Downton Abbey is the best thing on TV. Period.Part mystery, part romance, part tea-time dramedy, this high society soap opera has engrossing characters, riveting plot twists, and writing so great you'll wanna stall eating your popcorn so you don't miss a second. I was hooked by season one, but season two - Season two is effing incredible! How can so much class combined with so much melodrama culminate in such perfection?!
Built around stolen moments and hushed conversations, the period show maintains a quick pace and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You hear half the story from behind doors or through vents, seeing the characters' fates transpire through windows and telegrams. The duality of characters between the nobility and the servants is genius, and the way their lives and situations intertwine creates a thickly knotted narrative you won't want to untangle.
The cast delivers a truly tour de force company performance. The subtlety of the portrayals keeps the realism afloat in a sea of ostentatious circumstances and intensified drama. All of the characters have a symbiosis, unable to successfully exist without the others. I'm barely sure where to begin when praising the dexterity of the ensemble. They are all absolutely fan-freaking-tastic.
Maggie Smith's zippy one-liners are delivered so purely that you can't help but adore her. Moments such as where she asks "what is a weekend?" highlight the delusion of the upper class with such tongue-and-cheek aptitude, but she also has really lovely moments of sincerity that make you want to hold her tiny ancient hand in yours. Hugh Bonneville has created the most noble, most magnanimous role as his Lordship and is powerfully engaging. Rarely can someone pull off such gentility combined with such underlying strength with such skill. I may have a big British crush on him...
As Mathew and Mary, Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery's will-they-won't-they chemistry is addictive excellence, and Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggat create an incredibly sweet and longing liaison as Bates and Anna. And villainy takes a new form in the characters of Thomas and O'Brien (Rob James-Collier and Siobhan Finneran). Never have two people accomplished so much delicious plotting during their smoke breaks.
I am more invested in the lives of these characters than I am in most major news stories! (Sad or just great TV? You decide...) Having just completed season two in a 2-day binge, I have come to a decision: I'm cinching up my corset, packing my steamer trunk and moving to Downton.
I want to taste Mrs. Patmore's cooking, and have tea with Cora his lordship. I want to go riding with Mary and strive for perfection with Carson. I'd go driving with Edith, head to the front lines with Mathew and share late night secrets with Sybil. It will be fabulous!
Sadly, it being 2012, and, well, reality, I cannot actually move to Downton. I can however, curl up with my slippers and giant bag of saltwater taffy and take little hour-long visits to the estate and all my lovely cohorts. Season three isn't due on PBS until January of next year and I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with myself (other than watch seasons 1 & 2 until I know them all verbatim).
To any of you who haven't seen it yet, I envy you. I envy that you get to experience it all for the first time and let the gust of amazing sweep you off your feet. Give it a couple episodes, and I strongly believe that you will be as invested in the fate of the Crawley family as I am.