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Thread: Call the Midwife (BBC/PBS)

  1. #16
    Gold Member dilligaf's Avatar
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    Just discovered this amazing show last night. I love it!

  2. #17
    Elite Member Sassiness's Avatar
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    Season 2 (including the Xmas special) just started on Aus tv. I cried reading the story of Mrs Jenkins in the book. Bawled watching on tv.

  3. #18
    Elite Member Bluebonnet's Avatar
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    Call the Midwife: an unexpected PBS hit with another Brit import

    Downton Abbey relies on period nostalgia to charm US viewers, but Call the Midwife is closer to Mad Men's unsentimental drama


    Like other popular period dramas, Call the Midwife has found big audiences in the UK and now in the US. Photograph: BBC

    Call the Midwife, the PBS drama imported from the BBC, is halfway through its second season in the US and reliably banking 3 million viewers a week. (In Britain, it eventually outstripped Downton Abbey, with over three times that number.) Mad Men gave us the flash and emptiness of the 1960s, Midwife is the desperately dreary British equivalent, where everyone gets around on bikes, fending off colds, petty tyranny and aggressively patterned wallpaper.
    Which isn't to say the drama itself is dreary. The first time I saw it, on a recent visit back to Britain, I sat down at my dad's house in a spirit of mockery. The show's title makes it sound like an Alan Bennett farce; it features a character called Chummy, who might as well be called Bunty and have stepped from the pages of Enid Blyton. It looks exactly like the kind of nostalgia-sodden Sunday night TV that leads to novelty cast recordings at Christmas and that, as a child, signalled the tragic end of your weekend. The LA Times called it "lovely", which isn't necessarily a compliment.
    On first encountering the show, it is possible to maintain this attitude. Jenny Agutter could have been cast as head nun by the British Tourist Board in accordance with the standard export version of the country: firm, kind and obliquely but inextricably linked with the Railway Children. There are lines written as deliberate camp: "I'm sorry Mr Roberts, I must insist; the afterbith hasn't been delivered yet!" Capable women, their shirt sleeves pushed up past sturdy forearms, wading through a series of gloomy interiors: god, it's like a feminist version of Das Boot.
    As the series unfolds, however, it turns into something else. Midwife is a classy production. It's based on the memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth, a midwife at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, who wrote of the shock of being a sheltered young woman first encountering the East End of the 50s. It's not Vera Drake, exactly, but it's pretty stark on the subject of life pre-contraception. And it is stealthily political: the demise of midwifery has, in the history of obstetrics, been widely seen as a bad thing for women.
    The comic characters are shrewdly drawn; the absurd but rather touching Rev Appleby-Thornton, just back from mission work in Sierra Leone, has a hint of the Mr Collins about him. The taciturn Jane ("Still a chatterbox, then?") and doughty Pam Ferris ("Sometimes, you have to admit defeat and let the world turn as it must") are recognisable types, but the writing is good enough to save them from cliche.
    You do wonder at the daily rate for walk-on parts. It'd be much harder to play a woman in labour – all that grimacing and – in Call the Midwife than, say, a shoplifter on Law and Order. (The men just have to stand in a corridor and smoke.) For the viewer, you get a passive lift from all that onscreen encouragement: "Good girl, really good push now, good girl, that's REALLY GOOD, really big push, Ruby, REALLY BIG PUSH." It's like a cheap form of life-coaching. And the drama is superb: the long, horrified look between midwives who see the baby before the mother does, until she catches sight of their faces. ("SISTER EVANGELINA, WHAT'S WRONG WIV 'IM? YOU TELL ME RIGHT NOW!")
    There are still nostalgic touches: a lot of toast and knitwear slipped in between deliveries. But it's not the past as a charming Middle Earth of low crime and hedgerows. Call the Midwife is as brutal as Mad Men in its way, and as shocking about recent history: what happened to babies born with complications 60 years ago, and to women with notions above their station. At the end, when Vanessa Redgrave comes on to do the voiceover, her calm, reasoned delivery is like a requiem – an antidote to everything on TV that's too snappish and snarky.





    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...pbs-hit-import

  4. #19
    Elite Member Sassiness's Avatar
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    I loved the second series. I've watched most of the episodes several times on ABC's iView platform after it was broadcast. Will have to get the DVDs.

    Watched the finale for about the 5th time the other day. I still get all teary when Chummy's labour goes pear shaped - especially when Sister Evangelina, who disliked her so much when she first started, was going to be the one who went to the hospital with her. And then the scene with the blanket - the love and devotion crocheted into that blanket shows in the way that Sister Julienne and Jenny lay it over her.

    And yes... I said crocheted not knitted.... grr. For a show that gets SO many things right for the period and puts so much work into costumes, sets etc, would it really have been that fucking hard to have Sister Monica Joan CROCHETING the granny squares?! That blanket is made up of crocheted squares. Trust me - I'm making my friend a baby blanket at the moment in that same style! Every knitter/crocheter I know has had the same reaction.... "aww... BUT YOU GOT IT WRONG PEOPLE.... but it's still lovely". It just jars. It's like hearing modern slang in a period film - so out of place that it's completely distracting.
    Bluebonnet likes this.

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