Monday, January 07, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3


Oh yes, I'm one of those "Downton Abbey" addicts.  

Last night season 3 of "Downton Abbey" began on my local PBS channel.  Oh my, oh my.  I am in heaven.

The staff of Downton Abbey

So why do I love "Downton Abbey" so much?

Well, I've always like costume dramas, especially English costume dramas since that is my ancestral background on both sides of my family (Tipton, Lewis, Hughes, Warrick, Bennett, Hadfield, Hickman, Hannum, Darlington, and Dutton).  There is no family surname in my ancestral tree that ends in a vowel. None. Nada.  

Susan Darlington Hannum - my great-great grandmother

But that's not to say that any of my English ancestors ever inhabited such a grand manse a Downton Abbey.  In fact, I doubt if any of my ancestors even were the servants.  But it is nice to fantasize that they did.  

Earl Granthom and Carson, the Butler

No, what I love about "Downton Abbey" is the human drama.  "Downton Abbey" to me is a metaphor for life in general.

Societal acceptance.  Survival.  Love. Rejection. Happiness.  Sadness. Disappointment.  Great joy. Success.  Failure.  Life. Death.  All of it.  

There is the Earl and Countess Grantham, lord and lady of Downton Abbey, a Yorkshire country house.  The series follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of George V. 

The Countess of Granthom and her daughters

Just like real life, there are winners and losers,  saints and scoundrels.  And some who are a mixture of both.  There are the phonies and the legitimate. 

This series follows the lives of the "haves", who live upstairs (think of the old series "Upstairs, Downstairs" years ago which I also loved).  It also follows those who live "downstairs", the servants.  I you want a parallel to modern life think of the Mitt Romney family living in their California house with four car elevators and the servants to keep that 1% clan afloat in their privileged existence.  Oh wouldn't I love to see a series about the Romney family.  Hint, hint!

The Dowager Countess - Dame Maggie Smith

I would love to review all the characters and their story lines but this space is much to small for that here and besides, so many other writers are writing reviews much better than I ever could.  But what I did want to say is that perhaps my favorite character is the Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith.  Oh my, oh my.  She is a delight!  I just wish she had more time on the screen.  

Thomas - gentleman's valet (and closeted gay man)

One other character I want to mention is Thomas, the valet.  Thomas is a closeted gay and is he ever a nasty, vile bitch.  I'm not sure what to think about this portrayal of a gay character.  While I didn't think a "Jack" type character (think "Will and Grace") would be appropriate on a Masterpiece Theater series, I'm not sure if I appreciate a gay character such as Thomas.  Of course I've known gay men like Thomas; bitchy, selfish, predatory and evil but still.  Of course it's no new flash that not all gay men are heroes or saints but.....I would like to see a touch of humanity in Thomas.  After all, no one is totally bad....or good.  And that is what I like about "Downton Abbey", it generally presents all of its characters with all of their strengths and weaknesses and how they survive and seek happiness.  And after all, isn't that what we all seek to do?  Survive and find happiness?

Can Thomas be redeemed? Stay tuned.



18 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed that two-hour premiere last night.

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    1. Brian,

      I was pleasantly surprised that we got a whole two hours of "Downton Abbey." Loved every moment. Now if Matthew would get off of his high moral horse and give that money he's going to inherit to James. I mean what is he thinking?

      Ron

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  2. I doubt if Thomas could ever be fully redeemed, but I'd sure as heck let him be my valet any day of the week.
    I am a HUGE "Downton Abbey" fan and wouldn't miss a minute of it.In fact, I've seen every episode numerous times. You've done such a good job of summing up the series that I needn't say more.

    I really like the photo of your great-great-grandmother!

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    1. Jon,

      Thomas isn't my type. I've known too many gay guys like him. Left a bad taste in my mouth so to speak. I have these photos of my great great grandmother Susan Darlington Hannum at various ages which are very interesting. I may post them in a future blog.

      Ron

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  3. I watched it last night "live" for the first time. The academy sent me the first 2 seasons's DVDs last year so I am hooked. On the craft side, I am wondering if they changed the lighting and camera crews as there were some bad shots. The lighting on Shirley McLaine was horrible (not the makeup department's fault for sure). It is turning into a soap opera. I decided to wait for the DVDs.

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    1. Nadege,

      I watched the first two seasons on DVD. This time I think I'll watch on PBS. Shirley looked awful didn't she? Big head. I love Maggie Smith.

      Ron

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  4. I like Maggie Smith too and she had the best lines. I think the quality is better on the DVDs as it might be tweaked. Did you ever watched "Emma" and "return to Crawford"? I think I like all of Masterpiece theater. "Little Dorit" was terrific too... Perfect viewing while my foot is healing. I am just so happy that there is finally something good and interesting to watch on TV,

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    1. Nadege,

      I watched "Little Dorit" too and loved it. I've also saw "Emma" bit not "Return To Crawford". Thanks for the tip.

      Ron

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  5. I was so dead from the weekend, that I completely forgot about it! OH NO!!!!! I intend you buy the first two seasons and have a Downton Abbey marathon one weekend.

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Jay,

      I've already seen the first two seasons of "Downton Abbey". I rented them on Netflix.

      Ron

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  6. Ron: I've heard so many good things about Downton Abbey. My Mom and Dad love the show. I'll have to check it out.

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    1. Rent the DVD's Sean and start from the first show. Guaranteed you'll be hooked. A good hook.

      Ron

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  7. Isn't Maggie Smith a marvellous actress? I share your enthusiasm for Downton Abbey. I have it all on DVD and have just finished watching Series 3. I also have the special Christmas editions - the last one set in Edinburgh came as a huge shock. Hope you get the chance to see that one.

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    1. Valerie,

      Oh I do love Maggie smith and she is just perfect as the Dowager Countess. "What is a Weekend?" indeed :)

      Ron

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    2. It wasn't set in Edinburgh. I think the castle was supposed to be somewhere on the west side of Scotland. The scenes were filmed at Inverary castle, here http://www.inveraray-castle.com/

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    3. Thank you Paul.

      Ron

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  8. I need to get the first seasons on DVD and watch this. I've heard so much about it and I think I'd love it. I remember watching bits and pieces of old Masterpiece Theatre with my mom - she would say "Mawstapiece Theahtah" and laugh. And there isn't anyone better to play aristocratic English matriarch than Dame Maggie Smith.

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    1. Holly,

      I watched the first two seasons of "Downton Abbey" on DVD through my Netflix account. You have to watch "Downton Abbey" from the first season on. If you just start with the third season, you won't understand a lot of the backstory. Enjoy!

      Ron

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