Downton Abbey has reached American shores for a second time now (in doing so, it’s done better than the Titanic, which started that whole entail mess at Downton after all), and the cultural cognoscenti are swooning as one. Someone had better break out the smelling salts.
The most frustrating thing about everyone’s favorite British import (sorry Doctor Who) airing legally in the United States months after it has wrapped in the U.K. is not, in fact the wait. (No, as we’ve learned from this show, it is the wait that comes from stolen glances and breathy non-conversations that makes a costume drama all the better.) In fact, the most frustrating aspect of it all is that the British have already poo-pooed Series 2 of Downton Abbey as not up to the first series admittedly high standards.
Well, the British can be O’Brien’s all they want, it won’t stop me from thrilling at every twist and turn over these next seven Sunday’s on PBS. Last night’s two hour (two-hour!) premiere was must-see television (especially if you’d spent all weekend marathoning the first seven episode’s… I have no self-control) that soared and devastated in equal measure. In every plot line, from Anna and Bates’s saintly romance to Lady Edith’s horrid spinsterdom, we saw the highest highs (Lady Edith would be a great writer!) and the lowest lows (Oh, Lady Edith, don’t do that!)
The show admittedly drags a bit on the Western front, since we all really care what’s going on at Downton, the horrors of war be damned, (and the effects budget doesn’t really suit trench warfare) but gosh darnit if this show doesn’t find it’s footing quickly even after skipping two years in story. By the time Lady Mary is wishing her not-fiancée Matthew well on the front, you’ll be crying and, believe me, invested like nobody’s business.
I basically couldn’t recommend something more than I could now recommend this darling concoction. You can find Season 1 streaming on Netflix instant and last night’s episode on pbs.org. Join me in thrilling to every withering quip from the mighty Dowager Countess. I mean, it’s Dame Maggie Smith… In a big hat… You know you want to…