ARMY WIVES. 10 p.m. Sunday, Lifetime.

KIM DELANEY'S made a career out of playing women with careers - a cop on "NYPD Blue," a lawyer in "Philly," a save-the-world scientist in two "10.5" miniseries.

And the Roxborough native, who returns to series television this weekend with the premiere of Lifetime's "Army Wives," doesn't see her latest character, a colonel's wife, as any less fully employed.

"The thing I love about Claudia Joy is that, yeah, her husband's the one with the position. But she also has a position . . . and that's taking care of all the other women back home," Delaney said in a phone interview last week. "So it's still somebody with a job. A big job."

"Army Wives" - think the homefront aspects of "The Unit" grafted onto "Desperate Housewives" - focuses on the bonds formed by a small group of women - and one officer's husband - on a military base, a group in which Delaney's character is first among equals by virtue of her husband's job. (Her closest friend, another officer's wife, is played by Catherine Bell, late of "JAG.")

Thrown together unexpectedly with the wives of some enlisted men, including a bartender named Roxy (Sally Pressman) who's married to a man she's known only a few weeks, Claudia Joy quickly finds the coping skills she's learned as an Army wife put to good use.

Coping skills seem to be what's impressed Delaney most about real military spouses.

The Los Angeles-based actress, who's been temporarily living in Charleston, S.C., where the series is filmed, said she seems to run into them everywhere she goes.

She recently talked to a woman whose husband is stationed in Iraq. "She said to me, 'When e-mails go down, my husband uses a debit card to let me know he's alive.' "

The woman can then check on his withdrawals and be reassured.

It's "very clever, but that's what you learn when you talk to these Army wives," Delaney said. "They have their own system, and I admire them for that."

Those with loved ones in Iraq face the additional challenge of dealing with a steady flow of news.

"They get hit in the face all the time," Delaney said. "We used to not know so much."

"Army Wives," while dealing with issues ranging from post-traumatic stress to domestic abuse, doesn't seem interested in stirring up too much controversy.

"I really think we are trying to be entertainment," Delaney said, and to be "respectful and really admire what these people are doing."

Saving the queen

If you've been keeping up with "The Tudors" (10 p.m. Sundays, Showtime), you may have noticed that the grownups are back in charge.

If you've been keeping up with "The Tudors" (10 p.m. Sundays, Showtime), you may have noticed that the grownups are back in charge.

Oh, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is still front and center as a feral-looking Henry VIII, growling at everyone who comes near him that he needs a divorce (so he can marry, of course, the ever-pouty Anne Boleyn, who's portrayed by Natalie Dormer as having only the one expression).

But as the series approaches its June 10 season finale - this Sunday's episode is already available to On Demand customers - things are heating up for Sam Neill's Cardinal Wolsey and Jeremy Northam's Sir Thomas More, who've given this all-too-costume-conscious drama much of its heft.

The real revelation, though, has been Maria Doyle Kennedy, whose Emmy-worthy performance as Henry's first queen, Katherine of Aragon, confers grace on a figure too often portrayed as merely an obstacle to be overcome. *

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