Downton Abbey is my favorite new show. I started watching a few weeks ago and was immediately hooked. The costumes, the drama, Emma & Mr. Bates, Mary & Matthew, Sybil & Branson, the strong relationships between those upstairs and those downstairs, the devastation of war… All of it captivated me. I made it through Season 2, Episode 5, before PBS stopped hosting the full episodes on their site. I was crushed!
I know what happens in the last couple episodes that I didn’t get to watch, but I am sad I didn’t get to see them unfold. I might just have to buy the seasons.
But there’s still the question of what to do until Season 3. I know I’m not alone in pining after the show. And while there certainly is no substitute, there are ways to fill the gap if you want to further explore some of the points that make the show exceptionally intriguing.
First of all, you should take a look at the Masterpiece Classics page on PBS.org. About 1/3 of the way down the page is a section called “Shorts.” These are clips of interviews with all of the actors and actresses from the show. It’s fascinating to hear them talk about the characters, the history of this time period, and what might be coming in Season 3.
Downton Abbey starts in 1912 with the devastating news that the Titanic has sunk, killing Lord Grantham’s heir and bringing Matthew Crawley to Downton. Victorian Swag reports that Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has a new miniseries airing on April 14 and 15 about the Titanic. It looks wonderful! Also, book-wise, The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is a fresh take on the tragedy of the Titanic. You can read a detailed synopsis here.
Did you know that Downton Abbey is a real place? It’s actually Highclere Castle. Highclere is the home of the Earl and Countess Carnarvon, and the Carnarvon family has a unique story of their own, rivaling the drama of the TV show. The current Countess Carnarvon has written Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey to share the story of one resident at Highclere Castle who was very much like the character Sybil on the show.
One of the parts of the show I enjoy the most is the upstairs/downstairs dynamic. They are socially divided, but there is still much affection between the two. And one of the effects of the War is that the division between upstairs and downstairs starts to crumble. Lady Sybil takes cooking lessons from Mrs. Patmore, Thomas becomes Sergeant Barrows, Anna becomes Mary’s accomplice… Poor old Mr. Carson strives valiantly to retain the dignity of the house. He is very much like Mr. Stevens from Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. Mr. Stevens also wants to preserve the honor of his master and his master’s house, but because of World War II, he is forced to question his identity as a servant and the integrity of his master.
Season 3 is going to be set in the 1920s, and this era is sure to bring even more changes to Downton. Unfortunately, we have to wait until Christmas Day 2012 to see the new movie The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, but that doesn’t stop us from reading the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald book.