‘Call the Midwife’: Keep calm and puuush
By Hank Stuever,
Sunday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m., PBS
A huge hit in Britain (with a second season already on order), this absorbing and inspiring six-episode miniseries about young nurses in London’s East End deserves top priority on your crowded Sunday-night schedule. (It’s also welcome relief for anglophiles who can’t wait for “Downton Abbey” to hurry up and return in January. )
Based on the late Jennifer Worth’s memoirs, “Call the Midwife” follows Jenny Lee (a luminescent Jessica Raine) as she begins work as a midwife in the late 1950s. She lives in a convent of Anglican sisters and other nurses who’ve devoted themselves to providing top-notch aid to impoverished women and the elderly in the nascent days of Britain’s national health-care system. The cast is marvelous, the gritty, post-war set pieces are meticulously recreated and, even with all the warm-water enemas and splattered afterbirth, the story always has its eye on uplift and good cheer.
The American audience will be greeting “Call the Midwife” amid an election-year climate that has disparaged women’s rights and all but demonized the idea of government-assisted health care, so it’s understandable that you might watch it with a feminist zeal. Another possibility is to see the show as a yet another subversive bit of socialist propaganda brought to you by your public broadcasters. But if you can get past the present-day angst, I suggest you simply lose yourself in “Call the Midwife’s” belief in pure charity, which means doing our best for the least of our sisters and brothers.
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