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TV THIS WEEK | THE BIG THING

Wedded to the war

June 03, 2007|MARY MCNAMARA

"FROM the executive producer of 'Grey's Anatomy' " is TV shorthand for "please, please let this be another big, fat hit" and Lifetime's new series "Army Wives" uses it liberally. With its racially and economically diverse cast of characters, "Army Wives" does bear a resemblance to the hospital drama (there is, in the pilot, the requisite sex-in-the-public-bathroom scene). But of much greater interest is the subject matter. We are a nation at war, and this is a show about the people who are fighting it even as the war continues.

Which doesn't mean "Army Wives" is a downer. It follows the lives of the soldiers' spouses, and what a wild group they are. First and foremost is Roxy (Sally Pressman) -- you just have to love a show with a main character named Roxy -- a street-smart bartender who marries a soldier she's known for a few days and is quickly thrown into the piranha tank of Army post life. Pamela (Brigid Brannagh) is the very pregnant former cop with a secret; Denise (Catherine Bell) is the perfect wife and mother with another secret. Roland (Sterling K. Brown) is the perfect husband, without a secret unless you count that he's a shrink. Protecting them from backbiting secondary characters is Kim Delaney as the ideal colonel's wife, Claudia Joy.

Vietnam brought war into our living rooms, the coverage of the Iraq war has given us insight into the lives of those left behind -- from divorce rates to spending habits to the effect of post-traumatic stress. In our light-speed cultural cycle, it is not surprising that a drama dealing with these same issues would begin long before the feature stories were off the front page.

(Lifetime, today, 10 p.m.)

-- MARY MCNAMARA

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