Because Series.nu (now under a new name) isn’t hosting reviews of “Army Wives” anymore, it’s back to posting them on my own blog and using my beloved (+) and (-) system.

I’ll get right to it.

MINUS: The opening scene – the one I genuinely can’t remember even though I just watched the DVRed show over my lunch break – is, for lack of a more creative word, boring.

PLUS: Claudia-Joy’s delivery of Emmalin to college is a combination of sad, touching, and hopeful, and the inclusion of Michael’s, “Did she just take our toaster?” as he watches the action in the home kitchen via webcam from Iraq is a well-timed moment of comic relief. However, as often occurs in “Army Wives,” a story line is dropped – thus far, anyway. What happened to the cute guy who had a crush on Emmalin at the end of season 4?

MINUS: Roland is disappearing. His character this episode is, if at all possible, more ineffectual than at the end of the previous season. He wanders in and out of the living room holding their daughter and weakly meeping while Joan decides she wants to retire and have a baby–no, be Garrison Commander and have a baby–no, be a Garrison Commander and hold off on a baby, because if she does well as Garrison Commander, she could get a star. Be a general. Roland very clearly wants her to live a family life and have at least one more baby, but just as clear is that the writers simply aren’t spending much time on him or on his reactions to what has for some time been an unlivable home life. He went from having a wife blasted by an IED to having a wife with a traumatic brain injury to having a wife who completely (and miraculously) healed only to stomp all over him with her Army boots. If the intent were to paint him as someone slowly losing himself to the lifestyle, that would be one thing (and it would, in fact, be interesting…surely that happens), but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

As the only military spouse on the show who’s a man, he would be a more valuable and compelling character if he had a bit more…well…character.

PLUS: The awkwardness between Denise and Tonya (Jeremy’s fiance) is palpable and painful. While the new-daughter-in-law-diagnoses-sick-baby-as-bonding-mechanism is a little too convenient and predictable, the interaction between the two women is an uncomfortably true-to-life scenario in far too many in-law relationships, and one viewers the country over probably identify with.

MINUS: Roxy’s younger son’s father arrives – out of nowhere – to give her money after his father’s death and has a few too many drinks at Roxy’s to drive home. This leads to his sleeping on the couch (very innocently) and being walked out to his big, dirty pickup truck in the morning by Roxy, in her pajamas. In broad daylight. In a military neighborhood. With a man who isn’t her deployed husband. Were a scene like this played out a bit longer (were most scenes in the series played out a bit longer), the predictability would have the kind of depth it needs to be interesting, but because it’s difficult NOT to imagine nosy neighbors and misunderstandings and bad news getting to Trevor, who will then have it explained to him (unless he’s the husband slated to die in an upcoming episode) before the series moves onto the next drama, it’s difficult to enjoy it for what it could be. I’d love to gasp at a scene like that – an “Oh, no! No, no, no! Her neighbors!” – but the writers just didn’t try hard enough to get me to care.

PLUS: Boone kisses Pamela. This doesn’t come out of nowhere. We see some of his interest building in season four. While it’s unlikely that her character would ever be interested in his character (based on their interactions thus far), this scene has the effect of making women watching it think, “Urk?” As if choosing between a detective position in Atlanta and a hot Special Forces ex-husband weren’t hard enough…   It’s possible this sudden ambivalence on Pamela’s part is a device created by the writers to make us all forget about the spin-off Brigid Brannagh was expected to star in, but that hasn’t been written about since last summer. (Her co-star in the spin-off was going to be played by Gabrielle Union, who is said to be starring in a new FOX comedy pilot, “Little in Common.”)

Overall, not an exciting start to the season, but the funeral teaser will probably bring a decent audience to the next episode. Any guesses on whose funeral it will be? (And does it bother anyone else that “Who’s husband is dead!? Whose husband is dead!?” is being used as a dramatic teaser for ratings, or is it just me?)

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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com

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Army Wives review

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