Downton Abbey: Series 2 - Midway Review

Now on it's 6th episode, it's time to have a look at this series of Downton Abbey so far.


I'm fairly sure that Julian Fellowes (creator and writer of Downton Abbey) has made it his sole aim in life to wrench as many tears from the eyes of as many people as possible. We've had Bates and Anna's engagement-except-it's-not-an-engagement-because-he-has-a-wife-oh-wait-no-that's-all-sorted-oh-wait-no-it-isn't-oh-yes-it-is pantomime of a relationship, Matthew and Mary making doe eyes at each other even though he's engaged to Lavinia and then to top it all off, there's a bloody war which goes and messes up the order of things all over the place.

I'm never really sure what the deal is with Downton Abbey; on the one hand it's a silly sunday night programme for people to watch to wind down after the insanity of the X Factor, but on the other hand it's a serious period drama with serious actors like Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville. All I know is, I adore it.

This series has been everything you could possibly want from a period drama (fabulous costumes and outraged English people), and has gained even more excellent humour since the last series from Maggie Smith on encountering such joys as a telephone (“Is this an instrument of communication or torture?”).

The war episodes have been presented very well, not glorifying or making light of it, but not turning Downton Abbey into a “war drama” either. It just gives the drama a feel of 'well that's just how things were back then' and provides with some interesting role changes within Downton like Sybil becoming a nurse (shock horror!). Even so, sometimes I wonder whether some of the parts of the plot have been entirely thought out. For example, Matthew's time in the war and subsequent paralysis is all very sad but then they throw in the “we can never be properly married card” and the whole scene just becomes everyone thinking about Matthew's man-parts never working again. Everyone is thinking it. The viewers are thinking it, the actors are thinking it, even the characters are thinking it.


Some aspects of the show still flummox me a little, the characters of Thomas and Bates in particular. Thomas is hard to like for obvious reasons, in that you're supposed to not like him because he's a horrible person, but thus far Bates has been an endlessly good person. I don't know. Maybe I'm a cynic, but surely a man with that angry a wife cannot possibly have a good past.

As well as that, the presence of Penelope Wilton still continues to amuse me. Whenever she gets in a flap about people not listening to her at the hospital, I still expect her to pull out an ID card and announce “Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister”.

Overall review: Excellent sunday night escapism for anyone that fancies a good cry.

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