On January 22 PBS will begin running the second season of Mercy Street, set in Civil War Alexandria and beyond.
At a screening of the first episode in October, producer Lisa Wolfinger told us that some of the action takes place in the field, including at an Army camp (filmed at Berkeley Plantation) and on the battlefield (Tuckahoe).
As with all fictional accounts based on fact, Mercy Street has to balance historical accuracy and drama. She explained how the writers develop a story arc and try to weave history throughout. Historic advisors include a medical historian for special effects (e.g., amputations) and the director of the Alexandria Black History Museum. At least one historic advisor was always on set, and actors received and used packets with information particularly relevant to their roles. Another interesting tidbit--they had 8 days of filming per episode. But those 8 days lasted WAY beyond a standard 8-hour day!
In the second season, we meet Charlotte Jenkins, based on real-life Harriet Jacobs. Charlotte comes to provide assistance to the refugees leaving slavery to come into Union-occupied Alexandria. She immediately recognizes conditions that need attention, conditions that the Mercy Street staff cannot or will not see. It is clear that various alliances will form in subsequent episodes. My only quibble with the episode was that Charlotte was too perfect. Presumably, she will become more human and complex.
p.s. I am glad the show will air at 8 pm, and not 10 pm like last year.