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2,223 of 2,305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Alert....varying editions..
There appears to be two (2) editions of Downton watching the past 3 episodes as presented on my PBS station, I have become increasingly aware that the editing was very "jumpy"....short short sequences to a meaningful story line.....then, I discovered that there is an edition, UK edition, that is full length....meaning there are 7 episodes in total....the...
Published on January 24, 2011 by Songbird

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars High class soap opera
Not my cup of tea. Lavishly produced and well acted but still pretty soapy. All the possible social relations are visited and I can't help the feeling that it was designed by a computer with the themes weighted for popularity.
Published 12 months ago by Bryan Culwick

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2,223 of 2,305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Alert....varying editions.., January 24, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There appears to be two (2) editions of Downton watching the past 3 episodes as presented on my PBS station, I have become increasingly aware that the editing was very "jumpy"....short short sequences to a meaningful story line.....then, I discovered that there is an edition, UK edition, that is full length....meaning there are 7 episodes in total....the edition being shown on my local PBS station, is all of 4 episodes....and the shifty scenes that I am observing on the Sunday night presentation have been edited for USA viewers.
To me, this is ruinous to a finely produced English landscape, pre-world war I.

Just be more alert to this. I am not aware of any information from my PBS station to this effect, that I am indeed viewing a condensed version of Downton Abbey....

I have just purchased DVD, UK edition of Downton Abbey to view in my home....this should be a more in-depth story, without the shifting of scenes that add up to being difficult to the entire story line.
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1,254 of 1,308 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY THE DUMBED DOWN PBS VERSION!, February 1, 2011
EDIT: I am revising my post and giving this 5 Stars instead of one as PartlyCloudy has kindly pointed out that my review of the PBS version has ended up under the "UK version". There is much confusion out there since the infamous Daily Mail article claimed that a full two hours of the original ITV series had been cut by PBS. Many claim the cuts are minor and unnoticeable. I'd venture to guess that about 35 minutes were edited out of the original, but more importantly, it was a hack job and many scenes do not play out as intended. Below is my slightly revised review of the PBS version which you should avoid at all costs:

Do not buy the so-called "dumbed down" PBS version of the outstanding British ITV series Downton Abbey. We watched the entire series with great joy while in the UK last year, and after excitedly telling our American friends to watch Downton Abbey on PBS, my husband and I looked at each other in horror and confusion as we watched one butchered scene after another. Don't be misled by those who recalculate the running time to account for the removal of commercials (from the ITV version) or the reformatting to shorten the series by increasing episode length (7 episodes in the UK, 4 longer episodes in the US). The fact is, SCENES WERE OMITTED AND OR TRUNCATED because as PBS Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton shamefully admitted, "American audiences demand a `different speed' to their shows." She also claimed that American audiences would have trouble understanding the complicated inheritance issues. Wow. This is an extraordinary admission from a PBS executive. Don't people turn to PBS for an intelligent alternative to the idiocy of American commercial television? I submit it is Rebecca Eaton who is dumb, not the PBS viewership.

There is apparently a Region 2 version of the unedited ITV series on Amazon (EDIT: and now we see there is an "unedited UK" version provided by PBS though I have not seen it and cannot attest that it's the actual ITV version), so just check your tech specs before buying or search elsewhere. And for the much anticipated season two of Downton Abbey when it premieres later this year, get a UK VPN and stream it from the ITV Player. Each episode remains available for streaming for several weeks after it airs. Note: Many inadvertently refer to this as a BBC series. It is in fact an ITV production.

Shame, shame, shame on Rebecca Eaton and PBS.
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713 of 777 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, if a tad flawed, Edwardian series, November 13, 2010
Julian Fellowes has mined his script for Gosford Park, and took a few cues from the beloved 1970s series Upstairs, Downstairs - Collector's Edition Megaset (The Complete Series plus Thomas and Sarah), to create Downton Abbey, a stunning and colorful drama set around the aristocratic Crawley family and the staff which serves them. Set between 1912 and 1914, Downton Abbey chronicles the conflict of class, gender, and politics, and serves it up with a refreshing dollop of sizzle and scandal. Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Dame Maggie Smith (as Robert, Earl of Grantham, Cora, Countess of Grantham, and Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, respectively) are knock outs, but the rest of the cast are no slouches either, with the stunning Michelle Dockery at the forefront as Lady Mary Crawley, who is the selfish, proud, and vindictive eldest daughter you can't help but like. The actors and the stunning interiors of Highclere Castle, home to the Earls of Carnarvon, give Downton Abbey a glossy, sophisticated sheen, even when the script's twists and turns can be a bit of a let-down. Nevertheless, the drama is engrossing and invigorating, and a worthy addition to the collection of any period drama aficionado--and anyone who likes good drama, period!
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214 of 233 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Massive Cast Shines In A Delightfully Upscale Soap Opera, February 25, 2011
This review is from: Downton Abbey Season 1 (Amazon Instant Video)
A transporting miniseries from PBS, the crisp and delightful "Downton Abbey" is easily my favorite Masterpiece Theater presentation since the impeccable "Bleak House." Perhaps not as austere as you might expect, "Downton Abbey" combines an "Upstairs, Downstairs" drama with some rather soapy plot points and a healthy dose of scathing British wit. While many of the recent successful Masterpiece Theater productions have benefited from a distinguished literary pedigree, this original creation was whipped up with considerable verve by Julian Fellowes--who mined similar territory and won an Oscar for the screenplay of "Gosford Park." Aired on U.S. television stations in four longer parts, this set appropriately reconfigures the program into seven distinct episodes as they were originally intended.

Simply put, "Downton Abbey" tells the story of one English estate consisting of the Crawley family and their household staff in the years preceding World War I. Fellowes does an incredible job introducing his massive cast. Sometimes when dozens of characters are thrown at you immediately, it takes a while to sort everyone out--but no such problem here. Within the first half hour, I had everything I needed to know about the house dynamic and the role everyone played in it. There are many plot strands threaded throughout the production, but the main drama stems from the fact that the apparent heirs for Downton Abbey are killed on the Titanic. Unable to appoint a female inheritor (the Crawleys have three daughters), a distant and middle-class relative is next in line. When this city lawyer and his mother arrive to become acquainted with the property, the drama starts to unfold.

There is a LOT going on in this house--both in the servants quarters and in the master chambers! Some of the plotting is remarkably textured, some a bit far fetched--but there wasn't one moment of "Downton Abbey" that wasn't thoroughly entertaining. There is romance, cover-ups, villainy, manipulation, politics, and everything under the sun. Deftly handled by the well balanced screenplay, stories are juggled with dexterity. And almost everyone in the cast gets their moment to shine. Headlined by the terrifically understated Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, there are far too many great performances to highlight in this brief format. Maggie Smith is, as usual, curmudgeonly perfection! Her battle of wills with Penelope Wilton are pure comic delight. Michelle Dockery, as the eldest daughter, and Dan Stevens, as the new heir apparent, carry much of the story and both are appealing even when they're not very likable (Dockery, in particular, is quite a brat but has the largest character arc). And among the servants, I particularly enjoyed the oily menace of Rob James-Collier who created trouble for the sake of his own amusement.

While "Downton Abbey" is not without imperfections, I loved it simply in terms of sheer entertainment value. I cared about the characters and wanted to see their stories progress. The series ends rather abruptly (but Season Two is fast on its way) and, in our household, we were sorry to have to say goodbye for now. A grand and funny showcase for some of the year's best performances, this one is a winner! KGHarris, 2/11.
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156 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the original UK edition!! (and it's fabulous!), January 11, 2011
Jenny Allworthy (WATERLOO, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
It says right on the DVD that this is the original UK version. Masterpiece apparently did make very slight changes to this one for the US market. Don't get fooled by some stupid journalist from the UK saying that they had cut out 2 hours. Those were 2 hours of commercials that they cut out as this aired on commercial ITV in the UK, not on public BBC!!!!

By the way, this has one same sex kiss in it, so if you are SO conservative that you cannot stand to view that, then do not purchase this.

However, I adored this and everyone I recommended it to loved it as well. Lots of gorgeous costumes and the filming location, Highclere Castle is absolutely breathtaking. Maggie Smith is at her best with her haughty and opinionated Dowager Countess and the rest of the cast is spot on as well.

Thank-you ITV and Masterpiece for giving us another wonderful miniseries. So much better than most of the drivel or violence on television today. Loved, loved, loved it!!!!!!!!!Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD REGION 2, January 25, 2011
J. H. Mahon (South Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
I would just like to alert everyone about Region 2 DVD's. There is a code available for most DVD players that change them from Region 1 (USA) to all region and you can play DVD's from all over the world. We had a very old player that no code was available for and so I bought a new one for a nominal price and with it came the code that you just punch in with the remote control to change it to all region. If you have a newer DVD player, you can just buy the code online from many sites on Google...Just google it and you will see and then you can buy DVDs from the UK like Downton Abbey in its entirety and enjoy seven episodes instead of four.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great entertainment for Anglophiles, December 14, 2010
MartinP "MartinP" (Nijmegen, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This luxury version of 'upstairs, downstairs' is a delight from first to last, and should not be missed by costume drama addicts, even though the basic story line may seem somewhat uninvolving: Lord Crawley, earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), owner of the Downton estate, only has three daughters, and an old entail stipulates that house and land can only be inherited by a man. When the heir-to-be is killed in the Titanic disaster, in comes solidly middle class lawyer Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) as an unwilling successor, with his feisty, emancipated mother (Penelope Wilton) in tow. Soon speculation and intrigue are rife to save the family inheritance from this upstart, or at least to get him married to Lord Crawley's proud and wilful (yet troubled) eldest daughter.

Meanwhile, the servants downstairs are the engine behind several smaller subplots that keep the series moving. Some of these plots may be somewhat unlikely, but they are always entertaining. Here, too, there's a red thread, of a nasty lady's maid and a dashing but evil footman conspiring against Lord Crawley's new valet, Mr. Carson. And of course the upstairs and downstairs people are constantly crossing each others paths, sometimes with surprising or dramatic results.

Julian Fellowes has devised a deft scenario that is particularly admirable for its development of several main characters. Some who seem unsympathetic at first truly 'grow up' in the course of the series. Also, he has the courage to end the series on a distinctly muted note. I was less convinced by the seemingly extreme familiarity between some servants and the family (maids entering the earl's library uninvited and without even knocking), nor by some very unlikely coincidences. Mr. Carson does seem a bit too good to be true, and the butler rather an oaf for maintaining in service an obviously double-crossing footman - but these doubts never really interfered with my enjoyment of the whole, which is primarily due to the quality of the acting. The series is set in an interesting period, spanning the years from the sinking of the Titanic to the outbreak of WWI. Highclere Castle, a countrified version of the London Houses of Parliament, is an original choice as Downton Abbey. Costume and detail are exquisite throughout.

But the highlight of the series is without a doubt Maggie Smith as Lord Crawley's indomitable mother. Her lines are full of hilarious asides worthy of some formidable Oscar Wilde aunt, and are bound to elicit a few chuckles.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's wrong with me?, January 17, 2012
So I'm a young guy into action flicks and adult entertainment. I'm home sick and can not move out of my bed. I've watched every war flick on Netflix and now I'm down to romance comedies and foreign movies. I want something that is going to put me to sleep like a lullaby. I start Downton Abby thinking these boring stiffs will put me right to sleep. Well, I'm four episodes in and hooked. Please don't tell my friends or I will get my man card revoked.
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129 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nobody does it better than the British, November 11, 2010
Sparkle girl (Birmingham Alabama) - See all my reviews
I became aware of this wonderful ITV series while reading a message board about Larkrise to Candleford (another great series, highly recommended). I've just viewed it on youtube thank you british folks! After I watched it, it occurred to me that it was somewhat like "Upstairs Downstairs" in that you saw the workings "above the stairs" and was as down. The difference is that it is set in a magnificent country mansion (or seat, whatever, I'm not british).

It's set in the early 1900s. The costumes and settings are superb.

I did feel the earl was a little to egalitarian concerned about the downstairs staff, just too "nice". From the series 1901 house, on pbs, the servants/staff were to be as out of view as possible.

Highly recommended.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Addictive Series, December 28, 2011
Jill (California, USA) - See all my reviews
Like many other reviewers have already stated, this is a wonderful series. It had me completely hooked 10 minutes into the first episode. I recorded the series when it aired on PBS last January but loved it so much I wanted to own the boxed set, so I was very excited to receive it for a Christmas present. There seems to be so much confusion/conflicting information concerning the differences between the original UK version and what was shown in the US on PBS, I spent some time watching the new discs and comparing them with my recorded ones to try to sort it out for myself (This also gave a Downtonaholic a way to keep busy until Season 2 airs in a couple of weeks). One point of confusion has been the running times, further complicated by the false information in an English tabloid that the series was considerably shortened and "dumbed down" for American viewers - this was instantly proved false but the myth persisted. In the UK, the series ran in 7 episodes, of varying length, with commercials. In the US, PBS aired the program as 4 90-minute episodes, without commercials. The longer length of the US episodes means that Matthew Crawley is introduced in the first episode here (in the UK version, episode 2 opens with the Crawley's arriving at Crawley House), which may give the impression that the US version is more "rushed" but in fact, very little, if anything, was cut from these first two episodes. Watching my new box set, the original, unedited UK edition (commercial free), I noted a few short scenes that I had not seen before, and that some scenes that did air in the US had been slightly edited, cutting out a little bit of dialogue. I didn't keep track of the exact run times of the additional scenes/dialogue, but it could not have been more than 15-20 minutes of footage total. I am delighted to now be able to see every minute of the show; while I would not call any of the deletions critical to the plot, they are well worth seeing, and some minor things were clarified. Note: the scenes I'm talking about are not the same as any "deleted scenes" the show's directors/producers may have made during the normal post-production editing process - those that often show up on DVDs as special features. I also saw read conflicting reports claiming that the American version contains scenes that were not in the original UK version. I compared the two versions pretty closely and did not note ANY scenes in the PBS version that do not appear in the original UK edition. Also, the rebroadcasts PBS aired earlier this month were exactly the same as those aired in January 2011.

These are some of the specific differences between the UK and US versions that I noted. If you haven't seen series 1 yet, THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS:

On the UK DVD set, there is a scene between Matthew and Isobel at Crawley House after Matthew comes home (early) from dinner at Downton with Napier and Pamuk, and another that takes place the next morning in which Matthew wonders if he ought to go see if Mary is okay (In the US, we see by a later scene that Matthew does in fact call on Mary, but not the fact that he'd been kind of brooding about it).

One thing I had been puzzled by is the scene where Mary tells William he should go home as she'd heard that his mother is ill. I didn't understand what that was all about - Mary is evasive and seemed like she was up to something, yet nothing ever came of it. All becomes clear with the inclusion here of two short scenes - one, Isobel tells Cora and Mary that William's mother is a patient at the cottage hospital and is seriously ill but doesn't want William told as he will worry. Cora says they can't tell him, but Mary defiantly says she will. Then, during the scene where Mary comes to Crawley House to see Sybil, in the US it ends with matthew, Sybil, and Mary starting to leave the room, but in the UK version Mary stays behind a moment and there was some additional dialogue between her and Isobel concerning William's mother's continued decline. Not critical, but explains that odd William and Mary scene, and progresses the relationship between Mary and Isobel.

An earlier scene between Mary and William (before the one about his mother) where William was looking after Mary's horse was cut from the US version and the scene with William in the kitchen with Daisy where he says he's making a poultice for Diamond - Mary's horse - was shortened slightly.

A few scenes with the family were shortened in the US version, with some dialogue being omitted. For example, there's a funny exchange between Cora and Violet where Violet expresses concern about her maid's potential departure (Later, in another scene, which did air in the US, Violet tells Cora that her suspicions were confirmed, but it's the first we'd heard of the maid-leaving business); the scene with Matthew and Mary in the dining room is slightly longer: Matthew asks if she is "at all political" and reaches for some of the sandwiches; the scene with Branson and Sybil in the car, after the first "riot" is longer; in a scene at the breakfast table with Robert and the girls, he hands Sybil a letter - in the US, the first we see of it is Sybil walking down the hall with it behind her back; in the scene where Robert tells Cora about the news of Evelyn Napier, Cora makes some remarks about Rosamond always sponging food from Downton that were cut from the US version, as was Robert's line noting that Evelyn is going to be married to someone else (in the US, the first we hear of E's pending marriage is when Mary asks him about his wedding plans in London).

There are two scenes with Mr Carson and the letter he receives containing gossip about Mary (In the US, the first we see of it is when he hands it over to Cora). In the second scene, he's so preoccupied, wondering what to do, that he forgets to ring the dressing gong. Roberts refers to the lateness in the next scene - with Bates, in his dressing room - but this dialogue is cut in the US version (the scene instead opens with Robert asking Bates how the elections went).

There's a scene between Sybil and Gwen, in Sybil's room at night, where Gwen says her class isn't brought up thinking their dreams are bound to come true.

When the family is returning from London, we glimpse a lot more of the cleaning and cushion-plumping that went on as Mrs Hughes walks though for final inspection, as this scene opens episode 7.

There was a plot between Thomas and O'Brien concerning Bates and one of Robert's snuffboxes - all of the scenes related to this were deleted in the US version (though there is a (previously) cryptic reference to it in some later dialogue between the pair when they're discussing the theft of the wine). Not critical, but actually quite a funny subplot, and ties in to an early scene in which Bates admires the snuffbox collection when Thomas is showing him around Robert's dressing room.

Before Mrs Patmore goes to London, there is a short scene where she tells Daisy to doctor the food so that the family doesn't grow to prefer Mrs Byrd's cooking (in the US, since we didn't see this bit, the scheme appeares to have been Daisy own idea).

O'Brien receives a letter from a maid she met in London who relates the Bates/regimental silver story. Carson borrows the letter and passes it on to Robert. These scenes were not shown in the US, but the letter is later referred to, when Robert and Cason discuss the oddness of the circumstances.

There are also a several other short scenes below stairs that were cut from the US version.
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