Call the Midwife is a refreshing BBC series available on Netflix streaming. (It will soon be broadcast on PBS.) Call the Midwife is a gritty, realistic, and nuanced period drama set in London’s East End circa 1958. It stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, and Jenny Agutter. (I’ve been watching Ms. Agutter’s career since The Railway Children and Logan’s Run). It’s also narrated by the glorious Vanessa Redgrave.

I love the music soundtrack and the attention to 1950s detail. Period dramas like the overrated and implausible Downton Abbey have made me weary of this type of series. Luckily, I took a chance on Call the Midwife. It’s funny, poignant, and at times, sentimental in the very best way. It also reminds us of how the UK’s National Health Service improved the lives of people by making health care a national right and not a privilege.