Mercy Street – A Promising Beginning

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 2.47.27 PMSo I have watched the premiere episode of the PBS Civil War drama, Mercy Street, which is  the story of two volunteer nurses and a hospital staff in 1862 Alexandria. I will refrain from any attempt at a  comprehensive review until I have watched the series in its entirety – but for now I am optimistic.

I was pleased to learn that the writers thought to infuse actual issues into the narrative. The show deftly engages gender, abolition as both a political and moral cause, and nationalism (on both sides). With luck, the show will continue on this path and give the audience something to ponder other than what could very easily wind up as an over-wrought Lifetime historical romance  – much like what has become of Downton Abbey of late.

Of course, optimism notwithstanding – there were a few things that, well…just didn’t sit right. For starters, the characters seem a little cut-and-paste: one for every category, as it were. There is the fiery abolitionist, the obstinate belle, the Unionist who doesn’t care about slavery,  the free black man who is too smart for his own good, the list goes on. And I won’t spoil it for you – but there were a few scenes that were so melodramatic and/or cliche that I had to smirk.

But I won’t come down too hard on the first episode. I will give the show time for some character development, some added complexity, and the ironing out of a few wrinkles. All in all – The first Mercy Street episode caught me attention – in a positive way. And so I look forward to next week.

With compliments,

Keith

2 thoughts on “Mercy Street – A Promising Beginning”

  1. I appreciate that Jane Schultz, who wrote the excellent “Women at the Front”, is a consultant. As she points out, immigrants and blacks made up a large proportion of hospital workers, although it was often the middle class women who got the recognition. Five to ten percent of Union nurses were Catholic nuns, who are in evidence in the series, although so far none have said a word.

    1. I have only seen the first episode…and a few of the nuns are flitting around in the background. Hopefully they will get more on-camera time and some dialogue.

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