If you are of a romantic nature, and have friends who think you are somewhat out of sync with the 20th century, (not to mention the 21st), do let them watch MASTERPIECE CLASSIC, DOWNTON ABBEY, (ORIGINAL U.K. UNEDITED EDITION). This series has an early 20th-century setting, (starting in 1912, to be specific), but truly early 21st-century sensibilties, which, however, mesh in quite beautifully with the era, characters and situations presented. DOWNTON ABBEY has 1) a more than half-way human, (and humanistic!), Master of the House, 2) his handicapped valet -- who walks with a limp, and carries a cane, 3)Three spirited, beautiful daughters, (one of whom is very much "into" rights for women 4) A housemaid who wants to "rise above herself", and
secretly is learning typing and dictation 5) The distinguished and august butler, who has a secret, 6) A very capable, seemingly content housekeeper who is sorely tempted by, and very well may decide on, a very different career, 7) A murder case involving a guest who as "come on" a bit too strongly to one if the Daughters of the House.
And all this goes on during the first six episodes of the first season!
The cook also tells one of the housemaids that a certain gentleman may not be quite normal, (or words to that effect). But the maid does not understand. The concept of homosexuality is not within her experience, conceptualization, or knowledge. So it was with many people in that era. Not everyone was filled with knowledge of the "different" side of life, now so freely discussed, and seen on TV and in the movies. It reminded me, in fact, of the time when I, as a child, was told by my parents that babies came from department stores -- Macy's (me), and Gimbels', (my sister), in our case. (No wonder, though we have so much in common, my sister and I still argue a lot!)
The innocence, cruelty, inequity, attitudes, and basic human feelings that sometimes were for that era only -- but also often transcend all time and all generations -- are here to see, in this magnificently-written, beautifully costumed, so-well acted, and very suspenseful period piece, which begins with the 1912 sinking of the Titanic -- and its consquences on this one particular family and their servants.
This series was shot at an actual English manor house, and the scenery -- inside the mansion and on its grounds -- itself is breath-taking.
Watching this series is much like eating peanuts is for most people -- and like eating potato chips is for me. Once viewed, one simply cannot get enough of this mesmerizing, enthralling, truly exciting and visually stunning series.
I finally decided to join AMAZON PRIME, because of the totally irresistable offer to view, for free, the thousands of TV and Movie programs in the Amazon Prime Library. I am really glad I did finally make the decision to join Amazon Prime -- because, as a North American -- and having missed DOWNTON ABBEY on PBS, this MAY be the only way I can ever see this program.
For, as I write this, it seems that the only version available is the "Uneditited UK Version". This means, I take it, that scenes attesting to homosexuality and other "outre" subjects are left in. To me, this is OK -- because this subject, and perhaps other "R" and "X" rated subjects are simply included as part of the story-line, and do are not presented in a sensationalized fashion for shock value.
Also included, as mentioned above, is the scene wherein the cook tries, unsuccessfully, to explain what "being different" in a sexual way is all about, to the confused kitchen-maid, who cannot understand any of it. Many people of that era -- no matter what their social status -- simply did not KNOW anything about these "abberations". And the way innocence in some people, and knowledge in others, is portrayed, makes this presentation all the more an early-20th-century true-to-life event....
So, this "PG", (oe is it "R"?), rated verrsion of the story is OK by me. (Strange, isn't it, that the so-called "straight-laced, class-concious" English can take this sort of "PG" or "R" rated storyline -- still only one of many storylines in this series -- without reservation, whist we North Americans -- reputed to be of "freer mind" and with no "class-consciousness", still are a bit squeamish about putting these things on OUR TV screens?) Yet, though I DO like this series a lot, I still will not buy it, but must continue to watch it on Amazon Prime, only.
Well, several other reviewers mention that this "Origial, Unedited UK Version", is
reproduced on REGION 2 DVDs ONLY! That means that they probably will NOT play in
North American DVD players. Is this a subtle form of censorship? It certainly IS decreasing sales -- because, though SOME other reviewers living in North America report no problems, others living in North America report that these discs will NOT play in their DVD players, taking Amazon to task for not mentioning this.
All I know is that I'd, (very much!) LIKE to purchase this DVD, so that I can watch it at all and any times, with Amazon Prime or without it. But I dare not, because I don't want to take a chance at wasting any of my money!
Lost sales. Disappointed viewers. This is NOT what this wonderful series should be in the midst of. Amazon sells such controversial books as "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion", and Jesse Ventura's "Don't Start The Revolution Without Me."
It sells funny false teeth, memoirs of pre-revolutionary Russian Grand Duchesses, videos of UFOs, poltergeists, and rumoured no-goodnick dooings of the rich and powerful, fresh whole rabbit, canned unicorn "meat" -- and Tuscan Whole Milk, (at prices ranging up to $25,000 a gallon -- and more, (and also much less), -- all from third-party sellers) -- to name but a few interesting and fabulous products. Surely an engrossing, highly-intelligent, beautifully presented and wonderfully acted program such as "DOWNTON ABBEY" should be available to North Americans in all it's unexpurgated, and many complex story-lines? Perhaps a rating of "R", or "PG", or even "R" -- and "X" in some limited segments" -- should be added. For "DOWNTON ABBEY" is certainly NOT a "sex-fest"! It is a highly intelligent and engrossing drama, with a few mentions of (sometimes)-"unmentionable" topics, as just ONE of the many intertwining plotlines!
I myself have been called a "prude" more than once. I disapprove of ladie's skirts being more than three-inches below the knees, (even Kate Middleton's otherwise totally wonderful engagement-announcement dress sorely disappointed me, because I just don't think it was quite long enough, sigh!), do not like rock or hip-hop music, disapprove absolutely the use of any "foul" four-letter words, fervently wish that the novels of Horatio Alger, the McGuffy Readersm and even the Royal Crown Readers, were (again) commonplace in American schools, love the dresses, coats, suits, and evening wear of Balanciaga, Hartnell, Amies, and similar designers, take my dress-cues from the wardrobes of Queen Elizabeth II, (and to a smaller extent, Jacqueline Kennedy), happily subscribe to "Royalty" Magazine, absolutely, positively do NOT like to see jeans on anyone over the age of 18, and proudly do not, myself, own a single pair of jeans. But a good story is a Good Story is a GOOD STORY! (How wonderful -- just to mention one highlight of this all-encompassing series -- to have a storyline wherein the master of the house is NOT a mini Simon Legree, as most left-wingers seem to think ALL English aristocrats are....forgetting, it seems, that lumping ALL members of ANY group together is called "stereotyping"....and prejudice!) If only this wonderful
series, (with ALL SORTS of storylines...not just controversial ones!), were just labeled "PG", "R", or "X -", buyers and viewers -- even in North America -- will get some idea of what they will see. (Unlike another DVD which I got -- thankfully out of the library -- "THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL", (the version N O T starrring Natalie Portman),which came with NO rating whatsoever....and, in conseqence, the truly "single-X" rated sex scenes within, shocked me immensely, as I had NO preparation whatsoever that such scenes would appear in this 16th century costume drama!) There are -- at least in the first 6 episodes which I have seen -- NO overt sex scenes such as this in DOWNTON ABBEY. Only the merest hinting of, and mention of...h-----------y.) Not seen. Just, to repeat, hinted at, described ever so slightly, and mentioned.
Lost sales, disappointed and forced-to-become-far-too-cautious would-be buyers. This is NOT the way to make money on a DVD set. PLEASE make a Region 1 compatible set of this truly masterfully-done, MASTERPIECE CLASSIC series, reproducing ALL the scenes in the original UK version. People today -- with tabloid informatioo of all kinds, literally screamed at us from TV, magazines and the internet -- can surely judge wether this series is good for their own families at the present time, or -- if they have younger children right now -- whether they would prefer to wait a few years to have this series in their homes.
BUT, PLEASE, D_O MAKE IT AVAILABLE FOR NORTH AMERICANS, AS SOON AS IS POSSIBLE!
P.S.: There are some interesting parodies of DOWNTON ABBEY on YouTube.com. Funnier if you've seen the series, of course. The parodies are funny -- but somehowl I feel they could have been funnier. Yet they are definitely worth one viewing -- more if you like them! Enjoy!