We can't wait to tune in.

By Suzanne Rust

Attention PBS fans—and American history buffs: Come January 17, you're in for a treat. Mercy Street, a six-part series based on letters and memoirs from Civil War-era medical personnel, is the broadcaster's first American drama in a decade. We can't wait—and neither can executive producer Lisa Q. Wolfinger. When I asked what initially drew her to the production, she explained, "There is nothing more exciting than stumbling upon a true story that is richer than anything we could concoct from our imaginations." She says she loved the scenario: a dysfunctional general hospital in a border town caught between North and South. And she loved the characters: feisty female volunteers, doctors struggling to make a difference at a time when medical science was in its infancy, escaped slaves experiencing freedom for the first time, and a southern family torn between loyalty to the cause and survival.

"The whole thing was complex, messy and very human. It didn't feel like distant history. I hope viewers will fall in love with our characters and our world," says Wolfinger. "Yes, Mercy Street is a period drama set during the Civil War, but the show is anything but dusty, grim and gloomy—between the writing and our exceptional cast, I believe we have a drama series that is entertaining, witty, smart and absolutely relevant to our lives today. I hope viewers gain new insight into a war that defined us as a nation, for better or for worse, and a new appreciation of the people, ordinary people like us, who lived through it and tried to make sense of it all."

Can't wait until Sunday? Here's a sneak peek. And check your local listings for more information.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Antony Platt/PBS