Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Downton Abbey

Masterpiece | Watch Online | PBS Video

It's not Deadwood (not by a long shot), but I must admit this series (written by the same Julian Fellowes who wrote the criminally underappreciated Gosford Park) has got me hooked. Terrific performances and a gorgeous setting help gloss over a few minor flaws (lame Mr. Bates is lightning fast when the story calls for it) in this character-driven examination a society that was living in a dream, and woke up to the Great War.

I've heard Season One called an apology for the British class system, but I don't think I agree. Certainly Robert's integrity is impeccable, but we see how clearly stultified Mary and Edith are by it, and we see the tolls of the rigid hierarchy downstairs and up.

The first two episodes of Season Two aren't quite as strong as any of Season One, but I am still eager to see what becomes of Matthew and Mary, Bates and Anna, whether that snake Thomas gets what's coming to him, and whether his crony Mrs. O'Brien will ever recover enough of her humanity to see the his complete lack thereof.

Of course, nobody steals a scene like the Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess (image via 12ptplan.com)

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