Tag Archives: Masterpiece Classics

Downton Abbey: Week 5

SONIA BRAND-FISHER Not one of my favorite episodes of “Downton Abbey” this week, for multiple reasons. It kind of felt like the second episode of the season for me, where plots were started and stopped, nothing really gets resolved, and we are all just left hanging until more chaos ensues and decides to further the plot.

ZOË RICE: My thoughts as Downton’s opening credits flicked from room to room ran along the lines of, “Please let Matthew have sex again!” And as the closing credits rolled, they turned more to, “Huh, okay…?” This week’s episode was something of a place holder – the set up for what we can only anticipate will be a whirlwind of tumult.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Oh, good. I thought I was the only one disappointed by this episode. Safety in numbers. Continue reading

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Downton Abbey: Week 4

SONIA BRAND-FISHER When scandal strikes on “Downton Abbey,” we are intrigued and enthralled to be caught up in the frivolous exhilaration. Even when something as wild as Branson’s attempted vandalism happens at the dinner table or when Thomas sobs at the suicide of a blind soldier, we watch from afar, curious yet hopelessly invested. Episode 4, however, brought us closer into the tragedies of the household that were articulated with so much intimacy and humanity that at times it was very difficult to be a part of. This episode took us out of our cozy roles as observers and into the depths of Downton, all the way to the end of the South Gallery, behind white curtains, and into the hearts of the inhabitants.

ZOË RICE: And so this week the camera doesn’t cut away when Matthew and William face their gravest peril yet. Instead we see them lying seemingly lifeless on the battlefield. With that, this season’s most gripping episode of Downton yet is underway.

MICHAEL CUMMINGS: I swear for a minute there I almost thought Julian Fellowes was trying out material for the tragically as-yet-unplanned Star Wars Episode VII post-quel. First, Lady Mary and Daisy started feeling disturbances in the Force when their men took shrapnel at the front. Then, the radical chauffeur reminded the cute daughter to be more mindful of her feelings. Later, Captain Crawley and William (requiescat in peace, by the way) threw down in an epic Darth Vader egg-off. At that point I was honestly expecting to see a 1138 Easter Egg pop up somewhere.

HOWARD MEGDAL: So much to love about this week’s episode. My fellow reviewers have touched on the larger points, and I largely agree. It is almost impossible to imagine that Matthew, whose entrances have provided so much of the show’s lifeblood, will now be a forlorn figure in a wheelchair. Perhaps they can split the difference and give him an FDR persona, but betting on a misdiagnosis seems wise. Continue reading

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Downton Abbey: Episode 2

SONIA BRAND-FISHER: Episode two of Masterpiece Classics’ “Downton Abbey” has begun to unearth both tension and hope that we will see unfold in this new season. Cora and Mrs. Crawley have begun shooting daggers from across the rooms that are left to their usage after Downton has gone through its full conversion into a convalescent home for wounded soldiers.

ZOË RICE: Like Sonia, I felt that the second episode of Downton rushed to fit too much into its designated time slot. Any TV program – but especially one that sets up numerous suspenseful plot threads – will jockey with the problem of pacing. Too slow and viewers complain that nothing happens, but too fast and what does happen feels either disingenuous or somewhat unsatisfying, as if we didn’t earn it. For me, the reveal of Lavinia’s deep dark secret fell into the latter category.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I largely agree with Sonia and Zoë, but allow me to spotlight a plot point that really didn’t work for me: Thomas, back to run the house? Continue reading

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Downton Abbey Review

HOWARD MEGDAL: There was plenty to enjoy in the series premiere of Downton Abbey last week on PBS, though the program itself is less great art and more high-level soap opera, with the feel of “Big Love”, though with the accents, and occasionally the wit, of the far superior “The King’s Speech”.

ZOË RICE: What would the BBC and PBS do without British period dramas? I admit I have probably seen every single one. And here I see more in Downton Abbey than the plot intrigue of a noble family and its estate thrown into turmoil by the loss of its male heirs. The miniseries is Sense and Sensibility meets Upstairs Downstairs, and because it’s set in the 20th century, it’s also a peek into a different kind of turmoil for the landed classes: modernization. Continue reading

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