Average User Score: 7.7Jan 20, 2013Julian Fellowes has done it again. Series 3 of Downton Abbey is just as excellent as its predecessors. The first season was absolutelyJulian Fellowes has done it again. Series 3 of Downton Abbey is just as excellent as its predecessors. The first season was absolutely incredible, with every storyline providing a wonderful story by itself. The second season, while still fabulously written and well acted, was too founded on melodrama to make me truly love it, though I still liked the series greatly. This current series, the third series, is just as good, if not better, than the first series.
Maggie Smith still anchors the cast with her deliciously snarky performance as the Dowager Countess, with Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville continuing their great work as the Earl and Countess of Grantham. Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt, and Phyllis Logan continue their strong work, as do Jessica Brown-Findlay, Rob James-Collier, Siobhan Finneran, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Amy Nuttall, Kevin Doyle, and Allen Leech. Michelle Dockery, after giving brilliantly subtle, emotionally suppressed performances in the first 2 series, gives by far her most emotional characterization this season, especially in the series' first episode. Mirroring her, Dan Stevens also amps up his acting, providing some scenes that are simultaneously heartbreaking, infuriating, and emotionally painful. After becoming somewhat a character of annoying habits and nitpicks, Penelope Wilton's Cousin Isobel receives a welcome role renewal and is allowed to show her underrated acting abilities once again. Laura Carmichael is also terrific in showing the pain agony her character must endure and then trying to find herself and her place in the rapidly changing world. Unfortunately, the more and more episodes I watch, the less and less I like Mr. Bates and the more and more I like Anna. My distaste for Bates comes not from the character himself, but from Brendan Coyle's monumentally annoying portrayal of him. His constant whispering is maddening at best and downright infuriating a good portion of the time. Coyle's annoying characterization aside, this show has left behind any negative parts of its melodramatic streak in series 2, and has blossomed anew. Shirley MacLaine's presence is brilliant and every one of her lines is perfectly delivered. Her banter with Maggie Smith is a high point.
Period detail-wise, the show just keeps delivering. The costuming is spot on every time. Even if I had no idea of the point in history when I began, I knew immediately it was the 20s when Mary donned her blue proto-flapper dress and hat in the first episode. John Lunn's fabulous music is still just as terrific as always, and Nigel Willoughby's cinematography is just as beautiful as always. The tracking shots are possible the best since Thomas Schlamme's flawless walk-and-talk one in Aaron Sorkin's works, especially The West Wing.
I don't know how many series are ahead, but all I can say is I hope it never ends.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.7Oct 10, 2011After finishing the 1st season and discovering that a 2nd was about to begin in Britain, I set out to find a legal way to watch them as theyAfter finishing the 1st season and discovering that a 2nd was about to begin in Britain, I set out to find a legal way to watch them as they were shown, or at least soon after. After some searching, I found a place, paid my $10 and have enjoyed 4 weeks of viewing ecstasy since then. Equally as enthralling as the 1st season, the 2nd season has kept me completely invested and expectantly waiting for the next episode.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.7Oct 10, 2011While it pales in comparison to its eponymous predecessor, this reincarnation of Upstairs, Downstairs is well-done. The acting is quite good.While it pales in comparison to its eponymous predecessor, this reincarnation of Upstairs, Downstairs is well-done. The acting is quite good. Jean Marsh sparkles as does Eileen Atkins, and Keeley Hawes is both endearing at times and infuriating at others. A pretty good story line is dragged down by just slightly above average dialogue. Also of note are Helen Bradbury and Art Malik. While I recommend it, I can't do so without mentioning that Downton Abbey is a far superior and engrossing experience in every way.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.6Oct 10, 2011This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Impeccable. Inventive (to a point). Incredible. These are 3 of the plethora of adjectives I could use to describe the triumph that is Downton Abbey. The Emmy-winning mini-series-turned-series has been called the "Upstairs, Downstairs" of this generation, but in my limited experience with the latter, Downton takes the cake, several cakes if you will. After first hearing about the series over 1 year ago through my love of the script of Gosford Park and its writer, Julian Fellowes, I honestly forgot about it. That was until the series won the Emmy for Best Mini-Series/TV Movie. That rekindled my interest. I looked on Netflix, and lo-and-behold, it was viewable instantly. After the first 10-15 minutes of episode 1, I was hooked. Fellowes, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Gosford Park, and his screenwriting capabilities have improved exponentially since 2001. A better production than Gosford Park by leaps and bounds, I was absolutely blown away by the screenplay. It juggles multiple complicated story lines deftly and the direction is equally skillful (especially that of Brian Percival). Set in Yorkshire and using Highclere Castle in Hampshire as the manor house, the story line begins with the sinking of the Titanic and continues to the end of the 1st season and the outbreak of World War I. A succession crisis of sorts as well as a sex scandal are thrown into the mix. The acting is top-notch, with Maggie Smith leading the bunch with one of the best performances (stage, film, TV, or otherwise) of her illustrious career as the proper, conservative, yet fiery grandmother/mother, the Dowager Countess. Her line delivery will make you at least chuckle 75-90% of the time. Also fantastic are Hugh Bonneville as the Earl and Elizabeth McGovern as his wife. Also featured are British mainstays of these sorts of series including Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, and Phyllis Logan. The three daughters of Bonneville and McGovern are quite well-acted, with Michelle Dockery's performance as the eldest as the one of note, and those of Laura Carmichael and Jessica Brown-Findlay also quite good. Some other personal favorite performances of mine are those of Joanne Froggatt, Rose Leslie, Dan Stevens, Penelope Wilton, and Siobhan Finneran. Easily the best show on television, I would recommend Downton Abbey to anyone who appreciates British period dramas, great acting, possibly the best TV mini-series script ever written, or magnificent characterization.… Expand