The Civil War will always be relevant in television and film, mainly due to the sociopolitical lines that were clearly drawn from the outset of the conflict. It will no doubt not come as a shock to some readers to learn that those lines have barely been moved in this day and age, and the territories where these philosophies and beliefs differ are still, essentially, the same. The hope, one would think, in looking at the Civil War once again is that by uncovering the roots of this divide, we might find some way of mending them, which is seemingly the thematic undercurrent of Mercy Street, the upcoming PBS series and the first original American series to air on the channel in over a decade. As Deadline reports this morning, the Ridley Scott-produced series has firmed up its cast, with Josh Radnor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Gary Cole, and Cherry Jones leading alongside Peter Gerety, Norbert Leo Butz, and newcomer Hannah James.
The series has also added two major television directors to its roster, namely Roxann Dawson and Jeremy Webb, who have both had major successes on recent, popular television series. Webb helmed a major episode of Masters of Sex and The Red Road, but most of his work has been with the BBC, working on both Downton Abbey and Doctor Who. Dawson had the privilege of working on David Simon and Eric Overmyer‘s absolutely brilliant Treme, but has also done some classy, sharp work directing for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lost, and Heroes. Regardless of where Mercy Street might head in terms of narrative, there’s something like solace in knowing that two workhorse directors like these will be in charge of how its presented.
Here’s the synopsis for the series:
Mercy Street follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposing sides of the Civil War — New England abolitionist Mary Phinney and Confederate supporter Emma Green. The Green family’s luxury hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, has been transformed into Mansion House, a Union Army hospital tending to the war’s wounded. The series, being shot in the Richmond and Petersburg, VA areas, is inspired by memoirs and letters from real doctors and nurse volunteers at the hospital in Alexandria, the longest occupied Confederate city of the war.
Mercy Street is set to run on Sunday nights, with the premiere planned for winter 2016.