Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Thoughts on Downton Abbey, season 1

Downton Abbey, season 1
7 episodes

Upstairs
Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham = Hugh Bonneville
Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham = Elizabeth McGovern
Lady Mary Crawley = Michelle Dockery
Lady Edith Crawley = Laura Carmichael
Lady Sybil Crawley = Jessica Brown Findlay
Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham = Maggie Smith

Downstairs
Mr. (Charles) Carson = Jim Carter
Mrs. Hughes = Phyllis Logan
Mr. (John) Bates = Brendan Coyle
Anna = Joanne Froggatt
Gwen = Rose Leslie
Thomas Barrow = Rob James-Collier
Miss (Sarah) O'Brien = Siobhan Finneran
Mrs. Patmore = Lesley Nicol
Daisy = Sophie McShera
William Mason = Thomas Howes
Tom Branson = Allen Leech

Other Households
Isobel Crawley = Penelope Wilton
Matthew Crawley = Dan Stevens
Josephy Molesley = Kevin Doyle
Mrs. Bird = Christine Lohr

So, in the spring I was quite happy with the final season of Downton Abbey. I have never rewatched this series, so I thought this summer might be a good time. (Especially now that I've rewatched all of Call the Midwife, and there is a void in shows to binge-watch).

So, this is a rewatch. I am assuming that most people who have any interest in this one, have already seen this season, at least once. I will not purposefully come out and spoil things unnecessarily. But. I will talk freely about this season.

Equal time is spent between the upstairs and the downstairs.

People I loved downstairs = Mr. Bates, Anna, Mrs. Hughes, Mr. Carson. Now by the end of the sixth season, I can easily say that I've come to love more characters.

People I liked downstairs = William, Tom, Gwen, Daisy, Miss Patmore.

People I really DISLIKE downstairs = O'Brien and Thomas. I really LOATHE both characters. Now, O'Brien never, ever, ever redeems herself in my opinion. Thomas, on the other hand, as the series progresses, there are moments where I actually don't hate him.

People I loved upstairs: Dowager Countess and Sybil. I love the Dowager Countess!!!! Of the three sisters, Sybil is the one you'd actually want to know in real life and be friends with.

People I liked upstairs: Lady Cora, Robert Crawley, Lady Edith. Of those three, Lady Edith may be the most controversial for 'liking.' I do like Edith, however. I think Lady Mary has spent years and years and years tormenting her, without her parents ever correcting Lady Mary's behavior. I think she has dealt with a lot, not just from Mary, but from her own parents. There is a conversation in which it is revealed that neither parent thinks that anyone will ever, ever, ever want to marry Edith. Both parents assume that Edith with be the one daughter whom no one marries because no one wants, she will be the one to 'nurse' them in their old age, and, then they joke about how awful that will be to still have her around. I just CRINGED. Still, I think Robert and Cora have their redeemable moments.

People I really DISLIKE upstairs: Lady Mary. Mr. Carson may be the only person in the entire world that Mary is ever kind and respectful to. In every battle with Edith, Lady Mary seems to be the instigator. She also seems to be the one to keep adding fuel to the fire. Lady Mary is rude, hateful, spiteful, inconsiderate. Not just in private, when the two are alone, but in front of the entire family--why does her family think her rudeness is acceptable????--and as if that wasn't bad enough, in front of dinner guests as well. Lady Mary seems to exist to humiliate Lady Edith whenever, wherever possible. Now, that being said, Lady Edith, does not stand back and let Lady Mary say and do whatever without reacting and responding. I think Lady Edith was PROVOKED into doing what she did. I don't think it was inevitable. I think Mary's own actions--in more than one way--led to the gossip that 'ruined' her.

Other characters I loved: Matthew Crawley and his mother, Isobel. I honestly don't know why Matthew falls for Mary. I don't know what he sees in her, and continues to see in her, that keeps him coming around?! Mary's natural inclinations are to hurt and inflict pain at her whim. That being said, do I like Matthew in spite of his liking or loving Mary. Yes, for the most part. I do think Matthew is unnecessarily RUDE at times. For example, even though he's not interested--in that way--in Edith. He didn't have to rebuff her when she was making small talk. It wasn't as if she was saying, MATTHEW, I LOVE YOU TRULY, MADLY; FORGET ABOUT MARY, LET'S RUN AWAY THE TWO OF US, AND LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. She was just trying to avoid an awkward situation and make the best of it. And he would have none of her small talk. Now, Edith is used to people treating her rudely, as if she is "less than." After all, her own flesh and blood treat her that way day in and day out. I think Matthew's standout moment comes when he rescues Lady Sybil, takes her to his own home, has his mother nurse her, sends for Mary, etc. When Mary seems Matthew as a HERO, that's when Mary decides that she likes Matthew after all. More than a "toy" an actual human being. Now that I think about, Lady Mary reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara.

Isobel. I really love to see her interact with the Dowager Countess. And also with Dr. Carson. She is a genuine person, and one you can't help loving.

Season 1 Highlights:
  • The family learns about the sinking of the Titanic, learns about the two next-in-line heirs being killed.
  • Lady Mary is upset not that her 'future husband' is killed but that she might lose what she's come to think of as her rightful inheritance.
  • Lady Mary invites someone to ride/hunt at Downton Abbey, and, then ignores the guest she invited to flirt with the guest her guest invited.
  • Lady Mary is NOT responsible for Mr. Kemal Pamuk coming into her bedroom--that would be Thomas who led him to her door and left him, knowing Mr. Pamuk's intentions--but she is at least partially responsible for not doing everything in her power to stop him. She was not exactly forced. She protested at first. Which makes me think that she's only partially responsible. He clearly was not a 'no' means 'no' guy. But she stopped protesting and became welcoming. To her credit, she never claims she was unwilling. Though she very well could have told her mother that he showed up in her room uninvited, and forced his attentions. Her mother might have been more sympathetic. 
  • Lady Mary's secret is voluntarily kept by Anna and her mother. It is held as ammunition by Thomas and O'Brien. Daisy also witnesses something of the aftermath.
  • The family accepts Matthew as the next heir, but, Mary is contrary and hates him except when she's flirting with him. But she only flirts with him a third of the time. The other times she leaves him confused and hurt.
  • Miss Patmore has a health crisis.
  • Daisy has an attack of conscience. And changes her mind about which footman is for her.
  • Thomas and O'Brien are set on destroying Bates. In many, many episodes, they plot and scheme. Carson seems to stay a step or two ahead of them.
  • Anna and Mr. Bates fall for each other, though, he likes to keep a little distance between them because his past is problematic.
  • Tom starts falling in love with Sybil....but she is so busy helping out Gwen that I don't think she's really noticed the swoon-worthiness of Tom just yet.
  • O'Brien reveals her evilness. And a family mourns as a result. 
  • The family learns that war has been declared.  (World War I)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comments:

Joy Weese Moll 5:41 PM  

I've yet to rewatch this series. Currently, I'm catching up on Doctor Who. Then I'll try Lark Rise to Candleford because of your reviews.

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