Last night I bumped into a tweet from Linda Holmes at NPR Monkey See about a PBS miniseries that was about to start. So I changed the channel.
OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. Downton Abbey is delicious television! If you’re a historical romance fan, or a historical drama fan, or you really like opulent British houses or early 20th century costumes, or outstanding acting, do yourself a favor and tune in.
Some folks speaking with me last night were irate that the broadcast was allegedly edited for the US audience. According to this article/interview, the original series was edited to add the heir to the first episode, and some minor changes were made, but the major difference in length is based on the UK commercials, which were part of the broadcast (Thank you PBS for not having any!) and thus the US broadcast is 6 hours, not 8.
I am so enjoying this program, I can’t even tell you. British viewers who saw it last fall have told me that it only gets better. I particularly like how the Earl’s hobbled circumstances brought about by the limitations of the entail on his estate are reflected in the limitations of his valet, Mr. Bates. They’re both forced to maneuver in very tight political spaces, and do so in such different ways. I’m fascinated by the eldest daughter, Mary, too. She gets to the edge of evolving and adapting, and then falls back on her standard expected behavior each time. The question of pride, duty, and employment is painfully explored as well, particularly in scenes with Matthew Crawley. Each character has an enormous ability to Presume S/He Knows Best, and watching all those arrogant and determined people collide makes for amazing plotlines.
Various PBS stations in the US are rebroadcasting the first episode, which was part of the Masterpiece Classics series. The second and third are set to be aired this week. You can click the link at the top middle of the PBS Downton Abbey page to check your local PBS listings, though I am told that the first episode is up on Hulu. (I searched for the link, but like all thing on Hulu, I couldn’t find it. I’m sorry). You can watch the first episode online at PBS.org for a limited time or buy a copy from PBS or Amazon.com. If there was ever a reason to use some Amazon gift cards, this would be it.
ETA: Thanks to Keira Soleore for the link from Hulu, which leads back to the PBS viewer for episode 1. I don’t think it’ll be available for long, though.
If you’re watching and want to squee, please, try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but let me know what you think! If you’re not watching, I hope you’ll catch up and join us – this is some fine, fine television viewing up in here.