Call The Midwife and The Bletchley Circle

Posted on April 15, 2014

Call-The-Midwife-The-Bletchley-Circle-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-1

Helen George, Miranda Hart, Jessica Raine, and Bryony Hannah in PBS’ Call The Midwife

One of the questions we get asked most often, when it comes to our TV coverage is “Why don’t you write about this show?” And it’s usually a show which is written about plenty by other people (like Game of Thrones, for example). Our answer always comes down to “If we can’t find a way to say something new and/or interesting about this show, then we don’t see the point in writing about it.” The TV recapping and reviewing landscape is so vast now, with so many voices populating it. If we expand our TV coverage, then we’d rather take the time to look at the shows people aren’t writing enough about.

Both Call the Midwife and The Bletchley Circle were shows that our readers told us about. We doubt we would have discovered them otherwise because, frankly, PBS is terrible about promoting its own shows. We can’t recall when we were told about them or what was said. We just had a vague memory of the titles of each show sticking in our heads and when we encountered them both on Netflix streaming, we queued them up for a watch. We were hooked on both shows instantly, even though they couldn’t be more different from each other. That might seem odd to say, since one show deals with women in 1950s London and the other show deals with … women in 1950s London, but it serves as a great example of how the same setting (and even some of the same themes) doesn’t always mean you’re going to get the same story. It all comes down to the goals of the creators.

After we watched the very first episode of Call the Midwife, Tom turned to Lorenzo and asked, “How is it that this show isn’t talked about in my family constantly?” Tom has four sisters, all of whom were educated by nuns, all of whom are mothers, two of whom are nurses and one of whom worked for some time as a social worker serving under-privileged families. Call the Midwife is a show about nuns and nurses in the East End of London, helping underprivileged women through their pregnancies and births. “It’s like a TV show version of half the conversations my sisters have with each other.”

There’s something of the old school in Call the Midwife. The basic plot of each episode is largely the same: one of the midwives  (who all live together) has a personal crisis while another midwife encounters a patient who’s going through a personal crisis. By the end of each episode, most crises are resolved in some way. It’s very “Touched by an Angel.” Except not. You’d think a show like this would be awash in sentimentality, but not only does it never flinch away from showing the truth of what poverty looks like and what it does to families, it has some of the most brutal birth scenes ever depicted on television. Note we didn’t say “graphic.” We just mean that we’ve never seen birth depicted in such a, shall we say, down to earth way. When even we find ourselves pushing, then you know they’re doing a fantastic job of putting you in the moment.

But past all the trappings of motherhood and religious devotion (and even the occasional hilarious-to-an-American mid-scene speech about how wonderful the National Health Service is), it’s largely a story about the sisterhood of women. And if even that sounds treacly and too broad to be interesting, it illustrates that point by throwing together the widest range of women we’ve ever seen on one TV show; young women, middle-aged women, old women, poor women, wealthy women, shy women, bold women, smart women and even ignorant women and women suffering from dementia. The sheer range of types and experiences are what makes the show what it is; that, and the camaraderie and relationships that develop among all these characters. It’s mostly a gentle show, with most conflicts resolved rather easily. We wouldn’t claim it was challenging to watch, but it’s definitely rewarding.

And Chummy alone is worth it. There’s simply no other woman on TV quite like her.

 

Call-The-Midwife-The-Bletchley-Circle-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-2Rachael Stirling, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sophie Rundle, and Julie Graham in PBS’ The Bletchley Circle

 

The Bletchley Circle, on the other hand, is both challenging and rewarding, but in a different way. And while the range of women depicted on the show is narrower than Call the Midwife (and tends to fall into Sex and the City-style tropes of “the married one,” “the sexy one,” “the naive one,” and “the mature one”), it celebrates something very rarely celebrated on television: the truly brilliant woman. Even better, it does so by reminding you that there’s more than one kind of smart woman out there.

The premise is simple to the point it almost sounds like a parody of a British TV show: Four women in 1950s London, a decade after the war, come back together to solve the murders of women. But these are no fumbling amateurs. They’d spent the War working as code breakers in the famous Bletchley Park and now, since they’ve been sworn to secrecy about their work, are forced to go through the limited motions available to women in the 1950s, their keen analytical minds undimmed, their frustration with the world for not recognizing them growing by the moment. That’s the hook. Some of them got married, some had kids, some traveled the world and some kept working. Each and every one of them felt stymied and unsure of whether they even had the right to feel that way. The only other things you need to know are that all the leads are wonderful in their roles and that the moodiness and atmosphere of each episode is off the charts.

But if you want to know even more, there’s this, which we truly love: These women all have a very strong bond and support each other fiercely, but – and this distinction is powerful – they’d probably not be friends otherwise. You look at the leads in Call the Midwife and you can believe they’d all be best girlfriends no matter what. You look at the four women in the Bletchley Circle; four independent-minded, frustrated, occasionally prickly women who aren’t always easy to deal with – and you don’t exactly picture them all going to brunch to talk about boys. In fact, we’d swear Anna Maxwell Martin, who’s doing an amazing job with the ostensible lead character Susan, is playing her as someone on the autism spectrum, which is a pretty revolutionary way to depict a female protagonist. She’s difficult and sometimes comes across cold, but she has a stunning ability to collect information and find patterns in it. She’s more or less what Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes would be if he got married, had children, and was taught to know his place. Your initial impression is that she’s shy and mousey, but to your delight, as you get to know her, you realize that what you took for shyness was in fact a long simmering impatience with the rest of the world for not being as smart as she is. She’s fascinating to watch. But they all are, in their own way. Our second favorite is Jean, the no-nonsense mature one who never left government employment and now has a stack of inside contacts as long as her arm; a secret sisterhood of women in mostly clerical work, who all saved lives during the War solely by being brilliant and now nod at each other in silent recognition as they pass in the hallways.

Also? And the above picture does not give one this impression: awesome outerwear. Seriously, those English ladies sport some coats. And like the good little costume queens we are, we paused Sunday night’s episode just to get a good look at each one and to note how each coat is different and tells you something about the character.

Neither show really lends itself to recapping from week to week, but you can consider them T Lo -recommended. They’re both on Sunday nights on PBS and their earlier seasons are available on Netflix streaming. If you think TV has a limited idea of who women are, these two shows do a nice job of countering that; offering depictions of women you rarely get to see.

 

 

[Photo Credit: Courtesy of ©Laurence Cendrowicz/World Productions, Courtesy of Jonathan Ford/©Neal Street Productions 2013]

    • ChiKat67

      Looove Bletchley Circle, randomly found it on PBS during a Sherlock/Downton drought, plus I’d probably watch Anna Maxwell Martin in anything (she’s superb in Bleak House). Thanks for shining a light on both shows.

      • http://www.snoskred.org/ Snoskred

        She was also awesome as Lizzy Darcy in Death Comes To Pemberley. ;) Which is worth seeking out, also too.

      • RutGot

        I’m also a huge fan of Anna Maxwell Martin. There is just something so compelling and interesting about her face, I just want to watch her in anything.

      • Mismarker

        She was fantastic in the South Riding miniseries! Handsome David Morrissey is a lovely bonus in that one.

        • Anne

          Eh, I wasn’t a fan of that one, actually. I didn’t think it did justice to the book. But she was great and I liked David Morrissey a lot.

      • SternMathPrincess

        My only beef with Bletchley, which I do find entertaining and delightful, is that it’s a terribly inaccurate depiction of how one would actually use math to solve those sorts of pattern-recognition/code breaking type problems.

        • TropiCarla

          Hmm … is this a call-to-arms for Math nerds?

        • Scimommy

          Exactly. I watched the first season and while the characters are great, the plots, including the supposed math, are not well thought out. Plus, it was actually painful for me to watch Susan’s character being stifled in her everyday life. So that may have been a bit too well done for me to watch with equanimity.

        • SternMathPrincess

          We’re fighting a losing battle!

      • Diva in 4 Inch Heels

        She was also fabulous in “North and South”. The BBC version. Not ABC’s mini series from the 80s.

        • librarygrrl64

          Oh god, N&S is SO. DAMN. GOOD. What a cast, what a director, what a story. It’s hands-down my favorite costume drama series.

          • Mismarker

            We have like minds! Love North and South. I could watch the scene between Margaret and John on the train platform a million times and never tire of it. Nearly forgot Anna Maxwell Martin was even in this! And Brendan Coyle as her father!

            • librarygrrl64

              I have gotten so many friends hooked on those DVDs. And every single one has said, “Can we play that last 15 minutes again?” ;-)

              Brendan Coyle is adorable in that (great character, too), as well as in Lark Rise. He does both menacing and charming equally well.

            • Diva in 4 Inch Heels

              When Margaret kisses John’s hand, I swooned right along with him. Sigh. I foresee another watch of the dvds this weekend.

            • librarygrrl64

              After 3.5 hours of watching them suffer and grow, it’s SUCH a well-deserved and satisfying conclusion, isn’t it?

            • pajmahal

              I can’t even deal with how sexy Richard Armitage is in that last scene. Is it the shirt/vest combo? The sad little smile? The mussed hair? The way he says “hedgerow?” Whatever it is, it’s working for me.

            • Mismarker

              All of that! I also love how he’s just transfixed by her while she’s trying to explain the business proposition. And then just the most tender kiss. He is gorgeous!

    • zenobar

      So thrilling to see these (yes, underpromoted) shows get some TLo Love!

    • http://www.bethposts.blogspot.com/ Buffy

      I love Call the Midwife but I shall now look for The Bletchley Circle as well! Thanks T & Lo!

      • Chris

        I’ve read the “Call The Midwife” books which are excellent and have been meaning to try the series. It looks like they create a lot of the personal lives for the nurses as the books are non-fiction and don’t really deal with that aspect as much. I’m very interested in seeing the places mentioned in the books come alive. Despite being set in the 1950′s some of the people and places seem like they could come straight from the 1850′s. I find it staggering the nurses in the 1950′s were dealing with poor people who had suffered their lives away in workhouses. It seems so Dickensian, not post WWII.

        • stacey

          I second your recommendation of the books…did you read the last one about her work as a hospice nurse? The author was a fascinating woman IRL…..

        • Isabel

          London, after WWII, was not a pleasant place to be. Rationing was still being enforced. I don’t know how long it took to rebuild the neighborhoods. In Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, the main character lives in a drab London.

        • Bonnie B

          I read the first book, and it’s nearly identical to the episodes, which made me very, very happy!

        • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-5/ Gotham Tomato

          In the East End it was Dickensian, even up through the 70′s.

          –GothamTomato

    • cocohall

      OMG, THANK YOU! One for appreciating Call the Midwife, which I have been doing my level best to sell to everyone I know, as it IS a remarkable little show and as you mentioned, there is no one like Miranda Hart. I discovered the show by accident watching Graham Norton and she was on and I instantly fell in love with her and figured I had to like whatever she was promoting. I watched the first two seasons on DVD and there is a little feature at the end of the second season that goes into the production of the show and explains how seriously they take presenting the births in an accurate fashion. There is, in fact, a real midwife always on set supervising the deliveries to make them authentic. And secondly, THANK YOU for the recommendation of Bletchley Circle. I’m heading off to Amazon now to order it up! And this is why I start every morning with TLo, you guys are the best!

      • Alanna

        Heh. A few weeks before Christmas, I had a friend over for the evening. She is fairly conservative, proudly Christian, and doesn’t watch TV — three things that definitely do not describe me. ;) I had a hell of a time trying to think of something we could watch together. Then I remembered that I’d put Call the Midwife on my Netflix queue. After the first two episodes, we were completely hooked. I also got several family members hooked over the holidays. It’s just a really, really lovely show — heartfelt without being cloying, and all those babies!

        (Plus, both my mother and friend have remarked that I am a dead ringer for Chummy. Yay! Not only is she just generally awesome in every way, but it’s quite cool to see a woman onscreen who is tall and curvy and with an unconventional face like mine. ;)

        • cocohall

          Lucky you to be likened to Chummy. She is my favorite character in a show where there are no weak links. Chummy is fantastic, and if it weren’t for Maggie Smith basically locking up the best supporting actress Emmy with her work on Downton Abbey, I think Miranda Hart would be a shoe-in. She is quite different in person – equally appealing – but more mischievous.

          • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-5/ Gotham Tomato

            Miranda Hart gets lots of gongs in the UK.

            –GothamTomato

            • cocohall

              What’s a “gong?” Accolade? Award? Not familiar, but once I know what it means I plan to use with abandon.

            • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-5/ Gotham Tomato

              In the UK, awards are called ‘gongs’.

              –GothamTomato

            • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ Alicia

              I believe it is British military slang, because medals look like little gongs. Now used for awards generally.

    • schadenfreudelicious

      I’ve been telling everyone I know about these two shows for ages, now with some serious TLo cred to back me up!…Now, have you tried Orphan Black?

      • MilaXX

        I think they wrote about Orphan Black last year.

        • kimmeister

          Yes, they did. Just because of that, I put it in my Netflix queue, but it’s still a ways out. But coincidentally, just today a coworker was telling me she’s obsessed with it and that they’re having a season 1 marathon on Friday if I just want to taste and see. I’m a little behind in general though; I am just now watching season 1 of Downton Abbey.

      • @Biting Panda

        They have been all about some Orphan Black. As have some vocal BKs. Can you believe, I have the box set and still have not found time to dive into it?

        • schadenfreudelicious

          Dive Panda Dive!

          • @Biting Panda

            “That’s what she said.”

            • schadenfreudelicious

              LOL, thanks for the morning giggle!

        • MissMariRose

          Hurry! The new season starts on Saturday. (I can’t wait.)

          • @Biting Panda

            Silly job needs doing, kids need dinners, showers, reading time, etc., and then with all that other free time I have for household tasks, along with working on my mental health improvements (my Pursuit of Happiness course) TV shows have been limited to the half hour, HGTV/Food Network variety, usually, sometime after 10pm.

            • formerlyAnon

              You are in the years that caused me to adopt “It’s a rich, full, life” as my slogan. Equally effective in tones of triumphant happiness and wry, semi-sarcastic exhaustion. If I were decisive enough to get a tattoo, that’d be it.

            • makeityourself

              Oh yes. Sounds familiar.

          • sparkle_burnout

            Hooray! Good news!

      • Beardslee

        I have never heard of Orphan Black but if you guys like it, it’s good enough for me. Will put on my Netflix queue. Love Bletchley Circle, and I agree that Chummy is a marvel. What a character, what an actress.

    • MilaXX

      I adore Call the Midwife and yes, Chummy is my fav as well. I think she’s everyone’s fav. My sibling just told me about Bletchy Circle last night. I’m going to check it out as soon as I catch up on Sunday tv. Seriously it take me until Tuesday to watch all the Sunday tv shows. What’s up with that network execs?

      • Donna Tabor

        It’s incredibly brave of the BBC to showcase someone like Chummy. She is not the typical sexy, cookie cutter actress; she is much more like most women–real, flawed, and wonderful.

        • Alanna

          Indeed! I was just saying upthread that I’m thrilled by Chummy for the reasons you’ve given, and especially because she and I look a heck of a lot alike. ;)

        • formerlyAnon

          What I enjoy most about Chummy’s character is that (as in real life more often than film), she is allowed to be successful and happy despite being real, flawed and not a sexy bombshell. And, as I think everyone I know does, I love her best for being brave the way real people are brave: terrified but you do it anyway.

      • Anne

        I like Chummy and Cynthia best among the nurses, but the nuns are my favorite part of the show. I’ve always been interested in nuns and convents and the fact that we forget that nuns are women first, and they’re all different. I think Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt and Laura Main (for the first two series, anyway) do an incredible job of creating unique characters who all happen to have the same vocation. They remind me more of the women in The Bletchley Circle–not necessarily people who would have come together if it weren’t for something extraordinary that they share, but there for each other in a really profound way.

        • tereliz

          Sister Monica Joan is my favorite nun, but I just adore Chummy. Good show, old bean!

    • Anapestic

      Are these PBS shows, or BBC shows by way of PBS? I got very excited when someone told me there’d be a second run of Bletchley Circle. I love Call the Midwife, too, but maybe not quite as much.

      • schadenfreudelicious

        BBC by way of PBS..

      • dashwoodstole

        The Bletchley Circle is actually ITV, but probably distributed by BBC Worldwide in the US.

      • Lizzyisi

        Wait? There’s more Bletchley? I thought it was just the one three-episode mystery!

        • Lilithcat

          Second season started on PBS this past Sunday.

          • Mim McDonald

            Sadly that’s the last one. It was announced within the last couple of days that ITV have axed it.

            I wasn’t as keen on the second series, I felt it was too much modern-issues-in-period-dress, but lots of people loved it.

    • decormaven

      Thanks! We’ve been casting about since we caught up on Orphan Black and Justified closed out. Will add both in the Netflix queue.

      • MilaXX

        Justified was a rather lackluster season, but those final 2 eps were kinda awesome.

        • decormaven

          Yes, Justified felt a bit off in pacing this year, but I enjoyed the dialogue. Someone has an ear for the Southern vernacular; it’s not as prominent as it used to be, so it was fun to hear it on the screen.

      • @Biting Panda

        I was surprised, but Justified just didn’t turn into appointment viewing, for us, this season. I’m sure we’ll get around to it eventually, but it was feeling a bit tired and repetitive.

        • decormaven

          The pacing was off almost the entire season. It’s worth a watch later on- just not appointment TV.

        • AnaRoW

          Yeah it was kind of all over the place. It was more about characters struggling with the aftermath of what happened last season. They brought in the Florida Crowes as the bad guys but they didn’t really live up their hype as they were only slightly smarter than Dewey. That said, it’s still one of the best shows on TV.

        • raeb23

          The main antagonists this season didn’t live up to expectations but at least the l
          ast 2 eps set up what looks to be a stellar final season showdown.

    • kalisa

      Call the Midwife is my favorite show on television right now. Chummy is one of my all-time favorite characters – right up there with Karen Walker & Mrs. Lanningham.

    • http://brianfortedesigns.com/ BForte

      The last two shows that came with the TLo Television Stamp of Approval™ were “Mad Men” and “Orange Is the New Black,” so I’m going to go ahead and watch these IMMEDIATELY!

      • Bonnie B

        And Orphan Black! A personal fav of mine

    • ScarlettHarlot

      YES and thank you! I love Chummy!!

    • ScarlettHarlot

      Ooooh, please please please talk about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, the fashion is beyond divine. She is a wealthy flapper and must have had 30 costume changes in the first episode alone!

      • Donna Tabor

        Yes! I love that series. Which is based on a series of books; each show is taken from a different book, as I understand it.

      • Watterson

        I’m being slowly persuaded to watch this show through the sheer force of the lead character’s hats alone.

      • holdstillnow

        Phryne is one of my favorite tv characters! When, oh when is series 2 coming out on PBS??

        • Mismarker

          Not sure when, or if, it is coming to PBS. Series 2 is on Acorn TV. You can sign up for a free one month trial. That is what I’ll be doing!

      • Mismarker

        I totally missed your comment and gave a similarly glowing endorsement of this show a little further down.

      • formerlyAnon

        I DO enjoy those.

      • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ Alicia

        I love those! Almost as much for the period architecture as the fashions.

      • Scoobydrew

        I just mentioned Miss Fisher in a note above without moving down, she is AMAZING … love her! It reminds me of the Nero Wolf series A&E had but dumped because it was so expensive.

    • Truthiness2U

      Yay! more people loving, Bletchley Circle. I adore it, and just sent links for my mom to watch. I haven’t watched the Midwives one, though some people I chat with online (yes, part of my dashboard…leave me alone) do like it, so I’ve been meaning to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • rebeemoon

      Thanks so much for showcasing these shows. Now, I have something I’m actually looking forward to watching.

    • imspinningaround

      CHUMMY UBER ALLES.

      • mixedupfiles

        Love her. She’s a bit reminiscent of Julia Child — sometimes awkward in her body, perhaps, but such an enthusiast she just draws everyone in.

      • Coleen

        Right? Chummy is my spirit animal.

    • Donna Tabor

      Well done, T-Lo. I’ve watched both shows, but you taught me something new about each of them.

      And thank you for pointing out, and celebrating, the diversity and awesomeness of the women portrayed. Including the nuns, who are another underappreciated and mostly unsung aspect of womanhood.

    • ellabob

      I love both of these shows – thanks for putting it all so eloquently..

    • Mary Nease

      Another show that’s awesome and in the same family as these shows is Bomb Girls, a Canadian show about women working in a WWII munitions factory. It’s available on Netflix and is another great show that portrays a variety of women, queer women!, race, history, and fabulous fabulous clothing.

      • Ginmaru

        Thanks! Since we cut the cable umbilical cord, I’m always on the lookout for good stuff via Netflix. I’ve hooked my entire family on “Call the Midwife”. Even my Dad is watching it now…..hanging over the back of the couch while my Mom has it on. :-)

    • holdstillnow

      You are so right! Watching Bletchley Circle gives me goose bumps. It is so unusual to see a truly brilliant woman on a tv screen, and now we get FOUR. Susan is such a fascinating character, I really hope series 2 fleshes out the other three for us.

      • AnguaVonUberwald

        Susan is completely magnetic in her genius. Love this show!

    • Watterson

      Call the Midwife is one of those shows I love for when I need to Feel Emotions without wallowing in despair or watching something too frothy. It’s my go to “giggle and cry in the same hour” show. I’ve not seen The Bletchley Circle, but it’s the kind of show that everyone who has seen it tends to recommend it, and my number one criteria for shows right now is “there are enough women that I can ship them together” so I’ll have to check it out soon.

    • Leah Elzinga

      sold!

    • MW

      I’m sold on both. (I’ve been meaning to start watching Call the Midwife for ages but I never heard of Bletchley Circle. The time when I’m done with my studies can’t come soon enough).

    • kcnitch

      I love these shows and found them because TLo mentioned them previously. I’ve got my husband and parents watching on Netflix too. We would have never found them otherwise because, you’re right, PBS keeps these gems a secret. Thanks TLo!

    • CatherineRhodes

      I started watching both shows based on prior TLo or BK recommendations, and thoroughly loved each one. Another BK recommendation I enjoyed was “The Fall.” What a great blog this is, for so many reasons.

      • librarygrrl64

        The Fall still haunts me. Jamie Dornan was mesmerizing.

        • Mismarker

          I really want to re-watch for the awesomeness of Gillian Anderson’s performance but can’t bear to the thought of watching Jamie Dornan’s again. He was too good in that role.

          • librarygrrl64

            Agreed. I had to stop watching it late at night because I live alone. I’ll eagerly watch a second series, though!

    • Cortney Dean

      Oh, I ADORE both of these shows and you summed them both up so splendidly. Really smart television with really amazing women at the core. They are both leaps and bounds ahead of most TV out there, so Sunday nights are always a joy at our house.

    • tallgirl1204

      So, you have writte a recap that made me cry. Damn you! “Each and every one of them felt stymied and unsure of whether they even had the right to feel that way.” I think you just summed my mother and grandmother up in one sentence. So glad I got out of (patriarchal east coast small town)… I will be watching

    • Cortney Dean

      Also, last year, after one of the episodes of the Bletchley Circle, their costuming director talked about how and why she chose clothes for each woman on the show, down to patterns, textures and specific colors for each. It was fascinating and I know TLo would enjoy it, if only I could find it online I would post the link, but alas, I cannot.

    • Pennymac

      A fellow BK recommended Call the Midwife to me and I’ve been hooked ever since. Bletchley is in my Netflix queue for the same reason. I wonder if you Fabulous Uncles Had any notion when you started this blog that your BK fandom would be such an engaging community? I’ve even become better read because fellow PUFs have sworn by certain books and poetry. Thankyou!

    • RutGot

      Oh my god, THANK YOU. I had no idea there was a second season of The Bletchley Circle airing. To your point, boy, does PBS do a lousy job of advertising their shows. And, big fan of Call the Midwife. I went to a talk the cast did (unfortunately all but Chummy) and they’re all sweet and clearly love doing the show. One amazing point: the babies they use are 4 DAYS OLD. My pregnant friend was horrified.

    • Heather

      Love Call the Midwife. Like you say, it’s not challenging to watch. It tends to be problem of the week oriented; but as the seasons have gone on they have been including more of a continuing story line of the women’s lives. It makes you realize how long ago the 50s really were, too.

    • ballerinawithagun

      Thanks!

    • Mismarker

      I need to give Call the Midwife another look. Randomly watched Bletchley Circle on Netflix and loved it. I had no idea a new season was airing on PBS. Off to set DVR. Might I recommend Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? First series on Netflix streaming. Set in late 1920s Australia, follows a fabulously wealthy and glamorous female private eye. Amazing costumes and Miss Fisher’s bob haircut is TO DIE.

      • CelandineM

        I DIE for Miss Fisher’s wardrobe.

        • Mismarker

          Yes! I would encourage everyone to at least do a Google image search of the show and swoon over it all. Phryne even looks fabulous in a swimming costume!

          • librarygrrl64

            As do the two policemen. ;-)

      • Linda Swiontek

        I had set Bletchley Circle on my dvr last season, and luckily it recorded Sunday’s show, which was the 1st of the new season. I’m also watching Mr. Selfridge (I have to, I’m from Chicago and Mr. S. started at the late lamented Marshall Field’s). They’ve promoted Bletchley Circle around that show. I haven’t watched Call the Midwife, but I’ll check it out. Who is the man in the current promotions for it? I recognize him, can’t place him.

        • Mismarker

          Must be why I’ve missed info on current airings of Bletchley. Can’t watch Mr. Selfridge due to strong distaste for the Piven.

          • Linda Swiontek

            I never saw Entourage, so this is one of the few things I’ve seen him in. I think he does a great job showing Mr. S’s charm, along with the warts.

            • Alloy Jane

              I had no idea he was in Entourage. I know he’s been in other stuff, but nothing that catches my interest enough to cause me to remember what that stuff is. I try not to watch too much tv so I resisted the call of Mr. Selfridge, but then my dvr took to recording it since it was under the “masterpiece” time frame and now I kinda love it. I’m gonna have to look into these other shows too, but I don’t know how I’m going to work in the time to watch them.

          • tereliz

            I had my doubts on Piven in a period piece. He plays Selfridge with the same smarmy confidence as Draws from PCU… and yet it WORKS. He’s not the most complex character, but I think that works for the best.

            The rest of the cast is so good you really want to know more about them than Selfridge, anyway. I love Agnes, and Henri LeClair, swoon!

            • Mismarker

              Good to know he’s not all over it. The ads certainly lead one to believe otherwise. I may check it out!

          • librarygrrl64

            I can’t bear Mr. Selfridge. I think some actors are believable in a period setting, and some just aren’t. They can’t quite shake their 20th/21st-century speech patterns and carriage. He’s one of those actors, IMO.

        • Qitkat

          I enjoyed last season’s Mr Selfridge, and highly recommend the book it is based upon, a LOT of details about him and his famous circle of friends. I didn’t realize the second season had started.
          I still mourn Marshall Fields too.

      • Qitkat

        I have seen one episode of Miss Fisher, which I thought would be right up my alley, but while I agree that her costuming is beyond fabulous, I just found the story so silly, and unbelievable, like the old show Murder She Wrote, where so many friends were murdered on a casual basis, that who would even want to be friends with someone like that? Run away as fast as you can. Maybe it’s not fair to judge on this basis but that was my initial impression. Another show in a similar vein, but that I have enjoyed more, is The Doctor Blake Mysteries, also out of Australia, taking place in the late fifties. It’s rather gentle, has a lovely period feel to it, with some interesting although peripheral female characters.

        • Mismarker

          My favorite shows are Mad Men, Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad. Sometimes I need a little silly and unbelievable!

          • Qitkat

            Of course! Didn’t mean all must be serious. Balance is crucial. I have my own list of silly and unbelievable, like Doctor Who. Two out of your three favorites are mine too, never seen GoT. Maybe this summer. And I might give Miss Fisher another chance, at least for the costumes :)

            • Mismarker

              Adding House of Cards and The Walking Dead to my favorites list. Your Murder, She Wrote comparison made me laugh out loud because it really is fitting in a strange way…and (cringe) I liked that show, too! Also, don’t tell, but I am the one person who watches Rizzoli & freaking Isles. Game of Thrones is a more recent obsession. Held off for a while thinking it surely couldn’t live up to the hype. Huge ensemble cast and lots of murder, sex, machination, and just a teeny bit of fantasy thrown in for good measure. It does a great job of keeping you interested in the multiple intersecting story lines happening in different parts of the vast, fictitious GoT world. And the scenery is gorgeous.

            • Qitkat

              We can cringe together, I confess to the occasional R&I, as I like both actresses, and MSW was on the schedule too, back when, though I recently checked in with it, and found it so dated, love Angela Lansbury though. And Scandal and Revenge, still watching, and cringing. I have my high brow and my low brow moments. Got to love people, we can simultaneously be contrary, and act judgmental, when we all have our guilty pleasures ;)

          • librarygrrl64

            I concur. Miss Fisher is often style over substance, but I love the cast ( I NEED some serious action between Phryne and Jack, c’mon!), all of the design elements, and how badass she is. She’s like a 1920s action hero, which I find immensely satisfying. :-)

            • Mismarker

              She is absolutely fearless and it’s one of the many, many things I enjoy about her. I just signed up for a free trial over at Acorn TV and watched the first episode of the second series. Fan dances, picking locks, scaling walls, Phryne pulling random weapons out of her garter. Classic!

        • Becsmithchase

          I agree, Dr Blake is great. Miss Fisher (though beautiful) is very silly.

      • Becsmithchase

        Miss Fisher is set in Melbourne actually :)

        • Mismarker

          You’re right!

      • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ Alicia

        Melbourne ;)

        ETA – oops, sorry, someone else already noted that.

    • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

      Both shows are awesome.

    • KinoEye

      Cool! Always like to discover new shows about fascinating ladies. Plus, British TV is just excellent. I’m trying to incorporate more of it into my nightly Netflix binges.

      • Isabel

        The British TV that we see in the US is mostly the best. I was in Scotland in a remote town that had 3 stations and no cable in the B&B. The regular shows were horrible: for dimwits.

    • mia

      Both are fabulous; I’ve been on board with both since the beginning. Call the Midwife is spectacularly done (having been educated by nuns for 12 years of my life) and it’s almost like coming home every time I watch it. Miranda Hart is unlike any actress I’ve seen and she is a perfect Chummy. She also has a contemporary half hour comedy show called Miranda on some PBS stations that’s pretty good as well. And as someone indicated above, Anna Maxwell Martin does indeed have a face that invites you to look more deeply at her. Bletchley just started up a new cycle again so yay! new shows.

      And yes, T&L, the coats on ALL these shows are divine!! I covet Sheila’s on CTM and absolutely give my right arm for the raspberrry-coloured one that Susan is wearing in that photo.

    • MannahattaMamma

      Wow. That was like a public service announcement for television. Am totally going to find both of these shows for bingeing, once I finish with Season 2 of House of Cards. DONT TELL ME ANYTHING I”M NOT DONE WITH SEASON 2. The Underwoods are terrible people but I really love their house. Does that make me a bad person?

      • http://www.snoskred.org/ Snoskred

        No way, they have a great house. You can’t hold its owners against it. ;)

        I will tell you something, even though you are not done with Season 2.. I really loved when Kevin Spacey pulled Frank out at the Oscars, that was epic. It was such a beautiful thing and so unexpected. So I kinda think he should just pop up all kinds of places now.. in all kinds of shows.

        I wish Claire would bust out the Swarovskis though. She deserves a little sparkle. :)

    • Adrianna Grężak

      I’ve had Call the Midwife on my Netflix Queue but haven’t gotten around to it. I’ll definetely check it out now! I haven’t heard of The Bletchley Circle, also adding it to my queue!

    • http://redheadedwolf.wordpress.com/ Laura Renee

      The following three points illustrate how with this single post, you just ratcheted up your position among all my Internet Favorites by several levels:

      1) Admiration for this savvy TV-reviewing policy. You’re very smart about how you spend your time/energy, even though you have increasing hordes of fans clamoring for your unique take on popular shows, which must be awfully flattering.

      2) I am SO PLEASED that you’re highlighting these shows in particular. I’ve never heard of them either, but WOW, I’ve been craving more women-centric shows since OITNB, and these just sound WONDERFULLY diverse.

      3) No, seriously, my love for you guys just EXPONENTIALLY INCREASED for specifically highlighting a) women-centric shows and b) how these shows are so awesome BECAUSE OF THEIR IN-DEPTH DEPICTION OF WOMEN. Oh. My. God. I’m sold, the deal’s done. I am now your devoted kitten forever.

    • kaybee

      So happy to finally see TLO talking about Call the Midwife. I just finished Season 2 on Netflix and I’m obsessed with this show and Chummy of course! It’s definitely a show that leaves you feeling all warm & fuzzy, even with the intense birth scenes. :) I will have to look up Bletchley Circle when I get home.

    • JauntyJohn

      The grinding, casual sexism on “Bletchley” was SO painful to watch — for some reason it got to me in a way that similar themes and situations on “Mad Men,” et al did not. It felt relentless.

      • Grumpy Girl

        See, that is why I could not watch Mad Men–the way they underplayed the sexism and overplayed the things women were doing (early episodes–I did not make it farther) to be insubordinate. The reality of it, I can better appreciate as being real to the time.

        • Alloy Jane

          I started watching Mad Men during S05 and then backtracked to S01, and the first thing that struck me was how many of the scenarios that depicted chauvinism were not that different than what happens today. I even had a discussion with some friends how as much as things have changed, the basic fabric of society still accepts the demoralizing treatment of women and if Mad Men’s portrayal of sexism is true, then not much has changed at all. Laws may have changed but basic attitudes have not. Now I really need to watch Bletchley Circle.

    • Raquel

      You guys are too much fun!

    • GoAwayKardash

      I lerve Chummy.

    • tiny_bookbot

      Hurray! I am very fond of both these shows, it’s lovely to see them get a nod here. Bletchley Circle is definitely very engaging for just about everyone–it has the highest praise from my dad, which is: “I didn’t fall asleep during it at all!” (He falls asleep during everything.) And the outerwear definitely is to die for. Both shows could easily look drab, but find good ways to use color to accent and enliven the scenes.

    • SuzBald

      Chummy!!!!!

    • Lilithcat

      I haven’t watched Call the Midwife because I’m squeamish. Should I not be worried?

      Bletchley Circle is wonderful. I loved Susan checking out boarding schools and finding math errors! And, yes, coats. Fabulous coats.

      Lilithcat, who thinks a woman can never have too much outerwear.

      • Isabel

        You don’t see blood. The babies are almost clean when they are born. Mom’s legs and delicate areas are covered. If the baby is breech, you don’t see the hands of the midwife moving the kid. You do see odd positions to birth the baby if he/she is not positioned correctly. You do hear yelling but the moms don’t curse.

        • Lilithcat

          Thanks for the tip. I’ll give it a shot.

          The odd thing is that I never had any problem looking at autopsy or crime scene photos.

          • Daxx2513

            I share that particular lack of sensitivity. I’ve always called it the “meat” effect. Once the “spark” of life is gone, it’s just meat.

      • http://www.snoskred.org/ Snoskred

        I was once squeamish, now I can watch those surgery on tv shows without even blinking..

        Except if it is eye surgery, that sends my eye bulbs into a blinkathon of horror. ;)

      • Lisa_Co

        Yes, Bletchley Circle is wonderful. What a pleasure to watch brilliant women and see them working together. This past Sunday’s ” About” section was also fascinating. The show shoots in part in the real Bletchley museum (to get the real code breaking machines) and 1 woman who really worked at Bletchley is interviewed.

        I also haven’t yet watched CtM but recorded last Sunday’s show. After reading all the BKs positive reviews I can’t wait to see it.

        Thanks so much to TLo for giving a shoutout to these PBS show that deserve to be seen.

    • Coco Cornejo

      Chummy is the best. But I lost interest in Call the Midwife because it’s plots are so formulaic.

      • MRC210

        Yes. I can’t get interested in Call the Midwife although I love Bletchley Circle (did anyone catch Susan’s visit to the girls’ school when she walked by the chalkboard and said something like “They’re marking the math answers wrong” without breaking a step?).

    • Christina

      My mother has been watching Call the Midwife since the beginning on PBS and after watching the premiere episode of this season with her, I’ve now gone back and started it from the start myself and I really love it. CHUMMY!!!! I didn’t know what the Bletchley Circle was about at all but you’ve peaked my interests!

    • Anne

      Oh, hurrah! These are two of my favorite shows right now. I was thinking the exact same thing about Anna Maxwell Martin playing Susan as autistic; she’s really fascinating. And I love that in between the first series and the second series, somebody realized that Jean was everybody’s favorite. I won’t say any more in case you’re not caught up.

    • Diva in 4 Inch Heels

      See – Your comments about these two brilliant series, is what continues to make me a fan of how you both view tv, fashion and how those two topics relate to women, be they fictional or real life.

      Tom and Lorenzo – you both are utter gems and true gentlemen.

    • Cele Deemer

      Haven’t seen Midwife yet, but Love, love, LOVE Bletchley Circle. Was soooo happy Season Two started and I didn’t miss it! It’s just wonderful.

    • Susan

      Love love love these shows. Agreed! Well worth watching — entertaining, plus more.

    • Lattis

      I love Bletchley Circle.

      Stumbled on it by accident midway through the last series – bought the dvd to see the whole thing.

      The way Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) and her husband talk to each other fascinates me. In the first place, she withholds so much from him. The woman she actually is and the woman who does the shopping, cooking, cleaning, child rearing for the family barely intersect. She and her husband have a sort of shorthand dialog with each other in which they make statements followed with (I get the impression) days of silent mulling. Not angry, or resentful mulling – just a very slow kind of back and forth where neither of them allude to “feelings.”

    • Vtg Fashion Library

      LOVE Call the Midwife, and I can tell you as an OB nurse (past) and homecare nurse (present), it is fairly realistic as to what we come across. And once they get out of their uniforms, their clothing is amazing.

    • LittleKarnak

      So glad you finally joined the club! I love both these shows so much for all the reasons you mentioned. I think I’ve rewatched every episode at least twice, maybe more. Bitter Kittens, you will not be disappointed!

    • Betsy

      You just reviewed two of my favorite shows that are making it to the US right now. Chummy alone is worth the price of admission to “Midwife”. And there are some real brain-teasers in “Circle”.
      I also echo what’s said below. If you like the intelligent women, and the plot complexities of these two shows, you should TRY to find “Death Comes to Pemberley”. British mystery writer P.D. James, takes on Jane Austen, post “Pride and Prejudice”. Elizabeth Benet and Mr. Darcy are married with a child, when someone is murdered on their property. And another key character in P&P is accused of the murder.
      I caught the first episode while in London on a business trip, and haven’t been able to finish watching the series. (Because — U.S. TV!!) But I’ve read the book. And the first episode was fantastic! (While staying very true to the book!) I’m counting the days until it gets released on DVD, and/or available online.

      • bitchybitchybitchy

        I would love to see that show. I thought P.D. James did an admirable job with “Death Comes to Pemberley”.

      • Qitkat

        I must find this. Recently I starting reading James, and just love her.

      • formerlyAnon

        I will have to try to find it. I love James, generally, and I love Austen, and I like a lot of Austin pastiches, but I was disappointed in “Death Comes to Pemberley,” somehow. Perhaps I wanted more from it than was realistic. I might like it better on film.

      • librarygrrl64

        I am both a P&P and a James fan, and I detested the book. I thought it was beyond tedious. This is one case where I thought the series was infinitely better and more enjoyable, even though I had a few quibbles with the casting.

        • MRC210

          I’m a James fan too but for me the low point of her writing is her depiction of sexual intimacy — you can just see her going “Eww, nasty” whenever she has to write about sex. So I’ve been avoiding this book because I just don’t to see her unleashed on the Darcys’ love life.

          • librarygrrl64

            That is a thoroughly accurate criticism. Unfortunately.

        • Alloy Jane

          I’ve never read Death Comes to Pemberley, but I LOVE Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I wish they’d make that a movie.

          • librarygrrl64

            I am somewhat of an Austen purist, but I thought P&P and Zombies was a hoot. It certainly explained the Charlotte-Collins marriage better than anything else I’ve read. ;-)

        • http://foodycat.blogspot.co.uk/ Alicia

          Most people I know said exactly the same thing!

    • MichelleRafter

      Bless you for this. Love both shows. It’s wonderful to see Jenny Agutter (Sister Julienne) in something on a regular basis and Miranda Hart (Chummy) is a revelation. I haven’t seen every episode of Bletchley Circle but what I have seen I’ve liked. The world needs more of these and less of Downton Abbey.

    • Monabel

      This American gnashes her teeth with envy when they talk about the National Health Service.

    • Rhonda Shore

      This is great…new series to devour with the T-LO seal of approval. From this column, Bletchley Circle really appeals to me.

    • MissDelaware

      Probably mentioned down thread — but Miranda Hart’s comedy series “Miranda” is FABULOUS!!! HuluPlus has it and it’s just wonderful. She’s her awkward self, with weird friends and a plummy mother but there’s tons of heart. I gobbled up both seasons and have been sitting here staring at the TV as though I can WILL HER TO MAKE MORE.

      • bitchybitchybitchy

        I still laugh when remembering Miranda Hart on Graham Norton when she re-enacted a love scene from the BBC’s Will and Kate movie. Miranda was hilarious!

      • melodysustainin

        There’s a third season that’s not on HuluPlus. You can find streaming links online if you look! So good.

    • LadyVimes

      I adore CtM because it doesn’t pull punches on women’s health; mental, physical, or emotional. I came in in the middle of the series to a really rough episode about back-alley abortions, and it just blew me out of the water. They handled it very, very well.

      Still holding out hope that TLo will one day analyze Game of Thrones fashion/costuming. A girl can dream, right?

    • frannyprof

      Sister Monica Joan is my hero. Seriously one of the best characters on TV ever. I love that we can never tell whether she’s haveing an “episode” or just being her wonderful brilliant but eccentric self.

    • IMNAngryLiberal

      Love, love Bletchley Circle … but my favorite period show for clothes is Miss Fischer’s Mysteries. I want ALL of her hats and most of her other clothes as well.

      • librarygrrl64

        SERIOUS wardrobe envy for Miss Fisher. Love that show.

    • Bill Curtis

      Will have to check out Bletchley.
      Adore Call the Midwife. So well done. Sweet and simple, yes. But charming and involving.
      And Chummy.
      Chummy, Chummy…oh, and Chummy.

    • Isabel

      For a good laugh, type in these terms in your search box: red nose day 2013 call the midwife

      • Qitkat

        That was hilarious!

    • Qitkat

      I enjoyed last season’s Bletchley, but have not looked at Midwife. This thoughtfully written piece makes me want to dip my toe back in and view each of them, through slightly different eyes. Loved reading everyones’s comments.

    • crash1212

      Been watching both since I discovered them a couple of years ago. Both excellent for reasons stated. PBS really is bad at promoting their shows! On that note – do you watch Orphan Black? I got hooked last year – Tatiana Maslany is SO good.

      • librarygrrl64

        Unless it’s Downton Abbey, which gets shoved down our throats. ;-)

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-5/ Gotham Tomato

      I adore both of these shows as well & I’m glad you finally found them! But I wouldn’t say those pro-NHS speeches are hilarious: They are there, I’m sure, to remind even Brits about what the NHS has done for them at a time when conservatives would like to abolish it. As bad as the grinding poverty is of the women the midwives help, they were miraculously better than a generation before simply because of the NHS – which was still pretty new at the time this took place.

      With the women of Bletchley, the frustration isn’t just that they are women relegated to subservient lives because of their gender, but also because they were not allowed to take their proper place among the heros of WWII. We see that in one of the early episodes (as I recall) when Susan’s husband trots out the old uniform for some veteran’s honors do, and here’s Susan whose code breaking had saved battles and countless lives just having to swallow her pride and acquiesce. They were the heros who never got the heroes welcome.

      –GothamTomato

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-5/ Gotham Tomato

        BTW, Miranda Hart also had a sitcom called ‘Miranda’, which runs on some PBS stations.

        –GothamTomato

    • Le_Sigh

      Miranda Hart is seriously everything. I have so much love for both these shows – I’m so thrilled they got the fabulous TLo writeup!!!!!!!

      • librarygrrl64

        Her self-titled sitcom was also wonderful. Just so…HER, for lack of a better word. She’s a true original.

    • judybrowni

      Loooooooooove Call the Midwife, and am brokenhearted that I’ve streamed all the episode available so far.

      Until the promised upcoming Christmas episode: Santa’s going to be giving me something super this year.

      But thanks for the review of Bletchley Circle, TLo: now I know where to get a similar fix, before December.

    • ChaquitaPhilly

      So glad you’ve discovered them. We didn’t know that Bletchley would continue past the first “season” but we’re happy it has!

    • Kirstin McAulay

      I loved both these shows and adore Chummy from her bad hair to her unable to ride a bicycle’d feet.

      Apparently ‘Agent Carter’ has been picked up for the autumn. For the marvel nerds that’s the woman who helped create Captain America. There’s a wonderful short on the Iron Man 3 DVD (look at youtube) that sums it up… sent into an office (keep Captain America’s little honey out of the way) and she kicks butt in a way that means you will never look at your power compact in the same way again!!!

      If the show is like that it’s going to be amazing…

    • Kate4queen

      having been born in the 1960′s on the outskirts of London and delivered by a midwife at home-a midwife who smoked all my dad’s fags whilst assisting at the birth, I identify with Call The Midwife quite a lot LOL I’ll have to look up Bletchley one :)

    • MissusBee

      Someone might have mentioned this before (probably me) but if you ever come across it, you should for double-retro value check out House Of Elliott, an early 90s-made British drama set in post WWI London: two middle class sisters down on their luck decide to scandalise society by bobbing their hair and setting up their own fashion house. Then basically have a series of intense personal and professional crises of varying believability while dressed in to-die outfits straight out of 1920s Vogue.

      The writing is sort of silly but the coat porn is off the scale. The fashion shows: “Miss Theodora wears a devore confection in midnight blue, with complimentary peacock stole…” are madly awesome.

      • Lilithcat

        Oh, god, I loved that show! Well, the clothes. And not just the coat porn, either.

      • formerlyAnon

        I, too, love that show.

      • rainwood1

        I loved the House of Eliott. The costumes were amazing.

      • librarygrrl64

        TLo, if you haven’t yet seen HoE, have extra undies handy because you will DIE for it. Glorious costumes, and (IMO) better written soap-opera plots than those in seasons 2 and 3 of Downton. Naturally, it was written by Jean Marsh of (the original) Upstairs, Downstairs fame. And the cast is fantastic.

      • Diva in 4 Inch Heels

        I adore the HoE. I purchased the series about a year ago and watched it during a cold and wintery weekend.

      • Qitkat

        Thanks so much for pointing me to a show I had never heard of.
        The House of Eliott is so delightful. I die for all the clothes, and love the casting, and the locations. It’s so much fun to watch.

        • MissusBee

          So glad! May your bugle beading be ever divine, and your seamstresses fiercely loyal in counterpoint to the prevailing zeitgeist!

    • rainwood1

      I’ve loved Call the Midwife since the first episode and have gotten several people hooked on it. I started to watch Epi 1 of The Bletchley Circle, but decided I needed a little less suspense and trouble in my life so stopped watching partway through and haven’t looked at another episode. Maybe when life calms down.

    • imakeart

      I have friends who have very different tastes than mine, and as a result, i haven’t found anyone to talk to about these shows! So glad you’ve discovered them. I love Call the Midwife the way I love Parenthood. Sure it’s a bit schmaltzy, but it can be so charming -and yet still realistic, with such richly drawn characters – that I was hooked from the start. I also think it’s a very interesting time in history for both these shows. And omg……I could not love Chummy any more than I do!

      • Gatto Nero

        Chummy is the bomb.

    • DominoEstella

      I adore both of these shows and the costumes are just glorious.

    • http://reneshiro.tumblr.com/ kingderella

      Thank you for the recommendations! I think I will check out the Bletchley circle.
      I vaguely remember you guys saying that you’re thinking about writing about TV in different formats rather than episode-by-episode. I’d welcome more of this.

    • YoungSally

      why do both photos look so oddly photoshopped?

    • SewingSiren

      I must say Call the Midwife is a guilty pleasure of mine. All my kids were delivered by midwives and none at hospitals, so there’s that.

    • Rachael Fraser

      The costume designer for Bletchly Circle is a graduate of the course i am currently studying at ECA, and she came in before christmas to talk to us. Blethcly Circle happened to be one of the shows that she talked about, and the coats for each character were a specific talking point. A lot of the clothing was sourced but the coat worn by the main character was one of the things made from scratch, specifically to give the character a definable ‘look’ . She was also saying all the patterns in the clothing worn by Susan are all very geometric and even when there are florals they are uniform and controlled to show her analytical mind. It was all very interesting.

    • formerlyAnon

      I like CTM; though I find it more harrowing occasionally than less formulaic shows simply because the canvas is small but very, very intense. The emotions and issues sometimes engage deeply simply because they are personal and can feel so much like the intense ‘tempest in a teapot’ effect one gets in one’s own emotional life.

      Haven’t started Bletchley Circle, I’m saving it for a vacation binge.

    • librarygrrl64

      The first season of Bletchley was truly creepy and suspenseful, particularly the first episode, which is often a difficult thing to pull off. I adore both shows equally but for different reasons.

    • majorbedhead

      I need to start watching Bletchley Circle.It sounds like just my kind of show. I LOVE Call The Midwife. Season 3 has an episode that will make you do some serious ugly crying.

      • H2olovngrl

        There have already been several episodes in the first two seasons where I have done some seriously ugly, puffy, Scotty crying, don’t know if I can handle another!

    • andi56

      Gentlemen. I know you didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, because I spent many, many years doing PR (or what we called public information) for PBS. So when you say you can’t remember seeing any promotion, I have to tell you that IT’S EVERYWHERE. And they do a damned good job of it; the NY York and SoCaL offices, as well as the membership organization that is PBS. So you gents need to call those offices and get on their press list. Easy! And then you will know everything.

    • fursa_saida

      I remember watching the first episode of The Bletchley Circle so clearly, because I was practically fizzing out of my skin with delight. WOMEN! Collaborating to help other WOMEN! Tangential men! Different kinds of WOMEN! WOMEEEENNNNN. And it’s so clear and matter of fact about sexism, whether institutional or interpersonal or broadly cultural, without feeling simplistic or tired. I was in love by the end of the episode.

    • siriuslover

      I heard about Call the Midwives and hadn’t seen it yet, but didn’t know about The Bletchley Circle. I’m definitely going to tune in to both shows. Thanks guys!

    • stickee

      Miranda Hart is my queen, but I haven’t really gotten around to watching Call the Midwife. I guess I prefer her sitcom. :)

      • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

        She is even better in Call the Midwife than in Miranda. I think, in part, because there’s significantly less mugging. I mean, I like Miranda, but it also sometimes comes off like a real life version of When the Whistle Blows.

    • Gina Carfagno

      you should totally watch Bomb Girls it is basically a finished show now and the two seasons are on Netflix and the finale movie just aired and will be aired in the US on Reelz in May!

      • http://howtofaint.tumblr.com/ How to Faint

        Oh, no kidding! I didn’t realize the finale movie had already aired! I’ll have to watch that right away.

    • Joanne Abrams

      I can’t believe I missed the info that a third season had started for Call the Midwives, Absolutely love this show and always have to have a hankie near by. Fabulous show and another great one is Lark Rise to Candleford (BBC) all 4 season available on Netflix. Includes the actor who plays Mr. Bates in Downton Abbey. Now I have to check out Bletchley Circle. First season is on Netflix. Yes, PBS does a terrible job of promoting their shows!

    • Isabel

      Sister Evangeline (Pam Ferris) – her face looked so familiar. She is the nurse midwife (Miriam) in the 2006 film, Children on Men! Ferris plays a gruff nurse in the film also.

    • H2olovngrl

      OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod!!! I was just eyeballing both of these on Netflix, knowing I would love them. So happy for the recommendation!

    • nancymae

      Just wanted to thank all of you Uncles Tom & Lorenzo and fellow bitter kittens. I queued up The Bletchley Cirles less than 15 minutes ago and I am hooked! Susan is an amazing character. Thank you so much for this recommendation!

    • judybrowni

      TLO, thank you for sending me to Bletchly, it’s nearly as fascinating as Call the Midwife, if only because the Bletchly bunch doesn’t include a Chummy.

    • Columbinia

      Chummy alone *is* worth it. I’d add that, as I understand it, this is an order of Anglican nuns, not RC, in “Call the Midwife.” Yes, the Church of England had, and possibly still has, nuns. An additional bit of trivia: the Lutheran church had nuns of sorts, a mission of nurses who remained unmarried called the Lutheran Deaconesses. They founded and ran hospitals and orphanages in the US. In a way, religion sometimes served as a cover for being career women.

    • 909girl601world

      I read the book “Call the Midwife” earlier this year – loved it! Did not know there was a series made from it. Will be checking it out straightaway. Thanks for this!

    • formerlyAnon

      Bless you for that link. I know from experience to ALWAYS find recommended bits from the Graham Norton Show, but I don’t always remember to do it once there’s time.

    • sparkle_burnout

      THANK YOU FOR BRINGING BLETCHELY CIRCLE TO MY ATTENTION!!

    • gefeylich

      Thank you for such a perfect description of Call the Midwife. I’ve been watching it…through other means since it started in the UK. The 3rd season finished in the UK a few weeks ago and did not disappoint (as usual I cried like a fool at the finale) although I don’t know where it’s going to go next year (big changes). You’re right – it should be a big treacly mess but is not. It’s great.

      As for Chummy: the reason I started watching CtM is because of Miranda Hart, who is a big comedy sitcom star in the UK and whose eponymous series is one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen outside of AbFab (lots of people don’t agree about this, but she kills me). It was quite a revelation to see her tackle a dramatic role in CtM with similar aplomb and sympathy. I totally adore her.

    • Gatto Nero

      So — I’m wondering whether one of you BKs can help.
      I’ve watched the first three eps of Bletchley on Netflix — the only ones available there. But there’s a huge gap in time between those and the shows that I’m recording now on PBS.
      Where can I find the rest?
      Many thanks!

    • Scoobydrew

      LOVE Bletchley Circle. I also love Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix — so worth the watch!

    • Maggie Smith

      I generally hate movies/shows that do the whole screaming birth thing. I have no desire to give birth and I hate watching it on TV, but I LOVE Call the Midwives!!!! And yes, I have caught myself pushing too, hahahahaha! So funny it’s not just me! Oh and I probably cry just about every episode. It’s just a lovely program.

      I’ve never heard of Bletchley Circle. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll queue it up on Netflix immediately!

    • Rachel Pierce

      Huge Call the Midwife fan, and your description of The Bletchley Circle absolutely captivated me, so I suppose I’ll be looking into that one in short order.

      Related: Another show about women’s roles in the 50′s is The Hour. Not quite as female centric, but definitely a theme.