Call the Midwife, second season premiere, March 31, PBS
The British keep coming! With Downton Abbey’s rabid fans counting the days until next season, the timing couldn’t be better for the Season 2 premiere of Call the Midwife. The series follows young nurse Jenny Lee (based on a real person), who works at a convent and midwifery clinic serving London's gritty, working-class East End in the 1950s. Like Downton, the break-out hit series revolves around class clashes in a bygone era. But Midwife has the added built-in drama of childbirth. As the narrator (Vanessa Redgrave as an older Jenny) puts it: “Midwifery is the very stuff of life. Every child is conceived in love or lust and born in pain, followed by joy or by tragedy and anguish.” Check your local listings for PBS programs.
The Studio Albums 1972-1979, Eagles
When the Eagles reunited in the 1990s, they cheekily dubbed the record Hell Freezes Over, a nod to the group’s post-breakup prediction of when they’d be in the mood to share a stage again. Age must be mellowing the notoriously bickering bandmates. Not only have the sexagenarians been touring together and promoting their recent documentary, but now they’re considering a new studio record. In the meantime, fans with fingers crossed can whet their appetites with this box set of the band’s first six studio albums: Eagles, Desperado, On the Border, One of These Nights, Hotel California and The Long Run.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler
Zelda got a bad rap. At least that’s Therese Anne Fowler’s take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famously tempestuous marriage, rife with boozing, plagiarism, obsession, jealousy and mental illness. Regardless of who you believe in the most literary case of he said/she said in the history of marital strife, readers are sure to admire Zelda’s pre-feminism pluck. This is after all, the woman who was asked to review her husband’s second novel for The New York Tribune and wrote, ''Mr. Fitzgerald — I believe that is how he spells his name — seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.''
The Company You Keep
At a time when retweeting a Stephen Colbert quote qualifies as a political statement, it’s easy to forget that during our youth radicalism often meant putting your life on the line for your beliefs. Robert Redford directed and stars in this drama about a former Weather Underground militant forced out of hiding after 30 years to prove his innocence. Critics credit Redford for crafting a gripping thriller and wrangling an impressive cast of A-listers, including Nick Nolte, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Sam Elliott, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie and Chris Cooper.
WORTH THE TRIP
Lucky Guy, Broadhurst Theater, Broadway, April 1-June 16
Tom Hanks stars in this Nora Ephron play about New York City muckraker Mike McAlary who, at 41, died of cancer mere months after winning the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a rare opportunity to see one of our generation’s most beloved actors make his Broadway debut at age 56 — as an antihero, no less. It’s a bittersweet moment (and a lot of pressure) for Hanks, as this was the final play by his friend and frequent collaborator Ephron, who succumbed to leukemia last June. “When I walk home at night, that’s when I hear Nora’s voice the clearest,” he told The New York Times, “and that’s when I feel the most excitement about taking on this play.”
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.