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What Make The Critics Of
BBC/PBS’ Socialized Medicine Saga CALL THE MIDWIFE??

Published at: Sept. 30, 2012, 9:01 a.m. CST

A six-part miniseries following a 22-year-old nurse/midwife among nuns in working-class 1957 London, “Call the Midwife” comes to us from writer Heidi Thomas (“Cranford,” “Upstairs Downstairs”).

It proved a record-breaking hit in Britain when the BBC aired it in January and February, more popular even than the wildly popular “Downton Abbey” and “Sherlock.”

It offers, among other things, a look at the early days of Britain’s National Health Service, the celebrated socialist government program that American politicians still fear today.

The fabulous Jenny Agutter (“Logan’s Run,” “The Avengers”) plays top nun Julienne.

HuffPost TV says:

... If you can accept "Midwife" for what it is -- and at its core, it's a pleasant, even romantic period piece about divergent people who learn to take care of their own -- there are quite a few pleasures to be found here. Having said that, at times, "Call the Midwife's" lack of ambition is a little irritating: The lead character, new nurse Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), is often a cipher, and the show doesn't give consistent depth to the lives of the women she and her fellow midwives interact with. There's a tendency to cut short interesting ideas and storylines in favor of rosy, Hallmark moments, and the supporting characters tend to be predictable types (dotty old lady, battleax, capable plain girl, blonde temptress, jocular handyman, etc.). Still, despite the limitations of the scripts, the supporting cast easily steals the show, and if the first episode of "Midwife" strikes you as a bit slow (and there are pacing issues throughout), stick with the show in order to meet Chummy, the Mr. Bates of "Call the Midwife." I don't think you'll regret it. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

... nary an episode goes by without the reminder, often via voice-over by the glorious Vanessa Redgrave, that this baby or that mother would have most certainly died without the services provided by the NHS. … Lovely and engaging, Raine makes Jenny sympathetic and sweet while still preserving the upper-middle class shock that is as much willful ignorance as innocence. You will laugh, you will cry and if it seems a bit treacly, it is. But as another very famous British caregiver once observed, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... unabashedly sentimental, poignant and often heartbreaking …

The Washington Post says:

... absorbing and inspiring … 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.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... Written with smarts and heart … though the time period for "Midwife" is about 30 years after "Downton Abbey," "Midwife" offers a similar mix of warm drama with moments of character comedy that should appeal to "Downton Abbey" fans frustrated by the wait until the Crawley clan returns to PBS in January. …

The Boston Globe says:

... Why would this series, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, become so addictive and so popular? Because despite the blood and the labor, “Call the Midwife” is filled with heart. …

Variety says:

... those who invite "Call the Midwife" into their homes shouldn't find the viewing process particularly laborious. …

TV Guide says:

... a delight to watch. Fans of Downton Abbey seeking that next transporting period-drama addiction are in for a treat over the next six weeks. …

8 p.m. Sunday. PBS.

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