"Based on real events, Mercy Street goes beyond the front lines of the Civil War and into the chaotic world of the Mansion House Hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia." As you'll see below...I wouldn't say we loved it. --Maggie Cats
Arsenic Pie (AP): GANGRENE BITCHES. THAT WOUND IS OOZING AND SMELLS FOUL ALSO WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR MORE ABOUT HOW SLAVERY IS WRONG
Maggie Cats: (MC): I hope you aren't referring to the show in general with the "gangrene" and "oozing" comments.
AP: Not in a general sense, no. But as I stated before I was disappointed that there was no Neil Patrick Harris nor syphilis. Here's hoping.
MC: Maybe they will do a crossover with the now-cancelled Best Time Ever. Like, he can pop in to the room during amputations for a song and dance number.
AP: And use amputated limbs as props. See, we could write this. If they did that the show probably wouldn't have gotten cancelled.
MC: So what did you think of Mercy Street really?
AP: Well, from a production values standpoint it's on par with Downton Abbey and the BBC.
AP: But I felt in their attempt to be "fair," they are kind of whitewashing history and (don't hit me) making the Union look like the bad guys. Like, the Chief of Staff at the hospital is a dickbag. Nobody wanted to treat the Confederate soldier. The Union officers in charge of the hospital wanted to cheat the nice Confederate family. A little balance is needed, otherwise is comes across as propaganda. And if I need that, I'll just go watch Gone with the Wind for the twentieth time.
MC: I understand what they are trying to do, to show the nuances of all the different things people were thinking at that time, but it felt like there was way too many grand pronouncements of morality and war and politics shoehorned into the narrative. I actually thought the Green family didn't come off looking so rosy; I mean clearly they are rich people with their heads stuck in the sand. LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR THE SOUND OF THE UNION KICKING OUR ASS. But yes, they were clearly trying to demonstrate that "Confederates are people toooo!" Which ok, they were, but also, HELLO, SLAVERY. Of all the characters we met, I actually found the freeman surgeon the most compelling.
AP: Yes, and with Mary Phinney, the only abolitionist we've met so far being an insufferable shrew, and with the Union doctor being a horrible racist, I am really not sure what thesis they're trying to put forward. The Green family has the most likable characters. Emma is a lot more likable than Mary.
MC: I am hoping that as we go on, all the characters will become a bit more fleshed out than walking signboards for "I represent this side of the argument."
AP: Yes, too many grand pronouncements. Who meets Dorothea Dix and is like "Let me hold forth on my views about race and equality."
MC: If it was set anywhere other than Alexandria, I probably wouldn't keep watching. The characters are one-dimensional at this juncture. But it's my hometown, yo.
AP: Shout out to the Army of Northern Virginia.
MC: Ummm....woot? I AM UNCOMFORTABLE BY THIS.
AP: I also disliked that the only African American Mary had any contact with was like, "It's all good. I'm free. If only these racist as Northerners would let me practice medicine." Like be fair all you like, but if they're going to whitewash slavery, I'm going to call them out. I NEED A RACIST-ASS.
MC: I am sure someone will get horribly beaten soon. Don't fret.
AP: Okay. Good. I don't want my moral high horse to have been for naught. Hopefully Josh Radnor. Which is almost too bad because he looks good with the beard.
MC: And is less insufferable than Ted.
Trust me, you don't want this guy shooting you up with anything.
AP: I never watched How I Met Your Mother I was in it for the NPH for a hot minute and I got bored and tuned out.
MC: I think I watched a couple seasons in the beginning. But I wouldn't call myself a fan. As insufferable as Ted was, this guy, the doctor, who liberally shoots people up with morphine, is way better. I can't wait for the inevitable love triangle with Mary and the hot priest to kick in. Wait, I'm sorry. The hot chaplain. Or whatever.
*interlude where Arsenic Pie goes and gets her Red Baron oven pizza*
AP: The people I like the most are the Greens.They are sympathetic,and they are a nice family. And the dad is the dad from Talladega Nights. I don't like Baroness Munchausen, and the doctor is more likable than she is, and I did enjoy him telling her off.
MC: I also liked the Dad and the eldest daughter. Everyone else, including the Mother, despite being in Center Stage and a Star Trek movie, are kind of awful and insipid. Mary also looks so much like the actress who was in Scott Pilgrim it's distracting.
AP: She does. And what is Anna Sophia Robb doing on this show? Doesn't she have better things to do than lay around in a crinoline and swoon.
MC: I take it back, the hot chaplain he is my favorite character.
AP: Yes, and what a highly developed character he is,what with his two lines of dialogue.
MC: He doesn't need to speak. I can see it all through his soulful eyes.
AP: I'm telling your boyfriend.
MC: OH HE KNOWS. So, are you going to stick with Mercy Street?
AP: I might. I'll give it a go. I hated Mr. Selfridge at first, and then I ended up getting past all of the melodrama and enjoying it. But Mercy Street is kind of cliched. T
MC: The dialogue and the setting and the characters really don't stand out from anything else I've seen set during the Civil War. I'll give them a few more episodes. If nothing else for the dress porn.
MC: Keep those hoop skirts coming, ladies! So practical for nursing.
AP: It was kind of underwhelming but I honestly didn't expect that much. Hopefully, a few more episodes in and it should find its legs. Maybe Mary will kill someone with her vagina. Stranger things have happened on PBS.
MC: I am sure Lincoln will show up at some point.
AP: Those hoop skirts and corsets definitely allow for a nurse's freedom of movement.They should definitely give their costumes to Call the Midwife. I think Lincoln is due in the next episode. It's still supposed to be 1862 so we don't have to worry about him getting shot.
MC: Well, that's a relief. I am sure there will be a parade of distinguished figures through the hospital.
AP: Although, IMDB has a character listing for John Wilkes Booth.
MC: I was JUST wondering about that!
AP: I hope not, because I think that is such a cop-out to do stunt casting.
MC: And of course they'll have JWB. He was a well-known actor. Where else would he go but an Alexandria hospital.
AB: I wonder if we'll get to see him being a terrible fucking actor.
MC: This is what happens when artists get frustrated, people. They shoot presidents and commit genocide. Good thing I am a boring lawyer.
AP: I expect zero atrocities from you.
MC: When I get frustrated I just make a rubber band ball.
AP: Would you like to have some atrocities attributed to you?
MC: Let me make a Pro and Con list and get back to you.
AP: I've literally broken stress balls. No joke. I've broken like five of them.
MC: You have super strength. You are the hulk.
AP: RAAWWWWRR No stress balls are safe.
MC: No balls at all, actually.
AP: That's good news for the chaplain! We'll leave the ball-busting to Mary Phinney.
MC: That guy doesn't have any balls anyway. NAILED IT
AP: I don't know why we don't have a show.
MC: It would be a hot mess and fantastic.
AP: I concur. We'd have a zillion followers due to our wit and timely zingers.
MC: And my spectacular rack. Don't forget that, it's my power source.
AP: Your rack is far superior to my own.
MC: I should sooner pick a favorite star.
AP: You have an excellent rack. Mine are merely perky.
MC: See, we have something for everybody.
AP: And that's really all I ask. Stay perky, my friends.
MC: Once again, we have gotten completely off topic. But honestly, this is more compelling than the show.
AP: It really is.
MC: We'll be here all week. Try the veal!
AP: It's delicious Don't believe me, ASK THE DISHES.
MC: I think that's a good stopping point. We covered the basics.
AP: It's always good to know when you should throw in a good "Be Our Guest" reference.
MC: It really brought the whole thing home.
AP: It really tied the room together.
Time to go, I'm off for another day of nursing dressed all in white with my corset and 20 layers of underwear! I just need to navigate all the street cat-callers first....
Mercy Street airs Sundays at 10PM on PBS. Check your local listings for channel information.