Customer Reviews: Downton Abbey Season 2
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 12, 2011
The greatly anticipated second series of Downton Abbey picks up two years on from the first series in 1916, in the middle of World War 1. Downton Abbey has been converted into a convalescent home for injured servicemen and the action covers the period from the Battle of the Somme up to the end of the war. As in the first series, topical events of the period, political, economic and military are covered.

The wartime scenario and the convalescent home setting provide an excellent background for some interesting story lines. The combination of excellent plot lines, great acting and the superb setting display all that is best in TV period drama. This time round we have eight more episodes to add to the seven in the first series. As befits wartime, the costumes are not as flamboyant as in the first series but they are thoroughly researched and appropriate to the period.

There continue to be many superb individual performances but mention must be made of Maggie Smith. What a stroke of genius to cast her as Violet. She dominates every scene she appears in and often has some very funny lines.

This DVD includes the Downton Abbey 2 hour Christmas Special which is probably the single best episode of Downton Abbey to date. High drama here with a cliffhanging murder trial as well as the usual romance, drama, betrayal etc one would expect!

The UK has a long tradition of producing fine period dramas and this is the most successful since the early 1980s when Brideshead Revisited: 30th Anniversary Edition took the world by storm. Peak viewing figures in the UK are 11m which is an astounding number for that market. It is pleasing to learn that a third series is already planned and we now know that this will cover an 18 month period from 1920 to 1921. This one is likely to run and run and I would not be surprised to see Downton Abbey continuing up to the 1930s eventually.
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on January 4, 2012
Amazon doesn't list some important specifications so I'm just posting it here. I got them from the PBS website.

Length : 544 minutes on 3 Discs
Subtitles : Yes
Number of Programs : 9
Includes the Downton Abbey Christmas Special

As for season 2, it's pretty much more Downton Abbey. More Matthew/Mary, Mr. Bates/Anna, and more dastardly Miss O'Brien and Thomas. It's very interesting to see things start to change in the WW1 setting as well and some characters go through some big changes. The Christmas Special in particular is beautifully shot and makes me very excited for season 3 which has already been announced.
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on February 4, 2012
I LOVE DOWNTON ABBEY! When I read that the American PBS version was edited and in doing so they have left out portions of the story that gave it more cohesiveness and background I was on the hunt for the UK version. Problem number 1 was the UK DVD version won't play in the US because we are in a different "region"...bummer but I kept reading and searching (I'm not a techie I'm a Granny)and discovered that if I could find a Blu-ray version AND I had a Blu-ray player I could eliminate the "non-US region" problem...yippee....found a Sony Blu-ray Disc/DVD player BDP-S185 for $79 that works great on Amazon...and two UK suppliers (one that had Downton Abbey Series 1 Blu-ray
and another that had Downton Abbey Series 2 Blu-ray in the original uncut British versions). I was a little freaked out that it might take forever for delivery to arrive but no problem with "Factory Distributor" (an Amazon UK supplier) I ordered it Jan 30 and received it Feb 3!!!! That's faster than I've gotten deliveries sent from the same state and cheaper as shipping was only $2.98.
If live in the US and want to get the original versions here's one caveat. When you search Amazon it seems to take you to PBS versions even though you've specified British versions...look carefully at the pictures. The UK version does NOT say PBS on the cover and the DVD's jewel case is predominantly blue.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 5, 2012
SPOILER ALERT: Reading this review will not spoil your enjoyment of the Downton Abbey Christmas Special. However, if you have not seen Series 1 and/or 2, there may be information here you would rather not know.

The much anticipated Downton Abbey Special delivered the highlight of the UK Christmas TV viewing schedule in style. Viewers in the USA will have to wait a little longer. It has now been confirmed that this episode is included in the Series 2 DVD in the USA which is a real bonus! There was plenty of action with the central plot featuring Mr Bates on trial for murder at a time when convicted murderers in England were often hanged and the impact of this on the Downton Abbey household above and below stairs. However, there was a good measure of dramatic sub plots featuring blackmail, romance, ambition and betrayal - in fact all the things one would expect from Downton!

This was probably the best ever episode of Downton Abbey so should definitely not be missed.

The timescale here took us from the end of 1919 into the beginning of 1920 so this will be the starting point for Season 3 which is scheduled for release later in 2012. Downton Abbey Series 1 attained critical acclaim and earned the series the title of the most popular UK costume drama since Brideshead Revisited: 30th Anniversary Edition almost 30 years ago - given the number of such productions each year this is quite an accolade. Reviews for Series 2 were more mixed although I personally really enjoyed it, but few would have had much to complain about with this two hour special. This hopefully has set the standard for Series 3 which we now know will include Shirley MacLaine. I can hardly wait to see her playing opposite Maggie Smith!

This episode is included in the Series 2 North American release so if you have that DVD set, do not buy this too!
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on October 17, 2011
I cannot review this set, as it has not yet been released. But I can tell others that it is well worth the wait. Here in the UK we are on the 5th episode of 8 and are promised a Chrsitmas special as well. I hope that will be included in the US version, hence the February release. The story is set during World War I and there are some spectacular twists to the story! Those you love and those you love to hate are all back, with some new characters as well. The scripts are very well written, Maggie Smith has some fabulous lines! The costumes and scenery are again lush. I am enjoying this series so much I have pre-ordered this set for my brother in the US. If you loved series 1 and got involved with the characters you will love series 2 which continues their stories. It is a huge hit here and they are already talking about series 3, to be set in the 1920's.
Update: the DVD set has come out in the UK. I cannot know what will be on the US version, but the UK version has a section of deleted scenes. Have a look at them, some bits of the story make more sense. The reveiws here are mixed, as many thought it got too "soap opera" and predictable, while others felt it was unbelievable.
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on November 7, 2011
Considered one of the most successful "darlings" in the history of television, the first season of Downton Abbey achieved international success and a worldwide following. Its second season includes the same likable (and some not so likable) characters, but in an entirely new world...

When last we left Downton, the house was in turmoil at the recent news that war has begun with Germany. Some time later, the inhabitants of the great old estate have seen their lives immensely changed. Robert (Hugh Bonneville) feels inadequate and wants greatly to once more go to battle rather than staying at home and raising the morale of the women, and his wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) is too distracted to take much notice of his melancholy mood. Each of his daughters have embarked on individual quests to be of some use: Mary (Michelle Dockery) is both pining and praying for her beloved Matthew (Dan Stevens) at the front, Edith (Laura Carmichael) is learning to drive a tractor (among other things), and Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) is hoping to become a nurse at the local hospital.

Downstairs, Carson (Jim Carter) is attempting to contend with a limited staff and even scarcer resources. Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) is confronted with the antics and perils of a brand new maid with ideas above her station, and the would-be-romance between Anna (Joan Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) is put on temporary hold when his wife (Maria Doyle Kennedy) arrives with a startling proposition.

While each of the characters confronts their fears and struggles to find a way to fit into a world that is altering all around them, the second season powers forward with purpose and sentimentality... although it does sometimes stray into convenient clichés and predictable outcomes. One of the more remarkable things about it is how this series manages to involve us so completely in the lives of its many protagonists, whether we love or hate them, find them irritating or are frustrated with their bad choices. This season finds a dramatic change in Lady Mary for the better, makes us feel sorry for Thomas (I never thought it possible!), and invokes tears of both joy and sorrow as each installment comes to a close. The writing is sometimes magnificent and sometimes subpar, its main problem in moving too quickly through situations (in some instances, I would have advocated slowing down) and not permitting the audience to really spend much time on some of the romantic relationships. It also on occasion suffers from "telling" rather than "showing," which is a shame. Some moments are very, very good (such as an attempted assassination, the return of a missing soldier, and the final ten minutes of the finale) while others are downright cringe-worthy - Mrs. Bates in particular is too conveniently evil for my taste.

Season two has taken a lot of heat from critics and audiences alike for its predictable storylines and rampant clichés. Much of this criticism is deserved, since while some of the character development is believable (such as the transformations of Mary and Edith) other departures are completely unexpected and unlikely. The series hits all the right emotional notes but doesn't quite have the spark of its predecessor. Gone are all the wonderful conversations and moments that were used to build character and humor and forthright plot-driven exposition is in its place. Even so, there are some terrific one-liners from Maggie Smith and the happy ending to one couple's crisis is more than enough to redeem any of its mistakes.
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VINE VOICEon November 18, 2011
Season 2 of 'Downton Abbey' does not disappoint! It's sure good to be back with this lovely cast of characters for more! Sure, there is some predictability in some of the sub-plots (that's to be expected when the foreshadowing was done so well in Season 1), but there are enough turns and twists to keep the series SO interesting! And best of all, the storyline of so many of the characters we know and love are brought back for further view: the world of Downton Abbey is so enthralling and captivating, that I know you will love it as I do. A chance to really delve into the lives of those involved, and a chance for more of their stories to play out: I'm happy to see that the U.S. version is the original U.K. UNEDITED version, and that they are making that clear...the full production is what is wanted here! I would HIGHLY recommend this follow-up, to a beloved first series: it measures up, and hits the mark enough to satisfy those of us who fell in love with 'Downton Abbey' as a series!

NOTE: This US (UN-EDITED UK version) does include the Christmas Special ~ it is not listed on the packaging, but insert disc 3, and you will find a delightful suprise!
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on December 28, 2011
I've now seen the full Series/Season 2 of Downton Abbey, including the 2011 Christmas Special aired on Christmas Day in the UK, Downton Abbey continues to fascinate as the story lines mature and the characters evolve. It is, without a doubt, my favorite series in recent years and I would highly recommend watching Series/Season 2 on PBS beginning January 8 in the U.S. - and - purchasing the DVD for your collection. As Hugh Bonneville, who portrays Robert Crawley the Earl of Grantham, said in an interview - typically we know the outcome of a period drama but in the case of Downton Abbey it's Original writing which makes it even more compelling to watch - it's refreshed the entire period drama genre. I agree and I highly recommend Downton Abbey!
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on October 27, 2011
If you were anticipating another great season then you won't be disappointed. My only concern is when will season 3 be released. There is no possible way Fellowes can resolve all of these mysteries and twist in the 8 series of season 2... get ready for season 3. This definately deserves a 5 out of 5
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Having greatly enjoyed Season 1 of Downton Abbey, I was looking forward to Season 2, and I found it as captivating and engaging as Season 1. In Season 2, the time frame is from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1919. For those unfamiliar with the series, I would advise watching Season 1 first as it provides a lot of background information on many of the characters, as well as continuity.

The usually robust and confident Earl of Grantham(I love Hugh Bonneville's portrayal of the benevolent Earl) feels somewhat out of place this season as he yearns to be of use to his country, yet all he gets is an honorary rank in the military, and is not considered for active duty due to his age. Cora, Countess Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) gets so caught up with the rehabilitation hospital set up in a wing of Downton that she neglects her husband which has repercussions for the Grantham's marriage. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is melancholic over her failed romance with Matthew Crawley and is resigned to the prospect of a marriage of convenience with another; Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) takes up driving and finds a sense of purpose in an otherwise uneventful life; and, lovely Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) with her ideals and radical views trains as a nurse.

The staff of Downton undergo changes of their own, and experience both ups and downs. Brendan Coyle who plays the Earl's faithful valet, John Bates, experiences some serious challenges when his estranged wife, the odious Vera (Maria Kennedy) turns up. Tom Barrow (Rob James Collier), the footman, is away at war, but finds the experience unnerving to the point that he resorts to drastic measures to make his way home.

There is good balance between scenes at the war front and scenes at home. The battle scenes are credibly done, evoking all the fear and horror of the war. But I admit I was more interested in the machinations back home at Downton, and watching familiar and new characters resort to manipulation, scheming, and intrigues. Dowager Countess Grantham is one of my favorite characters, and Dame Maggie Smith's performance is excellent as always. This season sees further character development, not only among the main cast, but also secondary characters like the role of kitchen maid Daisy.

There is a short, 10-minute segment prior to episode 1 which shows the setting for Downton Abbey, i.e. Highclere Castle in Hampshire, and includes interviews with the present owner as well as the director, producer, and cast members of the show. The streaming via Amazon Instant Video is of high quality, with clear, crisp images and no interruptions.
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