Monday, January 09, 2012

Downton Abbey: the costumes may not be as ornate, but the drama is still ripe.

You guys. YOU GUYS. Downton Abbey is back!

Most of the girls reading this are going, "SQUEE!" and most of the guys are going, "whaaaa?"

Downton Abbey, Masterpiece's latest BBC costume drama import, has become something of a sensation here in the US.  Women (and gay men) all over the country swooned over the amazing costumes, the relationships, the upstairs/downstairs drama, and the breathtaking scenery of Highclere Castle, where the series is filmed.

After a long wait, the second season finally began airing on Masterpiece Classic* last night, and without hardly a chance to breathe we are dropped right back into the action. Literally, as we start the second season with the heir-apparent to Downton, Matthew Crawley, fighting for survival in the trenches of France. Last season ended with the announcement that Britain and Germany were at war, but with the current season WWI is properly underway and all the young men of Downton are potential soldiers. Mr. Carson, the head butler, sees his male staff gradually whittled away for one reason or another, and things at the manor house are changing--for better or worse.

I won't give away a lot of the plot movement and twists here, I figure if you have made it this far in the post you probably watch the show and if you don't WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.

The season premiere set a stunning number of subplots in motion and saw many of our characters making big changes. I thought it interesting how this season so many of the plots circle around outside forces--the war, people arriving at Downton, etc. Last season it seemed most of the drama came from Downton itself, and the question of who would inherit when the current Lord (and Earl) Grantham kicked the bucket. Of course when an outsider did come it was drama-rific (Mr. Pamuk, anyone?) but this season the war is driving everything. Which, hello, it was the War to End Wars. Of course it's touching every facet of British life.

To sum up: last night's episode was meaty, with the characters constantly moving and making decisions. Not always smart decisions (EDITH) but sometimes really excellent ones (Sybil). A lot of new doors have opened and I cannot wait to see what happens next!

Did I mention Maggie Smith is in the show?
Oh, and for those who are about the clothes (which is basically everyone who watches the show), I love how we are gradually moving into flapper territory. Or as close as British landed gentry would get to flapper. It was also interesting to see how even the upstairs folks are starting to dress more simply--I don't know if you heard, but there is a war on. 


*May I just point out that I thought dividing Masterpiece Theater into a bunch of smaller segments a few years ago was kind of dumb? People don't think of it as Masterpiece Classic or Masterpiece Mystery. They think of it as Masterpiece Theater. Except now we don't get the full theme song. Which is the first movement from Jean-Joseph Mouret's First Suite in D, in case you were wondering. I might have it on my iPod. Shut up.


Priya said...

I might be the only one who refers to the different segments of Masterpiece Theatre, as classic, contemporary and mystery. LOL.

But yes, the opening was wicked. Random short segments (strange editing) but for the most part still good and drama-crazy.

Maggie Cats said...

I didn't notice the editing issues that people have been pointing out online; I think it's because I'm just so into the show that things like that escape my notice.