Has Downton Abbey Lost the Plot?

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Words by Naomi Jeffreys

As you well know, ‘Downton Abbey’ is the phenomenally successful period drama series which first aired in the UK on September 26th 2010, now in its Third Series I fear that it may have run its course.

Where to begin? What made the show so brilliant in its very First Series was that it was all new, all original, it was an original British period drama, with an ensemble of established and well known actors, each with equal parts to play.An ensemble cast. It was theatre on the small screen.

What is more, the storylines were exciting, they were new. We had the class divide, the ‘upstairs, downstairs’ element was played delightfully on our screens every Sunday. The costumes were glorious, the aristocrats lives were played to us, to devour, like a box of chocolates weekly. There was the rich family, with three daughters to marry off, there was love, hatred, rivalries and hard work displayed to us.

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The sexual tension between Mary and Matthew Crawley which tantalised viewers in the first two series and with its conclusion in the beautiful, elegant proposal in softly falling snow in the Christmas Special in 2011, has now, in its Third Series has become frighteningly twee, with both characters declaring their love to each other in cosy bedroom scenes.

But now the spark has gone.

Why?

Since the show’s air date it has become phenomenally successful across the Globe, but, my question is, should writer and creator, Lord Julian Fellowes lay this series to rest with dignity and grace? Like his character, Lady Mary Crawley would do?

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Much like its American counterparts, like ‘Glee’, it has become a brand, with merchandise, thousands of twitter followers, albums on iTunes and legions of followers on the social networking site, Facebook. It has become something unoriginal, it is not unique anymore.

Some of the younger actors, it appears, seem to have no loyalty to the show, more interested in breaking in to the daunting world of Hollywood, in to big budget movies, in to glamorous red carpet events and lead roles. It seems that this series is falling apart at the seams, much like one of the Crawley’s original 1920s dresses. With deaths galore this series, including the ever lovely, Dan Stevens, and more to be planned for the next series, one must wonder, how many characters will be left?

With a Fourth Series to be aired within in the next year, I can only hope that the series regains some of its dignity.

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One To Watch – Laura Carmichael

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Downton Abbey, the multi award winning ITV drama is forming many young, talented actors. Such as Jessica Brown Findlay and Michelle Dockery. 

But, perhaps the actor who has slowly been making her mark on our screens is Laura Carmichael. Who plays Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey. The youngest sister, who was horrid in the first series, caring in the second series and is now about to be off down the aisle with her new beau, Sir Anthony Strallan, who is portrayed by Robert Bathhurst. 

This is an actor who is at the beginning of what could be a long and fruitful career, on stage and on screen.

Laura Carmichael was educated at The Mountbatten School, then went on to study at Peter Symonds College. After that she began at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, to study drama and acting, she graduated in 2007.

And she hasn’t stopped working since she graduated, she has starred in the big budget film, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth. 

She also starred alongside theatre regular, Hattie Morahan (Sense and Sensiblity) in a production of  David Hare’s play, Plenty

She as a lot going for her, she is set to make her West End debut alongside Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) in a production of Uncle Vanya.  

“The Course Of True Love Never Did Run Smooth”

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

“The course of true love never did run smooth” Lysander, A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

This is most certainly true to our favourite Period Drama couple, Lady Mary Crawley and her fiancee Matthew Crawley. Who are part of the ensemble cast, Downton Abbey.

They were on, then they were off again. On again, off again. But, unlike Ross and Rachel from comedy show, Friendsit didn’t take them ten years to get together. There was far more drama condensed in to two series. Two excellent series, one might add.

The Rabbit Film Section admires Period Drama, when it is done right, done properly, it can be true movie magic. Whether it is on TV or the Silver Screen, clearly there is some unfinished business with our British Heritage which we must re-live through these Period Dramas.

Perhaps, for the viewer, there is something quite decadent about watching the Aristocracy face the same battles we do. Umming and arring over the people we love, bound by duty, money problems and most importantly, family.

Downton Abbey is brilliantly played drama, with an all star cast, excellent scripts and a big budget, of up to £1 million per episode. It allows us to remember the past and to become invested in characters. It is also a ensemble cast, so no-one is more famous than the next person, it is a group effort.

But always, at its heart, are Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley, freshly married after tonight’s episode and will no doubt be blogged about for days to come. Lady Mary Crawley, who is portrayed by Michelle Dockery, in Series One was fiercely dutiful, fiercely independent and had a stiff upper lip. But, she became softened, more caring as the episodes went on as she developed feelings for Matthew.

Matthew Crawley portrayed by Dan Stevens, the heir who no-one wanted, the work a day Lawyer, forced in to Aristocracy against his will.

They are opposites, and they are glorious to watch, as they are real people. One can name a number of couples who are opposites, but have a deep love for each other. These are characters we can invest in, characters we care about because we have seen them change.

Fans will revel in seeing this couple on television, they can all breathe a sigh of relief. “Finally!” they’ll say.

Downton Abbey continues next Sunday from 9:00pm in the UK.