July 30, 2011

WE'VE GOT 12 INVITES TO THE BOX, IF YOU CAN'T WAIT FOR PBS:

Downton Abbey second series: first review
( Ceri Radford, 30 Jul 2011, The Telegraph)

Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), the middle class heir to the Downton estate, is in the trenches, bravely leading his men into battle.

Female viewers can be assured that he cuts a very satisfactory dash in his military uniform. It is little wonder that the haughty Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery), who dithered about accepting her cousin Matthew's marriage proposal in a moment of unmitigated madness in the last series, looks quite so wistful and glum this time around.

In the first major development of the new series, it's revealed that Matthew Crawley has got engaged - and to a young woman from such a humdrum background (Miss Lavinia Swire, played by Zoe Boyle) that the Dowager Countess of Grantham (a magnificent Dame Maggie Smith) pulls a face as if she has swallowed a wasp. Lady Mary herself has a new love interest in the form of Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen), an unscrupulous press baron; but it is clear he is no match in her affections for the strapping Matthew.

As ever with Fellowes's writing, there is the same deft balance of emotion, suspense and comedy. The materials he has to play with here are clearly darker: as the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) puts it, "War is now reaching its long fingers into Downton, stealing our chicks."

Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), his sweet and idealistic daughter, has volunteered to join the Red Cross, and it is inevitable that her naivety will soon be shattered when she has to deal with severely wounded soldiers. Matthew Crawley, meanwhile, is in daily peril on the front line. Fellowes himself hints ominously that: "None of them is unaffected by the war. All of them change. And death doesn't pass Downton Abbey by."

Despite all this, though, there are some extremely funny moments, along with a sense of smaller human dramas playing out against the backdrop of seismic events.



Posted by at July 30, 2011 9:00 AM
  

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