INCLUDE_DATA

PBS boosts programming quality with DOWNTON ABBEY

Posted on April 30th, 2013
Posted on April 30th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

I never thought I would care about “Masterpiece Theater” on PBS, but it seems even stuffy British period TV dramas can be compelling under the right talent. With three seasons completed, “Downtown Abbey” has slowly but surely become the talk of the internet and entertainment circles.

Abbey” follows the lives of the Crawley family, lead by the Earl of Grantham and their servants at a wealthy English estate in the early 1900’s. The highborn family follows strict traditions and the servants work hard to maintain their positions until word comes down the family heir has been killed during the sinking of the Titanic. This throws years of tradition to question as both family and servants are subjected to modernism, social changes and World War I. Throughout the series, the characters endure marriages, betrayals, happy reunions and tragic deaths. As the years pass, the future of Downton Abbey remains perpetually uncertain.

The main characters include the honorable Earl, Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), his rich American wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and their three daughters who are unable to inherit the family wealth. The new heir to the house is a distant cousin and lawyer Matthew (Dan Stevens) who is not comfortable with his newfound title and is being pressured to marry the eldest daughter, Mary (Michelle Dockery) to secure the family fortune. The stern but fair house butler, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and the head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) attempt to keep the servant drama to a minimum. A gentle, disabled valet, Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) must face his shady past while romancing a kindly house maid, Anna (Joanne Froggatt). Meanwhile, the jealous footman Thomas (Rob James-Collier) and duplicitous maid Miss O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) jockey for control of the house staff.

The interesting thing about “Downton Abbey” is it’s the most talked about series to come out of the PBS since “Sesame Street.” While the show is technically British and marketed as one of their dry “Masterpiece Theater” offerings, “Abbey” is the most well-written and addictive show to come out of the venerable (40 years + and counting) series. It’s soapy and often sappy but alliances change, good characters go bad and vice-versa, the acting is exemplary and the writing/plotting is on par with the best that cable has to offer.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the show is education it provides on the British royal caste system and how their lives compare, contrast and intermingle with their servants. As the times change, traditions and roles threaten to change and do in the most dramatic ways. The show even challenges modern social issues and taboos that were even more scandalous for the time period.

By far, the best character in the show is played by “Harry Potter’s” Mrs. McGonagall, Maggie Smith. She plays the family matriarch – the Dowager Countess of Grantham – Violet Crawley who wields no actual authority, but is a master of wit and manipulation. The show sets her up early as a cunning villain but she quickly proves her true benevolent intentions despite her wry sniping and scheming. Every single line of dialogue she speaks is pure gold. She has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and many other awards for the role which are testaments to her overwhelming prowess on the show. One could watch the show for her character alone.

Luckily her character is accompanied by many other great ones, each with their own story-lines filled with sorrow and joy. There are also running gags such as telegrams which always bring bad news, phrases like “May I have a word?” signaling an imminent confrontation, the rampant eavesdropping and snide characters always making deliciously clever remarks at precisely the right moments.

The show is available on PBS to anyone with a TV but can also be viewed on Netflix, Amazon Instant and many other sources.

Downton Abbey” rating: 5 out of 5 stars

No Comments •

Comments

Search
Search Form
Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

The Small Town Critic’s SCREENWRITING SERVICES
Follow Coop on Twitter...
    follow me on twitter
    Follow smalltowncritic on Twitter
    Archives
    Subscribe via Email!

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    Subscribe via RSS feed!