Review of "Mercy Street" on PBS From The TV MegaSite

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Mercy Street

"Mercy Street" review by Eva Diaz  1/8/16
Premieres January 17 at 10/9c on PBS

Mercy Street is a six part mini series that tells the story of two civil war nurses working at Mansion house hospital.  One is on the side of the Union, and the other is on the side of the Confederates.  Nurse Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a widow who took care of her sick husband until his death and decided to put the skills she learned caring for her husband to use in the war. Since she is from New England, she is on the side of the Union soldiers and is eager to help them.    Emma Green (Hannah James) is a rich young lady whose family hotel has been converted into Mansion House Hospital.  Emma feels the need to take care of the few confederate soldiers who are in the hospital, since the nurses don't want to tend to confederate soldiers (the enemy). 

I have never liked period dramas, until I startred watching "Downton Abbey." Even though Mercy Street has an entirely different subject matter, it tackles modern problems within the time period, much like that show does.  These young women must face their fears as they try to help wounded soldiers in the war.  The doctors at the hospital don't like nurses and feel that ladies should not be helping in the war effort.  The series is filmed on location in Virginia and is produced by Ridley Scott. 

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this show, but to my surprise, I enjoyed it very much.  It is funny at times and draws you in with its drama.  I liked it so much, in fact, that I wish they would make it a series that we could watch every week, instead of just a six episode mini series.  I look forward to seeing the rest, and I hope it comes back for a second series. I give this show 5 out of 5 stars. 


Based on real events, Mercy Street goes beyond the front lines of the Civil War and into the chaotic world of the Mansion House Hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia.

MERCY STREET – Follow a diverse cast of characters — doctors, nurses, contraband laborers and Southern loyalists — who intersect in the chaotic world of Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia, and the Mansion House Hospital in the early years of the Civil War. Starring Josh Radnor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Gary Cole, Peter Gerety and Norbert Leo Butz.  – Sundays, January 17-February 21, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET; rpt. Thursdays, January 21-February 25, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET

Premieres January 17 10/9c

Check Local Listings

Based on real events, Mercy Street takes viewers beyond the battlefield and into the lives of Americans on the Civil War home front as they face the unprecedented challenges of one of the most turbulent times in our nation’s history. 

Set in Virginia in the spring of 1862, Mercy Street follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the conflict: Nurse Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a staunch New England abolitionist, and Emma Green (Hannah James), a naive young Confederate belle. The two collide at Mansion House, the Green family’s luxury hotel that has been taken over and transformed into a Union Army hospital in Alexandria, a border town between North and South and the longest Union occupied city of the war. Ruled under martial law, Alexandria served as the melting pot of the region: with soldiers, civilians, female volunteers, doctors, wounded fighting men from both sides, runaway slaves, prostitutes, speculators and spies.

The intersection of North and South within the confines of a small occupied town creates a rich world that is chaotic, conflicted, corrupt, dynamic and even hopeful — a cauldron within which these characters strive, fight, love, laugh, betray, sacrifice and, at times, act like scoundrels. This series is not about battles and glory; it’s about the drama and unexpected humor of everyday life behind the front lines of war. It’s a fresh twist on an iconic story, one that resonates with larger themes we still struggle with today.

Cast and Creators

Mercy Street stars Josh Radnor as Dr. Jedediah Foster; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Phinney; Gary Cole as James Green, Sr.; Hannah James as Emma Green; Brad Koed as James Green, Jr.; Norbert Leo Butz as Dr. Byron Hale; Tara Summers as Anne Hastings; McKinley Belcher III as Samuel Diggs; Shalita Grant as Aurelia Johnson; Peter Gerety as Chief Surgeon Alfred Summers; Jack Falahee as Frank Stringfellow; Anna Sophia Robb as Alice Green; Cameron Monaghan as Tom Fairfax; Donna Murphy as Jane Green; L. Scott Caldwell as Belinda; Suzanne Bertish as Hospital Matron Brannan; Wade Williams as Sillas Bullen; and Luke Macfarlane as Chaplain Hopkins.

The series is executive produced by Ridley Scott; with Lisa Q. Wolfinger, David Zabel and David W. Zucker of Scott Free.

Mercy Street was made possible by the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Virginia Tourism, Visit Alexandria and public television viewers.

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