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Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray

United States
BBC | 2013 | Season 2 | 555 min | Not rated | Jun 18, 2013

Call the Midwife: Season Two (Blu-ray)


Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (17.90 Mbps)
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1

English: Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kbps)

English SDH

50GB Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (2 BDs)

Region A (B, C untested)

List price: $44.98, Price history

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TV show rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Blu-ray rating
Video 4.0 of 54.0
Audio 3.0 of 53.0
Extras 1.5 of 51.5
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Call the Midwife: Season Two

 (TV) (2013)

Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray delivers great video and decent audio in this excellent Blu-ray release

The second season offers more stories from the memoirs of a midwife and nurse who worked in the East End of London in the 1950s. Includes the 2012 Christmas Special.

For more about Call the Midwife: Season Two and the Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray release, see Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.

Starring: Jessica Raine, Pam Ferris, Helen George, Laura Main, Judy Parfitt, Bryony Hannah

» See full cast & crew

Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

Like Acorn Media, BBC Home Video appears to be embracing 1080p formatting for its digitally acquired series. Season One of Call the Midwife received 1080i treatment, but Season Two is presented at 1080p with AVC encoding. It's a good thing, too, because Season Two had eight episodes, plus the extended Christmas Special, as opposed to Season One's six episodes, and BBC has refused to spring for a third disc. Therefore, Season Two arrives with an additional 195 minutes (approximately) crammed onto its two BD-50s. As I have discussed elsewhere, 1080i produces unpredictable, and often unfortunate, results when subjected to the additional compression required to achieve such results.

Fortunately, 1080p is more flexible, and there is no diminution in quality here. The image throughout Season Two is comparable to that presented on the Season One Blu-rays. The soft and slightly faded period look established by Chris Seager, and continued by several DPs who picked up where he left off, remains consistent throughout, with deep blacks that are especially valuable in some of the darker interiors of the East End or in the occasional nighttime excursion, like the intimidating trip to the Swedish ship at anchor that Trixie and Sister Evangelina make in a small rowboat. An occasional bright hue leaps off the screen for a startling effect, such as the yellow flowers that Jenny picks from the Nonnatus House garden to cheer up a patient, or the green sweater worn by a patient with a "big" personality (who gives Jenny pause for other reasons). The annual festival celebrated in Episode 5 is a particularly colorful occasion, which is then interrupted by a medical emergency.

Detail is impressive throughout, allowing full appreciation of the production team's recreation of Fifties London in the East End, right down to the cobblestone streets (a challenge for bike riding, according to actress Jessica Raine). It also brings the viewer closer to the physical realities of birth than some may find comfortable (using a combination of prosthetics and live infants), although the camera angles and shot durations are chosen with care to remain tasteful and non-exploitative. Nevertheless, birth is not a neat affair, and a series about midwifery wouldn't be truthful if it didn't show the messy side of the work. The Blu-ray image reflects it in all its physical immediacy.

Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  3.0 of 5

Probably in an effort to conserve space, BBC Home Video has dropped the lossless PCM stereo track included with Season One and switched to Dolby Digital. Now, I am not a lossless purist, but in this instance an unfortunate decision was made to limit the DD 2.0 track to the anemic DVD-standard bitrate of 192 kbps, which was a reasonable compromise for DVD's limited bandwidth and digital real estate but makes no sense on Blu-ray. The rate should have been at least 256 or, preferably, 448 kbps. Despite Dolby's claims, a bitrate of 192 kbps has never been fully "transparent" to the master recording, and the degradation in quality registers in small but telling ways on Season Two of Call the Midwife.

First and most importantly, the dialogue is not always as clear as it was on the Season One Blu-rays. Heavy East End accents, speakers who overlap one another and ends of lines that are clipped by the speaker's exit are often difficult to make out. One can consult the subtitles, but I don't recall ever having to do so in Season One. I have a practiced ear for East End intonations and slang (which is used sparingly). The fact that I needed subtitles on multiple occasions with this set indicates either a change in the mix—doubtful, given the continuity of the creative team and the consistency of all the show's other elements—or a less accurate reproduction. Here's hoping that BBC Home Video reconsiders its approach to space saving and either increases the bitrate or else embraces a space-saving lossless format like DTS-HD Master Audio.

The remainder of the track does not suffer so obviously from the change in sound encoding. Call the Midwife does not try to create an immersive surround field from its two channels. The essential sound effects are accurately reproduced, and Peter Salem's original score, including multiple variations on the series' memorable theme, plays with sufficient fidelity to accomplish its job. Even more than Season One, Season Two uses period-specific pop tunes to wonderful effect (for example, Dean Martin's cover of "Volare", which was released in 1958).

Call the Midwife: Other Seasons

Season 1
2-disc set

Season 3
2-disc set

Season 4
2-disc set
Call the Midwife: Complete Season Four

Season 4

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Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray, News and Updates

Call the Midwife: Season Two Blu-ray (Updated) - February 20, 2013

BBC Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of Call the Midwife: Season Two, the next entry in the critically acclaimed BBC/PBS series. The second season of Heidi Thomas' period drama stars Jessica Raine, Pam Ferris and Helen George, and is set to ...

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