Monday, February 27, 2012

Army Wives: The Complete Fourth Season DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The estrogen network, aka Lifetime, brings you the fourth season of Army Wives on a four disc DVD set.  The show is based on the novel Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives by Tanya Biank and it offers a look at a life in the military for the soldiers and how it affects their family.  Like many TV shows, it’s preferable to start at season one.  That way you fully understand the characters and where the story began.  Quite often it is enough to start with the recap.  I wait for the announcer to say “previously on…” and I am ready to jump ahead to the current season.  With Army Wives, I do not recommend skipping ahead.  The summary at the beginning of season four is not a suitable substitute for watching seasons one through three.

Film (3 out of 5 stars) 

Army Wives is set at Fort Marshall, a fictional base in South Carolina and home to the fictional 23rd Airborne Division.  As you would guess from the title, the show centers around a small group of Army wives, but also includes a husband who has a wife in the Army.  The show has dealt with everything from deployments and hostage situations to adultery.
Pregnancies, divorce and injury from previous seasons are dealt with in season four. Three husbands are deployed to Afghanistan, and once again Army Wives does not fail to tear at your heartstrings.  This is one of those shows where spoilers ruin all the drama, so I hesitate to give much plot detail.  Season four picks up right where season three left off, and it left off with quite a cliffhanger.
Army Wives does an excellent job of reminding you of the sacrifices a military family must make.  This show is most certainly a drama and you should bring a box of Kleenex to every viewing.  Again, I recommend a show for your wife, mother or grandmother’s Christmas stocking.  Army Wives would be best saved for a “girls night” as I do not expect my husband would sit through a single episode.
Although there are musical performances from performers like Winona Judd to break up the heavy emphasis on drama, there’s still not enough action in it to attract the majority of men to the show.  I find it hard to find reasons to even ask my husband to give it a try.  Some shows are geared towards women, which includes most of the shows on the Lifetime network.

Video (3 out of 5 stars) 

The aspect ratio is full-screen (1.78:1), and I am always disappointed when I do not get to use every inch of my big screen television.  The colors are bright and the black levels and the amount of detail is satisfactory.  For a DVD, the video quality is good, but I know Blu-ray would have been significantly better.

Audio (2 out of 5 stars) 

This Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix is not particularly impressive.  I might be getting spoiled by my Blu Rays that take full advantage of the sound capabilities.  This is a front channel heavy mix as this is primarily a dialogue driven show, and although the dialogue is clear, the mix doesn’t really spread across all of the channels which is disappointing.

Special Features (2 out of 5 stars) 

The special features are spread out among the sets four discs, which makes them easy to miss if you are expecting them to all be located on the last disc.
  • Deleted Scenes – There are eighteen of them and I am fine with most of them staying deleted.  A few of them are incredibly short and pointless and I wonder why they thought anyone would want to watch them.  Deleted scenes can really be interesting when they are significant.
  • Bloopers, Outtakes and Gags – I always love bloopers.  It really shows the quality of the actors when such a serious show can be lighthearted, and have funny moments.
  • Safety First:  From Script to Screen – A look behind the scenes at how an episode is made.
  • Southern Cooking Army Wives Style – The cast gets a cooking lesson.  Yummy!
  • Military Jargon – My military experience is limited to the time spent in my camouflage pajamas, but I love military jargon.  Watch the cast as they are tested on what they have learned.

Final Thoughts (3 out of 5 stars) 

Army Wives is a serious drama, and I think its target audience is predominately female.  It is a show you have to pay attention to.  You have to remember the characters, remember all that’s happened in previous seasons and not everyone likes to remember that much.   I tend to fall asleep watching TV on many nights, but I make sure I am well rested for Army Wives.  You can’t rely on the show’s opener to tell you all you need to know.   I think it is a very well made show. I haven’t yet decided if it’s worth owning.  I don’t think it is one of the shows I would watch over and over – it’s just too serious.  Fans and owners of seasons one through three won’t be disappointed with season four.
Order your copy today!

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