2,475 of 2,572 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2011
There appears to be two (2) editions of Downton Abbey....in 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.
1,434 of 1,497 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
758 of 834 people found the following review helpful
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!
262 of 285 people found the following review helpful
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.
168 of 187 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2011
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
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 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.
70 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
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.
61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
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.
64 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Downton Abbey was a smash hit on British television and deserves the same recognition here in the US. This is 6 hours of engrossing television involving the goings on in a stately home in the years preceding World War 1. Though it is only 6 hours, one of it's strengths is that it introduces some 18 major characters and by the end of the show, you have an intimate knowledge and a strong like (or dislike) of each of the cast. A rich man, his American wife and their three daughters occupy the home with a cast of varied butlers, footmen, house maids, cooks, valet and the like gabbing and in some cases conspiring to reach their own goals.
The key of the story revolves around the fact that only a male heir can inherit the property and the riches that go with it and since there are three daughters, that presents a problem and key plot point.
Maggie Smith manages to command the screen in each of her appearances as the dowager Countess and she has some lines that are simply classic. With that being said, there is not one actor who does not truly occupy their role with great skill.
Keep in mind this is a show that airs at 9 PM and is not intended for little ones. It avoids violence and language but does include sex, death, conspiracy and some scenes that recreate an era where women were seeking the vote in Great Britain and were met with some rough opposition.
The home itself is a wonder to behold and it is truly a key part of the story as the delineation between servants and masters is quite evident in the period detail.
Twists and turns abound throughout this magnificently acted drama and all the way up to the final line of the final episode I was glued to the screen. This is a 3 DVD set divided into 7 episodes as compared to the PBS show divided into 4. I bought the DVD because I was so captivated by Episode 1 on PBS that I didn't want to wait another 3 weeks to see the rest. I'm so glad I did. And my major complaint? I have to wait a year to see the continuation of the story?? Based upon the way this story ended, there is plenty more great stuff to come out of Downton Abbey. Intelligent television, great storytelling, fine acting. What more can one ask for? Get this DVD and share it with others.
134 of 158 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2010
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.