Season three of Downton Abbey premieres on Jan. 6, 2013 on PBS, but if you’re pining for something to tie you over, check out Call the Midwife.
I really hadn’t heard much about this little series, and just happened upon it one night while surfing around the tube. I was immediately sucked into the story and characters.
Like Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife also airs on PBS and just finished its first season, but it’s available on DVD and you can actually watch all the episodes on the PBS site (but only til Dec. 3, so get cracking!). I believe both of these shows air first on the BBC (though correct me if I’m wrong on that), and then later on PBS.
Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife centers on 22-year-old Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), who in 1957 leaves her comfortable home to become a midwife in East London (not the wealthiest of areas). She arrives at the clinic to learn that it’s actually a convent, Nonnatus House, where nurses and medically-trained nuns work side by side.
The Sisters and midwives perform many nursing duties, but their primary work is to deliver babies and look after the newborns. Of course, the stories are much more than that.
The first episode, for instance, finds Jenny shocked at the poverty of the area, and delivering a baby on her own. Conchita Warren is the mom, a Spanish former child bride who speaks no English and is giving birth for the 24th time. Yes, 24th.
The stories run the gamut of stolen babies, unmarried moms, adoptions, contraception, and senile nuns, not to mention the personal lives of the folks at Nonnatus House, including relationships with married men.
The cast also includes Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Miranda Hart, Judy Parfitt, Helen George, Bryony Hannah and Laura Main, and Vanessa Redgrave provides narration as the mature Jenny.
Call the Midwife is an engaging series that’s sweet, touching, joyful and heartbreaking. Birth is something that touches us all, and Call the Midwife shows the indelible strength of the human spirit, even in the darkest of times.
And in this modern era where it often seems like we’re more and more disconnected from one another, it’s a joy to watch a show where people — real-life people, not people you know in cyberspace — are connected in ways that we may never be connected again.
By the way, Call the Midwife is produced by Neal Street Productions, helmed by director/producer Sam Mendes, whose latest directorial project is Skyfall.
Take a look at the first episode and see what you think.