Downton Abbey

8.6 / 10
50 min
Drama, History
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" gives "Downton Abbey - Season 3" a 9."
Written by on 21 March 2013.
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Downton Abbey - Season 3

Great Britain rules the world. Well, not really, but the British period drama Downton Abbey has become a global success. A national phenomenon at first, it later on crossed the channel towards Europe and then spread around the world, including even America, home of most famous series. This comes as no surprise, however; the first two seasons proved that Downton Abbey really is an excellent show which deserved to have a sequel, and rightly so; the third series might even be better than the previous one.

The final scene of the second season showed how one event can change the mood of an entire nation; straight from the start we were hoping Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Mary (Michelle Dockery) would get together, and when Mary finally said yes – this became the talk of the day not only by the staff at the estate of Downton Abbey, but also by everyone watching the show – it lightened up the dark Christmas days. In the third season a few years have passed. It is 1920, the First World War has ended and everyone is preparing for the big wedding. Times have changed, however. The influence of the aristocracy is fading and they are not as important and wealthy as before. The future of Downton Abbey is in danger, when Robert Crawley (played by Hugh Bonneville, who is cast perfectly as the Earl of Grantham) is informed that the estate is running out of money. He keeps trying to find a solution, to which, it turns out, Matthew is the key.

It is not only this main storyline which keeps us at the edge of our seat. One of the things Downton Abbey is very good at, is creating several minor problems which are all interwoven with each other. There is, for example, the case of Thomas (Rob James-Collier), who carries a grave secret with him which is finally coming out. Simultaneously is Anna (Joanne Froggatt) still trying to convince the judges to release her husband Mr Bates (Brendan Coyle), who was tried for murder on his ex-wife, from prison. In addition, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) returns from Ireland, but is pregnant and is not sure about her child’s future. Finally, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is left at the altar and feels abandoned by everyone. And things keep getting worse…

Although all of this sounds rather tragic, the creators of Downton Abbey (Julian Fellowes, who’s created its entire universe including the story and characters) are always very competent at adding a comical layer to the drama. This makes it a lot easier to watch, and it is also a nice change to have a look at some other characters. For instance, Mrs Patmore (Lesley Nicol) goes on a date with a beast of a man, and the estate is challenged to a cricket match by the village. Still, the greatest source of laughter is, as always, Violet Crawley (Dame Maggie Smith, who clearly enjoys her role as the sarcastic and arrogant Dowager Countess of Grantham), who can never keep her mouth shut and insults the people of the lower class with every opportunity she gets. These and countless other examples prove that Downton Abbey is not only focussed on the dramatic events but also leaves some space for laughter, a mixture which works very well.

Another reason why Downton Abbey has more to offer than the regular period drama is because of its vast legion of great actors. They are all well-cast and look proud to be part of the series. In addition, their costumes fit perfectly and the same should be said of the entire set: the estate seems to be built yesterday and the food served looks simply mouth-watering. It is obvious that the show is loved not only by the viewers, but also by the people who created it, and this certainly increases the pleasure of watching the show.

In conclusion, the third season of Downton Abbey consists of everything we expected, and more. It is not only the main plot which explains the global popularity of Downton Abbey. Equally important are the minor plots, the running gags, the beautiful set and great actors. It has been a very long time since a British television show has successfully conquered the world, but Downton Abbey has done so, and truly deserves it. The fourth series will be broadcast in September, and I must admit I'm really looking forward to it.
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