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Downton Abbey


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#1 Overstreet

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 01:55 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA3Pjvog3M0

Did anybody watch Season One? As a big fan of Gosford Park (who also wrote this), I found it to be some of the most enjoyable television I've ever seen.

That cast is perfect, top to bottom. And even though Maggie Smith has played characters like this many times before, she's never been given so much room to develop one. She's a joy to watch here.

Edited by Overstreet, 05 September 2011 - 01:57 PM.


#2 Christian

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 02:00 PM

Did anybody watch Season One? As a big fan of Gosford Park (who also wrote this), I found it to be some of the most enjoyable television I've ever seen.

I put it on hold weeks before summer break started, in hopes that we'd have the discs in hand in time to watch them over the summer. We're still waiting.

And, as with each Labor Day, which marks the end of our self-imposed "no broadcast TV during the summer" periods, we find ourselves wondering if we should just leave the TV off once the new season begins. With the exception of the occasional football game, I don't feel any compulsion to watch broadcast TV each week. That'll change once the new shows debut, and once we return to some old favorites. But those old favorites are well past their prime. We know this. We find ourselves asking each other whether we should bother with those shows again this year.

I digress. To summarize, we're planning to watch Downton Abbey as soon as our copy comes through.

#3 LibrarianDeb

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 05:40 PM

What a great show. The trailer looks awesome except for that bastardization of a certain U2 song.

#4 Christian

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:31 PM

We're about two-thirds of the way through Season One and are enjoying it greatly, although the episode we watched last night -- featuring a scandalous
Spoiler
was so "soaped up" it was laughable. Literally, we were laughing out load at the outrageousness of the plot, which came out of nowhere and seemed more akin to, I dunno, "Dynasty" or one of those night-time soaps that were big in the 1980s. (Never watched 'em, so maybe my comparison is off-base, but this sort of plotting is what I always THOUGHT those shows trafficked in.)

Had the program not established its superior qualities ahead of that episode, I don't know that we would've continued with it. But we are continuing with it. We're planning to watch another episode tonight and finish up the final disc (of three) before Wednesday. Some of these characters -- not just the performers, who are great, but the characters -- are people I want to get to know. There's a dignity to them that -- well, let's just say that as much as I'm loving "Mad Men," I'm not sure a single character on that show is someone I'd want to know in real life. But "Downton Abbey"? Those are my peeps! Some of them, at least. I feel a kinship. I want to be their friend.

Is that sad? I didn't know I was going to write that until just now, as I typed it. But it's true. Don't mock me! ;)

Also, am I to understand that this aired as part of "Masterpiece Theater"? We may have discussed this earlier here. Wasn't "Sherlock" also part of "Masterpiece Theater" last year? If so, it's no exaggeration to say that "MT" may have been the best thing last year on any television station, cable or over the air.

#5 Overstreet

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:49 PM

It gets better. That episode was, for me, the low point. Unfortunately, that Major Plot Point becomes extremely influential on subsequent events. It was a very big wrong turn in a show that makes more right turns than any television audience has any right to expect.

#6 Christian

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 08:29 PM

I loved this. Loved it. I'm both eager for more and worried about an expected decline in quality. Can the series sustain the level of excellence it achieved in its first season? It wasn't a perfect run, but it was close enough, full of great characters who have a lot going on beneath the surface.

#7 Overstreet

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 10:12 PM

As long as they don't hire writers who see the characters as being lists of predictable traits, and who exaggerate those traits. Maggie Smith's character, for example, must not become a clever comeback machine, although some of her wicked comebacks have been hilarious.

These are characters with minds and hearts and tendencies - not caricatures. Yet.

#8 Christian

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 09:57 AM

As long as they don't hire writers who see the characters as being lists of predictable traits, and who exaggerate those traits. Maggie Smith's character, for example, must not become a clever comeback machine, although some of her wicked comebacks have been hilarious.

These are characters with minds and hearts and tendencies - not caricatures. Yet.

One of the show's most delightful moments was when she
Spoiler
toward another character. (Not sure that's spoiler-worthy, but just to be safe...)

#9 morgan1098

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 12:46 PM

A bit late to the party, but my wife and I just watched the first season of this streaming on Netflix. As others have said, it's astonishingly good. I can't think of another TV show that has such a great assortment of actors for every role. I'm especially loving Elizabeth McGovern, who hasn't really made an impression on me since the 80s. Her character has so many nuances and, er, character.

Regarding the "soap opera" episode... we, too, laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of it. But as the season progresses I think that's the point--the depths to which families would stoop during this time period to maintain a sense of "decorum." Plus, that particular plotline plays heavily into the larger themes of women's rights, albeit in an often forced manner. So my negativity toward that episode has softened.

#10 Anna J

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 03:10 PM

I am five episodes into the second season (thank you, ExPatShield) and dreading the finish. Unfortunately the melodrama soars to soapier heights than ever
Spoiler
. Even the brilliant guest stars couldn't save it.

#11 Twitchly

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 02:34 PM

We enjoyed Season One, but it's definitely a soap opera. Not sure I'm up for even soapier heights this go round.

#12 Gavin Breeden

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 11:52 AM

My wife has Anglophile tendencies, so I knew she'd enjoy this. We started watching it last night on Netflix. Halfway through episode one she was hooked (marriage points for me!). Halfway through episode two I was hooked. So far I love the characters, the writing, and everything about it.

Edited by Gavin Breeden, 22 November 2011 - 11:53 AM.


#13 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 01:16 AM

Mona Charen likes it.

#14 Andy Whitman

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:44 AM

I've certainly enjoyed Season 1 and the first two episodes of Season 2. It's not perfect, and the melodrama sometimes overpowers what is otherwise a surprisingly nuanced group of characters, but it's such a pleasure to watch living, breathing, three-dimensional characters instead of caricatures. Even the villains -- Thomas and O'Brien, in particular -- have elicited pathos and compassion. It's television at its best, or very close to it, I think.

#15 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 02:18 AM

Guinness Book of World Records

#16 Gina

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 03:47 PM

I just heard that Shirley McLaine has been cast as Cora's mother. I'm a lukewarm fan at best -- mainly watching for Maggie Smith, actually -- but this could be fun! :)

#17 Tyler

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 04:35 PM

I just heard that Shirley McLaine has been cast as Cora's mother. I'm a lukewarm fan at best -- mainly watching for Maggie Smith, actually -- but this could be fun! :)


Story:

Shirley MacLaine will join the cast for the British hit's third season when it begins filming next month, it was announced Monday. The 77-year-old actress will play Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).



#18 Tyler

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 03:42 PM

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGXOLUZJptE&feature=player_embedded"]http://www.youtube.c...player_embedded[/url]

#19 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 01:10 PM

This show is getting easy to make fun of. It's got its overly melodramatic moments. It's got occasionally unbelievable coincidences. It's about stuffy British people. It's got romances that are ridiculously thwarted by glorified senses of honor and noblesse oblige and class structures that seem nonsensical. It's got a tremendous number of cliches that have led me to make fun of my female friends and family for watching any number of countless Jane Austen/Bronte sisters films.

And yet, I find myself liking it in spite of myself/itself.

The strong family unit of Downton Abbey (including the help) has been so well developed that the viewer cares about all of them (even now including the rogues), and looks at outsiders and life-changing historical events as intrusions and obstructions to this family living as you have been led to feel they ought to live. I'm still trying to think more about how powerful of a sense this show gives you that there is a good and traditional way that things ought to be. No, you think, the family shouldn't be dominated by even the benevolent tyranny of the good-intentioned social-engineering Mrs. Crawley. No, the oldest daughter shouldn't be forced to marry that annoying newspaper man. And no, even Thomas seems to be starting to find the much thwarted romance between Bates and Anna a little ridiculous.

I find their hang-ups and class strictures annoying. And yet, Branson's anti-class ideas seem a little naive and arrogant. And the Sir Richard's self-made do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-whatever-you-want view of the world seems abhorrent compared to the respectability of the Crawly family. The characters in the show who don't like the same things about the show that I don't like - well, I don't like them either. But I still like the show and I'm still working on figuring out how to explain why.

#20 Overstreet

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:01 PM

I knew it!!