I must say, I do feel as though I am being unfaithful to Downton Abbey, but I am in love with Call the Midwife (please don't tell Maggie Smith). With one week to go before the final episode of its second season, it will be a long 10 months before Season 3 begins!
"In drawing from the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the BBC's Call the Midwife instantly distinguished itself from most other medical dramas, largely because it's a more character-driven piece. Jessica Raine, who evokes the openhearted Judy Garland of The Wizard of Oz, plays Jenny Lee, a middle-class 22-year-old who takes a job at an Anglican convent in 1957, where the young nurses work alongside experienced nuns: calm Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), stern Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris), and spacey, cake-addicted Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt, who costarred with Ferris in Little Doritt).Jenny is hardy and judgmental, but the depth of poverty permeating London's East End provides a wake-up call (suffice to say, gynecological care has come a long way since the 1950s). To be effective, though, she must learn to put her preconceptions aside about teenage prostitutes, unwed mothers, squalid living conditions, and inappropriate relationships. Her upper-class colleague, Camilla "Chummy" Cholomondley-Browne (Miranda Hart, quite affecting), seems like she'd be even deeper out of her depth, but looks can be deceiving--even if Chummy finds it harder to handle the bikes the nurses use to cycle between appointments. It is written byCranford's Heidi Thomas and narrated by Vanessa Redgrave." www.amazon.com
In Downton Abbey, with the focus on the Crawley Estate and its inhabitants both upstairs and down. life seems insulated. Absolutely the events of the world have an impact, but we mostly see life from inside the estate walls. I'm not complaining about that mind you - it's a wonderful series and I can't wait for Season 4! Call the Midwife, by comparison, is very much out in the world - and it's a gritty place. While we are privy to the hopes, dreams and anxieties of the midwives, the nuns of Nonnatus House and the lives of the inhabitants of London's East End, we also see the day-to-day struggle of lives that are not filled with privilege. These are mostly caring people in a cold and harsh corner of the world - and it's amazing to see.
If you are not familiar with Call the Midwife, go to PBS and you can watch episode previews and in the case of Season 2 - full episodes. If you want to get caught up before season three begins sometime in spring, 2014 - you have several options available. First, you can try your local library. Mine has all of Season 1, and I imagine that it will get Season 2 once it's available in DVD (June 7th). Netflix currently has all of Season 1 available to "watch instantly", and if you have Amazon Prime, you can also watch the episodes instantly, but for a small fee. PBS is currently offering instant watching of all of Season 2 online - but beware that this will expire at some point (Season one was offered on this site up until about 2 weeks ago). And of course, there is always the option to purchase the seasons on DVD for yourself. Season 2 on DVD will include the Christmas special that aired several months ago. Short of watching that episode on Amazon Prime, this may be the only way to get to see it.
It's wonderful, it really is. If you are a Downton fan, and even if you are not - give it a go!