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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
129 of 130 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, if a tad flawed, Edwardian series, November 13, 2010 This review is from: Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (DVD) Julian Fellowes has mined his script for Gosford Park, and took a few cues from the beloved 1970s series Upstairs, Downstairs - Collector's Edition Megaset (The Complete Series plus Thomas and Sarah), to create Downton Abbey, a stunning and colorful drama set around the aristocratic Crawley family and the staff which serves them. Set between 1912 and 1914, Downton Abbey chronicles the conflict of class, gender, and politics, and serves it up with a refreshing dollop of sizzle and scandal. Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Dame Maggie Smith (as Robert, Earl of Grantham, Cora, Countess of Grantham, and Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, respectively) are knock outs, but the rest of the cast are no slouches either, with the stunning Michelle Dockery at the forefront as Lady Mary Crawley, who is the selfish, proud, and vindictive eldest daughter you can't help but like. The actors and the stunning interiors of Highclere Castle, home to the Earls of Carnarvon, give Downton Abbey a glossy, sophisticated sheen, even when the script's twists and turns can be a bit of a let-down. Nevertheless, the drama is engrossing and invigorating, and a worthy addition to the collection of any period drama aficionado--and anyone who likes good drama, period! Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you?
79 of 85 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Series!, November 16, 2010 This review is from: Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (DVD) ALERT: Possible Spoilers! But I'll try not to give away that much . . .
I found about this series after watching the final episode of Sherlock on PBS. I'm a huge fan of period dramas and after seeing the trailer for Downton Abbey, I knew I had to give it try.
Downton Abbey opens in 1912, following the sinking of the Titanic on which the heir of Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham's estate, dies. This leaves the family in a bit of a tizzy trying to figure out who would be next to inherit the estate since the Crawleys have three daughters who aren't entitled to the entailment. Enter Matthew Crawley (the gorgeous Dan Stevens a.k.a "Edward Ferrars" from the 2008 Sense and Sensibility--whistle, whistle) as next in line and of course, not everyone is thrilled with the idea.
Meanwhile, we have the privledge of witnessing the bitter but incredibly fascinating sibling rivalry of the two eldest of the Earl's daughters, Mary and Edith. Mary was engaged to the original heir of Downton Abbey but it was Edith who truly loved him. As if that wasn't enough, the oldest, Mary, is seemingly the favorite of the girls' mother who's almost sole occupation is to marry her off (especially now that the entailment has gone to a "stranger" and her father will not fight it). Edith, on the other hand, is constantly overlooked and according to her mother, Cora, will more than likely be the one to take care of her and the Earl in their old age. The Earl's youngest daughter, Sybil, however, is the personification of quiet strength. Super sweet but definitely not a push over, she is a firm advocate for Women's Rights and doesn't have any qualms about expressing her opinion, even if it means getting in trouble with her father.
Downstairs, we have the arrival of the mysterious Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle, Robert Timmens of Lark Rise to Candleford--whistle, whistle again!!) who develops feelings for head housemaid, Anna and vice versa but their station (and his secrets) make their romance a bit difficult. Put off by Bates' arrival and the idea of the "lower station" of footman is the uber-villianous Thomas (I guarantee, you will hate this guy!). Aided by the equally nasty Miss O'Brien, they plot to get rid of Mr. Bates at almost all costs.
Of course, there are tons of subplots: Matthew's determination not to be changed by the inhabitants of Downton, the butler's "shameful" past, a maid's dissatisfaction of working in service and hopes for better employment, secret (and some not so secret) crushes, and lots more.
Interspersed throughout the series are a number of memorable characters. Most notably, the fabulous Maggie Smith, who lends a lot of sass (and some hilarious one-liners) to this series as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (the Earl's mother). We also have Jim Carter (Captain Brown from Cranford) as Carson, the loyal butler of the Crawley family and Penelope Wilton (Mrs. Hamley from Wives and Daughters) as Isobel Crawley, the mother of new heir Matthew and recurring sparing partner of Violet.
This season of the series ends at the Crawleys' garden party at which the Earl informs his guests that they are at war with Germany. Up to that point, a scandalous secret about Lady Mary is leaked that virtually ruins her reputation and she plots revenge on its revealer. A new "development" arises that may alter Matthew's chances for gaining the Earl's estate. Matthew, who himself finds a sparing partner in Mary, inevitably falls in love with her. She says that her feelings are mutual but he is unsure whether she wants him for himself or because of his prospect has heir to her father's estate.
I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining series. Can't wait for Season 2.Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you?
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Nobody does it better than the British, November 11, 2010 This review is from: Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (DVD) I became aware of this wonderful ITV series while reading a message board about Larkrise to Candleford (another great series, highly recommended). I've just viewed it on youtube thank you british folks! After I watched it, it occurred to me that it was somewhat like "Upstairs Downstairs" in that you saw the workings "above the stairs" and was as down. The difference is that it is set in a magnificent country mansion (or seat, whatever, I'm not british).
It's set in the early 1900s. The costumes and settings are superb.
I did feel the earl was a little to egalitarian concerned about the downstairs staff, just too "nice". From the series 1901 house, on pbs, the servants/staff were to be as out of view as possible.
Highly recommended.Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you?
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