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The daughter of a country doctor copes with an unwanted stepmother, an impetuous stepsister, burdensome secrets, the town gossips, and the tug on her own heartstrings for a man who thinks of her only as a friend.
In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip; and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural market-town.
In 1895, women were not expected to work - or even know about - medicine. Women were expected to work as house-wives, mothers, teachers and nurses. One woman was determined to change that. Eleanor Bramwell works under Sir Herbert Hamilton's supervision. She isn't happy. After he stupidly loses a perfectly healthy young mother, Eleanor decides it is time to make her mark in medical history. Mocked by fellow medical students and questioned by her father, Doctor Robert Bramwell, Eleanor is soon given a renovated building - by donation of the kind Lady Cora Peters - and begins her own infirmary - The Thrift. But with all odds against her, will she survive? Will she make her dream come true? Will her colleagues trust her? Written by
This is an exceedingly hard series to rate because the first three seasons are so terrific and the fourth is unaccountably bad. First season deserves the 9 stars I gave it. I would seriously only give the last season one--half it they'd let me. Do yourself, Eleanor and the other characters a favour and resist the temptation to watch the fourth season.
The first three seasons are interesting, well composed period pieces of life in Victorian London. Story lines focus on an intelligent, educated young woman and her widowed father. Both are doctors. At the time women doctors were an anomaly. The class and sex divisions of that society are depicted in interesting detail throughout the series as Eleanor moves from a hospital position, dabbles in middle class general practice and goes on to become head of a free infirmary in the slums of the city.
Jemma Redgrave and the other actors are simply excellent. The casting director is to be commended. The third season ends at a good point, but the series is so well done you naturally want more. Resist if you can that tempting fourth season. It is a poison apple.
Apparently the Pod People visited the set in the third-fourth season hiatus, taking over the bodies and minds of both cast and crew. The last two tedious episodes are imitations of bad art-house fare--darkly lit, with unnaturally bright lighting on certain characters' faces. Intrusive, annoying and at times downright weird music. Eleanor's devoted father and other ongoing major characters apparently were abducted by our alien visitors, for they are nowhere to be seen. The Men in Black must have visited the Thrift (Eleanor's slum-based infirmary) because there's not a mention of them or the fact the Thrift appears to be an entirely different building (with several new floors!)in the same place it always was.
Worst of all is the fact that the characters we've come to love, with all their warts and bumps, have been replaced by automatons bearing the same names and clothing. It was of passing interest to see an actress as good as Jemma Redgrave tackle the role of an entirely new (and unlikeable) character with only a name in common with the person she'd portrayed so beautifully in the past.
Do not sully the memory of these people by watching the last season. You'll only regret it. Your time will be better spent looking up Jemma Redgrave in IMDb to see her other work. That's where I'm going next.
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