‘Downton Abbey’ returns…& other news!

16 Jan

As an avid fan of PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre, I plunged into despair — well, maybe not quite plunged — when season one of Downton Abbey ended.  It left me hanging, and as all these shows from across the Pond tend to do, there is an indefinite period of time between seasons because they never seem to be quite sure if they’re going to make any more…or if PBS is going to buy any more.  So I bit my nails and waited.

Then season two arrived last week.  (Insert church bells peeling here.)

Downton Abbey is a delightfully well-made original WWI tale of an aristocratic family and their servants.  In season one, Lord Crawley must accept that without a son (he is the father of three nearly grown daughters), his estate will be inherited by a lower class cousin who prefers to earn his own living as an attorney rather than spend his life being waited on and learning which fork to use when Duke So & So comes to visit.  The large cast of servants has their own personal goals and plots, and no matter how hard they both try to avoid it, upstairs and downstairs can’t help but collide.

We’ve been on pins and needles to see what would happen with Bates & Anna and whether or not Mary would recover from not getting her way and whether there would ever be a peace treaty between the two Crawley families.  And now the wait is over.  Season two finally debuted here in the U.S. last Sunday.  I picked up the last bit of chicken left in the Iguana Grill’s kitchen and made a mad dash to my sofa and Twitter account.

Two years after the garden party on the lawn of Downton Abbey, WWI is in full swing.  Matthew and Thomas’ paths collide in the trenches, where Matthew is learning honor and sacrifice and Thomas is making plans to get out of there at any cost.  Lady Mary is reduced to tears at the news of Matthew’s engagement…but the tears are a sign that there is hope for her yet.  She’s never said so much in her life as she does when she wakes before the servants and dresses herself to be at the platform to see Matthew off to the trenches.  Her selfless prayers for him are certain to be answered.  It’s simply not fair that her skin is so perfectly gorgeous.  Glorious bliss — Bates and Anna finally begin making plans for a future together — only to have all their hopes (and mine!) dashed five minutes later.

Thomas has understandably been through a lot — volunteering for the medical corp was not the cakewalk he thought it would be.  But in spite of the horrors of war, he’s still the same conniving mess he was before.  It’s very hard to buy that he cared enough for another human soul apart from his own to go to the trouble of comforting a wounded soldier.  What exactly would he get out of that?  And his grief at the loss of the young man was equally hard to believe.  They say war changes people…I just think in Thomas’ case it would only further promote his weakness of character.  It would be easier to believe he’d become an opium addict.

My fellow ginger Edith appears to be headed for the very sharp end of a farmer’s wife’s pitchfork if she doesn’t stop behaving like a jerk.  Sybil on the other hand decides to leave the Abbey for nurse’s training and chooses helping others over raging hormones.  She must take after her father.  Lord Crawley is patient, and generous of nature, and apparently doesn’t believe in keeping skeletons in his closet.  They broke the mold when they made him!

Ms. Hughes summed up my overall feeling:  “Oh, Mr. Bates…where are you when we need you?”  The only thing this episode needed was more Bates.  Jolly good fun.

And speaking of jolly good fun…

Miss Wisabus was kind enough to invite me to join her in a new video podcast she’s cooked up called “Picture Shows & Petticoats.”  We’ll be talking about period dramas, starting with Downton Abbey season two.  While she’s a pro at being in front of a camera, I tend to just sort of sit there and giggle.  For which I do apologize.  Profusely.  Anyway, if you’re like us and can’t get enough of Downton Abbey and other shows like it, please feel free to join us over on You Tube.  She and I had a jolly good time together during the broadcast of the royal wedding, and we expect more of the same with this new project.  BYO Earl Grey.

Episode two of Downton Abbey aired tonight, but my brain needs time to percolate.  (As you can see, it’s taken a week for episode one to process!)  So in the meantime, if you haven’t been following the series, it’s not too late!  Go watch…then come and join our little period drama addiction support group.  Cheers!

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