Friday, November 9, 2012

The promised Review of "Call the Midwife"

Now I have seen all six episodes of "Call the Midwife".  In fact, I have seen most of them more than once.
I think that what distinguishes it is its fidelity both to the memoir on which it is based and to the manners and mores, in the greatest detail, of the late 1950s in England.  I mean that it is true right down to dye lots to Marks & Spencer; at least, it gives that impression.  It is even true to the cinematography of that period.  Cross cutting is not done for its own sake, for example.  Hair styles are true to family albums rather than to magazine illustrations.  Speech, as in the memoir, is unaffected.  The whole series never descends to being a sort of pseudo-documentary.  We never see, for example (as if by chance), a newspaper headline that dates a scene and thus invites the viewer to bring in all the platitudes taught in school.  And yet, it really is so long ago by now!
I was afraid that, given the affectionate and reminiscent character of Jennifer Worth's memoir itself, and her having died before the series was fully realized, the series might become too sentimental.  In my opinion, somehow it stayed on keel.  It does not sentimentalize or sanitize.  It never mocks or tries to justify anything other than the characters of the nurses and the sisters themselves.  I would add that to the best of my knowledge the resident secular nurses would see just about that much of the life in Religion.
Well, I have no new illustration to post at the head of this, but I wanted to say that whatever others may think of this TV series, I like it very much indeed, and the actors and directors, I think, are really excellent.  Please, don't think that I'm glorifying slums!  Nor does the memoir.  The keynote is acceptance, not of conditions but of life itself.