Downton Abbey

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Downton Abbey

Postby Wildwood » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:18 pm

Please forgive me if there is already a thread for this, but I didn't find one! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D Am all caught up on seasons 1 and 2. Season 3 should be getting here soon. Anyone else into this show? Anyone know when BBCA will begin season 3? Need a fix!!!!!!!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
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Postby ArPharazon » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:29 pm

I'm afraid it lost me after th first series - it is trivial costume soap opera, without depth or originality.

I was very impressed by Gosford Park (same writer, who won an Oscar for the screenplay) as it really explored the mechanics and dynamics of a country house, from both the servants/domestic and the owners/guests angles. One learned about how a big house operated, the tensions between occupants, and the ways in which the whole thing worked - from how the servants were addressed (by the rank and name of their employer) to how menus were created and dietary requirements met.

In the original Upstairs-Downstairs series a whole episode might be given to a dinner party for king Edward VII, you saw how the kitchens worked, the duties of the various servants etc. Fascinating stuff. the stories were also interesting.

Thus I had high hopes of Downton Abbey.

There was no reason why Julian Fellowes (writer0 could not have taken his time and really looked into some obscure corners of life in a great house - the complexities, pressures, the joys of a counntry house weekend say; or how a banquet was prepared and served, with the story/drama emerging from the event. that might have been novel and fascinating.

What we got was a thin and hackneyed story-line that reveals nothing about the period or the detail of the servants' life or that of the aristocracy. It jumps through time at an alarming rate and is totally melodramatic. we are also asked to accept modern (2011/12) attitudes as appropriate to pre-1914, which is nonsense.

The only saving grace was Maggie Smith.

Interestingly, the revised "Upstairs- Downstairs" also resorted to "cheap thrills" with lesbianism and spies in series 2 - no wonder Eileen Atkins (a co-creator of the original) declined to be in it after series 1. The series also played fast and loose with history. Where it could have looked in detail and attitudes and explored views on such things as appeasement in an informative way, it went for the quick buck. Disappointing.
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Postby IrisBrandybuck » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:56 pm

I'm with you, Wildwood...I've only seen season 1 and I can't wait until season 2 is on Netflix on demand. :)
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Postby ArPharazon » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:40 pm

Clearly some people will watch anything!!

If only PJ had directed Downton... (muses)...
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Postby IrisBrandybuck » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:36 am

Maybe we're just not as critical. I watch, and read, stuff often for the entertainment value and I don't pull it apart unless it's really, really bad. If they're telling me a good, plausible story, I'm happy. I like the series and I'm eager to see what comes next (Don't tell me, Wildwood! Okay, wait...no, I'm not going to ask. ;) )
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Postby Martin the Warrior » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:34 am

Hey, I personally loved the show!!!!

(Don't worry Wildwood, they are making a third season (see link below:)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/03/downton-abbey-itv-third-series?newsfeed=true
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Postby IrisBrandybuck » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:59 am

YAY! :D
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:07 am

A High Tory fable for our times.

The rich people are benevolent masters and the servants are either Uncle Toms, bowing and scraping to their betters, unthinking, unquestioning; or venomous ingrates, plotting against everyone. Thomas kicks a cripple and O'Brien contrives her ladyship's miscarriage.

At least in Gosford Park there was a sense of ... this social order stinks: it props up the useless and crushes the able. The murderer of Sir William got away with it. And Elsie escaped from these horrible people, hopefully to a better life.

Maggie Smith is great in both.
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Postby ArPharazon » Sat Aug 25, 2012 2:06 pm

It is the speed and triviality of the story-telling that in part put me off. We were in World War One before we had time to breathe.

That and the villainous servant who got his "Blighty" wound by sticking his fingers above the parapet.....

I expected at least the first series to look at and establish something about the system pre-1914. But the whole scenario lacked depth or period feel.

Ok if you like the costumes alone, I guess.
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Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:29 am

Downton is good entertainment. :D :)

But on the subject of costume dramas, Benedict Cumberbatch is currently starring in BBC2's new costume drama Parade's End (based on a novel by Ford Madox Ford ... no, I'd never heard of it either :lol: ), along with Rebecca Hall, who is a really gifted actress.

In a nutshell: The Cumberbatch plays a somewhat stuffy but basically decent civil servant married to a flighty, unfaithful wife (Hall, outstanding) and who falls in love with a Suffragette.

Set just before WW1 and will take us through that. Script by Tom Stoppard. More demanding fare than Downton.

I'm just watching it for The Cumberbatch. :D And Rebecca Hall is always worth watching, too.

Trailer here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0s2bTrceCc
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Postby ArPharazon » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:54 am

Does Cumberbatch fall for the suffragette, or does his wife??
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Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:51 am

He does. :D
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Postby ToshoftheWuffingas » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:02 pm

Rebecca Halls Dad lived across the road from me for a very short time many years ago.
I adore her.
I watched the first episode of Parade's End and enjoyed it far more than Downton. Actually I thought Stoppard's script creaked a bit but it was rescued by British actors acting their socks off which I always enjoy plus wonderful cinematography and period feel. I am going to enjoy this I think.
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Postby Diamond of Long Cleeve » Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:21 am

ArPharazon wrote:If only PJ had directed Downton... (muses)...


PJ can certainly do a good sense of period, as in Heavenly Creatures.

But given that he toned down the class relationship between Frodo and Sam, for the sake of the films, Downton doesn't seem like PJ-territory to me, somehow ...

I agree that Gosford Park was brilliant. :) That's a film to turn most people into raving socialists, and no mistake. ;)

ToshoftheWuffingas wrote:Actually I thought Stoppard's script creaked a bit


Phew, I'm glad you said that. :D Some art critic was saying how 'brilliant' Stoppard's script was. Yeah, yeah ... whatever. Also, why was everybody mumbling so much? LOL.

To be honest, I was so-so about the story. I'm only watching because it's Cumberbatch and, as you say, Rebecca Hall is lovely. :)

The girl playing the suffragette bugs me. Too angelic-looking. Her hair bugs me. Did emancipated women really wear their hair that short back in 1912? Of course bobbed hair became popular in the 1920s, but that's a bit later. I'm willing to be enlightened on this. :)

Goodness, I'm getting very cranky in my middle age. :lol:
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:27 am


Goodness, I'm getting very cranky in my middle age. :lol:


Never! :D

I'll catch up with Parade's End this weekend on iplayer. There's no time to watch anything!
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Postby Niphredil33 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:53 am

Queen_Beruthiel wrote:A High Tory fable for our times.

The rich people are benevolent masters and the servants are either Uncle Toms, bowing and scraping to their betters, unthinking, unquestioning; or venomous ingrates, plotting against everyone. Thomas kicks a cripple and O'Brien contrives her ladyship's miscarriage.

At least in Gosford Park there was a sense of ... this social order stinks: it props up the useless and crushes the able. The murderer of Sir William got away with it. And Elsie escaped from these horrible people, hopefully to a better life.

Maggie Smith is great in both.


This sounds uncannily like Edwin Muir's critique of "The Lord Of The Rings." ;)

Yes, the plots are (to put it mildly) contrived, but I still feel that Downton Abbey gives a far more true and balanced view of the class system that Gosford Park did. Lord Grantham a benevolent master? Yes, but he can be petulant and wrong. His three daughters are rarely benevolent (except the youngest, and even she can be very selfish and thoughtless). Thomas and O'Brien are entertainment and perhaps nothing more - but very good entertainment and, in the first case, an example of how a clever writer can make you like a character you dislike in the beginning. And I definitely wouldn't call the housekeeper or Anna unthinking or unquestioning. Or Ethel. Or Gwen, who trained herself to be a secretary and left service in series 1.

Interesting to read Ar Pharazon's words on Upstairs Downstairs. I've only ever seen a couple of episodes, and one of them was a long time ago.

EDIT: Sorry, I thought Ar-Pharazon was referring to the original Upstairs Downstairs. I did see most of the recent series - the first 2 out of 3 episodes, IIRC.
Last edited by Niphredil33 on Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ArPharazon » Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:27 am

If only PJ had directed Downton... (muses)...


When I said that, I was actually being humourous at my own expense - at least, that was the intention. :shock:

Given my consistent defence of PJ re LOTR, I thought everyone would get the joke. :?

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Postby Wildwood » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:32 pm

Arphy, I got it!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

I am totally hooked on Downton. I never saw Gosford Park, but now you've gone and made me want to see it. And same for Parade's End, Di! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D Like I didn't have enough to do already! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

I don't know how to respond to your criticisms, except to say that I find it incredibly entertaining. Maggie Smith is amazing as ever. She could make anything work! But I love the whole story. Feeling a lot of sympathy for Edith these days. :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D And for Anna and Mr. Bates. Did he or didn't he???!!! Surely not? Do ya think???!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

Maybe I should be more discerning, but I just ain't! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

Oh - I mistakenly mentioned BBCA above. It's actually on PBS here. Season 3 premiers in January '13. Not waiting that long!! Found my way to watch it now!! I do love the internet! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby Wildwood » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:50 pm

Duh! Wasn't BBCA, or even BBC! :D :D :D :D :D :D Was ITV, although I suppose I can be forgiven for not knowing that! :D :D :D I don't get to watch TV in Britain, like, ever! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Anyhow - here in the US, on PBS, I believe it is about to start up again, but lucky me has already seen all of it, including the Christmas episode! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D I ain't gonna say how, but it is sooooo good!! I am loving this series!!! Is nobody else watching it?? :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby RoseMorninStar » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:34 pm

I'd never heard of Downton abbey until recently so I missed earlier episodes. Our local library usually has the DVD series of such shows, but there was a waiting list so I found & watched the show online not realizing season 3 had not premiered yet, and I watched all 3 seasons. How can all 3 seasons be online if it has not premiered yet?

I enjoyed it. I'm glad PJ did not direct it. :D Some things he does well. Some things not so much. :P
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby IrisBrandybuck » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:03 am

Wildwood: I thought of you Christmas morning when I got the first two seasons on DVD and a book "To marry an English Lord." :)
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby truehobbit » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:49 pm

The first series was on TV over the holidays here and I saw a few episodes. I wasn't so keen on the ongoing story, I must say - I much prefer series where each episode tells a complete story. But mostly, I didn't much like the emotionality and familiarity between all the characters. It can't hold a candle to "Upstairs, Downstairs", I think. (Maybe it's not meant to compete with this older series, but I think anyone who remembers it can't help comparing the two. :) )

Also, I thought there were several small things here and there throughout the episodes that seemed a bit off or anachronistic (e.g. would you let a servant with a big bruise on his face wait upon your guests at a garden party? Or would a pre-WWI lady's maid have been allowed to smoke and would a lady of that time want to have her hair done by someone who smells of tobacco? Not sure, but I know I wouldn't. ;) )

So, rather 'meh'. Lots of pretty dresses, though. ;)
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby MeadowForest » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:00 am

I like Downton... it's just I constantly think to myself how silly the scripts are. Some of the rash decisions they make because a character is leaving annoy me too. Yet I will keep watching it.
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby heliona » Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:05 am

I've only seen one episode and that was the latest one at Christmas (I won't say any more about it, as I'm sure most of you haven't seen it). My parents watch it and we were visiting them. I actually really enjoyed it, but then again, I haven't seen any of the other episodes, so I wasn't invested in it. I thought it was quite funny in places - an understated humour. And Maggie Smith was brilliant. I think I'd watch more episodes just for her. :D
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby Arvegil » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:39 pm

The last episode was some of the slowest moving television, ever...

Part of the problem with Season 3, as I see it, is the attempt to keep characters that have been shoved into the periphery (Bates), or completely out of the story (Ethel) into the mix. Bates was integral in Season 1, but has become of decreasing relevance. The Anna/ Bates in Prison storyline isn't that interesting on its own, and grinds the main narrative arc to a halt whenever time is spent on it. It is quickly becoming Downton Abbeys own answer to the dreadful and peripheral Twin Peaks "James Hurley on the road" story line (the gold standard of useless story lines just there to keep a character from being forgotten). Likewise, Ethel's story didn't need a reprise.
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby portia » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:38 pm

I like the way the three girls dealt with their varying problems. I like Ethel ad the issue of what her relationship with the editor will be, and how it will affect others.

I am sorry about Matthew.
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby rwhen » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:07 pm

Am I the only idiot that thought this was DownTOWN Abby? And was shocked to realize that I had been writing it that way and calling it that? Took a few months for me to figure it out....then again, I hadn't read anything or seen the PBS show.

I am planning to watch the first season this coming Sunday.
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby IrisBrandybuck » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:09 pm

:shock:
WHAT HAPPENED TO MATTHEW?????

(Dang, I am SO far behind!)
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby portia » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:54 am

If you are that far behind, I should not tell you.

If you really want to know, post again and I will tell you.
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Re: Downton Abbey

Postby IrisBrandybuck » Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:10 am

Hmmmmmm....

Okay, I'll watch season two and get back to you!
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