I am finally succumbing to the DOWNTON ABBEY craze… had watched the first two episodes sometime last year and was not impressed enough to continue; besides I had the first two seasons of FORBRYDELSEN (The Killing) to enjoy: unfortunately since the 30 episodes are subtitled, it put a damper on any multitasking – i usually have the laptop open and am knitting and watching TV… one needed all one”s wits about them to focus on Sarah and her escapades – still have to find a copy of the third season – why o why can we not buy it in the US – well, i know why but its stupid – anyway, looong tangent.
So however, with the third season of DA starting this weekend in the US, and it being the dead of winter and with several knitting projects in the works, I decided to catch up and see what everyone has been talking about in the media and elsewhere. (I do tend to save up episodes and then watch in several sessions… still have the last season of In Plain Sight to watch as well as a few other series to catch up. but moving on)
so last night I took the latest project (a fair isle tea cosy – maybe another post on that) and knitted and watched eps 3-7 of the first season .. plan to get thru the second season and the Christmas special this weekend to join the rest of the US for the third season.
observations on season one
– Mary is a twit. (i felt like taking her shoulders and shaking her MANY MANY MANY times, silly spoiled selfish girl)
– Ethel is a twit (she and Mary deserve each other as sisters – although the reason WHY they are such bitches to each other should have been more explored)
– Sybil shows signs of redemption (especially her aiding Gwen and, from what i can foretell, her inevitable relationship with the aspiring politician cum chauffeur)
– love Cora and Violet and Isobel.
– Lord Crawley – nice guy but doesn’t “make the heart beat” for me
– didn’t like Matthew at first but well, he grew on me (he deserves better than Mary unless she matures in future seasons).
– Thomas and O’Brien should be shot (not really but awful people they are)
– LOVE Anna, Mr. Bates, Carson, Mrs Hughes, Daisy, Gwen.. actually all the servants except for the two bad apples.
Best actors: Joanne Froggatt(Anna), Brendan Coyle(Bates), Jim Carter (Carson), Phyllis Logan (Mrs Hughes), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora), and of course Dame Maggi Smith (Violet) (splendid role for her) and the two bad apple servants (its not easy playing a three dimensional bad guy)
Julian Fellowes managed to pack the entire season with lots of clichés from lots of different sources. the flower show episode – cant believe the Wyler heirs didn’t sue (not really, but Blatant stealing). Gosford Park was absolutely perfection. love his language, but not sure of the arc of multi seasons … except for the Turkish death a lot of what happened in the first season was “expected” in this kind of series. wish for more depth to characters – more insight to what makes these characters tick – esp the upstairs .
OTOH its a large set of characters to develop and juggle all the stories – maybe almost too much (although in GP it worked). For example, O’Brien and the soap caused miscarriage of the next heir – this is actually a rather tragic event – yet its glossed over in a few scenes…its a huge undertaking – all of these characters and an average 45 min episode to present the latest plot developments and develop characters.
The production values are incredible – clothes and decorations impeccable. However, it is rather genteel. Life seems rather wonderful at Downton – yes, the two bad apples are annoying but to be honest it really is a high brow soap opera. (and I watched GH for years so I know my soaps)
I agree with a FB friend – UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS still is the BEST – it gave us drama and REAL believable stories and characters. and death and tragedy as the seasons went on , we continued to discover more about the characters. Its hard not to do compare/analysis against Hudson, Mrs Bridges, Rose, Sarah and the others downstairs as well as the lively upstairs family.
we shall see what transpires in the Second Season – from the little bits I have read it seems to take a rather huge turn – whether it will be for the worse or better, will be interesting to see.
NO SPOILERS PLEASE if you comment TIA
Glad you blogging again. Nancy
If you haven’t seen it yet, if you love DA and US/DS, then look into buying the series “The Duchess of Duke Street.” It’s my all-time favorite British series, hands down. US/DS was fabulous (the original one, not the modern one) but Duchess of Duke Street is to die for. Gemma Jones is genius in her role as the real-life “best cook in England” Rosa Lewis (called Louisa Trotter in the series). You will find yourself watching this series over and over – actually there is series 1 and series 2 so you would want both. Downton Abbey is too commercialized for me…I like the real thing and DoDS is so perfect.
I agree with your post and the comments. Like Harry Potter — whose every scene references some great British children’s classic — DA trots out every plot twist and character of the venerable series/movies that went before it. Like you, I was really surprised when they lifted the horticulture prize scene straight out of Mrs. Miniver and expected a twist like Dame Maggie saying, “Bwah hahahaha, I’m keeping the prize for myself!” But, no, they stole the whole thing verbatim.
I also loved The Duchess of Duke Street but suspect you’ve seen it already. And nothing can beat U,D as you note.
I was so excited to see Season 3 that I now pay to have a British IP address so that I can watch it online. I’ve seen the Season 3 Christmas special that everyone is buzzing about. And I will continue to watch DA, but not with the same enthusiasm as the first two seasons.
The upside has been having access to all British programming online including all the BBC channels that often run Italian and French mysteries and music programs as well as ITV and F1 racing live and let’s not forget soccer matches which we would never see here in the US.
So it’s all good, but I’m turning my attention to other shows that haven’t made it to the US yet like The Hour and the new Sherlock episodes which should be out soon.
Happy New Year!
Oh, and I forgot to mention that View TV Abroad is having a sale for new subscribers which I took advantage of. At $10.99 a month, it’s cheaper than a bad movie at the cinema!