All the Single Ladies

Once upon a time, I promised to watch a show. And then I didn't. There are a number of reasons for this: The list of other shows to catch up on got too long. I was getting my period television fix from Downton Abbey. Childbirth and midwifery are not among the topics that generally appeal to me very much.

But finally, a block of viewing time miraculously opened up, so thanks so much to the new fall season for being 90% terrible! I decided to finally give Call the Midwife the chance I had promised it, so while I was a little bit trepidatious, I settled in to begin Season 1. This show is, in a word, riveting. I was expecting it to be pretty good, but I never thought it would be gripping. The stories in each episode are pretty simple, and most of them revolve around the same issue: how to care for people who cannot care for themselves. But every episode in this first season found a fresh way to look at the problems of pregnancy and sickness in 1950s London.

Pregnancy and labor are usually handled in a standard, three-screams-and-here's-your-baby. It's almost become an off-handed plot point in most shows. Call the Midwife re-establishes the stakes, not only in setting the show in a time where giving birth was a great deal more fraught than it is today, but by exploring the issues surrounding troublesome births, from socioeconomic status to religion to mental health. The cast is top-notch (both the group of nurses and the nuns they reside with). If there's any failing, it's that the main character is a bit of blank slate, and most of the interest comes from the people orbiting around her. I'm very much looking forward to starting Season 2, and since I've already name-checked Downton Abbey, let's hope that unlike that show, Call the Midwife doesn't fall into a sophomore slump.

Moving from terrific to terrific-er, Netflix finally released Season 2 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries for instant streaming. As you'll recall, I gushed about Season 1, and was over the moon when more episodes became available. My only worry was that they wouldn't be able to keep up the charm and interest, now that a pattern had been established.

No worries, mate! If anything, Season 2 is even better. Phryne is still fun-loving (in many, many senses of the word "fun"), but her relationship with Detective-Inspector Robinson is slowly, but surely developing in a very organic way. In a parallel track, Deputy Collins and Dot are also cementing their relationship, and finding as many obstacles. Even the case-of-the-week, which would naturally be the most rote aspect of a murder mystery procedural, has taken a big step up. Many disparate worlds are explored: Phryne insinuates her way into the realms of high fashion, street-racing, archaeology, sideshow boxing, and more. And the Christmas special finale ramps the situation up even higher, as the main characters are not just investigating murder, but are targets as well. It was a fantastic season, and I'm already champing at the bit for the next one.

Call the Midwife - Season 1: A-
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - Season 2: A


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