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26 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Great period piece--well worth watching

Author: vgs1895 from MN
3 February 2004

I came upon this miniseries by accident, and I am glad I did. I'd never heard of it, but it sounded interesting. It really does a good job of portraying what London and medicine probably were like back in the 1800's. Though not an overtly feminist piece, it does depict what women doctors had to go through to gain a bit of respect. The story line might be considered thin for four videos, but it held my interest enough so that I purchased it. If medicine, Merry Olde England, or good acting is of interest to the viewer, this is well worth watching.

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20 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Awesome three seasons, skip the fourth

9/10
Author: sherry-86-950063 from United States
21 June 2011

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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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Very engaging

7/10
Author: jmcnulty-1 from United States
27 April 2011

I had never heard of this series but since it was available on Netflix streaming I gave it a go.

What a pleasant surprise! It engaged me immediately and I found myself sitting through all night marathons to catch up with the story.

What the show does best is not to be cliché. The characters portrayed are not perfect human beings and have faults which makes the storyline nicely unpredictable with a few twists and turns that I found quite emotional at times.

It's very well acted throughout and Jemma Redgrave is outstanding and perfectly believable as a late Victorian doctor working in the slums of London and all the supporting cast do a fine job.

I have to add an addendum to this review since I hadn't seen the entire series when I wrote it.

The show is very good, but somehow it comes off the rails at the end of the line! Talk about a train crash!It's as though the show was canceled at the last minute so they hurried up the plot to wrap up two years into two episodes. Who knows, but all the characters are out of sync as is the plot with main characters disappearing never to be heard from again, and others appearing from no-where to take the lead. And the music get's surreal at times with no connection to the plot... at all. Quite a mystery and quite strange.

I had to remove two stars for the above reason.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Loved Seasons 1-3

8/10
Author: ScienceIsCool from United States
16 August 2012

I started watching this show (Netflix instant play) as background noise while I worked on some projects, but soon fell in love. I am particularly drawn to medical dramas, and this show was no exception. I love the relationship between the doctors Bramwell (Elanor and her father) and the hopefully somewhat-accurate depiction of the struggles a woman doctor might face in those times. I also love the depth of the more minor characters (Dr. Marsham, nurse Carr, Kate) and the witty humor and sarcasm employed.

I was grossly disappointed by the fourth mini-season of the show, however. I was warned not to watch it, by a Netflix review, but gave into temptation. Now I repeat a similar warning: if you admire Elanor's strength and character (and especially if you are fond of Dr. Marsham) don't watch Season 4. I am now trying to trick myself into remembering the series as it ended in season 3 as I was so disgusted with what went on in Season 4. The creepy music used in the intro, and throughout the fourth season should have given me a head's up. Also, Sidnney was replaced with a weenie of a character that badly needed a shave, and Dr. Robert Bramwell didn't make an appearance. Perhaps if he had, he would have knocked some sense into his daughter.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

no excuses, season 4 is garbage

Author: wmeyer-8 from United States
4 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*** This review may contain SPOILERS ***

First of all, seasons 1-3 were very well done, with few disappointments. Characters were well developed, as were relationships.

Then came season 4. With all respect to the reviewer who claims Eleanor "dis not go off the rails", she clearly did. And so did the writers, who appear to have little sense of balance or subtlety in season 4.

I am inclined to believe that the absence of some characters in the closing season resulted from their having read the scripts and dashed for the door.

Major failings include: - no clear sense of the time elapsed since end of season 3

- horrible music, intrusive and forgettable

- loss of characters without explanation (Sidney, Robert, Kate, and others)

- new characters whose back story only becomes apparent in snatches over time

- near total suspension of reason on the part of Eleanor, and of morals, as well

- utterly implausible introduction of Dr. Marsham's moral turpitude (the man worked too many hours to have had time for that)

- uneven exposition of plot: there are jarring leaps over details which needed explication, and on the other hand, dreary working to death of the details of the search for Dora, which added little to our understanding, or of the plight of such girls

I could write more, but suffice it to say, your time will be spent much more happily on more engaging activities; arranging your books, or doing your taxes, or even a visit to the dentist.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Season 4 RUINED this series

1/10
Author: dbh850 from United States
15 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*SPOILERS!!!!*

Season 1-3: LOVE IT! Season 4: HATE IT!!

What the heck happened?!?! They ruined this series. By the time I was into Season 4, I realized completely different people probably wrote it - or if they are the same people, they all got brain injuries. I don't know which and I'm too disgusted with the whole thing to look that up.

As time went by, I became more and more disgusted with the protagonist, Eleanor Bramwell. She made some really stupid decisions and didn't learn from them. She lost her charm for me - I was more interested in her father and step mother by Season 4 than by her - and they disappeared completely. I don't understand why they wrote so much heartache caused by her. Poor Dr. Marsham! A completely decent fellow, honorable and smart and responsible and - well, I LIKED that relationship. Why kill it? They could have written ANYTHING happening.

And all that unprotected sex and the big crisis is a pregnancy. REALLY?!?! She's a physician at a time when there were very few women doctors and ALL of their battles were uphill, she knows everything about how pregnancies occur, they had very primitive birth control, and she's UPSET that she got knocked up?!?! Oh man - that really ticked me off. She KNEW that a pregnancy would be a career-ending scandal. I spent 13 years in university and a few more in internships myself. There is NO WAY I would do something that stupid if it could destroy a couple of decades of schooling and training.

On the medical side of things, it was remarkable to me that they showed so little in the way of the mortality rate from surgery at that time. It was a terrible, agonizing death. Opening up people's bodies and sticking your bare hands in there is NOT always helpful. It would have been realistic to have some of those sorts of things going on.

But most of all, it's not a good idea to write a protagonist whom people like in the beginning and despise at the end. Reading some of these reviews - and looking at what people are saying on Netflix - I'm impressed with how much people dislike the way the show ended and dislike the protagonist. This series should be required viewing for film majors.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Woman Doctor in Victorian London

5/10
Author: curleegirl-269-620823 from United States
18 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The series started out interesting but very uneven in quality, until (as many other reviewers have also written) the last 2 episodes. These comprise all of season 4, unaccountably, and are nearly twice the length at an hour and 41 minutes as the episodes in seasons 1-3. Season 4 is a debacle.

The main character, as written, is a flawed, sometimes impulsive but usually charming woman with a good brain and heart. But all through the series, Eleanor Bramwell's behavior is inconsistent, almost as if the scripts are written by various strangers and in isolation of each other and the character arc. Bramwell's personality is all over the map; selfless yet narcissistic, practical yet silly, gracious yet unspeakably rude and insulting, prudent yet idiotic.

However, it was absolutely incredible that any of the other characters in the series could tolerate or forgive the sanctimonious, hypocritical and selfish person she is in the last 2 episodes . Essentially, she goes rogue, morally, ethically and temperamentally. In a show about the difficulties faced by intelligent, professional women of the time, I was quite shocked when one of the characters suggests that she is unhinged not because she is ill, but because she is pregnant!

Clearly, something was going on behind the scenes of this series which resulted in such a blunt, clumsy and ridiculous "end" to the story. I'd love to know what it was!

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

an amazing series

Author: evso from Austin, TX
10 January 2000

I have followed "Bramwell" since I started watching the mini-series on PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre" a few years ago. The depiction of a female doctor in Victorian England is very entertaining and groundbreaking. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in period drama or the history of medical practice.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

How do you rate three 8s and a 1?

5/10
Author: screenidol from YankinGermany
9 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first three seasons, with all the flaws and occasional unnecessary emotional outbursts, make for a good series, one that develops reasonably well over the time period. I'll give it an 8. The end of the third season works as a good ending for the series, though admittedly, one wants to see a bit more. Especially how the warm but sometimes conflicting relationship between Drs. Bramwell and Marsham develops. Warning! If you've read the other reviews, you've heard this before: Do not watch season four! Heed this warning. The Bramwell-Marsham connection turns sour and bitter. The elder Bramwell, now married, is never seen again. Young Sidney, helper in the Thrift, is gone and the building itself is completely different. Nurse Carr becomes mean-spirited. And Eleanor goes off the deep end, abandoning the true nature of the Thrift to (unsuccessfully) take on the cause of child prostitution, longing to marry the military man who seems to represent everything she has been fighting against from the beginning; the relationship is totally unbelievable. Worst of all, the drivel this fourth series calls a story lasts for more than an hour and a half for each of the two painfully dark episodes in this abbreviated season. And the credits shown here on IMDb seem to indicate that the writer is the series creator and most prolific contributor, and the director(s) have done shows in other seasons. What happened?! The direction is abysmal, the photography horrendous, and the interludes of terrible music are completely incongruous and inappropriate. With every extreme closeup (I think at one time Eleanor's one eye and mouth filled the entire screen), with every strange angle of the camera, with every scene too dark to see yet creating no mood or ambiance, I kept asking, "What were they thinking? Who did this? Why???!" There is no good cheer or humor in the entire fourth season, yet there is nothing that involves us or informs us -- other than the overall message that life was tough then and woman and children were exploited, which was handled well enough in the first three seasons. Now, instead, we get religious overtones and a preachiness that could sour the devout. All in all, the fourth season was unrecognizable, from the storyline to the directing to the sets to the music. Even the acting was barely acceptable, and one has to wonder how the three leads who pushed on in a final season felt about their new characters. Since I give both episodes in season 4 a "1", I am forced to bring the show's rating down to "5"; best bet is to ignore the 4th season and take the first three, worth a healthy and hearty "8".

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The last season--no she did not betray her 'character'

10/10
Author: debleenab-79-975804
25 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No, she did not go off the rails. There is a reason the title puns on the phrase 'loose women.' Anyone with even a glancing acquaintance of Victorian England and the condition of women at the time would understand the psychological pressure of disenfranchisement that Bramwell faces. The cinematic depiction of the last season mirrored the exact horror and psychic fragmentation a woman like Bramwell (who has achieved something on the strength of reason and ability in a man's world) experiences when she realizes that Woman in her time is still the victim of her sex, that she will continue to be victimized and penalized as such (through prostitution and moral judgment), and that even a woman of birth and money like herself can be brought low by the circumstance of her sex (in her case, by unwed pregnancy).

She refers to 3 women who matter, who needs to be saved—herself/her unborn child, Dora and another one. They are paralleled by the three men in the last episode—the soldier, the doctor, and the pious man, who should be the representative members of society helping the unfortunates, and who all know of the horrors but are unmoved by them.

In the scenes leading up to her confrontation with the benefactor-to-be, she lashes out at the indifference and unfeeling reactions of every one who punishes and scolds women who fall foul of the sexual line but who will not act to prevent and protect women and children, even after they know the dangers and the persons concerned. Bramwell is in effect railing against social utilitarianism where the happiness of the masses is arbitrated by a self-appointed few (the doctors, priests, legal and juridical institutions deciding for the very women their society uses and abuses).

The Victorian notion of duty marks the series of confrontations, when Bramwell is told off for taking 25 pounds to 'buy' the child prostitute. She is castigated and judged for being delinquent in keeping hours and money, even though her motivations were far higher than anyone around her. When asked why she did not try to rescue the child through the police, or the Salvation Army, or other social institutions, she says she does not know, but we do—when the fine upstanding men around her know and do little or nothing, can she depend upon them to take matters seriously and do right? Bramwell, through her actions, is trying to get people to recognize their true social duty—to do whatever possible to prevent vice and protect the possibility of innocence. When the child is found dead, it is the death of her innocence too.

The nuns at the convent where Bramwell seeks a possible anonymous confinement supposedly do good work but they want to teach her humility. They are not accustomed to seeing women asserting their will in a man's world. Even as the brides of Christ are chaste, so must ordinary eves be, and their God is interpreted in man's image, harsh and exacting. Is it any surprise that Bramwell says that in the absence of god, she is sure He will understand if she steps in and does what she can to protect one child, i.e., in the manifest absence of the compassion that is divine, ordinary ungodly people must do what they can, and if there is indeed a benevolent God, He won't mind the interference of people such as Bramwell. On this point, her actions –judged as impulsive, thoughtless, etc.—are in stark contrast to the measured mercy of the priest.

The dialog with her colleague and former fiancé who says she has brought it upon herself is very Victorian, and indeed very American (to attribute absolute responsibility for such a crime to the woman alone). It is interesting to note that not one of the people close to her intercedes with Major Quarrie who has made her pregnant on her behalf, until she berates him in the street. And then they punish her for her condition by dismissing her, showing so little concern for the future welfare and earning capacity for the two. Then and now, shame overrides self-reliance.

The point, I think is to show the horror that lay beneath the cover of Victorian society. The men used and abused it more, and were inured to it. Bramwell, being judged for being pregnant, feels empathetic about the plight of children, she feels for the powerless children because she is fighting to retain power as a woman in a man's world, and is failing, just as the child struggled to remain at the hospital when Bramwell insisted that she go. When the child dies, Bramwell feels a sense of urgent personal responsibility, and struggles to convey this to the men who are more 'objective' and detached. She had been an extraordinary woman in a man's world, now she was forced to be a more ordinary woman in a man's world. The last episode shows her as 'breaking up' also because it is a representation of her through society's eyes—a woman who erred, as a woman, when all this time she had tried to be a less emotional creature—a woman who has finally fallen and broken. Society could forgive a woman for being a doctor like she was, for that transgression, but it would not forgive what it saw a hubris and overreaching. Bramwell could not be allowed to be both woman and man (be sexual, sexually liberal and eager, as men were allowed to be, for example, Dr. Marsham, who was never castigated for frequenting brothels except by Bramwell and even then he saw no merit in her accusations; did he take revenge for her disclosure in the street by helping her get dismissed?), and bear a child. The nun's words were telling — she must be made to learn humility through being made 'no different' from the other unfortunate women who came to the convent for their confinement.

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