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The Complete First Season
Rating: TV PG
Running Time: 552 minutes
Starring: Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Brian McNamara, Sterling K. Brown, Wendy Davis, Drew Fuller and Catherine Bell
Retail Price: $59.99
Features: Audio Commentaries, Army Wives Gone A.W.O.L., Missing In Action: Deleted Scenes, Hump For The Lump: Deleted Story Line, Wives On The Homefront, Have At It With The Army Wives, Have At It With The Executive Producers
Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scenes (8 per episode), Three-Disc Set
Released: June 10th, 2008
The first season of "Army Wives" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and these are pretty nice transfers. Other than some edge halos, hints of noise and some imperfections on the episodes, everything looks downright sharp. Colors are quite vibrant if a bit on the smeary side, and detail is excellent. Black levels seem to hit their mark, and fleshtones look pretty good - if a bit overdone at times. These are bright transfers, often on the verge of day-gloish, but are pretty pleasing overall.
All thirteen episodes of "Army Wives" also feature English Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Given that this is a very talky show, the tracks are very geared toward the front. With that noted though, dialogue is very clean and easy to hear. Some surrounds pop up here and there - namely in some more flighty moments - but they aren't so discrete. The subwoofer doesn't do much, but fidelity on the tracks are pretty high. Dynamic range is decent, too. Coming out the best though is the show's music - be it the instrumental cues or the songs used. They engage the speakers pretty warmly and intimately, which is just what the show calls for. Nothing extraordinary here, but again, fitting overall.
Subtitles in English, French and Spanish are also included.
The first season of "Army Wives" on DVD is pretty loaded with extras. First up, spread across the three discs are five Audio Commentaries. The first disc has two commentaries for the first episode "A Tribe Is Born" - one with Executive Producer Deborah Spera, Creator/Executive Producer Katherine Fugate and Co-Executive Producer Marshall Persinger, and another with Director Ben Younger and Director Of Photography Lloyd Ahern. "Independence Day" features a commentary from Fugate, Persinger and actors Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell. "Dirty Laundry" has Fugate, Persinger and actors Brian McNamara, Sterling K. Brown and Wendy Davis as participants, and finally "Goodbye Stranger" features Fugate, Persinger and actors Brigid Brannagh, Sally Pressman and Drew Fuller. I listened to snippets of the commentaries, and they all seem pretty free-flowing with lots of joking around and production stories. All seemed to suffer from dead spots or mindless chatter, and only a few insights and details seem to appear throughout about choices the producers made, inspirations and what they were going for. The best commentary seemed to be with Younger and Ahern - not only did they have some fun things to say, but really offered more technical and engrossing details about working on the series. Overall, I think these commentaries are best left for die-hard fans of the show.
The other extras are housed on the third disc. Army Wives Gone A.W.O.L. is a rough-looking but pretty amusing outtake reel that runs 4 minutes, while Missing In Action: Deleted Scenes is a collection of 8 deleted scenes with optional commentary from Fugate and Persinger. The scenes are also in rough shape, and are very short - in total they run about 6 minutes. Persinger and Fugate are very straightforward about the cuts - namely recapping what's known in the episode and relationship of the characters, and what the cut material bring forth - namely stuff that's already established.
Hump For The Lump: Deleted Story Line is another deleted sequence from the season's last episode ("Goodbye Stranger"), running about 3 minutes, also with optional commentary from Fugate and Persinger. The two producers give the whole thing context - setting the stage up, what it was like to shoot the scene and that it got cut since there was too much going on in the episode already. I'm sure fans of the show will enjoy watching it.
Wives On The Homefront looks to be some sort of promotional featurette, lasting 12 minutes. The piece focuses on an event hosted by Lifetime and Operation Homefront, meant to honor real army wives and their families - with the cast on hand for a day of relaxing and fun. Despite the way this piece is produced, it's a very heartfelt look at some real army wives and their families, and how they are coping. In a way, it helps ground the series in some reality.
Have At It With The Army Wives is a 14 minute piece where the cast of the series - along with some of the producers - answer questions submitted by fans through the Internet. Here we learn that the actors met with real army wives (see the Wives On The Homefront featurette), their characters are discussed as well as how they get along on the set - among other things. Fans should enjoy this.
Finally, Have At It With The Executive Producers is a 3 minute chat with executive producer Mark Gordon and executive producer Deb Spera. The duo discuss how they based the series off of a book, and how they wanted to focus on the families of the soldiers - and how they're problems are universal and relatable. The cast is also discussed. Pretty fluffy overall - it really plays more of an introduction to the series.
"Army Wives" has been a pretty successful venture on Lifetime, and it's easy to see the series' soapy appeal. The first season on DVD is a pretty satisfying package: a decent number of extras, plus very good presentations of the episodes. Fans of the show shouldn't hesitate to pick it up, and those interested may want to opt for a rental.