Aliens Attack! Downton Abbey Edition

Okay obviously aliens do not attack in Downton Abbey but my wife and I just finished the first series of Downton on Netflix and I thought I would interrupt to post a quick review.

One line review: Upstairs, Downstairs on steroids.

Downton Abbey (2010)

“Exposing the snobbery, backbiting and machinations of a disappearing class system, this series chronicles the comings and goings of the upper-crust Crawley family and their assorted servants.”

Downton Abbey was in my queue forever. I had heard how good it was but it is not a genre I would normally watch and BBC series (the better ones) require your full attention. Downton Abbey is a prime example. If you like doing other things while watching TV (reading, surfing the net, etc.) then this is probably not a good choice for you.

Downton Abbey is amazing. The acting is superb – I thought every character was well-realized and there was not a weak performance in the bunch. Maggie Smith is wonderful as always BUT part of how she is wonderful is that she reacts well to the other actors and underplays her character when necessary.

I have never seen a show with so many significant glances – another reason you have to pay absolute attention to everything going on. A lot of what is going on is actually different from what is stated.

All of the characters are highly complex, although they do make it clear who you should root for and which characters are villainous. The only exception to this seems to be Lady Mary as the show puts her in a sympathetic position yet she makes one heinous decision after another.

Creator/writer Julian Fellowes chose a wonderful period to set the series. Downton Abbey runs seven episodes and covers the period from April 1912 (Sinking of the Titanic) through July 1914 (the start of World War I). While issues pertinent to the era are mentioned (suffrage being the most prominent), the majority of the show is just showing the life and times of Earl of Grantham’s family contrasted with that of the help at Downton Abbey.

The budget for the show must be phenomenal. Costuming is marvelous and all the ladies wear incredible hats. A few anachronisms aside, the attention to detail is amazing. It would be easy to watch this show just for the eye candy but then you would miss the superb acting.

Please be aware that not much actually happens in the show – this is primarily a British acting showcase and secondarily a look at life among the rich pre-World War I.

THE FUTURE OF DOWNTON ABBEY: The second season/series of Downton Abbey is supposed to be available on Hulu starting July 7th. No word yet on Netflix or Amazon instant. There is a Christmas special and the third series is just about to start filming.

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