For viewers who find "The Knick" too gory and "Masters of Sex" too graphic, the answer can be found, as answers so often are, on
There the three-part period medical drama "Breathless" addresses all the social/sexual repressions and technological limitations of the 1960s while throwing in a dash of soap and a hint of mystery. (It airs under the "Masterpiece Mystery!" banner, which seems a stretch but gives us a few short minutes with Alan Cumming, which is always fun.)
"Pirates of the Caribbean's"
Powell has another secret, of course, possibly more than one. His marriage to Elizabeth (
Meanwhile, the issues of the day are addressed and explored, along with the styles and social habits. Enderbury, a fine and believable mix of self-aggrandizement and self-loathing, finds himself competing with an Indian-English doctor for promotion. Nurse Jean Wilson (Zoe Boyle) is torn between joy over "catching" young Dr. Truscott (Oliver Chris) and the nagging suspicion that she has sold herself short.
She is being replaced at the hospital by her sister and fellow nurse Angela (Catherine Steadman), who quickly finds it necessary to keep the smitten Powell at arm's length while offering support to various female patients made miserable by their very clearly second-class citizenry.
With period pieces a dime a dozen these days, the past has become as familiar as the present, and it's impossible to watch "Breathless" without mentally footnoting shows like those mentioned above, as well as "
This is not necessarily a bad thing. As with those series, "Breathless" offers viewers a trip back through time, in which the glorious fashions and accouterments do battle with the grim realities of sexism, racism, repression and limited medical knowledge.
Davenport's Powell is chilly yet chivalrous, and the performances are universally solid; "Gavin and Stacey's"
'Masterpiece Mystery! Breathless'
When: 9 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday