Every time I sit down to watch a new season of BBC’s Call the Midwife, I underestimate its sway. By now I should have long since learned excellence is commonplace. There hasn’t been a time I didn’t sit in awe of what a beautiful and poignant series this is. Yet with each new season, this reminds anew at depth at the strength of its emotional impact.
Christmas is again upon Poplar. But there are strict rules and traditions the midwives and nuns of Nannatus House must observe. This means there’s be no tree until a week immediately preceding Christmas. Already ill, this upsets Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt), who wanders off leaving Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) and Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) sick with worry. Elsewhere, the midwives are all busy with patients and new pursuits. Patsy (Emerald Ferrell) is still working through heartbreak, but has a patient expecting twins. This keeps her and Sister Mary Cynthia (Bryony Hannah) occupied.
Meanwhile Shelagh (Laura Main) is busy organizing a Christmas program that Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) has learned the BBC plans to film for television! Naturally, this causes quite a flurry of anticipation and excitement in the small village. Trixie (Helen George) and Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie) meet with rocky territory. Then, slowly, a friendship develops between Barbara and the pastor, Tom (Jack Ashton), who happens to be Trixie’s ex-fiancé.
There are so many beautiful moving parts of this series. Not the least of which is its two best assets. The writing (scripting is from frequent BBC talent, Heidi Thomas) and the characters, and by proxy, the actors who portray them with such class and finesse. Heidi Thomas never ceases to amaze me with the scripts she brings full circle week after week. Series five as a whole unit is no different. There are so many connected events and nuances that skipping one episode is something of an impossibility. There’s something about this show, quiet though it is, that keeps us glued to our television the many weeks it airs.
TV SERIES REVIEW | Call the Midwife, Series Four (2014)
The nuances the players give their characters, and by equal turn, the journey’s everyone goes on this season is beyond beautiful. I was, and still am, in awe of the way these characters arcs play out. From the challenge facing Dr. Turner (professionally); a heartbreaking misfortunate befalls Sister Mary Cynthia; to the cute albeit bittersweet story Nurse Phyllis Crane experiences, everyone is given a chance to shine even if only for one episode. Then there are my two favorite stories (if it’s even legit possible to choose when it comes to this show) are the darling romantics between Tom and Barbara, and Trixie’s journey. The former gives us many a lovely “romantic moment” (not to mention these two perhaps better suit than Tom and Trixie?) and the latter is a cathartic experience, both for the audience, and more importantly, Trixie.
Seeing Trixie spiral so far out of her depth in series four was heartbreak. Watching as she grew into a stronger person because of her weakness was lovely. She has earned so much respect. When this season begins, it immediately pulls us into so many of these stories, one of which being babies being born with deformities. It’s these cases that tug on our heartstrings most.
From beginning to end, series five is beautiful. There’s nothing about this series I can think to change. It’s evolved and became next to impossible to nitpick or criticize. It’s real (with the understanding some sense of creative license has been taken), gritty and well portrayed. Series five may indeed be the best season yet, and given how brilliant the earlier seasons are, that’s a high mountain for series creator and the writers to climb. Yet they do, and it all cumulates with tears, and a memorable season of joy.
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CONTENT: Some pregnancies are the result of out of wedlock relationships, and there is an episode that deals with the contraceptive pill being introduced. A man brutally beats up numerous women (off camera); there’s prostitutes in some cases. Every episode involves a scene of childbirth, some more intense than others. There are plenty of thematic, more “mature” themes presented throughout.