37 thoughts on “Lord Have Mercy Street (2016)

  1. Meh, indeed. I haven’t been able to make myself watch ep 3 yet because I just. don’t. care. And it’s not even that I’m not particularly interested in the Civil War or that I got a bellyful of CW history growing up in Alexandria alongside the Colonial/Rev War history. The show so far is like a bowl of porridge. Unflavored porridge. Filling and healthy, but ultimately unsatisfying and tends to sit in the belly like a lump of cement.

  2. Clara Barton, 1866, pioneering American Civil War nurse. Why isn’t she referenced instead of the British Florence Nightingale?

    Because to do so would be historically incorrect. Clara Barton was not a household name in 1861.

    1. For some reason, I thot the show as set in 1864 (tho’ I can’t find the date on the PBS website right now), & while Barton wasn’t a household name, she held an official position by then. Anyway, it would have been a good way to introduce more American history into the show, which is one of the purported aims of the series, according to various interviews w/the showrunners.

      1. It’s set in early 1862—which is why they’re still talking about the war being over in a few months. Dorothea Dix was in the first episode—she’s the one who sent Mary to this particular hospital as her “representative” and head nurse.

    2. Dorothea Dix, then perhaps? Although, judging y the pictures above, none of the 3 nurses would have met her guidelines–between the ages of 35 and 50, and plain in appearance, brown or black gowns, no hoops, no jewelry or cosmetics

  3. I made it through episode one and haven’t gone back. I agree with your analysis both of the costumes and the characters. I think the problem is, it’s hard to write a character or play a character who is a good guy, but casually racist as is correct for the period. So you’re left with the evil bad guy, the odious and annoying bad guy or a bunch of good guys who are missing a dimension that would make them truly interesting. (If you see what I mean.)

    1. I’d like to see a good writer — say, Aaron Sorkin level (not him, but just throwing out a name who does some of my fave TV character work, tho’ sadly not the best female characters) — take on Civil War drama. The cliches & stock characters are killing me.

  4. “At the hospital, Emma chats up Dr. Foster’s bitchy wife Eliza — who’s wearing a smart plaid number. Note Eliza’s lovely crimped hair and ribbonwork net covering the back of her head.”

    That’s actually Alice Green, Emma’s younger sister. I was so thrilled to see her in something other than the Pink Monstrosity. The plaid seemed to be designed rather well and I jumped for joy when I saw that lovely ribbonwork net.

    1. Are you sure? In Eliza’s first scene (the argument about why she & the doc are still hanging around Alexandria), she’s wearing this same plaid head to toe.

  5. On the “card de visits, doesn’t her skirt look pleated rather than gathered? I like how it looks, and it probably affects how the fabric moves.

    1. When you’ve watched as many historical costume movies & TV shows as we do around here, you save hideous for Snark Week ;-) Honestly, the costume critiques of this show are really nitpicks about very small issues. It doesn’t give an overall WRONG impression of the 1860s. The silhouette is correct, the fabrics are correct, the hair is (mostly) up & in the right shape. We’ve seen far, far worse for this period.

      1. Bur neither the silhouette or fabrics are correct for the era. Nuances in dress and typical construction shapes are completely ignored.

        And I’ll just say, since people not in the 1860s research community may not know, but K is one of the top experts in the field. If she says atrocious, you better believe it is. Now, she will beat me with a wet snood for outing her. :)

  6. As a history lover who has lived in Alexandria for 25 years, I looked forward to this series for months, but I have to agree, it’s pretty blah. I’ll watch it to the end but not re-watch. Ep3 spoiler (you’ll thank me)–fast-forward through a stomach-churning leg amputation (I checked out altogether) or you may be unable to concentrate on the costumes. To Toni: the opening scenes feature “Dragon” Dix interviewing Mary Phinney before she assigns her to the hospital. Big thanks to FF for an (often hilarious) education in film costuming. I now closely examine trims and tucks, pleats and embroidery, etc. (Downton, W&P) which might previously have gone unnoticed.

  7. As an historian of the South for the era in question, I was looking forward to eventually seeing this, but now I’m considering giving it a miss entirely.

  8. I can (mostly) over-look the clothing if the story is well-written. But you were spot on in Mercy Street’s cliches. When so many historical dramas shown on PBS are so very popular (and done very well indeed for history’s sake) one would think PBS would have gotten it right.
    So much potential, and yet…*sigh*…
    Not that it’s perfect, but I’ll return to “Turn” on AMC.

  9. Call me crazy, but I liked it more than I thought I would (I just watched the pilot for the hell of it). It seemed very… trope-y, but fairly well cobbled together, and I liked the production values, especially with the street scenes and all the extras. I usually avoid anything set during the Civil War, so possibly I’m not as burned out on things set during that period as maybe Trystan is. Also, the 1860s is not my period, so I’m not going to notice all the goofy costuming stuff (as I would in War & Peace, which I am avoiding like the plague). It seems fine to me, though the Barbie pink polyester lace number made me cringe a bit. But correct silhouette, hair pinned up, right underpinnings– that’s all good. The white dress was especially nice, and I love seeing hair done up for once. (I am SO TIRED of seeing the Game of Thrones style side-pieces-of-hair-braided-back-and-the-rest-flowing-free pin-free hairstyle that’s everywhere now in Costumelandia. Blah.)

    But yeah. Mainly I enjoyed watching an American period piece without the Usual Cast of British Actors Who Are In Everything. I especially enjoyed seeing Ramona Flowers and Ted Mosby and Barry Bostwick in a costume drama. I found it refreshing. I’ll continue watching, because why not. It might disappoint me later on, but as long as I’m moderately entertained (with lots of eye candy), I’m easy.

  10. As someone who is willing to read or watch virtually anything involving Civil War nurses, I’m definitely disappointed in the writing on this show. I’m not sure I’d characterize it as forcing a politically correct angle, but it’s certainly afraid to show casual racism in characters it wants you to empathize with. Difficult, greyish morality is pretty necessary if you want to make any meaningful fiction about the time period. So I wouldn’t want them to ignore race, but I would like them to be less awkward about it (I wonder whether all of the writers are white?).This latest episode spent some more time with the Black characters, at least.

    I think the show would really benefit from more dynamic cinematography in addition to less awkward costuming. But I’m impressed with their willingness to use ugly hairstyles (and awful relatively accurate accessories, especially on the less sympathetic characters).

  11. Ummm, the last Godey’s Lady’s Book plate caption should be changed to 1863. Not 1963. You’re makin’ me feel old!

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the critique and all of the examples of accurate period gowns. I have to say we watched the last episode of M.S. on vacation and can’t remember how it ended. I guess that says something….

  12. I’ve already completed Episode 2 of this production. It’s pretty damn good so far. It’s like watching a 19th century version of MASH, but with a little more melodrama.

  13. Well…after I slammed it I gave it another watch. Actually, I found the series on Blue Ray pretty cheap and bought it. Hey – – it’s period, right?
    So, guess what? The further I got into the show, the better the story became. By the time I watched the 4th episode, I was hooked. The 5th and 6th were excellent.
    I hope it returns next year.

  14. Well, I’m late to the party! Lord have mercy, indeed. I watched the first season religiously, but I didn’t even make it through the first episode of Season 2. As a native South Carolinian (die-hard bleeding heart liberal, though) the “honey chile, hush yo’ mouth” Southern accents kill me.
    I also may have stopped watching as soon as I saw that the nasty Silas survived. I have no idea if he made it through the entire second season, but that first episode was more than enough for me.

  15. I don’t really understand this article’s hostility toward “Mercy Street”. Okay, the costumes are not completely accurate, but why get anal about it? The inaccuracies are at best, minor. As for the Green sisters, despite their family being under Union occupation, they’re not exactly struggling or being denied the opportunity for new clothes, due to the family’s furniture business.

    I don’t understand this hostility. Is it really about the costume’s minor inaccuracies? Or minor historical inaccuracies (which nearly every historical drama I have seen is guilty of)? Or was it due to this belief that you could judge the characters (in a serial drama) after one or two episodes? I’ve seen both seasons of the series. It was a pretty damn good show. And I wish that PBS had continued it.

    1. They pointed out that the inaccuracies were minor!

      The hostility is because they felt that there were too many cliches in the story. If the characters had been more original, they might have liked it more.

      Sometimes one person likes a movie or tv show that someone else does not. I like this show, with all it’s cliches. It’s entertaining.

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