'Mercy Street - The Complete First Season'
(Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Josh Radnor, Gary Cole, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2016 / PBS)
Overview: 'Mercy Street' is a major new 6-part drama, set in former luxury hotel turned Union Army hospital in Virginia during the Civil War. Inspired by memoirs and letters from the era, nurses and doctors struggle to save lives while managing personal hardships.
DVD Verdict: 'Mercy Street' takes place at the start of the Civil War, in a Union Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, where a newly appointed "head nurse" must contend with multiple issues in her attempt to organize services. There are all sorts of problem she must confront – how to care for Confederate troops in a Union hospital, how to deal with slaves and freed Blacks, the rivalries between different types of nurses, the hierarchical relationship with Physicians, the influence of European medicine, etc.
The settings are marvelous as are the costumes. The acting is very good, especially from head nurse and ardent abolitionist Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Confederate volunteer Hannah James. TV Stalwarts Gary Cole, Peter Gerety, and Cherry Jones are on hand as well. At times modernism creep into the dialogue, as well as the mannerisms, but generally speaking it has an authentic mid 19th Century feel. There is also some failings in the accents which seem to range all over the place, even among family members.
The first two episodes alone manage to keep the soap opera elements at a minimum while showing us what it must have been like to be a part of the process. The remaining four (which, if you're counting along at home means there are actually six episodes here for you to enjoy in this first season) continue to be entertaining, whilst at the same time simultaneously educational. It won't appeal to everyone, but anyone interested in Medicine, or the Civil War, will find it rather compelling. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Jed And Mary
The Civil War Style
The Green Family