Several years ago, I was lucky to have been one of the people who started viewing a new (very British!) Masterpiece Theatre presentation called Bramwell. Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to tape any of the episodes, so my husband and children missed it… until it finally became available to either rent or purchase. (Produced by Whitby Davison Productions Ltd.)
It is not a mystery, but in my opinion, it has cozy "written" all over it. But, be forewarned… since it is a Victorian medical series, there is a fair amount of blood in it.
Bramwell is based on the fictional life of Doctor Eleanor Bramwell, portrayed by Jemma Redgrave (of the famous British Redgrave family) and she is absolutely wonderful in this role. She is able to convey the innate feisty-ness that it would have taken in the late 1800s for a woman to become a doctor. But at the same time, she is able to capture the very feminine reserve it also must have taken for an intelligent, capable woman to have been able to to "make it" in a man's world back then.
The first season of Bramwell is comprised of three discs. It sets up the series by showing us Dr. (Eleanor) Bramwell's succession from working under a leading surgeon to finding a sponsor for a clinic she opens in the slums of London. Dr. Bramwell is stubborn, as well as smart, and has the youthful quality of sometimes jumping before evaluating the jump…
The wonderful actor David Calder portrays the senior Doctor Bramwell. Calder's performance shows us how Eleanor's doting father could have raised her to believe (or should I say "know") that she could indeed become a good doctor… despite London's (or should I say "the world's") disapproving attitude. Remember- the late 1800s was a time when society women stitched floral patterns on their needlepoint canvases. It was not a time when these same "dainty" women stitched up gaping, open wounds!
Season two of the Bramwell series follows Dr. Eleanor Bramwell's experiences at "The Thrift." The Thrift is the name of the clinic she opens in London's "bad side" of town.
The sets/scenery seem flawless to me… as do the costumes. The entire cast is excellent. One of the characters I absolutely love in this series is Nurse Ethel Carr, played by Ruth Sheen. Sheen is great in everything I have seen her in, but her portrayal of Nurse Carr is so good that I found myself (almost gleefully) awaiting her next scene.
Season three has just been released (January 8, 2008.) When I wrote the review of this series it had yet to be released.
Bramwell's fourth season is it's final season, and has been available to either rent or purchase for the longest amount of time. I don't know why they started with the last and worked their way to the front but, that is apparently what they did. (That is a mystery to me!)
If you are planning on watching the series, be sure to start at the beginning and follow the correct chronological order. Since I am waiting until I am able to watch season three, I have not watched season four yet. I watched it when it was on Masterpiece Theatre years ago… which, at this point, is almost like saying I haven't ever seen it!
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