Jun 27, 2016

[TV] Call the Midwife: Season 3

Our continued celebration of shows like Call the Midwife that masterfully balance serious drama with timely humor at times feels like a guilty pleasure for me. And while there's nothing wrong with enjoying a period drama of this nature, but it does feel like something that exists a little outside my geekier spheres of preferred entertainment. But I guess that just goes to show why this series has become so celebrated and multi-awarded as well - it's just some really solid television entertainment that crosses audience demographic definitions.

This third season of Call the Midwife almost feels like they were somewhat preparing to wrap things up entirely or somehow be prepared to quit while still ahead, or something like that. It doesn't make it automatically bad or something, but it does mean that a lot of plot threads were generally tidied up this season, setting the stage for other characters to come into the mix and take more primary roles, I suppose.

But I do enjoy the mix of characters that have come along at this point. And we'll talk about one particular addition at considerable length soon enough.

Synopsis: Call the Midwife is British period drama television series created by Heidi Thomas. The core thread of the series was based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth but eventually expanded to include the stories of other such midwives and nurses from the period.

The series begin in 1959 and the nuns have finally moved into a new Nonnatus House and are joined by Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) given the exit of (former Sister) Shelagh Turner (Laura Main). At the same time, the weekly clinics have been struggling to get people to come back given all the temporary arrangements that had been made previously. Chummy (Miranda Hart) is doing her best to fully embrace life as a housewife, but of course she feels restless an eager to contribute more.

One of the peculiar developments early this season is the elevation of Jenny (Jessica Raine) of nursing sister, which places her in a somewhat more supervisor position over the likes of Trixie (Helen George). This causes some friction as Trixie has been with Nonnatus House longer than Jenny, thus her sort of promotion feels almost personally insulting.

One of the more interesting developments at Nonnatus House takes place later in the season with the introduction of Patsy Mount (Emerald Fennell), who joins the house as an additional nurse when they become shorthanded. She carries herself as someone very knowledgeable but perhaps also privileged in a way that Chummy could never quite convey. She's all about efficiency and professionalism and is initially perceived to be a little cold by her fellow midwives and the various people who come to their clinics. She has a complex history but eventually grows into life at Nonnatus House and is quickly becoming one of my more favorite characters.

This season continues to reinforce that Jenny is terrible at relationships or at least is quite unlucky during such circumstances. With Chummy and Shelagh already married and even Trixie having a potential romance budding this season, it's really amusing that our somewhat main protagonist really has such misfortune with men. Then again, all characters move with the flow of the plot and it feels like the writers have a set path for Jenny that they're trying to fulfill.

The medical conditions covered in this season continue to be a mix of the obscure or the relatively new for the time period. It's like the show continually wants to remind us how lucky we are to have the wonders of modern medicine to keep us safe. And given what a  delicate period childbirth is regardless of your medical technology level, there are indeed some close calls and downright tragedies covered in this third season,

Call the Midwife is a complex ensemble drama that leaves you free to follow one character or another in terms of the overall journey. Everyone finds their favorites given enough time and the end results can be quite the fulfilling experience. Thus the third season gets a generous 4.5 relationship plot twists out of a possible 5.

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