HeldenFiles: ‘Army Wives’ says goodbye and other TV notes

By Rich Heldenfels Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Stand-up comic turned actor and producer, Drew Carey partners with Cheryl Burke. This season's lineup of stars will perform for the first time on live television with their professional partners during the two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars," Monday on the ABC. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Lifetime’s long-running series Army Wives has ended its episodic run, but there was a sense by all concerned that it had not really said goodbye. So the cast and key behind-the-scenes folks got together for a conversation about the show and clips from it. The result is the two-hour Army Wives: A Final Salute premiering at 9 tonight on Lifetime.

The discussion includes cast members Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh, Wendy Davis, Sterling K. Brown, Brian McNamara, Terry Serpico, Drew Fuller and Jeremy Davidson, along with commentary from some real-life army wives.

The series deserved a send-off. As soapy as it could be at times, it was about something that mattered. It tried to address the issues that faced people who were in the military and those who were married to them. It was sensitive and thoughtful in its treatment of those issues.

And it did so with some diverse casting — starting with the fact that one of the “wives” was a man married to a military woman. Even if the later seasons were not as strong as the early ones, the series did honorable work.

Monday’s TV includes the two-hour season premiere of Dancing With the Stars at 8 p.m., which if nothing else means we won’t have The Bachelor gobbling up air time for a bit.

The new season will include several changes, among them the introduction of a viewer-determined changing of partners and Erin Andrews succeeding Brooke Burke-Charvet as co-host with Tom Bergeron. I can’t say that Andrews will be good, but I’m feeling some relief after years of muttering about robo-Brooke’s wooden presentation and self-promotion.

As for the cast this year, the celebrities include Cleveland’s own Drew Carey (paired with the ever appealing Cheryl Burke), Also among the stars are: Sean Avery, Candace Cameron Bure, Cheryl Davis, NeNe Leakes, James Maslow, Danica McKellar, Diana Nyad, Amy Purdy, Cody Simpson, Charlie White and Billy Dee Williams.

If any of those names seems unfamiliar, well, the show has always had a flexible definition of “star.”

Also on Monday’s show, according to ABC, is “a massive opening number featuring all pro dancers as they perform live with musical guest Jason Derulo. Derulo will sing his mega hit song Talk Dirty, marking the first time ever a musical guest has accompanied a season’s opening number. Each couple will then perform a Cha Cha, Foxtrot or Contemporary routine.”

Movie channel EPIX will be added to Time Warner Cable nationwide on Tuesday and promises that TWC’s digital basic tier subscribers will get it free for three months. Which doesn’t make up for the seemingly constant rate hikes, but there it is. The offer will include four channels, EPIX, EPIX 2, EPIX 3 and, apparently because they ran out of numbers, EPIX Drive-In. (I guess we could nickname it “The Cuatro.”)

Show of hands: Who got the Dodgeball reference?

Anyway, EPIX is a collaboration among Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM and promises movies like The Hunger Games, Skyfall and World War Z in March. And, just in case, keep a close eye on your Time Warner bill.

Also of note: John Leguizamo has his fifth HBO special, Ghetto Klown, premiering at 10 p.m. Saturday. Hidden-camera show Deal With It begins a second season on TBS at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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