Friday, January 14, 2011

downton abbey edwardian dreams

England's majestic Highclere Castle is the location for the newest Masterpiece Classics multi-episode drama, Downton Abbey. I just watched Episode One earlier this evening, and it was instantly engrossing. I'm not a fanatic or even a regular watcher of period dramas-- even when well done they can sometimes be a bit tedious for my taste once I tire of the art direction-- but this one grabbed me right away.

The story begins in 1912. For some reason I've always been attatched specifically to those few years of the early 10s. It always seemed like such an exceptionally fascinating time, that brief period poised between the old world and modern times.

Besides being set in a beloved period for me, I soon realized this elaborate drama really has it all. If the elaborate soap opera*, great dialog, superb characterizations and solid acting isn't enough to immediately draw you in, there's the overall convincing sense of the Edwardian era including layers of nuance illuminating its extensive class and gender issues, all presented with painfully beautiful cinematography and rich production design completed by excrutiatingly beautiful costumes and museum-piece household items. As a bonus there's an endless array of glittering period-look jewelry I dream of having for myself.

As you may have noticed, I've just used up this month's allotment of adjectives and superlatives, so I'll wrap things up and say, check it out. Oh, and you'll see some familiar faces.

Here's a link to the show's page. Have fun.

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*When the show began, I had a private bet with myself that we'd see a homosexual subplot tossed into the bubbling stew before too long. After all, as the catch-phrase goes, "this... is PBS".

1 comment:

Mike Wilson said...

I quite agree that there is something entrancing about the belle époque. I've often wondered if my fascination is purely macabre—I know what they don't know, that their world was to be changed beyond all recognition by the Great War—or innocently curious, prompted by an idle wondering what shape the world might have taken had the "course" of history not been "perverted" by the all-sundering trauma of 1914-1918.

To directly address the issue at hand, I've not seen Downton Abbey & have nothing to contribute on that score.