Wow, what a heartwarming series this new one is!!!
I am watching season one on Netflix as season two is apparently wrapping up over in Britain.
Nothing like a good historical British drama, filled with real characters with hopes, fears, and flaws.
Fabulous television. Better than most American movies!!!
Set in the East End of London (Docklands) right after World War II, the show concerns a convent with a handful of secular nurses attached to it. Everyone is focused on delivering the huge number of babies being born at home in their borough.
This was right at the beginning of the implementation of National Health in Britain. For the impoverished characters on the show, it was a godsend.
What I love is that no one is the subject of mockery in this show. Upper class people who need an attitude adjustment, clumsy people (like Chummy, the oversized nurse who can’t seem to learn to ride a bike), impoverished people (whose stories are shown to be as rich as those of any upper class person), and even women with venereal diseases (a nurse initially has a reaction of aversion to finding out a pregnant woman has a venereal disease, but the show reveals that she is able to grow and learn compassion in the situation. How many U.S. shows would play that situation for cheap laughs?).
In the third episode, we all fall in love with the old veteran of the Boer Wars who is displaced from the tenement where his late wife helped him raise two boys (who died in World War II). The sweet old man says he lives in the lap of luxury, while Jenny, his nurse, initially has a reaction of revulsion to the insects that live in the tenement, and crawl out from under a plate of cookies as she picks them up!
She later takes him to a reunion of his unit, where he is greatly honored as a war hero. But she then must watch him be moved to a nursing home, where he is neglected and dies of gangrene which develops in his old war injuries.
How many old veterans who have spent their lives for their countries face similar indifference from the authorities when they are old? How many of them never have a Jenny to love them when their families are gone?
Watching the faces in this episode was a thing of beauty, an absolute wonder. The characters are so well drawn that the movements of the eyes, the hands, and the feet are all used to maximum advantage in furthering the story.
Mostly the stories concern babies about to be born, but this detour to community nursing of the elderly was beautiful. The whole series is beautiful.
The nuns in the convent are not all conventional Catholics. One or two of them are eccentrics, possibly over the line into dementia. They are still full, strong characters.
The faith of the nuns, moving forward to help the needy in the face of fear, reminds me of why the Catholic church is so often admired, even by people who don’t agree with its doctrine. Few groups are as able to reach out to those who are impoverished and to raise their standard of living via quality health care or education.
The Brits have been producing a series of quality television shows to universal acclaim these past few years–among them “Downton Abbey” about the rich and now “Call the Midwife” about the poor. Both shows also reveal interactions between the rich and the poor–that may be the greatest contribution of all they make! Every person is a unique soul, made in God’s image. It is wonderful to find television shows that reveal that truth, rather than playing to cheap laughs and mockery!!!