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This new British import's no Downton Abbey, but it should please fans of that show all the same....
BBC / 355 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: June 18, 2013
It’s post-war England, and Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) is the one you want to get on the telephone in Call the Midwife: Season 2. She’s no prim and proper baby-handler to the Downton Abbey crowd, though – she works on the swinging East End where her main interests are helping mamas-to-be from poorer societal castes as much as she can. And as this TV-on-BD set proves early and often, this is a major challenge.
But things aren’t all doom-and-gloom on Call the Midwife. In fact, its balance of light and dark provides a fascinating and volatile dramatic sensibility. This British import certainly relies on its “Oh, look at the cute baboos!” newborn adorability, but only utilizes this crutch in off-kilter and jagged ways. There are drugs that are harming women around town, death around every corner, abandoned babies who break everyone’s hearts in different ways, but as serious as Call the Midwife gets, it knows how to steady itself with a little baby giggle every now and then.
This TV-on-BD is a perfect placeholder for Abbey lovers who are desperate for Anglo melodrama and will take what they can get until Maggie Smith and company get back on the air. It’s more Grey’s Anatomy than Masterpiece Theatre in terms of overall dramatic import, but I think even viewers with marginal interest in a series like this one will switch into marathon mode after its pilot episode.