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Call the Midwife, Series Three (2013)


Progressively each season of BBC’s heartwarming series, based on the memoirs of midwife, Jennifer Worth, has easily gotten better – sharper, better stories, better scripts – and its character-building of the women who worked in the East End is smashing, and that’s what endears their beautiful stories to us.

Christmas signals change for the residents of the East End and the household of Nonnatus House. The East End has to deal with evacuations of its residents when an unexploded bomb is discovered. Worried over safety concerns, the police order the residents must move which places the midwives in a quandary – especially Trixie (Helen George) and Jenny (Jessica Raine), who not only have a patient nearly to her due date, but the woman’s husband is suffering long-standing aftereffects of the war.  This puts Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) and Sister Evangeline (Pam Ferris) in a tough place, trying to move all their patients and the people of the surrounding area out of their homes – and at Christmas, no less –  who are always their first priority. 

Since breaking her vows, Shelagh (Laura Main) has excitedly imagined her future with Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) but now her wedding date draws near, she is experiencing doubts and has stayed away from her friends at Nonnatus House believing that her choice to marry equates to her never again being welcomed by her former family. Now, with everyone scrambling to safely disarm the bomb – and tragedy within the Turner family, Shelagh’s new life is shattering. Then there is Chummy (Miranda Hart) who is attempting to settle into her busy life as a mother and housewife to Peter (Ben Caplan)… but even while lovingly creating a home in the new house she and Peter call their own, Chummy misses her friend - the call of her work as a midwife. The changes are just beginning for them all – including a move for Nonnatus House. 

It’s a wonderful thing to watch a television show that doesn’t grow comfortable, or stay the same and instead gets better. In its third season that is just what Heidi Thomas’ Call the Midwife does and if anything could do it, I had no doubts this highly-acclaimed BBC series would be able to. I’ve already said all of this at the beginning of the review, I know, but when it’s true, it deserves to be repeated. (And fellow fans will attest, it bears repeating!) There’s a really beautiful quality to this show. It reaches into our hearts, and sometimes it’s because the moment is nothing but an aww reaction, and then other times those moments rip out our heart and crush us right along with their characters – and though it didn’t dampen the wonderful-ness of the series, if there is something season there is keen on, it’s ripping us to shreds this season. If you’re like my mom, you’ll cry through every installment. If you’re like me, you’ll be transfixed to the screen, loving all of the details and holding back those tears – mainly of sorrow.  

Of particular interest in this season is the character changes and in a sense, the growing up everyone does. There isn’t as much frivolity in season three (not that this show has ever been frivolous, but there has certainly been instances of carefree fun) and the genius behind the cameras let's us instead, see inside these beloved characters. There are still joyful plot lines (like Fred being duped and putting that off on the girl’s while they were attempting to surprise Chummy or Chummy frantically trying to pull together an event fit for royalty) which counter the harsher realities of death, or the pain of a family dealing with a young new mother who is unable to care for her baby. If possible, it seemed like there was more depth to the characters – Shelagh trying to adapt to her decision and battling her self-doubt, then later the troubles that follow her; Chummy navigating an upbringing that was less than loving; Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) unable to live in the present; Jenny finding out new things about herself, then there’s Trixie who gets a darling new storyline full of all the sass and personality we’ve grown accustomed to from her. Into this mix of returning favorites are also newbies Patsy, Tom and Sister Winnifred. 

Never would I have expected appreciating this kind of series as much as I have. Thinking of
the 60’s for a setting wasn’t primarily my favorite for a story, then the fact that this is more of a true-to-life drama that isn’t afraid to pull some punches means that sometimes a happy ending is mutually exclusive with the ending the script needs rather than what our mind tells us we want to see. Some fans may be disappointed in how quickly the script moves a storyline in the final 2-3 episodes, however given the need to wrap up a character’s story, I didn’t mind it since it was pleasant to see the character get a proper send-off. Otherwise, there is really no flaw in this season. The scripts are sensational – seriously, I adore the conversational dialogue in this series, everything about it is perfectly fitted to the era – as are the costumes (check out Trixie’s elegantly stunning closet!) and the sets/ props. With the promise of a series four leading the excitement, and even though it will seem odd missing a familiar face, there are so many wonderful new stories yet to come, which is what season three's sorrows have led up to. No question, this series is cementing itself as timeless British drama. 

Fellow fans, what'd you think of season three?

(Content in par with prior seasons. There are several scenes dealing with medical issues, mainly childbirth, and the camera doesn’t shy away from showing what goes on in the delivery room either. One episode deals with a Down syndrome woman getting pregnant – the girls attempt to learn who assaulted her; another involves an unmarried couple, and also a pregnancy as the result of a one-night stand. Characters die, another is put into a mental home after attempting suicide.) 
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  1. This season seemed to have so many emotional moments. :( It probably isn't my favorite season so far, but I am curious to see where they're taking the show. (Spoiler!!!!! I'm going to miss Jenny End spoiler!!)

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    1. Spoiler Conversation

      I totally know what you're saying, Rosie! This was a hard season emotionally. For some reason, I still adored it. Everything just worked so well and sad as I am to see Jenny exit, I'm happy to get a fourth season and am pleased she got a happy ending (which she almost *had* to get considering she narrates the show. ;D).

      Thanks for visiting! :)

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    2. Indeed! I was concerned that the actress just wanted to leave but I looked it up on the Internet and Jenny really did leave Nonnatus House after a few years. At least they're trying to stay close to actual events! I've decided I need to check out Jennifer Worth's memoirs. :)

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    3. Really? I thought I'd read that Jessica was ready to move on, however it's even better knowing it was character who left after a few years not just a random decision on the writer's part! :) Makes it all the better as you say since that way the show is following more closely to the real stories. This is one show that can be close to real-life story and still be GOOD!

      We just gave my aunt one of the Jennifer Worth memoirs and she really liked it! Needless to say, we were happy because now we have a series of books to give her for birthdays, Christmas, etc! :)

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  2. This is by far my favorite show and I agree each season gets better. Can't wait for next season!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. : )

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    1. Agreed. It's fabulous how much better each season just continues to be! Curious to know what the writer's have in store for that fourth season. :)

      Thank *you* for visiting, Cathy.

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  3. **SPOILERS**

    I loved this season, though it was so, so sad when Jenny's boyfriend died! I was not expecting that at all. I might still be in denial about it...And I was so shocked when Jenny's character was written out of the story. It didn't seem to make sense since she was the narrator, but then I did some research and realized it was because the actress didn't want to come back for another season. I will definitely miss her and I'm curious to see how the next season will be without her.

    I loved Chummy and Shelagh's plotlines (even when they were sad), and I loved Trixie's romance. I thought it was hilarious that she fell for the sort of person you would never expect her to fall for. :) Now I want Cynthia to have some romantic prospects...she's such a sweet person!

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    1. Spoiler Conversation

      As did I, Kristin! I had a head's up on the death and then, the character leaving, so while it was terribly sad, I was able to process it easier. I'll miss Jenny - bunches, and am a bit at odds with how "easily" it came about writing the character out since she narrates it, however since the actress wanted to leave, I'm okay with it, more so than I normally am because, well, I wouldn't have liked to see a new face step into the role either. This way, we "know" she's happy and enjoying her new relationship with Philip. Color me curious too! Presumably Patsy will stay, and I think a new character has been cast - it's a nurse if I remember right.

      Both Chummy and Shelagh are a delight. I have enjoyed the progression of their storyline's so very much - and YES! Trixie's new beau?? Aww... I suppose
      they did that because Jenny is leaving and will no longer be a part of the romance aspect of the show, but still, I adore this new relationship. Reminds me of Land Girls (did you ever see that one?) relationship.

      Ironic you mention Cynthia. I made that comment too - the girl needs to get a bigger story arc. She's also a delight of the series - I love her kind heart and determination to help no matter the cost. :)

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  4. I haven't seen this one, but it sounds fabulous! I've got to find a way of getting these shows! :)

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    1. It IS fabulous, Tressa. It starts out a bit rough but has grown a lot since that first episode - and the storylines? They're some of the best I've ever seen in TV. :)

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  5. I have enjoyed the BBC shows I have watched so far, I will have to find this one and give it a shot!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. If you like BBC, you should give this one a shot, Missie, though it does start a bit rough. If you can stick with it, it grows from there and is now... a treasure! :)

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  6. Missing nurse Lee, but with good writing Call the Midwife will still be the best show on PBS.
    I hope more sister and chapel story lines will show up. The chanting they do is beautiful and adds texture to the society and culture of those post war times.

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    1. It'll be the same for me. She is a pivotal part of the series and will be missed. But I'm glad we're getting a fourth season as it was rumored S3 would be its last. Fortunately, the green light came through for a fourth series, which is, of course, lovely! Cannot wait.

      Thanks for visiting, Sue Ann. :)

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  7. This is such an excellent series! I'm so very glad that I tried it. :) This season was pretty sad, you're definitely right about that. I thought how Jenny handled her sadness was very true to her character. She's such an emotionally-closed person. I don't mean that in a bad way, but she definitely has struggled with dealing with emotion. So it felt right that she would really struggle with a close death. If that makes sense? I was definitely sad to see her go. As others have said, it will be interesting to see how the show is without her next season. But I've every confidence it'll be grand! :D

    I loved Trixie's romance! So very different than we all imagined, I'm sure. But that's exactly what's so great about it. And Tom is such a nice man.

    I also hope next season gives Cynthia more a chance to shine. I enjoy watching her, she's so sweet and likeable. I want her to get a romance! (What can I say? I'm a sucker for romance. ;)

    All in all, this is a fabulous series and I cannot wait for more! :D

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    1. I'm glad you tried it too, Kara! You'd be missing out otherwise, girl.

      Spoiler Conversation

      Somehow even with all the emotions flowing, I adored this season. Normally, that'd be off-putting as I prefer those happy endings, however I respected the writing in season three and couldn't help but smile over the delightful stories - mainly involving Chummy! ;)

      Your thoughts on Jenny are spot-on and I know exactly what you mean. I think her sorrow was also partly guilt because of how she treated Alex prior to his accident which stirred all kinds of new emotions. It was good of the writer's to hold out on killing him off as they did because a.) it allowed Jenny to say "goodbye" (in a sense) and b.) it was a surprise! All around, the way it played out was less of a cliché.

      Trixie's new story is darling and I'm glad it looks like it'll continue in S4.

      Cynthia is a doll. Wishing her all the best and maybe, that the writer's will give her more - because she's lovely.

      Ditto. Bring on series four! :)

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  8. Great review! And I totally agree with everything you said, what an amazingly wonderful series Call the Midwife is. I especially like when you say: 'It’s a wonderful thing to watch a television show that doesn’t grow comfortable, or stay the same and instead gets better.' That's so true!

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    1. Hi, Birdie! Thanks bunches for reading - always glad to get your perspective. (On another note, my apologies for taking so long to reply to your comment! Not sure how I missed it.)

      This series is wonderful on many merits. Makes me happy to know it's getting a fourth season since there were rumors three would be its last - or that's what I understood. At least we'll get one more - and if that is its last, I'm going to savor it. :)

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  9. I thought it was the best season yet (which kind of surprised me!). ooooh I love trixie's new man. I think she might have been my favorite character in that season because of how much she developed. and I'm actually not too sad that jenny is leaving, I still thinks it going to be good because all of the other characters are wonderful.

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    1. Agreed, Joanna! This was indeed its best season yet. You won't get any argument from me.

      Trixie's new storyline = darling. Made me smile, giggle and sigh over it in equal parts and since the actor (Tom) has signed on for series four, we'll be getting more of that!!

      ...cannot wait for its arrival. :)

      Glad you visited. Thanks for dropping in.

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