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4.8 out of 5 stars
Call the Midwife: Season 1
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182 of 190 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2012
Format: DVD
This miniseries from the venerable BBC is an absolute must see. Following young midwives working with nuns in the East End of London in the 1950s, it will have you laughing and crying all at once. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, it has characters that will enter your heart and have you thinking of them for days.

The first episode was wonderful and the second even better. The talents of Jenny Agutter, the hilarious Miranda Hart, Pam Ferris and the newcomer with the face of an angel Jessica Raine are utilized to the utmost. It is quite unbelievable at times how far we have come in 55 years when you see the poverty, and yet it never seems to be a downer.

I can absolutely recommend purchasing the DVDs as this is one series you will watch again and again. The Beeb has commissioned a second season including a Christmas special (I love the Brits for this!) so hang onto your hats for more amazing stories next year!
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110 of 114 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
A surprise ratings smash in Britain, "Call The Midwife" makes its North American DVD/Blu-ray debut shortly after having aired on nationwide PBS stations. I'm pleased to report that "Call The Midwife" is a true rarity in television programming and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show examines the health and welfare conditions of East London in the fifties. As a young midwife (Jessica Raine) takes an assignment to work for the underprivileged, she is surprised to be stationed at a nunnery as opposed to a clinic or hospital. But she will soon find out that things are done a bit differently than she expected. In the wrong hands, "Call the Midwife" might have been turned into a show filled with a false syrupy sentimentality. But here, we find just the right balance. Nostalgia is tinged with reality. Hope is dampened with real world deprivation. The world depicted can be hard and unsavory and its inhabitants struggle for normalcy and survival. But don't get me wrong, that doesn't make "Call The Midwife" depressing or downbeat. It just makes it real and compelling and the show is also infused with humor throughout. It's a rare (and hard to achieve) combination of sweet and tough!

Both the DVD and Blu-ray release will contain the six episodes of Season One with a total running time just shy of six hours. The extras included are cast and crew interviews.

"Call The Midwife" is episodic by nature. Within each episode, the nurses will contend with various patients (both within the eight bed clinic and the community itself). The conditions are abhorrent and the poverty is apparent, but the young women are dedicated to their profession. Some of the storylines will play for poignancy, some for comedy, and some for harrowing drama. It is all blended seamlessly into a rich and rewarding tapestry of life (OK, that was corny even by my standards). Along the way, we get to know each of the women more intimately. And as their personal stories unfold, it really brings a needed dimension to understanding the commitment necessary to being a midwife.

The regular cast is incredibly strong. Raine, in a star making turn, really develops great strength as the series progresses. Vanessa Redgrave even narrates the episodes as an older version of Raine. A trio of stellar actresses are on hand as nuns, the elders that mentor the young midwives and often clash with one another in amusing ways: Judy Parfitt, Pam Ferris, and Jenny Agutter. But the entire supporting cast, even those only appearing in one episode, perfectly support the material. I do want, however, to make special mention of my favorite character. In Episode Two, a new arrival at the convent (Chummy Browne played by Miranda Hart) perplexes everyone with her offbeat ways (and her lack of bicycling talent). She is an absolutely fascinating character who seems to have appeared for comic affect, but gets some of the most emotional storylines in future episodes. She is so unpredictable, I just love to watch her! Hart was nominated for a BAFTA as Best Supporting Actress, so apparently I am not alone in my love for Chummy! An adult show that expertly blends pathos with real world considerations, this show is winning, humorous, and oftentimes moving. KGHarris, 10/12.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2012
Format: DVD
If you like British period dramas here is a new one for you!
Set in the late 1950's in the lower middle class & impoverished areas of London's East End, this drama will bring out every possible human emotion.
Backed up by lush Perry Como ballads and joyous melodies, this series will make you merry, break your heart, & enliven your every sense!
Drama, science, romance, crime, technology - it has it all!
I put this just barely ABOVE Downton Abby.
One CAVEAT: Might not be a good choice for women who have not borne their children, yet.
Enjoy!
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
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This series is addictive. It is a series about a group of young women and their older female mentors who have found a true calling. They have endless doubts about their ability to complete the tasks but they still find the courage to do what needs to be done. Call the Midwife resonates with me for several reasons. My grandmother did similar public health nursing work in a rural area of Illinois just before WWI. She graduated from Nursing School in 1909 and was immediately sent out to do public health work in an under-served area. Her work involved being the primary health care for those residents, including delivering babies and setting broken bones. So, this series intrigued me when I first heard about it. I have watched all the episodes so far and it lives up to its promise. The situations are realistic about a time when England was just beginning to emerge from rationing and the National Health Service had begun to make a real difference in the lives of the poorest Britains. There is the sense that poverty in 1957 was the same today in many ways but there are also cultural differences. One thing I noticed was that most of the babies are born to married parents. The parents were mostly working poor. The men mostly had jobs and the women were stay-at-home wives and mothers even though the family struggled. Children played the same kinds of games that most children played except they played in the streets. The young nurses are true to their calling and to the time in which they lived. Women's Liberation was a long way off. Like my grandmother, young nurses (unmarried women) couldn't live on their own without chaperones. These nurses are essentially living in a convent. My grandmother also lived in an all-female dormitory during nursing school and when she came back to work in the hospital as a widow during the Depression. She had to send her two young sons to live with her mother on the family farm because she wasn't allowed to bring them with her. The sequestration of professional women like nurses was an injustice to them and denied the existence of personal integrity. I love the period music in the show. The music sets a mood and seems to be almost a character in the drama. The series is based on the memoirs of the main character, a young woman just qualified sent to work in London's East End. Her older self is the narrator at the beginning and the end of each episode. This lends a sense of authenticity and realism to the stories. I enthusiastically recommend this series.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2012
Format: DVD
Wonderful series based on Jennifer Lee's memoir by the same title. Engaging stories from a midwife in London's east end with all the ups and down's of raising children in the tenements.Great characters, beautiful stories and a joy to watch.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I loved this program. I think it is even better than Downton. More heart, more about what really matters. Downton's great, but this is better for your soul.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2013
Verified Purchase
Dang, I loved this show! Watched every episode and can't wait for the 2nd series to come out. I also read the book. The show really fleshed out the characters and made them come to life. The story lines are great, following the book closely. Usually books are better, but not this time! (Though the book was also a winner.) It's a pretty clean show, nothing gross or too revealing. I can't say enough about this show. Need more like this!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A surprise ratings smash in Britain, "Call The Midwife" makes its North American TV debut airing on nationwide PBS stations. I'm pleased to report that "Call The Midwife" is a true rarity in television programming and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show examines the health and welfare conditions of East London in the fifties. As a young midwife (Jessica Raine) takes an assignment to work for the underprivileged, she is surprised to be stationed at a nunnery as opposed to a clinic or hospital. But she will soon find out that things are done a bit differently than she expected. In the wrong hands, "Call the Midwife" might have been turned into a show filled with a false syrupy sentimentality. But here, we find just the right balance. Nostalgia is tinged with reality. Hope is dampened with real world deprivation. The world depicted can be hard and unsavory and its inhabitants struggle for normalcy and survival. But don't get me wrong, that doesn't make "Call The Midwife" depressing or downbeat. It just makes it real and compelling and the show is also infused with humor throughout. It's a rare (and hard to achieve) combination of sweet and tough!

There are six episodes in this first season. "Call The Midwife" is episodic by nature. Within each episode, the nurses will contend with various patients (both within the eight bed clinic and the community itself). The conditions are abhorrent and the poverty is apparent, but the young women are dedicated to their profession. Some of the storylines will play for poignancy, some for comedy, and some for harrowing drama. It is all blended seamlessly into a rich and rewarding tapestry of life (OK, that was corny even by my standards). Along the way, we get to know each of the women more intimately. And as their personal stories unfold, it really brings a needed dimension to understanding the commitment necessary to being a midwife.

The regular cast is incredibly strong. Raine, in a star making turn, really develops great strength as the series progresses. Vanessa Redgrave even narrates the episodes as an older version of Raine. A trio of stellar actresses are on hand as nuns, the elders that mentor the young midwives and often clash with one another in amusing ways: Judy Parfitt, Pam Ferris, and Jenny Agutter. But the entire supporting cast, even those only appearing in one episode, perfectly support the material. I do want, however, to make special mention of my favorite character. In Episode Two, a new arrival at the convent (Chummy Browne played by Miranda Hart) perplexes everyone with her offbeat ways (and her lack of bicycling talent). She is an absolutely fascinating character who seems to have appeared for comic affect, but gets some of the most emotional storylines in future episodes. She is so unpredictable, I just love to watch her! Hart was nominated for a BAFTA as best Supporting Actress, so apparently I am not alone in my love for Chummy! An adult show that expertly blends pathos with real world considerations, this show is winning, humorous, and oftentimes moving. KGHarris, 10/12.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Like many people I fell in love with 'Downton Abbey', then I got sort of hooked on 'Upstairs Downstairs' (it jumps story lines a bit too much for me), but then I finally got around to watching all my DVR episodes of 'Call the Midwife', and I was hooked. Talk about a blubber-fest, I was crying my eyes out! A very touching series, on an endearing subject. What is more beautiful or mysterious than pregnancy and birth? The characters are classics and unique. I heart Chumy and all the bickering nuns. Please do yourself a favor and watch this lovely show, you will not be disappointed. I wish this dvd was released already!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
When a friend told me, "I think you will LOVE this show," I wanted to check it out for myself. She knows I love that epoch, mostly the early '50's in the first season. Women still innocent sometimes, men still chivalrous sometimes, everybody re-defining roles.

I also loved watching the seasoned midwives, the nuns in the House, relating to the young nurses that came along to make their way in the medical world, delivering babies, healing wounded hearts, and much more. Their impoverished clientele trusted them and relied heavily upon them in post-war Britain.

So far, it is historically and emotionally true, and that's the best of story-telling to me. The program in both very real and very tasteful, and my friend was right ... I do love it.
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