Cheeri-O my good man, let’s have a go at Downton Abbey!

I have to start by saying I have a few bones to pick with this show, especially last week’s season premiere, but, I will be picking  with my pinky firmly up in the air, because that’s more fancy.

If you don’t watch read.

If you do watch but aren’t caught up yet, don’t read.

If you really don’t give a crap about this show, then by all means, read.

If you are dying to watch, but haven’t had a chance, then don’t read.

Oh who am I kidding, you know I want EVERYBODY to read, so just consider this first paragraph your complimentary


Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, Downton Abbey is a series that airs on PBS and it follows the Crawley Family.  Who lives at Downton Abbey, the TV alter ego of the real life Highclere Castle.  The Crawley family appears to be ultra rich and posh, and dandy and all that jolly old English stuff.

I am new to this series, but in two weekends of living with a good old American virus, I found myself in bed and on the couch a lot more than usual.  I took advantage of all of this Downtime Apathy to get caught up on Downton Abbey.

I watched the first season, (the Brits call it a series, very confusing) two weekends ago, and the second season last weekend.

After the two seasons that span the years from 1912 to 1920, I was chomping at the bit to see the highly anticipated 3rd season premiere.

I was daunted by the fact that my beloved DVR said the show was 2 hours long.  And that’s with no commercials.  Them fine folks across that big pond sure know how to make them thar TV shows, don’t they? ? But I pressed on.  I was dying to see it.

I sat in front of the TV, waiting to be awed and overwhelmed.  I was just super excited to see the wedding of Mary Crawley and her cousin Matthew Crawley.  Yep, there’s inbred hillbillies in Jolly Old England, even in them big fancy castles.

mary's wedding

What a letdown!  You see that picture?  That was it!  We see Mary walk down the aisle, smile at her soon to be Cousin-Husband and then they cut to another scene.  We didn’t even get to see these people who are already related by blood become related again by marriage.  Bummer!
mary's wedding dress
What was even more disappointing than the wedding?  The dress!  Aaaaack!  I know it’s the 1920’s.  I know they just had a war and stuff, but come on?  “Mary dear, we’re doing our part for the recovery effort, so just pull that sheet off of your bed and throw it on. We’ll put a belt on you, and you can use the leftover mosquito netting from Papa’s trip to Bora Bora for a veil.  You’ll look simply divine, my little darling!”
As long as we’re on the subject of wardrobe, let’s get real.  This is a bigass estate.  We have mom, three daughters and Granny.  So all these years have passed, and we see the same dresses over and over and over!  They have to dress for dinner every night, and again, yeah, they just had like a big war, but do you really expect me to believe these women keep wearing the same dresses?  Mrs Hughes and Miss O’Brien  (The housekeeper and Mrs. Crawley’s lady’s maid) both got new dresses, so what about the Crawley women?
Hughes and OBrien
I can only think of a couple of explanations.  Either even the super rich didn’t really have access to the latest fashions between the sinking of The Titanic and Armistice Day, or, the Carnarvon family, who really lives in Highclere Castle keeps the production crew on a tight schedule so as not to disrupt their lives, meaning that multiple scenes are filmed at the same time or, the wardrobe budget for this show is pretty low.

downton-abbey-episode-7 (Photo credit: Evian Tsai)

How much can it cost to produce episodes of this show anyway?  They go to a castle, that already has all the furnishings and stuff, and they don’t let anybody have any new clothes.  I’m sure they pay a lot of dough to use that castle, but I’m betting that the biggest part of the budget goes to pay Maggie Smith and keep her happy.  At least it should.  She is the best thing Downton Abbey has going for it, and even if she’s raking in a bazillion dollars an episode (that’s a lot of money) she’s worth every sixpence, or shilling or whatever that might translate to.
That’s enough about the clothes.  Let’s get to the family itself.  Since there are only daughters, and in England at this time women couldn’t inherit property, they could only be property, the three Crawley sisters are out of luck.  Thank goodness there was a good-looking cousin for one of them to marry, that way when Pa-pa kicks the bucket, the family won’t be living in the barn.
I’m wondering how the family has survived this long at all. They seem to be hanging on to this estate by the skin of their chinny chin chin.  Dad, The right high Earl and Lordship or whatever you call him married her ladyship for her money to keep the estate afloat.  If that ain’t romance, I don’t know what is!

Now they are all in love and stuff, but it didn’t start that way.  Lord Crawley not only has to marry an American heiress to keep from being homeless, but then he  invests almost all of her money in railroad futures that don’t pay off, so now they are broke again.  WTF?  Sorry, I know it’s going to move the story along, but jeez? How much are we supposed to believe here?  Now Mary is begging her new husband AND her American Granny Shirley MacLaine for more money.  This is the most elegant family of beggars and freeloaders that I’ve ever seen on my tv.

I guess the bigger they are, the harder they fall.  Now the low-budget wedding and wearing the same dresses for all those years kinda makes more sense, doesn’t it?

I felt bad for the millions of viewers who had waited so many months for this premiere.  I felt let down and cheated, and I only had to wait a few hours for the premiere after watching season two.  I wondered how many long time viewers were a little disappointed.

anna and mr bates

In reality, other than the lavish sets and costumes, (even though we see the same ones too often) I find the stories of the household servants to be much more interesting and entertaining.  But like my husband says, it’s a symbiotic relationship.  The Crawley’s and the servants depend upon each other for survival, like the Jedi and The Force.

I’ll keep watching the Crawleys as they do their best to keep a stiff upper lip and claw their way back from poverty.  All with pinkys up I’m sure.

What’s your take on this show?  Like? Hate? Lemme know!

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20 thoughts on “Cheeri-O my good man, let’s have a go at Downton Abbey!

    • Mary is kinda hard to swallow, isn’t she? I think Maggie Smith is just hilarious. She definitely gets all the best lines. I do think that the staff downstairs is so much more interesting. I’m enthralled with Anna and Mr. Bates. I was also a little surprised that there was no mention of Sybil chopping off her hair, since that would have been a big deal back then. Oh well, I’ll be watching tonight, will you?

  1. I’m just a sucker for English drama and love this show. That said, I agree the plot twists in the first episode were too twisty – you could almost see the writers sitting around a table saying “wouldn’t it just be cool if?” and creating conflict. And for God’s sakes, give Edith something better to do! What happened to the farmer and driving and all that? Why is she all of a sudden completely enamored with the old guy? Daddy issues much?

    I did notice the dresses at dinner did change though to more flapper girl style. And the wedding dress was unfortunately authentic….brides were supposed to be very very modest.

    • Hi there! Thanks for your thoughts. I had wanted to search 1920’s wedding gowns, but haven’t done it yet. I know that was a very modest time in clothing, except for bare ankles, but I really had hoped for something a little more impressive. I hated to be so shallow about the wardrobe, but I’m a sewer, and a sucker for fashions from every era, so for me, the costumes in any period piece are a little more than the icing on the cake, so for me it’s a real disappointment to become bored with them. I could watch the whole The Tudors series again just for the clothes!

      I see good things ahead for Edith. I’m hoping that her love interest will allow her to spread her wings. She has developed quite a bit since the show started,and I like where her character is going. She’s almost been redeemed for the nasty stunt she pulled on Mary regarding the dude who croaked in her bed….almost.


      • Hi there again, I just Googled 1920 Wedding Dresses, and as I had thought, I ran into many old wedding photos that had brides who although mostly covered up, had lots of lace, embellishments and eye candy on their dresses. The bouquets were enormous too! I had just hoped for Mary’s wedding dress to see something with a little more flair, based on the evening dresses the girls wear with all the beads and such. 🙂

  2. I turned this on the other day, watched about 5 minutes of it and turned it off. It looked boring. I just started watching Dr. Who and he has been on for years.

  3. I got worried when I read that Shirley MacLaine was going to be in Downton Abbey. How did she do? Is it a continuing role, or did Dame Maggie Smith chew her up and spit her out in episode one?

  4. I was in Australia for three months last year and was introduced to Downton Abbey. I was able to catch up while there and couldn’t wait til this 3rd season. And I found it on BBC here and now my husbands been catching up and is now hooked. LOVE it.

    • My husband finds it a little dull, so we don’t watch it together. I haven’t watched the most recent episode,so I’m hoping to do that tonight. I’ve also been watching ancient episodes of Upstairs Downstairs. The production values aren’t there, but it’s still a lot of fun. I missed this one the first time, as I was just a kid when it was on, but I remember my mom watching it.

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