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Definitive Box Set.........So Far!
on February 7, 2013
This DVD set is a real treat as it includes all 25 episodes from Series 1-3. There are seven episodes from the first series, eight each from the second and third, plus the 2011 Christmas special which was arguably the best single episode so far; it was certainly one of the most dramatic! The less impressive 2012 Christmas Special is also included to round off Season 3.
The three series so far have taken us from 1912, just after the sinking of the Titanic, up to 1920. The circumstances surrounding each series have been in contrast with each other. The first series ran up to the start of the First World War, and the one of the main thrusts of the story line was the matchmaking within the Crawley family and the various financial and social influences on the choice of a suitable partner.
The second series moves on to the war years, when Downton Abbey had been converted into a convalescent home for injured servicemen. The time setting is from the Battle of the Somme up to the end of the war. This background contributes to some very interesting scripts, and whilst some felt that it did not live up to the first series, personally I thought it was excellent, but different.
The Christmas special and the third series take place from late 1919 into 1920. The first features a very dramatic trial, and in the third series the household is far more back to the life of an aristocratic family as it was in the first series although the estate faces major challenges in the post war period and a need to embrace change if Downton is to survive. A major feature of the show is the interaction between the family and those who serve them `below stairs' and there are many strong performances amongst both groups. However, a review of Downton would not be complete without mention of Maggie Smith who, as Violet has some very funny lines and dominates every scene she is in. Shirley Maclaine was introduced in the third series, presumably as a foil to Violet, and the rather frosty relationship between the two worked very well. The 2012 Christmas Special takes us to 1921.
I am sure that there will be few viewers who have not seen Downton, which is the most successful costume drama since Brideshead Revisited some thirty years ago. However if there are any out there this will be an excellent introduction to the show for them. Even if, like me, you have seen every episode to date you will enjoy revisiting them. We now know that there will be both a Series 4 and another Christmas Special to look forward to.
For those of you interested in extra features, this set includes what was included in the individual DVDs for Series 1,2 and 3. This amounts to over three hours of additional material!