Call the Midwife
Sundays at 8 on UNC-TV
Fans of soapy British dramas will want to reserve an hour between 8 and 9 over the next six Sunday evenings for this charming new BBC series about young midwives in London in the 1950s.
"Call the Midwife," which aired in the UK earlier this year and which drew more viewers there than the first season of "Downtown Abby," is told from the perspective of young midwife Jenny Lee, who fresh out of training goes to work at a nursing convent in an impoverished area of East London.
Jenny, played by Jessica Raine (above center), struggles at first to relate to her less-fortunate patients. But through the guidance and advice of sage nuns, who are also trained midwives (and quite entertaining), Jenny's sometimes judgmental distance soon evolves into earnest empathy.
Jenny and the other young midwives at the convent are not nuns, so there are some romantic storylines woven in out of the tales of baby after baby being born. Standout Miranda Hart (above left) is wonderful as Chummy Browne, a physically awkward nurse from a privileged background, whose character takes on a rather surprising (but wonderful) role midway through the series.
"Call the Midwife" shows us the lives of the midwives, nuns and workers at the convent, but each episode also tells a really engaging story of motherhood (and sometimes fatherhood), starting in the first episode with a woman on her 25th pregnancy. I won't give away the other stories, because a few of them rely on an element of surprise.
For me personally, there was almost too much "extreme birthing" shown in the first episode, but the birthing scenes aren't quite as unrelenting in subsequent installments. I do think if you stick with it through two episodes, you'll be hooked. And once you're hooked, you'll be happy to know that the BBC has already ordered a second season.
"Call the Midwife" begins Sunday night at 8 p.m. on UNC-TV.