Friday, March 9, 2012

Downton Abbey

By now, you may have heard of the PBS (yes, you heard me right) show that's been attracting an impressive following: "Downton Abbey," a British import that chronicles the lives of an aristocratic family and their servants in the years leading up to World War I and during it. Here's a quick trailer for Season 1:

Season 2 just finished airing on PBS last month. In case you missed the show, the library has both seasons on DVD. You can find them on the DVD shelves that house our TV shows under DVD TV DOWNTON. We've also got the book on the show, The World of Downton Abbey.

I recently started watching "Downton" out of curiosity. Now I'm hooked. You come to care greatly for all the characters and the few villainous characters there are, you love to hate. Even then, you can grudgingly see where their bad attitudes come from. Upstairs, benevolent patriarch Lord Grantham (played by Hugh Bonneville) oversees his brood, which includes his mother, wife and three daughters. Downstairs, the dignified Mr. Carson does the same with his small army of staff.

In Season 1, the ill-fated Titanic has taken with it the heir to Downton Abbey. The rules of inheritance shift Downton's fate into the hands of a unknown third cousin, Matthew Crawley, a lawyer working in Manchester. The fact that he is unlanded and employed (gasp!) is cause for great consternation.

The show examines, among other things, issues of class and gender at the time. Be prepared; the first episode starts out slow and it takes a while to warm up to the show but by the end of Episode 1, you'll be flipping over to Episode 2 and pushing "Play." It may be a period piece, but it's written in a way that feels thoroughly modern and relevant. No stodgy, boring portrayals here; just well-written, absorbing fun. There is drama, romance, and humor — all PG-rated, of course (this is PBS) — but engrossing nevertheless.

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