Monday, January 17, 2011

Downton Abbey

This weekend was a productive one. Besides two ginormous headaches (literally), the house got cleaned, meals got made, some laundry was done, I ironed, read, finished my current chapter,  had a meeting AND watched ALL of Downton Abbey. SEVEN HOURS WORTH.  Granted, we spread it out over three days, but the girls and I watched it all.

Downton is...well, I can't think of any miniseries I've seen that compares. And it's showing right now on Masterpiece Theatre so I will not spoil anything for those currently watching. I thought about watching it this way but I had heard too many good things about it and Michelle Styles insisted it was wonderful and I trust her judgment.  I ordered it in November from PBS and it was delivered this past week. It is wonderful and I'm so glad I was not forced to wait a week between episodes. Sweeping and grand, and yet also warm and intimate. I don't think anyone can resist Bates - Brendan Coyle is not your typical hot hero but I swear that man can do things with his eyes. It is no wonder Anna has a soft spot.  We just rewatched Sense and Sensibility recently so the girls were thrilled to see Dan Stevens (even as a blond). Elizabeth McGovern - they loved the Scarlet Pimpernel so were very excited. And of course Maggie Smith. She is a brilliant dowager duchess. Personally I think besides Bates, my favorite character is Sybill.

I was worried about Hugh Bonneville, though. The two roles I remember him playing most are not flattering - the bumbling Bernie in Notting Hill and as the horrid Mr. Grandcourt in Daniel Deronda. After you have seen an actor as a villian it is hard to trust him again (as I experienced after Alan Rickman in Robin Hood. It took me a very long time to warm up to Colonel Brandon). And Grandcourt was a first class bastard. So I wasn't sure if I would like Bonneville in the lead role.

BUT he is brilliant and lovable and funny and humble. Any man who sees himself as curator of an estate and title and not an owner... clearly he loves his wife and his girls and his mother. It is a credit to him as an actor, I think. He just became Lord Crawley and that was it.

There are funny bits and gasp - scandals - and secrets galore. And now that we've seen the ending, I am so relieved to know there is another series coming next year.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

11 comments:

  1. Wow, that's EXACTLY what I did this weekend too (although I watched all 7 in 1 day!) I loved Hugh Bonneville, but Dame Maggie Smith absolutely stole the show for me. My favourite line? "But...what's a weekend?" I lol'd! Glad your girls loved it too! Can't wait for Season 2!

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  2. Agree 1000% Donna. I'm counting the days until the next series over here in the UK. Caroline x

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  3. I just watched part of this on PBS last night! I loved it. I think I'm going to have to order it. It's sooo good!

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  4. I'm definitely a Bates fan! LOVING this series, especially since I write about the servants as well as the nobility.

    I think what I love most about Lord Crawley is his nondescript physicality. You can imagine in his youth he would have appeared to be nothing special. But appearances are so deceiving.

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  5. Maya, she's great, isn't she? Very McGonagall-ish. Strict and terrifying with this little bit of softness and wicked humour that comes out now and then. I can't tell you how much the girls and I laughed in the last few episodes.

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  6. Caroline - I'll admit the ending was a bit of a let down, just because it marked the beginning of some things rather than tying them up. I got burned by PBS once before with that - Island at War, which I loved, and which ended and I was shocked and saying...but...but... So I too am glad there is more to come. So are my girls. Until then, we have Upstairs Downstairs to look forward to in April I think.

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  7. Greenduckie - not sure where you're planning on ordering it from, but I try to get mine from PBS so I can help support their programs. Plus their customer service is good. Totally worth it IMO, btw. Definitely one of those watch again things.

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  8. Julia - you are quite right. And how about Robert Bathurst? He just cracked me up. I think what I really liked about Crawley was his sense of fairness. He truly is a good man who admits he married for money and lucked out. :-)

    Bates. Ah, Bates. You wait. The plot thickens. Nicholas Higgins was perhaps my favourite character in North and South. In the rudest of circumstances Higgins, Bates... they have a gentility about them that is sighworthy. Honour. Loyalty. Fairness.


    And I also loved Mrs. Hughes. Struck me as looking like a total hard ass but really she is fair, firm and kind.

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  9. I haven't seen it but hoping too. Thanks for the non-spoiler review, Donna

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  10. I'll absolutely have to get my hands on it now. It sounds great.

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  11. I like Brendan Coyle. He is quite a prolific actor and has that certain something. Some of my favourites are North and South, The Glass Virgin and Larkrise to Candleford. I also agree about not trusting actors in roles when they have previously played baddies - just shows thay can get typecast if they are not careful. Mx

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