest of the extras are found on disc four, starting with Safety First, a 30-minute making of featurette on the creation of the episode of the same name. It's very in-depth, starting from the brief overview on how the show is created, to initial concept meetings, location scouts, table reads, etc. Plus, there's a lot of interviews with the cast and crew, so you hear about the process from practically everyone involved every step of the way. Army Wives Get Cookin' is an eight-minute featurette on the cast getting cooking lessons for the season wrap party. There are ten-minutes of outtakes and finally there are three minutes of messing up military jargon. I was able to get most of them.

Again, not a lot, but enough to not feel bare.

The Verdict

If you liked the previous seasons of Army Wives, then Season Four has enough emotional weight and drama that it is worth checking out, while the extras on the four-disc set are just enough to lift it from rental to a purchase. I do wish there were audio commentary tracks to go with some of the key episodes, but what you get is still good value for the money.

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