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Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: Season 1

What She said:

She

If there’s one thing I love, it’s period dramas—whether it’s film, books, or tv, I greatly enjoy the intrigue of an era past.  Maybe it’s the fact that they always make it looks so glamorous, when in reality disease was rampant, there were no proper sewage systems, and normal people only bathed once a week.  Mmm...Mmmm.  Anyway, Downton Abbey is a period drama/comedy tv show presented by British television.  It centers on the Earl and Countess of Grantham and their three daughters who live in the countryside of Yorkshire, England, during the Edwardian Period aka very early 20th century. 

Season 1 opens with the family hearing of the sinking of the Titanic, which took the lives of a cousin and his son, set to inherit the estate one day.  This is because the Lord Robert Crawley did not bear any sons, and the daughters are not permitted to inherit.  With news of the cousin’s death there is uproar within the family.  Some believe that the law should be changed so that the eldest daughter, Mary, can inherit.  But Lord Crawley seems a bit more old fashioned, and so it becomes apparent that a very distant cousin will get the estate.  So, the next question then is, who will marry him? 

Of course, pressures are on Mary to “take one for the team” but her and Cousin Matthew are so different.  Cousin Matthew is actually quite different for the entire family.  He’s used to working for money, and never had his own valet before.  The rest of the Crawley family doesn’t even dress themselves.  And apparently people of their class did not work in those days, not even the men, so Mr. Crawley is stunned when Matthew announces his intentions to continue practicing law.

Meanwhile, while all that drama is unfolding there’s, of course, a whole other line of crazy going on within the ranks of the house staff.  The estate has a full staff—butler, housekeepers, maid, footmen, valet, cooks, etc.  And there’s a lot of infighting within them as well.  They all are clawing their way to the top, and they’ll often do whatever it takes.  Actually, watching the house staff bicker amongst themselves is half of the fun of this show. 

I saw the show presented in four parts, which is the Americanized version through PBS’s Masterpiece program.  It originally aired on British television in seven parts, I believe, although that is rather inconsequential.  The bottom line is that if you like this sort of period stuff, then you won’t be able to get enough.  You’ll probably rather just have it in one five-hour movie that you can enjoy on a Saturday afternoon.  Season 2 begins airing in the States next Sunday.  We only wish we could be as lucky as the Brits, who have already seen it, and production is underway on a third season. 

The acting is full of all the inflated drama you’d expect from something like this, and the costumes are to die for.  I imagine myself wearing half of Mary’s dresses, although they’re probably not considered stylish by today’s standards.  Everyone is clean, fresh-faced, and good looking—even the house staff—which, of course, is probably not accurate, but who gives a crap.  Downton Abbey is exactly what a chick like me is looking for.  Can’t wait until Season 2.

Thumbs up.

 

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