Dowton Abbey SEASON ONE (can you tell I'm glad it is returning?!) is over, and there have been a few days to properly process all the amazing acting, film-making, and writing I think I can, without ranting or fangirling or much extreme favoritism, say that it was brilliant and one of the best BBC dramas I have seen in a long time. In hopes of making this review short, concise, and useful: I am going to give you my top five reasons to watch Dowton Abbey as soon as possible.
5. The wonderfully shocking twists and turns
I do not want to give away any spoilers for these shockers (although, I’ll point you in this direction if you want to know). Needless to say there are surprising relationships, deaths, and even maybe a birth and secret or two that came out of nowhere for this viewer. Some are things you see coming and just want your suspicions confirmed, others are a blindside. Every one, though, was an open-mouth “what just happened?” moment, and I love those moments. Love them. Dowton Abbey absolutely has enough twists and turns to keep you more than interested for hours.
There is something so refreshing about the strongly female cast and their actions and motivations. While the men have control of Downton upstairs and down, the women challenge constantly their constraints: Sybil is openly in favor of women’s rights, the Dowager Countess openly willing to challenge the entailment, and Mrs. Isobel Crawley's position as a knowledgeable nurse highlights the intellect of the early 20th century woman. As a reflection of pre-WWI female sentiment, Dowton Abbey left a smile on this view’s face. Likewise, as a reflection of the pre-WWI period, it is simply lovely.
2. The acting, OMG the acting
I will be the first to say I don’t like Mary or Edith. I think they are mean, petty, and just down-right arrogant, but that does not mean that Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael cannot act. The acting is brilliant. I will be greatly disappointed if Dowton is not recognized at the Emmy’s in the mini-series category. Other than Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley), who I did think was lacking, the rest of the cast pulled out impossibly beautiful performances. I sat for hours marveling at subtle, graceful acting from the entire cast.
I know, I know, loving a mini-series for one or two people, telling you to watch for one or two people, seems ludicrous, but my dears it’s true. Since playing Mr. Bennett in Lost In Austen, Hugh Bonneville has become one of favorite actor-father figures and he does not disappoint in Dowtown Abbey. With every movement, every word, you feel the insurmountable pressure Sir. Robert is under, and his true desire to be the best caretaker of Dowton Abbey. Bonneville brings a tenderness, an almost tangible feeling of fragileness, to Sir Robert while also being the backbone of the male characters.
His match is Brendan Coyle. Now dear reader, I am of course bias to Mr. Coyle. He will forever be Nicholas Higgins of North and South, and I, upon seeing him on screen as John Bates, made up mind that no matter what, I was going to like this production simply for his casting. Coyle has this captivating quality. You cannot help, but desperately fall in love with him and then you want so badly for John and Anna to get together. His command of the screen draws you to him every time, no matter who he is acting opposite. And it is easy to love how he plays John Bates, because John Bates is such a likable character. Needless to say, I cannot wait for season two.
Feel like watching a few minutes? Or want to rewatch? PBS is streaming online
See the cast! I promise you, once you see the star power, you’ll be intrigued.
Watch both chats with Huge Bonneville and Dan Stevens
Dowton Abbey PBS homepage