On a busy premiere night for both broadcast and cable networks, PBS unveiled the first episode of BBC import “Call the Midwife.” The six episode series was a smash hit in the U.K., hitting even higher ratings than the first season of “Downton Abbey.”
The compelling period drama, based on a memoir by Jennifer Worth, follows novice midwife Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) as she starts work alongside nuns and other midwives at Nonnatus House, a nursing convent in a poverty striken area of East London in the 1950s.
While the first episode of “Midwife” may have lacked the soapy twists that helped make “Downton” a U.S. phenomenon, it was still an involving, offbeat and well-made hour. It’s perfect for the PBS faithful, and deserves a shot at developing a following on this side of the pond. Raine is an appealing leading lady and a supporting cast including formidable character actresses Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris and Judy Parfitt certainly doesn’t hurt. Neither do all of those adorable babies.
If you missed the premiere, PBS will make all of this season’s episodes available online the day after they air. If you caught “Call the Midwife,” what did you think?