It’s been a while since PBS had a hit on their hands. Not because of the programs, but the programming. Will they air a new series without any advertisements? Sure! How about playing programs out of order or incomplete? Absolutely! And if you missed a new show (like I did the recent Sherlock Holmes) will they refuse to re-air them, but opt for decades old reruns of Keeping Up Appearances instead? Of course!
Sorry, just had to air my grievences.
While I am sure nothing scares Masterpiece Theater (now called Masterpiece Classics) more than being called old fashioned -they would do better with younger audiences by making their shows easy to find and watch instead of dangling Alan Cumming at us.
Shocked I was, then to find Downton Abbey (which I had failed to DVR the first two) was available on Netflix instant. Bravo Masterpiece! It was a brilliant move for an absolutely brilliant show.
While the Upstairs Downstairs genre is well worn, any fan of Gosford Park ( and I can’t imagine anyone who’s seen it not being a fan) will be utterly enchanted with Downton. It’s no surprise that the charming Julian Fellowes, who wrote Gosford, is behind this one. Sets and costumes are great but there’s much more to this one than that. The characters are interesting, the plot sometimes scandalous and the cast is perfection: From a prim, wealthy Maggie Smith to a spiteful, devilish lady’s maid played by Siobhan Finneran.
Set just before the war when families were still constrained by the rigid rules of society, Downton tells the story of the Crawley family, who when losing an heir on the Titanic, are threatened to lose their whole way of living unless Mary, the eldest daughter finds a suitable husband.
If it sounds boring and familiar, fear not. This is vibrant, funny, smart and truly one of the best of the genre. I was so unhappy to reach the end of the series and thrilled to find that its popularity has prompted shooting for a second series.