Downton Abbey 101

“No one wants to kiss a girl in black.” (Violet)

I’m always hesitant to try a period piece. While they might be nice to look at, there’s usually an overflow of dialogue and not nearly enough action to keep things going. I don’t mean I want to see explosions – I just want the damn actors to move around now and again. At a first glance, itv’s upstairs-downstairs-based period drama Downton Abbey might pull that off. One reason: telling an upstairs-downstairs story usually involves taking stairs.

1912. The sinking of the unsinkable Titantic is the start of the action. It sets in motion a chain of events involving heirs, marriages and the other usual stuff that happens in period dramas. I never truly buy into this, because a) it’s pretty complicated and b) it’s not really important to the actual plot. What matters is that a lot of people’s wellbeing are at stakes – not just that of the people living in the house, but their servants as well.

The series lives off intrigue. Every character (and believe me, there are quite a few) seems to have some sort of dirty laundry, backstory or secret, and they all act accordingly. It’s refreshing to see a big set of characters behave this naturally from the get-go. Everyone has their place on the ladder in comparison to the others; most want to move higher up and have every reason to (literally) send other people crashing down.

Thoughts and things

  • It will take me ages to remember all the characters’ names. Let’s see: there’s Eyebrows, Maggie Smith, Cripple, Blonde Daughter, Bitchy, Evil Footman… Reviewing this will be very hard.
  • The Duke was played by Charlie Cox, who plays Owen on Boardwalk Empire (season 2). No one can push the envelope on the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothes stereotype more than him.

In all…

One I’ll definitely be watching. If you like great costumes, a breathtaking location, old cars and simply good television, I trust you will do the same. Let’s see if I have something interesting to say next week.