It has taken me a while but I have finally gotten around to watching Downton Abbey. Now, don’t get you’re panties in a bunch, I only watched the first season and that’s the only thing I’m going to review today, but do expect more from this television show in the future.
To start I would just like to point out that one of the most appealing parts of this series is the setting. An English Manor in the 1910’s in which it always seems to be summer is such a great place to live and it is such a great setting for a television show. Downton Abbey, which is the name of the house the show is set in, is so idyllic that it makes the drama of the show seem like it is not all that serious.
In the show itself Lady Mary Crawley is, I think, one of the most interesting characters in the first season. She seems like this very intelligent (more intelligent than her two sisters) and strong woman but her entire character arc in the season is based on finding a husband. As a character her only forward moment is in becoming the secondary character to another character. That being said, Michelle Dockery’s performance is fantastic. It has so much weight and emotion and she shows the true side of Lady Mary so well.
The heart and the central theme of this show is family. In Downton Abbey there are three families; there is the Crawleys, the lords and ladies of the Abbey. There are the maids and butlers who run the household and then there is the combination of the two, and even though wealth and class separate these two families they find cohesion in their duty towards the abbey and each other.
Another fantastic part of the first season is the two villains’ Thomas Barrow and Miss O’Brien. The two are a of couple scheming, conniving conspirators who seem to be trying at any means to be improve their lot in life/taking over the Abbey. One of the most tender moments in the season comes from Siobhan Finneran, who plays Sarah O’Brien, when she places a bar of soap in Cora Crowley’s path after she’s taken a bath and she slips on it. The ensuing consequences and the reaction of Miss O’Brien is tragic and sad and heartwarming all at the same time.
The driving conflict of this first season, which stays close to the theme of family, shows the Crawley family trying to figure out who will seize control of their Manor and their families’ fortune is quite compelling for many reasons. First of all it introduces the character of Matthew Crawley, who, as a middle class lawyer stuck in a upper class world brings one of the most measured and compelling performances to the show. Second, it brings tension to the show, especially to the Crawley family. Every problem that confronts the Crawley family springs out of this central conflict. Thirdly it shows the state of the times that the Crawley family lives in, which contrasts severely from our own time.
Really, what I liked about this show, fundamentally, is that it is something far different from my own experience, from the time period, to the location, to the culture and customs of the people in the show. There is so much in this show to love and I am very excited to watch the second season, but those waiting for a sequel to this review will have to wait, it is quite a large undertaking to watch an entire season of a television show and then review it. Although, I’m not sure how many people will actually be anxious to read a review of mine so I wont even worry about it.
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