By Andrea K. Hammer
As enthusiastic PBS and BBC fans, we recently discovered the following gripping productions:
Call the Midwife: If you think that watching women in labor and listening to crying newborns will involve complete pain, reconsider watching this high-quality and sometimes humorous series. Based on Jennifer Worth’s best-selling memoirs, episodes follow astounding situations in East London during the 1950s. As viewers follow midwives traveling by bicycle to help impoverished mothers with six to 10 children, they will find stories about a woman coping with her 25th pregnancy and newborns with delayed breathing particularly astonishing. Although Jessica Raine and Jenny Agutter imbue Call the Midwife with an ethereal quality, Miranda Hart’s down-to-earth and rock-solid dependable Chummy make her the unexpected star in the early episodes of this outstanding series with annual Christmas shows.
Home Fires: If watching a war story is not your idea of a good time, this deeply absorbing series from a fresh vantage point will change your mind and leave you longing for more than two seasons of episodes. Instead of focusing exclusively on the trauma of men confronting horror on the battlefield, Home Fires highlights the creative solutions of women banning together for moral and practical support at home. From food production, collective farming and product-selling plans to personal support after one Women’s Institute member discovers a deceased husband’s hidden affair and son, these women reveal remarkable inner strength and give new meaning to the word “friendship.”
Land Girls: Commissioned by the BBC to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II, this three-season award-winning series follows the Women’s Land Army. Honoring all the women who held down the home front, stories are set in rural England. With aptly titled episodes including “Childhood’s End,” “Secrets” and “Codes of Honour,” the lives and loves of the Land Girls leave a memorable mark.
Frankie Drake Mysteries: In non-traditional roles capitalizing on their instincts for recognizing the truth, these female private detectives will convert even non-sleuth watchers. As the Drake Private Detectives defy conventional expectations while handling cases in 1920s Toronto, they reveal signature fearlessness even when they land in deep trouble. With bonus video including “20s Style Feminism,” Frankie Drake Mysteries captures the spirit of adventurous female detectives reshaping traditional perceptions.