Jun 24, 2016

[TV] Downton Abbey: Series 3

The second series of Downton Abbey certainly had more than its fair share of plot twists and turns that by the end off the season I was feeling a little bit drained. Was the true message of the story was that this family of minor nobility was actually somehow cursed? Is the show a weird statement on how the 1% also suffer terribly in life?

I exaggerate of course, but the mix of happiness and heartbreak in this show has really helped define what has made it so popular. This is like a pseudo high class telenovela or something - it has just about as many plot twists and character reveals after all so the similarity is there if you want to see it for yourself.

And as if the second season hadn't been traumatic enough, this third series of the show only continued to stir the pot and add to the drama of things. The end result may not always be to everyone's liking, but it'll always make sense somehow and one can only accept what cards are dealt to the family and those who help them live in Downton Abbey.

Synopsis: Downton Abbey is a British-American period drama series created by Julian Fellowes. It airs in the UK on ITV and in the US on PBS.

The third season begins with the preparations for the wedding of Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Mary (Michelle Dockery), including the arrival of Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) mother Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine). But around the same that Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) learns that his investment in the Grand Trunk Railway in the US has failed, taking with it pretty much all of Cora's fortune. There are some alternate sources of income to keep the family afloat, but of courses there are numerous complications attached to it either way. Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) also returns to the house with her husband Tom (Allen Leech), although his rather coarse politically vocal nature is a little upsetting at the dinner table. Then of course there's the downstairs stories including new staff starting at the house and the fact that Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) remains in prison. And thus life continues on at the estate as colorful as ever.

We saw a lot of diversity in the characters this season, although on the whole their dedication to preserving the status quo and preserving the honor of the institution of noble families remains admirable but also laughable at times. But the quirks off the sort of "class struggle" that we see in the show is all part of its unique charm.

I thought things started well enough with Matthew and Mary finally getting together, but as the season went on so many other thing came along to distract us from that one happy event. Seriously. the troubles of the estate quickly eclipsed the joy of the wedding preparations and even rocked the boat a bit in terms of this engagement. But hey, we wouldn't have a show were not for the drama, right?

I also like the fact that Sybil came home and her just being in this marriage to a man of a different social standing was fodder enough for rocking the boat. Hooray for silly Crawley family antics!

But of course you can go back downstairs and you have other character arcs progressing like Daisy (Sophie McShera) really coming to her own in the kitchen and the addition of Jimmy (Ed Speelers) to the team did add a bit of unexpected drama and yet another focus of Thomas' (Rob James-Collier) tendency towards obsession, really.

Downton Abbey fulfills an unusual itch I get in my TV line-up but one that it manages quite beautifully. I just wish the Christmas Specials got a little happier - the writers do tend to get a little heavy-handed when the season ends and again over Christmas for some reason. Thus the season gets a great 4 antics of Mr. Molesly (Kevin Doyle) out of a possible 5.


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