By Patricia Treble - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
Be honest: how many of you knew something awful was going to happen to Matthew the moment the dowager countess crowed about the happiness of the Crawley family? I wasn’t sure the dastardly deed was going to strike, then he got into a fast convertible and I knew it would be an accident. And since in this season Downton Abbey creator and writer Julian Fellowes was incapable of making anyone take the blame for anything, it was the winding road, not Matthew’s reckless speeding that seemingly was the guilty party in the crash. And that wishy-washy attitude was why this was a was a dud season devoid of soap opera angst and tension. I love Downton and enjoyed moments and vignettes from this season. But the problem is no Downton fan I’ve talked to has enjoyed the entire season.
So here are some suggestions from a concerned fan:
By macleans.ca - Monday, February 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
Series writer Julian Fellowes wants fans to know he had no option
Lord Julian Fellowes says he had no choice but to off a favourite character on Downton Abbey.
The writer behind the popular series says it was the only credible exit for the character played by an actor who wanted to leave.
“We would have loved to keep him,” Fellowes said. “We didn’t really have any option.”
The departing actor told the Daily Telegraph he desired freedom and it was time to move on:
“It felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things. It is a very monopolizing job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.”
Fellowes said the star will be missed. “I’m pretty sure he’s got a terrific future.” He added that there will be no “miraculous Dallas-style re-appearance” of the character.
Meanwhile, in other D.A. news, Dame Maggie Smith told 60 Minutes she has never watched the show in which she stars. “Because it’s frustrating,” she explained. “I always see things that I would like to do differently and think, ‘Oh, why in the name of God did I do that?’”
Here’s how Tweeps responded to the season ender:
By Patricia Treble - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 7:24 AM - 0 Comments
The cast’s costumes are ever-evolving, on set and off
In an episode that screams “set up for future dramas,” I found myself drifting away from the plot–oh, why was Lady Sybil talking in code on the phone?–to look at the clothes worn by the characters. If Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, is considered a leading character for its sheer beauty and imposing grandeur, then the clothes deserve equal billing.
They are sumptuous.
And ever-evolving. While Season 1 featured restrictive pre-First World War costumes–long dresses, elaborate designs and tightly bound construction–and Season 2 highlighted utilitarian wartime clothing, Season 3 is back to full-on luxury. Reflecting, but not mimicking the era, the fashion is that of fluid silks, sinuous satins and light wool crepes. Everything flows and gathers. Waistlines are loose and hemlines are inching up. (Check out this Pinterest page by Simone James featuring Downton characters.) Sure, some have been used on other period dramas. This isn’t a big budget Hollywood movie but a TV production. Yet no one can accuse them of skimping when it counts. Lady Mary’s wedding dress was exquisite, made by hand and carried a $6,000 price tag.
By Patricia Treble - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
Oh poor Edith! She just can’t get married. First she falls for Patrick Crawley (the first heir and Mary’s fiancé who dies in the Titanic), then John Drake, the unacceptable farmer (married and not of her class) during the war. And her timing is awful: so many men were slaughtered in the battlefields of the First World War that women outnumbered men by nearly two million in the 1921 census. And those men who survived were often horribly scarred. But Edith isn’t one to give up. She goes after Sir Anthony Strallan a second time (older sis Mary nastily dashed their first romance). Who cares if he’s older by a decade or two and has an arm crippled by the war? She gets her man to propose so she can, for once, be the centre of attention. Of course it ends in disaster. (For a traditional recap of the episode, read Michael Hogan’s fun piece on the Huffington Post.)
While the episode itself was a mess—wasn’t it amazing that Lavinia saved the Crawley home by forgiving Matthew, in writing no less, on her deathbed!—it’s full of the best feature of Downton Abbey: clothes and especially jewellery. This time, we get a second viewing of the family tiara, last worn by Mary at her wedding. Then, helpfully, we get a third when she tries to rip it out of her hair after Strallan dumps her at the altar and a fourth when Anna, the maid, nearly steps on it while trying to console Edith. This isn’t just any headpiece but a “beautiful garland of leaves and cloral clusters, pavé set with old-cut diamonds,” states The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, that has been “worn by numerous Crawley brides in the years since its creation in 1830.” In reality, the headpiece is a loaner from Bentley & Skinner of Piccadilly in London, which has royal warrants from the Queen and Prince Charles.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM - 2 Comments
A show once dubbed ‘grandparents’ TV’ is rocking the ratings wars
In an era of moribund network ratings, PBS’s Sunday stalwart Masterpiece has done the impossible, becoming TV’s standout program, with a 44 per cent increase in ratings. And the show accomplished it not by dumbing down or skimping on content but by doing the opposite: churning out more and more intelligent, sophisticated series. Everyone in the industry gives credit to one person: its executive producer Rebecca Eaton, 63, who’s had the job for 25 years. But the show wasn’t always flying high. Three years ago, it was floundering, a “dusty jewel,” Eaton recalls. The home of classics such as Traffik and The Jewel in the Crown looked and felt dated. Though it was showing acclaimed dramas such as Bleak House, viewers labelled it their “grandparents’ TV.” Making matters worse was a scheduling schizophrenia: a Brontë period drama would be followed by a contemporary thriller like Prime Suspect and then a Hercule Poirot cozy mystery.
Eaton gambled on a down-to-the-studs renovation. She wiped the fuddy-duddy name “Theatre” from the title. To cure the “head snap” scheduling problem, she divided the show into three seasons: contemporary dramas in the fall, classic fare in the winter, and mysteries in the summer. Each section got a distinct new look and a talented actor as a host. Acerbic Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) eagerly snapped up the Mystery! gig. “I think the whole notion of being a host announcing a drama that is about to unfold is a very rare thing these days, and it just really appealed to me,” he explained.
Ratings increased steadily before soaring this past year—its 40th on air—as Masterpiece pumped out hit after hit, including the acclaimed Sherlock, a new Upstairs Downstairs and the blockbuster Downton Abbey. The latter attracted 12.6 million viewers, with another one million watching it online. The drama about an aristocratic family and its servants was a hit in the prime early 20s age group, a market the show doesn’t target.