May 9, 2013 Rissi JC 18 Comments

There’s television shows that are mediocre and cover the dullness with snazzy comedy. Then there are television shows that are compelling and have a perspective on life very few do. BBC’s new to the block piece of soap opera candy is Call the Midwife and it fits the latter description.  

Call the Midwife, Series Two (2013) BBC TV Review

The comfortable lives in the familial setting of Nonnatus House are about to experience uncharted territory. Reserved by nature, Jenny (Jessica Raine) tires to find her way in the world and struggles over the re-appearance of her longtime friend, Jimmy. But it’s her work at Nonnatus House that keeps her happy. On her latest patient rounds, she has encountered a woman who is a victim of abuse. Already Molly has a little girl and is very near term with her second. Her husband is a cruel man who cares little for her or their children. This causes Jenny fear over what’s to come.

‘CALL THE MIDWIFE’: SERIES TWO (2013). The primary cast returns in Heidi Thomas' fabulous BBC series. All text is © Rissi JC
‘CALL THE MIDWIFE’: SERIES TWO (2013) #FWarchives Click To Tweet

Meanwhile Trixie (Helen George) encounters an unexpected challenge when she and Sister Evangilina (Pam Ferris) are summoned to assist a patient residing on a ship of foreigners. Caught up in their work and the security of a roof over their head, no one pays mind to Sister Monica Joan’s warnings to expect dark days. Nor are they ready for an announcement from Chummy (Miranda Hart) that will take her away. Then Sister Bernadette (Laura Main) also comes to a crossroad in her life. 

It seems redundant at this point to question myself but it must be done. By watching this Heidi Thomas penned series, I’ve had to re-think my stance on period pieces that take place post regency era. Now, I’ve no idea what objections (that were legit) I had of them! There doesn’t seem to be an excuse good enough for me to be so standoffish towards this era because golly, this series is marvelous. Call the Midwife goes “looking” for more than just the façade of “pretty” things and faces. It finds deeper, more emotional turn-out of the events and situations the scripts place these characters. For anyone fond of a committed character presence, this is perhaps the greatest failing.  

Don’t misunderstand, we come to adore every single one of them… but it’s apparent that there is a glossed over shield sheltering their pasts. It’s a real shame we know next-to-nothing about Trixie, Cynthia (Bryony Hannah) or leading lady, Jenny.  All inquiring minds are offered is snippets into what makes them tick. We are set straight on the kind of girl Trixie really is. Her sassy personality is no reflection on how she expects men to treat her. Also new wounds open in Jenny’s life with Jimmy popping in a time or two. How a potential romance comes to be is splendid should it make sure not to backpedal and re-open the wounds.

Likewise, the final moments in series two are beyond precious, one I suspect won’t be sunshine for long as Jenny is bound to break our hearts again with her distrust of herself with men. This is one thread that leaves me conflicted. Partially because Jenny’s outings or conversations with her chap – first Jimmy, later Alec – are so sweet; there are cute flirtations between them and Jenny’s prim ways are adorable in and of themselves. I admire Jenny for her pluck (she finally does the right thing where Jimmy is concerned and she makes the decision based on fear of what she may fall into). Still I don’t think she should judge every relationship by her prior experiences.

Making up for this is the fabulous blossoming relationship between Shelia and Dr. Turner – and if you are puzzling over whom this lady is, just you wait and see! Seriously, I was beyond happy to see this pairing – my romantic heart was aflutter with joy since I expected the opposite. As long as Heidi and fellow writers don’t taint this in subsequent series, I will be one happy girl. 

Every nuance in this series is full of nostalgia and delights. From the costumes (pattered slacks and gorgeous full a-line skirts) and
settings to the old-fashioned phrases and language, each installment swept me up into its genuine heart and the wonderful moments these characters share. Every episode comes full circle; breathing new life into what otherwise may have been a dull series that focused more on being a biopic than adding heart and emotion to every corner of its storytelling. We meet new arrivals and shed a tearful good-bye to others. Unlike the British drama Land Girls, I don’t think there is an unlikeable personality in this
ensemble. There’s fun and comedy from groundskeeper Fred and Nurse Nook to the mysteries surrounding Jenny, and it’s a darn agreeable way to spend eight hours – the best of all is the addition of new faces.

The finale causes some concern for a better resolution but true to form, things come together swimmingly. Already I am most anxious for what a third series may bring – so long as it doesn’t break our hearts after what it hinted at offering, it promises to be smashing! Or as Dr. Turner would say, it’s “tickety boo.”

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You can find Call the Midwife, series two digitally on Amazon Video

Content: not one episode goes by without one to three scenes of child birth at some point. Each varies in their degree of how much the camera shows or how “medical” they become. One involves an abortion; there’s lots of blood and we watch the mother’s reactions as she lies on the table, legs apart. One child is born with a birth defect, another dies and there are implications of abuse [two children nearly die after being abandoned]. One thread also implies that twin sisters may be married to the same man [one sister is pregnant and “gives” one of her children to her sister]. Conversations revolve around contraception and other minor sexual innuendoes; while in his apartment, a man runs his hand up the inside of a girl’s leg, and pushes her back on the couch before she runs away. There are some racial prejudices and at least one minor fistfight. A rare minor profanity or British slang may be present.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Tory May 9, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    I have just started the second season… I totally love it!!! Love the costumes… It is very fascinating to see the dark side of the world that my grandmother grew up in…

    • Rissi May 9, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      Did you watch the first season also, Tory?

      Despite the promise of the 2nd season being darker, I may have enjoyed it more! It's grown on my SO much since that first episode. And I am glad for it.

      Oh, the costumes! Love everything about them for sure. :)

    • Tory May 10, 2013 at 12:10 AM

      Oh yes, I watched the first season on Netflix… And now I only have one more episode for the second… I've been watching it *ahem* probably a bit too much… ;)

    • Rissi May 10, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      Glad you saw the first set also – I was just curious as it took me a few episodes to really warm to the show. Boy, after that, am I glad to have stuck with it! :)

      The last episode of S2 is precious! Enjoy. And I know just what you mean: any British show seems to get a lot of airtime on my telly. ;)

  • Ivy Miranda May 9, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Love this show!

    • Rissi May 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM

      Me, too, Ivy! It's certainly grown on me to the point where I finally "get" it's charm. :)

  • Kellie May 9, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Oh no!! "First Jimmy, then Alec" – does this mean Jimmy doesn't win?? Oh no…now I'm so sad!

    But it sound like the overall content of S2 might be less concerning that S1! I have the Christmas special still in my queue on Amazon, so I need to buckle down and watch it, so I can be ready for S2 when it's released on DVD in June!

  • Kellie May 9, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Oh and I just noticed that Amazon's getting The Bletchley Circle for Region 1!! Woot woot!

    • Rissi May 9, 2013 at 8:38 PM

      Okay, Kellie… there is a resolution to the whole Jimmy/Jenny story but… I am unsure! Do you like to know beforehand?

      If I had to say – just thinking back from memory – the content is probably the same when it comes to anything medical. There are still multiple medical issues and various situations during the births, the most troubling of which may be the abortion. Fortunately there is nothing about a brother/sister relationship although there is one issue about twin sisters that was a bit… up in the air. *notes that I forgot to mention this in the content. goes to correct that*

      Yay for the Christmas special – hope you like it, girl! And I am so excited about The Bletchley Circle also! Anxious for your thoughts. :)

    • Kellie May 9, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      Eeeeek…oh, you'd better not tell me…as much as I want to know! :D

      The medical content doesn't bother me any, since it's not "sexual," it's just "real life," although…an abortion sounds absolutely tragic! Is the abortion depicted as something good and okay?

      Now I have to decide if I want to wait until it's released on dvd or pay to rent each episode…hhmm…I should just wait, even as I really want to watch them now! I notice (haha) that the price of this season is significantly higher than the first season was…now that it's become such a popular show. ;)

    • Rissi May 9, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      Got it. My lips are sealed then. ;)

      It (the medical) doesn't bother me either (save for its over dramatization) but I think some viewers gave up on it as a result of that. As for the abortion, no! It is definitely not depicted as good. The consequences are rough and Jenny warns against it – worse the parent's are loving people! Sad.

      That is a dilemma! If it were me, I'd not be able to wait it out. It's so fun to get my hands on the new season of a show (even if I am a year behind because I watch the DVD's, it's new for me!) and get lost in its beauty, charm or the tugs it pulls on our heartstrings. This show is certainly in the latter's category!

      Guess we have to take the good with the bad in the successes of a favored show. The bad? The price jacks up (not fair!). The good? There are better chances of multiple seasons! YAY! ;)

  • Kara May 10, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    I've been wanting to know more about this series. Thank you! I'm thinking I'd better start series one pretty soon! I hadn't read much about it yet, so wasn't sure. But you've convinced me. Although I don't know why I needed convincing, I always love these shows. :D

    • Rissi May 10, 2013 at 6:04 PM

      Despite starting out differently in my cinematic opinion, this has completely won me over, Kara! It's important to know it doesn't have the same kind of charm as 'Downton' or Jane Austen adaptations but it is a beautiful portrait of life. And oh, the character's! They are the best part.

      Will be excited to know your eventual thoughts. :)

  • birdienl May 17, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    So good to see your review of this and to read that you loved it ofcourse! Oh, wasn't the romance between Dr. Turner and Sheilagh (I saw on the BBC website this is how you write the name) the best of all! I think I've not been so invested in a romance for a long time and it was only a few scenes each episode! (Sign of good writing, methinks!)

    • Rissi May 19, 2013 at 5:11 AM

      Hey, Birdienl! Thanks for this great comment – and for reading!

      Enjoyed this second series very much; all of that adorable romance and charming interactions between the doctor and Sheilagh (thanks for pointing out the spelling!) were terribly special. It was such an unusual pairing that it made me all the more invested and I was rooting for it the entire time – glad it panned out, although… I am skeptical of it lasting.

      Agree! This season had spectacular writing – bravo to the scripters for pulling us into this romance so eloquently and without saying much. Beautiful it was! :)

      Bring on season three!

  • Rosie W March 23, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    We just finished series two a couple days ago. Wow! This show would not have the same emotional impact if it had a happy ending at the close of every episode. BBC is doing wonderful with this series. I hope the excellence continues into series three!

    • Rissi March 23, 2014 at 5:37 PM

      I agree, Rosie – much as I adore a happy ending, I think the emotional factors are greater the way the stories weave in and out of sorrow vs. genuine happiness. However I will say once things pull to a close, I'd love to see things end happily! Ditto, keep up this excellence, BBC. :)

  • […] One of BBC’s most recent seasonal series, the show based on a series of memoirs starts out “rough,” I won’t fib. The premise is interesting but the execution was horrible. Fortunately, writer’s got wise and ended up balancing out the midwifery duties by expanding the medical cases to involve more than just weekly clinics and home visits to their expectant mothers. Here’sa snippet from the season two review:  […]

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