Very British and Very, Very Good: My Opinion of Downton Abbey

27 09 2011

Copyright 2011 Carnival Films, ITV and PBS

So, extremely British historically infused period pieces about Bourgeois prim and proper English folk is generally not my cup a tea (aren’t I being clever for throwing in this wonderfully British saying here); however, I have thoroughly enjoyed the first series of Downton Abbey.  My girlfriend and I finished the seventh and final episode last night before bed and I couldn’t be more excited about its continuation on television in the second series, which plans to land on US soil in January 2012 on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic.

I caught wind of this wonderful piece of television making after it swept the Primetime Emmys with four wins, including Best Miniseries.  Having never heard of the show before, I researched further online and found out that it centers around the wealthy, fictional Grantham family from the period of 1912-1914.  Still not being completely sold, I did give the pilot episode a chance.  I was hooked from the introductory steadicam stroll through the family’s country estate, in real life portrayed by the majestic Highclere Castle.  The interplay between the brilliant ensemble cast, sharp writing from Oscar winner Julian Fellowes and meticulously well-directed and well-shot film looks almost out of place for PBS.  Can PBS produce material this amazing?  Well, with the joint efforts of ITV and Carnival Films it apparently can.

The analysis of English social and class mores in the ever changing terrain of this period in the 20th century provides not only an entertaining, but also historically interesting, premise.  Each episode blends seamlessly in with the next and continues a deeply complex narrative that focuses on a wide array of colorful characters.  In short, Downton Abbey is classic storytelling and classical filmmaking at its best.  No matter your walk of life, I would recommend this show, and rest assured you could find something entertaining or enlightening.  I can’t wait to see where it goes from here and look forward to the hope of following the Grantham family and their butlers, valets and maids for many seasons to come.


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