As an American-- or "colonial commoner" as the vernacular goes-- I am a bit behind what might be the great English import to the States since emotional repression. I am, of course, talking about Downton Abbey
The United Kingdom decided to make its version of The Wire
so, naturally, it involves rich nobles involved in the intricacies of property rights and poor people attempting to deal with their budding humanity. While I'm no expert on the people from which I take my surname, I am fairly certain that Downton Abbey
is either a perfect representation of that island's spirit or it bloody well should be, because Downton Abbey
is, as one Jesse Thorn might say
"The best show."http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M3moEeErr8Is that the best we can do for ads? Really? Aw, whatever.
What is this Downton Abbey
you speak of, old boy?
I'm glad you asked in a polite way, dear peasant, because like the advent of the telephone and the light bulbs, I want to make enliven your simple existence. Downton Abbey
begins with the sinking of the Titanic
. The heir to the titular estate dies in the tragedy-- and the fiance to the occupants' eldest daughter-- dies as a result. Due to a variety of opaque laws the ownership of the home is in flux, as well as all of its occupants, from lady and lord to that gay shithead* that keeps on stringing along that simpleton Daisy. Poor, poor Daisy, she needs to stand up for herself. . . Anyways, the next heir to the abbey shows up and he's what you would call "not especially entitled" in that he has a job and his dad was a doctor (how gauche
) and his mom gave birth to Shaun of the Dead
. In short it's fundamentally a drama of repression. There is no cussing, there are no tits, there are relatively few murders, it's simply a show about people attempting to not be worse off than they are now and feeling terrible about it.
Also-- hey-- you might recognize the eldest daughter of the Abbey as the gal what gets her neck snapped in the Hannah
trailer. Let's watch, shall we?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj6zCJyTq2ISeriously, Hanna is a fucking goddamn good movie.
Between the superb acting and the excellent writing there exists an excellent television program that has managed to pull me in despite the fact that it plays on a station that exclusively plays Antiques Roadshow and Huell Howser visiting avocado groves
. And as imperfect as the writing may be (I get it, those clouds on the horizon are a metaphor for the terrors of electricity and women having a say in things and this business of biffing the Boche
) and as "posh" (that's the right word, right?) as the whole thing might be, the end results are a period drama with all of its trappings-- great costumes, wonderful sets, bizarre colloquialisms-- that manages to be enjoyable on a human level. It's funny. It's romantic. There's intriguing. And as much as it's wrapped around these sort of irrelevant issues (Have you ever had to worry about the rights to your estate? Also: Do you have an estate and or rights?)Also, I guess it won a bunch of Emmys or some such nonsense. I guess that's cool.
Tonight (the 2nd of January in the year of Our Lord 2012) my local PBS station
broadcasted a marathon of the entire first season. Next week they are going to premiere the second season in America and I am jazzed as hell, even though it will be playing opposite the second part of a Foyle's War
episode. Then again Downton Abbey
never made the mistake of casting Danny feckin' Dyer
in one of their episodes.
If you haven't heard of or watched this show yet, you really need to. My reference to it being the British version of The Wire
is only a half joke, because despite Downton Abbey's
much shorter length, they're both compelling and grounded dramas about segments of human beings we are almost certainly without any relation to. If a drama can make that compelling than it must be doing something right.
Now-- Observations about Season 1 (or, ugh, Series
1) Sybil > Edith > Mary
2) If that Irish chauffeur isn't killed by Cillian Murphy
in a bog somewhere he's never going to see what hits him.
3) Is a more noble or kissable man in all of the world than Mr. Bates?
4) Seriously, what the fuck is a Tory? It's a kind of Italian pastry, right?
5) Maggie Smith should be our queen. I say this as an American. She should be everyone's queen. Forever.
6) Let us all pray for a Boardwalk Empire
crossover. Let's also pray for less incest.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKCnHWas3HQ&feature=youtu.be
Let's rap about Downton Abbey
, yeah?*By which I mean, he's literally both a homosexual and a shithead, with one having no bearing on the other. Plus I can't remember his name and I feel that's a pretty succinct appraisal of who is that guy.
(Actually, I only caught the most recent Christmas special and it was all quite engaging.)
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and the second was so bad (or maybe it was that I finally saw past all the gloss to its inadequacies)
But never mind, it is still entertaining! Mostly thanks to some of the performances.
I'd swap Edith and Mary around, and actually Sybil falls in my estimation in series 2, but pretty much. Edith has a really odd story in the first couple of eps of series 2, but then begins to come into her own.
That's a shame hearing about the second season. Maybe it'll be like The Wire's second season where everyone thinks they hate it at first because it's about dock workers and shit instead of the projects and almost everything is going to come up lacking when you compare it to the more perfect version of itself.
I really am only half joking about these Wire comparisons.
The setpieces and castle itself are such a compelling member of the cast itself imo
And why must the gay butler also be the gay shithead, dangit BBC
Well, it's ITV, which I think is a commercial network, technically. And as I was writing the OP I realized that the only character of color is a shithead and so is the only (confirmed) homosexual. That's kind of crappy. Then I rationalized that considering all of the straight white people that are awful, it hardly pays to be that way, either. If the show was a bad show then I think it might be accused of something.
My main problems with it were:
a) lack of character development. In episode 2 of series 2 some fun things start to happen, especially with Edith and Thomas (whose character in that episode improves dramatically!). By episode 3, PFF! Everything's back to how it was with those characters in series 1. Edith becomes a definite background character and Thomas becomes the stereotypical bad guy. It was as if the episodes had different writers who had not consulted each other at all - even though they had the same writer!
b) considering WW1 happens, and considering the series spans 6 years, relatively little happens to anyone. Yes, a couple of people die, but they were the two people you could predict died in episode 1. That was the other thing - SO PREDICTABLE. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but the quality of the writing wasn't quite enough to compensate for it.
The Christmas special was very much a case of giving the fans what they wanted, but I feel like it made up for all of season 2's shortcomings all the same.
anyways, um. i haven't seen any of this show for myself but i've heard friends talking about it.
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@Gatsby can confirm yes but also that it's scary
Quality varied wildly in my opinion. General consensus is that the first one was rather enjoyable if ludicrously dark and aggressive while later ones like 15 million merits were a tad predictable and tame by comparison. But the whole thing had extremely high production values. I think the issue was hosting it on a non-BBC channel, which somewhat hampered exactly how far they could go when it was being used as a source of revenue. Also CHARLIE BROOOKERR YES
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why should i care
I kinda want to talk about Hanna though, since that movie is a pretty good movie. And the trailer is right there in the OP.
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Plus, there's Mr. Bates. Meow.
I agree with pretty much all of this. That said, I'd say it's the writing that holds the show up more than the acting. Only Maggie Smith's and Hugh Bonneville's performances are memorable in my mind... the rest are good, but not standout. The writing is what carries most of them through.
I do like Lesley Nicol's performance, too... she just looks so NATURAL as Mrs Patmore it'd be impossible for me to see her as anyone else.
As an additional note on character development... Season 2's character development slows down to focus on the development of a few characters at a time (or at all, depending on who you ask) while turning others into parodies of themselves. You'll have to decide for yourself who is which.
Some of the best TV of 2011. Last episode was the weakest, but still worth watching.
They're both important in this case, I just think it is the choice of actors that elevates what is already pretty good material.
Anyways, Bullseye/The Sound of Young America just released and episode with three of the leads from Downton Abbey (which is, like, the main earl guy and the heir and the blonde maid, yeah?). It is a pretty good interview, all told.
but it's very good bbc period drama nonsense
has anyone else watched the Christmas special yet because I want to talk about how much I enjoyed it
Though, I have these observations:
1) What is this bullshit about O'Brien being some sort of a human we should feel sorry for? That can fuck right off.
2) Poor, poor Mr. Carson.
3) Poor, poor Mr. Bates.
4) I feel like this Robert Carlyle guy has killed people before. Personally.
5) What in the fucking ghost of St. Hubbins in Edith doing? What the fuck is this shit?
6) Thomas can still go fuck himself.
7) When will Colonel Blimp appear and make my life complete?
8) Poor, poor William.
9) Alright, I've officially had enough of this Irish fella. Sybil is nursing wounded veterans, you jag.
How do I get caught up?
I mean, besides that post reply button. I'll click that one.
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@Aneurhythmia @Jimothy, the first season is on Netflix
Also, @Vivixenne, I finally watched the Christmas special
Also, I just realized that setting the show in WWI during meager times is basically a built-in conceit to cut the budget of the show back. You can literally explain why there's less costumes away by saying, "Oh this war!" I'm not saying they're doing that, but if they wanted to, it'd be a kind of brilliant move to make.
Now if I could only work out a way to watch both this and Foyle's War at the same time, I'd be set.