Thursday, February 3, 2011

Period England + Melodramatic Scandal = Perfect



I have been watching the BBC America presentation of Downton Abbey over the last couple of weeks.

IT IS PURE GENIUS.

I've always been a sucker for a period piece. I'm fond of Jane Austen stuff, and the Bronte sisters, and even some lesser known writers of the time. Anything is good as long as it involves England, complicated social behaviors, foreign customs, forbidden romances, gorgeous costumes, archaic language, breathtaking manors and estates, and puritanical values.

I wasn't sure if I'd like Downton Abby. For one thing, it was written currently, not in the 18th or even 19th century. For another thing, it takes place in the 1910's, not the distant past. Thirdly, it stars Elizabeth McGovern, star of She's Having A Baby, which I thought would throw off the authenticity. Really, I didn't give it much of a chance at all. But I underestimated just how effective it can be to take all the things I love about period pieces and then make them into a SOAP OPERA.

Brilliant!

The plot centers around the Earl and Countess of Grantham and their three grown daughters, but it also deals equally with the "downstairs," the lives of the house's servants, which you seldom see in period pieces. Though the values and morals of the time are preserved, and the characters generally behave with the decency, honor, and integrity you expect of people from bygone eras (which is what I love about period pieces--reading about people who behaved so much better than people do now), the story still manages to get the characters into all kinds of scrapes and situations that really keep the plot twisting and turning and bringing you back for more. It's like Days Of Our Lives 1913-style!

If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend you do. I'm not sure how you'd get ahold of the past episodes. BBCA reruns? On Demand TV? Hulu? Pirating them somewhere on the internet (which, of course, if you're a network exec reading this, I don't support AT ALL.)? But find a way to watch this show. I guarantee, you'll love it. Unless you're a straight man. Then skip right over to footage of Jimmer Fredette. You'll get the exact same high.

10 comments:

jennie w. said...

I was totally jazzed for the pre-WWI time period. I love that era's clothes!

I can barely even wait for next year's sequel. I LOVED IT! Except for thomas who I hope dies immediately upon enlisting.

alex dumas said...

It's still available to watch online:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/watch/index.html

Omgirl said...

I also just discovered that the DVDs are avialable for purchase on Amazon!

Omgirl said...

Me too, Jennie. I LOVE clothes from that time period. It might be my favorite era for fashion.

Jen said...

Oh that sounds right up my ally, now I need to find out how to watch it to catch up...

Mrs. Organic said...

I've been hearing a lot about this show, I've got to figure out how to watch it.

L. said...

I'm hoping that nasty personal Maid of the Mrs. also gets drop-kicked out a third story window. She is pure evil, a lying gossip, a deliberate mischief maker, and completely nasty person! I hope she gets bombed by a German dirigible!

Najma said...

Oooh... this looks good. I love stuff like this. Which reminds me you need to read Outlander! It's in the 1700's in Scotland though. Holly is reading it too and we are both obsessed. :) I'm going to watch this though! You can get the DVD's on Netflix too.

Heather said...

If you have access to the Salt Lake city library system they have the first season of this show. Of course there are 42 holds on 7 copies, but you'd get it eventually. I love that library it has everything!!

carolyn said...

Another suggestion for pbs.org to watch online. Of course you have to sit at the smaller computer screen to watch. Great series.