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I have to say I loved Downton Abbey, and thought it was one of the
better programmes airing this year along with Luther, Sherlock and the
stunning Channel 4 drama Mo. Downton Abbey was beautifully produced,
well cast and interesting, when it was first advertised it looked as
though ITV had a hit and from the first episode I think Downton Abbey
lived up to that expectation.
I for one loved how elegant Downton Abbey was. The photography was beautiful and skillful, while the scenery was breathtaking and the costumes were exquisite. The scoring was also very good, often very hypnotic and beautiful. The direction was controlled, the episodes were well paced and for me the characters were believable my favourites being Violet and Robert.
The writing in general was another strength. It was witty in a subtle way, is often funny and could be heart warming and poignant too, the best coming from Violet and Mrs Hughes I felt. The only bit of dialogue that rang false, and this is such a minor criticism, is Robert's "Downton is my third parent and my fourth child" which came across as somewhat cheesy. And the stories were well written and as believable as the characters, not to mention pretty original.
And of course the acting was excellent. Maggie Smith was perfect as Violet. She plays this sort of character well, and she had such good timing and dialogue. Plus I love her in costume. Hugh Bonneville was dashing, and I cannot get over how beautiful Michelle Dockery was here. Jessica Brown-Findlay was also fine as another of my favourite characters Lady Sybil, and Phyllis Logan was always good value though I would love to see more of her if and when the series returns.
In conclusion, Downton Abbey was a wonderful series thanks to the great cast and production values especially and I cannot wait to see more. 10/10 Bethany Cox
OK so I'll admit, Downton isn't a academic study of social change, nor
is it entirely original ( let's be honest) - but it doesn't pretend to
Does that make it any less of a excellent drama? No! Does That decrease the clever, witty and delicious writing? No! Does it cloud the ( at many moments) wonderful acting? No!
Admittedly it isn't hard core drama - but it was lovely, it made me feel warm, it let me get all cross and annoyed (in a nice way), it got me exited - and soothed.
Honestly what more can you ask for??
Maggie Smith is excellent as the snooty Dowageress, Brendan Cole does Mr Bates very well - and Joanne Froggat (who I only manage to catch on tele occasionally sadly) who was equally lovely.
It was all just lovely!
I was hooked after the first five minutes and come heaven, hell or high water, I was going to see Downton Abbey twice, the second time to pick up the points which I knew would be too fast, and possibly convoluted, to follow the first time round. I have watched Masterpiece since the inaugural with Alistair Cooke, and I can't remember anything as engaging and entertaining as this. As a cousin of an English family with deep affection for the monarchy and respect for the aristocracy, my perspective is an odd mix of Democratic ideals, old-time Republican values and curiosity about and appreciation of the social structure which prevailed so long in England. Downton Abbey appears to present a very balanced depiction of the social, political, economic and historical forces which drove the lives and fortunes of the classes and produced strange and almost incomprehensible behavior to comply with an unwritten, all-pervasive code. I am completely fascinated by the events and reactions and what would appear to be almost puppet-like behavior on occasion. I pray for a sequel.
For me at least Downton Abbey was elegant, controlled and subtly witty. The scenery, of course, is very good. (anyone interested can find short interviews with actor Hugh Bonneville and writer Julian Fellowes via youtube and be infected with their enthusiasm as well as getting an explanation, if you need one, of the setting) The house is suitably dramatic and the fabrics, the costumes, the camera shots of ringing bells and curious meal courses in the form of fences of asparagus, the morning light, or lit windows across the lawn, and the smooth work of all the actors make it something to watch and be both interested and relaxed. There is just enough drama and just enough calm, nothing seems overdone, and (after two episodes) the characters, as it switches between moments of their various days, are none of them an unwelcome change from the view of the last. It is a costume drama but 1912 after all was just as real as 2010 and it is, quite separate from costumes, about people, several different people, house workers and owners, their motives, their histories, pain, relationships, scheming allegiances, awkwardness or ease, old ways and the coming of those things we now call modern electric lights, the middle class Enjoyable so far. However, if you find these things dull, if you need constant shocks, use the word inoffensive as an insult or dislike all period dramas, scenery or rich people stay away. It's not hard to do.
I'll agree that the British know how to do period drama better than anyone (certainly better than us Americans) and this is no exception. You'll be captivated immediately and hours will go by before you realize you've spent an entire afternoon in front of your television set. The relationships built between all characters of this show are what tie it up in a nice, fluffy (although not always pretty) bow. Brilliantly written and set in lush, vibrant surroundings with detailed costuming, this drama series should set the bar for others. No busy dialog or wasted scenes, just good, solid craftsmanship in every episode of this poignant family story. You'll do well to invest in seasons 1 and 2. Looking forward to the arrival of season 3!
I remember the '70s and another Series which was cut more or less in
the same parameters as this one, and that was "Usptairs, Downstairs".
This too was a masterpiece of a social study, of the times at the turn between the 19th and early 20th Century.
The only difference was that it was set in a City based household, while "Downton Abbey" is set in the very elegant English countryside.
Both series display the best of British Theatre and Cinema, in terms of production teams, actors, technicians and general staff.
It is absolutely to be considered high quality movie-making, even though meant for the home screen.
Everyone, but everyone, in this series, knows his business and does portray his own character with honesty and truth.
There is no dull moment, due to a skillful editing of scenes that are almost put together like in an elegant dance sequence.
It is a very intelligent show that explores every facet of Society as it was structured (so far, in season 1 and 2), before, during and right after World War I, and as people behaved and felt back on the Homefront, being so detached, yet totally involved with the destinies of those men sent abroad to fight.
It is no melodrama in the classic sense of the word. It is an honest depiction of what people "downstairs and upstairs" went through during those years. The conventions, the rigid rules, the traditions, all changing just in a ten year period and being uprooted and twisted by the new winds of war.
There is something for everybody here. You want a thrilling story? Check! You've got it. You want love and romance? Check! You've got it. You want a social drama? Check! You've got it. You want a war drama? Check! You've got it too.
It's a very human story of all characters on board of this static ship that is "Downton Abbey". As firm as the Rock of Gibraltar one might say. And yet, not so static after all... Lots is happening here, and this, day by day.
Just think of the nightmare to have a sudden dinner invitation. The kitchen is in uproar, serving hands are missing, the masters are nervous, and everything seems to be doomed from the beginning, but then, somehow, everything comes together beautifully, like by magic... Magic? Let's say blood and a lot of sweat...
I started this saying that it was addictive, and indeed it is. AFter an episode is over you immediately want to jump back in and watch the next to see how it goes on.
I only have Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and I am already asking for the 3rd Season to appear, just to know what happens next.
I simply can't wait... I hope it pops up soon.
At 19 minutes in I was hooked.
I remember when Lady Marjorie Bellamy of Upstairs, Downstairs died on the Titanic and the impact it had on my family. We felt this because of the investment we had made in the series.
This is a series where one can become just as addicted.
The lives and loves of the Grantham and the Crawly family are well-written and performed beautifully. The castle and the grounds a pleasure to look at, as are the costumes of the time.
As Elizabeth McGovern and I are equal in age, and I have grown up watching her on the silver screen, hers was a warming and dignified touchstone for me personally.
The cast couldn't be better suited for their roles, not one can be called a weak link.
Maggie Smith has a presences all her own, making each of her projects shine.
I am on episode four and can't wait for the remainder.
Once again our cousins across the pond show us "how good drama" can be.
Julian Fellowes' intelligent (and sophisticated) take on pre-World War
I society of aristocrats and worker-bees is smart-writing on the
changes we will see over the next 25 years, encompassing two major wars
and a great depression. The writing and the casting make this many
steps above "soap opera" as the themes of social mobility and
aristocratic incompetence are sharply etched.
All of it pleased me, from the smallest character to the dozen or so leads, lead off by the always-brilliant Maggie Smith. This is to be enjoyed for both its eye-candy (Downton Abbey) and its themes of rich- and-poor dilemmas. Gorgeously shot with accurate art-direction. Wonderful all the way around.
DOWNTON ABBEY is the kind of "Masterpiece Theatre" material that the
British do with such finesse that one can only sit back and marvel at
the sets, costumes, music, and above all, the performances that are all
on an extraordinarily high level.
The moment the first series ended, I wanted to see more--so no doubt I'll be ordering my copy of Season 2. Central among the gifted performers are Maggie Smith (as the Dowager Countess Violet), Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham, and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, his American wife. But all of the lesser roles are played to perfection with special mention for Brendan Coyle as John Bates, Joanne Froggatt as Ana, Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael.
Complicit in schemes involving wicked behavior are two of the downstairs help played brilliantly by Siobhan Finneran and Rob-James Collier as Thomas, both of whom cast a shadow over the household.
The plot has dialog that is always witty and good for a quick chuckle or a gasp of disapproval and the character motivations are all played out in a convincing manner true to each person involved.
Very compelling to view the fluid story unfold with its many sub-plots and shadings of the class warfare that existed in the U.K. then and now.
Absolutely one of the most rewarding and richly satisfying shows from Great Britain that have come along in recent years. The color photography amid location settings create the proper atmosphere for the entire story which takes place just before WWI among a wealthy titled household undergoing some major changes inside the castle walls.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having had my fill of 'detective/mystery/thrillers', I have longed for
a 'proper drama'. Here we have a wonderful piece, drawing comparisons
with such milestones as 'Upstairs, Downstairs', 'The Onedin Line' and
the BBC's 1990's production of 'Pride & Prejudice'. An excellent cast,
marvellous sets, costumes, writing and storyline make this a truly
marvellous (and rare) television event.
Yes we know the history, yes we've seen a lot of it before and yes we know the 2nd series (and I sincerely hope there is one) will focus on the First World War but that, in part, is what makes it all the more exciting. The threat of the war looms like a menacing shadow, you just know it's there but fear for and sympathise with the characters, wondering how their safe, secure and seemingly everlasting world will cope with the coming onslaught.
All the actors are excellent but special mention must be made of Maggie Smith who is gifted some marvellous lines, delivered as ever, with perfect timing and characterisation.
Downton Abbey is something to look forward to every week and savour as a brilliant piece of television.
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