Mercy Street: Season 1 (2016)


Season 1
Mercy Street

Critics Consensus

Mercy Street's intriguing setting and talented cast can't compensate for the overall lack of excitement in a period drama that's traditional to a fault.



Critic Ratings: 22


Audience Score

User Ratings: 105

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Air date: Jan 17, 2016

The drama about two Civil War volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the conflict begins on New Englander Mary Phinney's first day at Mansion House, a hotel-turned-Union hospital in an occupied Southern town.

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Air date: Jan 24, 2016

Emma nurses a wounded friend; Dr. Foster wrestles with his marriage and career; Mary strives to improve the lives of her patients with help from Samuel; and Silas involves Aurelia in a corrupt deal.

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Air date: Jan 31, 2016

Dr. Foster operates on his brother, who's a Confederate soldier; Alice is shocked to discover that the war has changed her fiancé; and Samuel and Aurelia try to convince a young slave to seize a chance at freedom.

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Air date: Feb 7, 2016

The Green girls and Frank devise a plan to help Tom escape during a Union ball at their house; and Mary releases Dr. Foster, who's still shaky, from his "quarantine" so that he can guide Samuel through a delicate operation.

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Air date: Feb 14, 2016

A hospital inspector's unexpected visit throws the staff into disarray; Mary feels empathy for a deserter; Silas makes Samuel pay for his arrogance; and James Sr. tries to earn his family's respect.

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Air date: Feb 21, 2016

In the Season 1 finale, a visit by President Lincoln sets in motion a rebel plot. In other events, Dr. Foster uncovers a scheme to undermine him at the expense of his patients; and Aurelia, who's recovered from her surgery, makes a major decision.

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Mercy Street: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

Season 1 of the Civil War medical drama opens with Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a widowed nurse from New England, arriving at a hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Va., that's been set up in a luxury hotel owned by the Green family. Although a Union operation, it cares for soldiers on both sides of the conflict—though doctors Jed Foster (Josh Radnor) and Byron Hale (Norbert Leo Butz) disagree on just how much care the Southerners should receive. Among the first things Mary does: cover up an emergency surgery performed by Samuel (McKinley Belcher III), a free black laborer who's skilled at medicine. At the same time, the Green's daughter Emma (Hannah James) braves the patient wards in a furtive search for news about her fiancé Frank (Jack Falahee), a Confederate soldier, and, by the second episode, is volunteering to serve as a nurse. Frank does turn up, eventually, but not as a patient: First, he poses as a dental assistant in order to steal plans from Union soldiers; and, later, he aims to help a wounded prisoner (and Emma's sister's beau) escape and rejoin his outfit. Other storylines find Mary helping Jed wean himself off of morphine; Samuel falling for a contraband slave; the medical inspector visiting; the Green family patriarch James (Gary Cole) facing imprisonment for refusing to sign an oath of allegiance to the Union; and Frank plotting to assassinate President Lincoln during a visit to the hospital by the commander-in-chief.

Cast & Crew

Peter Gerety
Dr. Alfred Summers
Norbert Leo Butz
Dr. Byron Hale
Hannah James
Emma Green
Josh Radnor
Jedediah Foster
Jack Falahee
Frank Stringfellow
Cameron Monaghan
Tom Fairfax
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Nurse Mary Phinney
Cherry Jones
Dorothea Dix
Shalita Grant
Aurelia Johnson
Donna Murphy
Jane Green
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News & Interviews for Mercy Street: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Mercy Street Season 1

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (12)

Hopefully timing and word of mouth will turn the series into a deserving contender in a Sunday television landscape packed with viable options.

Aug 7, 2018 | Full Review…

Well-meaning but oh so somber, Mercy Street is a rare, born-in-the USA drama for a network that has relied on the British for almost everything in this genre.

Jun 12, 2018 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Despite the lovely title, used by both musician Peter Gabriel and poet Anne Sexton, the show is obvious and inauthentic as it tells the story.

Jan 15, 2016 | Full Review…

Excellent cast, lifeless drama.

Jan 14, 2016 | Full Review…

Mercy Street milks ample drama from the terrifying prospect of facing even the most minor of procedures in an era in which anesthesia was considered unnecessary and the most scientific testing involved sniffing.

Jan 19, 2016 | Full Review…

It's entertaining, for sure, and immediately watchable, especially for those that love a historical drama.

Jan 19, 2016 | Full Review…

The blood and tragedy don't feel gratuitous, but rather honest portrayals of a turbulent time in American history based on true events in Alexandria, Va. starting in 1861.

Nov 15, 2018 | Full Review…

The first original scripted drama produced by PBS in over a decade, Mercy Street is a medical show by way of a historical drama, an American story that takes its cues from British period pieces and fills its cast with strong American actors.

Jul 29, 2016 | Full Review…

A drama that exults the quality of mercy in an improvised Virginia hospital during the Civil War.

Feb 26, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Soapy Civil War hospital drama has lots of blood, history.

Feb 2, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Although some aspects of the ploy may be predictable, the drama emerging from the many conflicts of the Civil War period, both ideological and physical, promise to demand attention.

Jan 21, 2016 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Competing in a universe where TV plots that once would have taken a season are torn through in an hour or two, Mercy Street is probably right to keep the pot boiling.

Jan 15, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Mercy Street: Season 1

  • Apr 22, 2019
    Honestly, it started allow but the drama really picked up in the last few episodes. Nicely written characters.
  • Mar 13, 2017
    Please please please do another season!!! Such an intelligently done show, but also so engaging. I love the characters and the story - great acting.
  • Feb 07, 2017
    love this show! Great Cast, great production value
  • Jan 31, 2017
    In authentic and historical inaccuracies. Example an officer brags about his affluence including being trained as a physician at Princeton. Princeton University was The College of New Jersey until it was renamed Princeton in 1896. The College of New Jersey was a theological school and did not offer degrees in the sciences until long after the civil war. It was one of a handful of colleges in civil war era and not particularly attended by the affluent.
  • Jan 01, 2017
    A wonderful show with great show with good acting.
  • Mar 13, 2016
    Love it. It's PBS at its usual best.
  • Mar 04, 2016
    Much more even-handed than most entertainment set in that period. The cast is very compelling and the writing is excellent. The costumes are understated, but highly appropriate.
  • Feb 22, 2016
    My wife and I loved Mercy Stree! Does a great job of of blending the human interest of a dramatic hospital drama with the tensions of the Civil War and its underlying moral issue of slavery. Bring it back with more episodes, PBS!
  • Feb 21, 2016
    This is an incredibly well-done series. Authenticity is first rate, and the acting is spot-on!
  • Feb 20, 2016
    It's historical, the actors play interesting characters, in short it is an entertaining episode. They do not resort to gruesome murders or soft porn to create a plot. So extra credit for that.

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