Sunday Screen Time: Mercy Street

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May 21, 2017 by readingoutside

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I just finished watching Season 2 of PBS’s Mercy Street, and I should give you fair warning that it was cruelly cancelled this year.

It’s too bad, because I haven’t enjoyed a show like this in ages.  It follows a cast of characters at a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia during the Civil War.  Alexandria is in Union hands, and the hospital is Union, although as the show goes on they take on Confederate soldiers as well.  The large cast of characters include Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a Union nurse and widow who has just arrived at the hospital, Dr. Jed Foster (Josh Radnor), the hospital’s most knowledgeable doctor, and Samuel Diggs (McKinley Belcher III), a free Black who works for the hospital and has aspirations of being a physician.  The Confederate side is largely represented by the Greens, the owners of the hospital, and their various intrigues trying to navigate both sides of the divide.

It’s a shame the show didn’t get very much attention, because I thought it was extremely well done, and in my opinion is far superior to Downton Abbey.  For one thing, Mercy Street doesn’t fall prey to killing off its main characters willy-nilly.  There’s lots of drama and intrigue, but plenty of light humour too, and the sexual tension between Dr. Foster and Nurse Phinney is smoulderingly hot.  Even though it got cut off just when it got good (Season 2 is even better than Season 1), it’s definitely worth watching and the show ends on a hopeful note rather than a cliffhanger.

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