Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to fix ‘Army Wives’ before the end

This should probably be the last season of the venerable Lifetime show ‘Army Wives.’

I know this may upset people, but if we’re being honest, it’s time.

The show is really only a shadow of its former self – as the two-part season six premiere showed Sunday night.
When we think back to the pilot episode, ‘Army Wives’ was about a group of women and how they coped with the strange world they lived in. It was a world a lot of us couldn’t relate to – but it was interesting nonetheless.

‘Army Wives’ found its strength in the simple relationships between the women. Sure, Pamela (Brigid Brannagh) gave birth to surrogate twins on a pool table at a bar, but the show was actually about friendship and emotion.

When I think back to the first season, the most memorable moments included Denise (Catherine Bell) melting down when her husband was missing in action, Pamela teaching Roxy (Sally Pressman) about the everyday hardships of Army life, Roland saying he was more lonely since his wife returned home than he was when she was gone and even the simple female outings by the women.

I can’t exactly pinpoint where that changed, but somewhere along the lines ‘Army Wives’ went from compelling television show to cheesy soap opera. Now, I love soap operas, but this show used to be so much more than that.

Take Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney), in five years she’s watched one daughter blow up in an explosion, found out she had diabetes, fought off an attempted rape, been held hostage by a soldier, been in a car accident and now survived a hurricane.

Despite all that, you want to know Claudia Joy’s best moments? Dealing with post gossip about her past and her daughter’s parentage. Not everything needs to be one of those “women in danger” movies. When you compound that with Pamela having a stalker, just about every trite story you can think of having on a soap (sans an evil twin) has been explored.

In the two-hour premier this past weekend, Roxy and her son Finn were in a car accident and Pamela raced to the scene in a middle of a hurricane and saved her friends right before the car blew up. Then nurse Denise was tossed against a wall when the hurricane imploded some windows and spent the second hour of the show in a coma (after being reunited with her dead soldier son).

It’s getting ridiculous.

There are rumors that Brannagh is leaving the show after this Sunday’s episode because the actress has filmed another pilot. Quite frankly, I don’t blame her for wanting to flee a sinking ship. Problem is, Pamela and Denise are the only two women I find compelling on the show anymore.

Whether Brannagh is really leaving or not, I don’t have any idea. I haven’t seen confirmation either way. Supposedly ‘Life Goes On’ actress Kellie Martin is joining the cast as a MP – that would make sense if Pamela is really leaving.

That being said, I think the show needs to go back to what it’s good at: quiet moments. Moments that revolve around Roxy and Trevor spending time with their kids, or Claudia Joy and Michael grappling with the politics that go with power in the Army. Not moments of stalkers following Pamela or Claudia Joy pouting because she’s diabetic.

The show still has some fine actresses – it’s just veered severely off the rails in recent years. There’s still time to rediscover the magic – at least I hope there is.

What do you think? How would you fix ‘Army Wives’ and should this be the end?


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