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I hadn't heard about this show until the other day, and lo and behold the first episode aired tonight. It's a Ridley Scott produced PBS series about a hospital during the Civil War. The first episode is up on PBS and will be until Feb. Here's a review from The Wrap

 

Quote

There is more to “Mercy Street” than its socially aware messages, thankfully, and veteran actors Peter Gerety (“The Good Wife”) and Suzanne Bertish (“Rome”) steal countless scenes with agile grace and humor. Meanwhile, Gary Cole delivers another superlative performance this time as businessman James Green as does Norbert Leo Butz (“Bloodline”), as a rather insecure Dr. Byron Hale.

Subplots surrounding Green’s southern belle daughters, espionage and PTSD do little to move the series along and would’ve been better shortened or left on the cutting-room floor. That said, such distractions do little to dilute “Mercy Street” as the imperative Civil War narrative it truly is. Hopefully timing and word of mouth will turn the series into a deserving contender in a Sunday television landscape packed with viable options.

 

My own take is a bit mixed. I liked a lot of stuff--Winstead is good and Radnor is, at least, not bad and their exchange toward the end of the first episode (where his racism shades into a desire to treat the Confederate soldiers humanely, while her anti-racism shades into contempt for Confederate soldiers) is, at least, mildly interesting. The best scene in the episode involves Winstead's character and McKinley Belcher's character--and, indeed, I was most interested whenever Belcher was onscreen. Part of that, honestly, is because I've seen Civil War narratives that focus on the consciences or travails of white people during the time period, and it's getting to be old hat (the absolute worst part of this episode was pretty evenly spread out into every scene involving the hotel-turned-hospital's former owners, who embody every possible stereotype of insipid, fluttery Suh-thuhn Genteelity). Belcher, though? Belcher's interesting. He's something different for this kind of show, at least to my mind. 

The AVClub doesn't like it, btw:

Mercy Street

offers a mishmash of standard-issue medical drama storylines and self-conscious attempts to tackle the social issues of the 1860s. For the most part the performances are stiffly formal, marred by bad Southern accents and the cast’s inability to make lines like “Blood is not gray or blue, madam” sound natural. (To be fair, that’s kind of an impossible task to begin with.) The

Downton Abbey

influence isn’t just evident in the period setting and class conflict, but also in the general indifference toward artificiality. In

Downton

, the exaggerated soapiness is part of the charm (sometimes). Here, it feels more like a misjudgment in tone.[/quote]

Edited by NBooth

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