Downton Abbey: Episode 6:01- Review/Recap

Your lot’s finished. You’re going down and we’re coming up…

That’s not a statement to be taken lightly, even if it was spoken by a woman attempting blackmail. But even if those words were not meant to be taken as gospel, nevertheless, they were the equivalent of handwriting on the wall; words that once absorbed, cannot be ignored or deemed unseen.

In fact, the first domino would fall shortly thereafter, as the goods and possessions of a neighboring estate were being auctioned off after the house and lands had been sold.

From near life-size portraits that might be too big for a London townhouse, to sporting scenes that adorned the walls of lesser rooms, everything must go – up to and including wedding gifts from long ago. At the auction, the departing owner, Sir John Darnley would say to Robert:

I’m afraid we held on for far too long, and now there’s nothing left. Learn from us!

Here, it is 1925, and change is coming. Not that it was unexpected. So begins Downton Abbey‘s final season. Episode One of the Sixth Season of Downtown aired last night. I watched it on WEDU the PBS outlet here in Sarasota.

I am considering covering this final season on a weekly basis, so if  I do, I hope you will stop by regularly and often. To make it quite clear, beginning this week, and for the future, at least with regard to Downton, there will be spoilers.

To my delight, (not sure why as I neither ride, shoot, nor have I an English country side at hand to do either) the episode began with another fox-hunt. The horses and hounds. The gallop through the estate’s country side.

How marvelous. Of course, just like the first fox-hunt, from an earlier season – we again were not treated to sight of a fox. The highlight was Lady Mary wearing riding britches, a fact that while not quite shocking, did not go unnoticed by Lord Grantham. Mary would say that this was a much safer way to ride than sitting side-saddle. But her horse stumbled in a muddy creek bed and Mary was tossed from her ride. Fortunately, neither the horse nor rider suffered any harm. The same cannot be said  for Lady Mary’s riding attire.

But I think it might be said that this was the only misstep of the episode. The script for the opener by Julian Fellowes brought almost every character into play. Some story lines were resolved and others brought to our attention for the first time. And, as expected, other situations remained pending. The beauty was in the seamless flow as we were informed and entertained simultaneously. As we would breathe a sigh of relief based one bit of news, we would also see new storm clouds gathering.

Finally, finally, and finally – the long running and unresolved murder charges against Anna Bates, and the lingering suspicion about John Bates were resolved. No longer will Anna be ‘out on bail’, and no longer will John Bates be looking over his shoulder to see if the law was looking at him.

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Downton Abbey Returns for the Sixth and Final Season

For those of you who spend quality time on your sofa watching TV, tomorrow, Sunday, January 3rd, 2016, marks the end of the NFL’s regular season. But there’s another event tomorrow that undoubtedly will capture the attention of a multitude of tv watchers.

And that would the 1st episode of the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey, the flag-ship and runaway hit British Drama by Masterpiece, shown here in the US on your local PBS channel.

Downton has received 51 Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and has garnered 11 wins. For those of you who enjoy elegance, romance, beautiful pastoral countryside settings all awash in the lush glow of superb clothing, cars, hats, horses, flowers, and furnishings, one cannot find a better show.

And if drama and excellent characters are topics that are requirements, then consider all of the lies, manipulations, the plotting, the scheming, the mistrust, the broken loyalties, alliances, and the like. And with those, I’m just talking about the servants.

To be honest, this is an adult drama, or said another way – it is a soap opera of the highest and grandest order. You’ll laugh, and yes you will cry – and that’s each and every week. But the series is never less than entertaining. Try this sample:

I came to Downton Abbey, the series, in a roundabout way. In fact, until a little more than a week ago, I hadn’t seen even one episode. I had nothing against the series – like one who had elected to watch something, and then after a small sample, had decided that the show held no interest for him, and then the show was abandoned. Those were not the circumstances.

No, my decision was based on alternate choices, or that fact that period dramas were neither my first, second, or third choice of TV fare. I had enjoyed a smattering of British actors in my younger days and I could readily identify the likes of Alec Guinness, Anthony Quayle, Jack Hawkins, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, and Richard Harris. But at the time of Downtown Abbey’s debut season in 2010, a series involving a British aristocratic family and their 18 servants, held no interest for me.

So Downton Abbey was totally ignored by yours truly. Even after such actors and actresses like Joanne Froggatt, Jim Carter, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, and Maggie Smith were always up for Emmy’s or Golden Globes repeatedly. Even though I knew that the series Creator and Writer Julian Fellowes had already won an Oscar for his screenplay for Gosford Park, I still did not find any time for Downton Abbey.

I read neither reviews, recaps, or notices of renewals about Downton. I looked at no video clips, promos, or trailers. The series settings in Yorkshire or London may just as well been on the Planet Mars for me. That is until this Christmas Eve.

On that night, I watched the finale of Season Five which was called A Moorland Holiday. It was set in the fall of 1924. And to borrow from IMDBIt is grouse shooting season, and Rose’s father-in-law invites the Crawley family up to North Umberland for a shooting party.

Imagine my surprise to see that these folks dressed in white tie and formal dresses for a dinner in-house. That the men wore full tweed suits with vests, shirts and ties to go hunting. That the women came along as well, but they never handled the guns. Their task was to look pretty and stand at the appointed place. The men who had the guns were also accompanied by loaders whose one job  was to reload the double-barreled shot guns.

I learned of the tasks of the butlers, under-butlers, valets, Lady’s Maids, cooks, kitchen maids, and footmen. I watched as it seemed every one was tied to both tradition and time – as if they were in two-step that would remain unchanged in decades and centuries past as well far into the future.

People dressed in suits and ties to go down to breakfast, there was both lunch and afternoon tea. At the stroke of a gong in late afternoon, everyone would retire to their rooms to change clothes. The men had valets to help them dress. The women were dressed by what were called Lady’s Maids. The evening dinner, even when served at home required formal black tie and evening wear for the ladies.

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