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) #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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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.