Tube Talk: Feeling nostalgic

By Paula Hendrickson
Television Columnist

With the final seven episode of AMC’s award-winning Mad Men starting this Sunday, it’s hard not to feel a big nostalgic — and not just because the series is mired in period-appropriate ’60s fashion, design and mores. As the final episodes draw near I find myself thinking back to the first time I saw the show. I binge-watched every preview episode AMC sent me in one day, and I was hooked.

A lot has happened to Don Draper (Jon Hamm) since the show debuted in 2007. He and Betty (January Jones) divorced, he married the much younger and much too good for him Megan (Jessica Paré), and was fired from the ad agency he co-founded. Oh, and at some point he finally stopped trying to hide the fact that he isn’t really Don Draper.

Every character on Mad Men has evolved over the course of the show, but perhaps none more that Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss). Peggy went from Don’s secretary to junior copywriter, eventually becoming the boss of several male copywriters. She also had Pete’s (Vincent Kartheiser) not-quite-love child back in season one; her family now passes the boy off as her nephew.

But Mad Men isn’t the only nostalgic show on the air. A new season of PBS’s popular British series Call the Midwife began last week. Based on the memoirs of real-life midwife Jennifer Worth, the series is set in a poverty-stricken area of London in the late 1950s and follows the lives of a group of midwives — both nurses and nuns —living together in Nonnatus House. Together, they deliver babies and care for mothers and newborns throughout the impoverished community.

At the end of the previous season the main character, nurse Jennie Lee (Jessica Raine), transferred to a job in the then new field of hospice care, but Chummy (Miranda Hart), Trixie (Helen George), Shelagh and Dr. Turner (Laura Main and Stephen McGann), Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), Sister Evangeline (Pam Ferris) and the Shakespearean-ly senile Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) are still around to welcome her replacement (Charlotte Ritchie). Nurse Cynthia Miller (Bryony Hannah) who left to become a nun last season will return as well.

Making room for new characters has gradually expanded the world of Call The Midwife, yet Nonnatus House remains the hub they revolve around.

If that’s not enough nostalgia for you, this week’s episode of PBS’ Great Performances features legendary vocalist — and former Eurythmics singer — Annie Lennox covering classic American songs from her Grammy-nominated album, Nostalgia.

A friend of mine was lucky enough to be at the taping of the show in Los Angeles a couple months ago and was blown away at Lennox’s musicianship and unique take on Billie Holiday classics like “Strange Fruit,” “God Bless The Child” and “I Cover the Waterfront,” as well as songs from Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and George and Ira Gershwin.

It may be bittersweet at times, but a little nostalgia is never a bad thing.

Programming Notes:

Mad Men returns Sunday, April 5 at 9PT CT on AMC.

Call The Midwife airs Sundays at 7:00 PM CT on WTTW-Chicago WHA-Madison.

Great Performances: Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live in Concert airs Friday, April 3 and 10PM CT on WTTW-Chicago and Sunday, April 5 at 5PM CT on WHA-Madison.

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