The second season of PBS’ Civil War-era hospital drama Mercy Street will have “more scope and expanse” than the first, executive producer David Zabel said, saying Season 1 “felt a little too contained.” To that point, Season 2 will include battle scenes “to give a sense of what is going on in the front lines to understand the context,” added EP Lisa Wolfinger.

Josh Radnor’s Dr. Jedediah Foster has a new addiction, the actor revealed. “I felt traumatized for quite a while” he said of his character’s Season 1 drug addiction storyline, which reflected the pain-relief self-experimentation doctors were doing at the time. “In this season he swaps one addiction for another. This season he kind of gets addicted to Mary,” Radnor said. “He’s an obsessive character…he doesn’t have a needle in his arm very much this season, but it’s no less dramatic.”

Mercy Street Season 1
PBS

This being PBS, the series purports to educate viewers as to the era and how the Civil War played out just south of the Mason Dixon Line in Alexandria, VA.

Among the things learned by the cast during production of Mercy Street, Tara Summers pointed to the dangers in having your husband lace up your corset in the morning and un-lace it at night if you were seeing someone on the side because, apparently, no two men lace the same way.

Radnor, first warning reporters he was about to go graphic, said he’d asked an expert in medical history if a doctor in that era would have cut his fingernails, because there are so many close-up shots of his hands. He was told not to cut because nails were left long to facilitate scooping. “I warned you!” he said when members of the media groaned. He said he left his nails historically accurate until the fake blood under his nails got to be “disgusting,” advising “don’t pay too much attention to the closeups” because the nails aren’t historically accurate.

The second season of this Civil War-era drama, premiering in January, explores the growing chaos in Alexandria, the relationship of Dr. Foster, Nurse Mary and the Mansion House staff, the precarious position of the Green family, and the changing predicament of the burgeoning black population. The new episodes are set against the intensifying war, starting with the Seven Days’ Battle and culminating with Antietam.