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Downton Abbey (UK)


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#16378860

TWoP Howard

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Posted Mar 12, 2014 @ 12:15 AM

This thread is for the discussion of Downton Abbey as it airs in the UK.  If you want to discuss the show on the US timetable and without the risk of seeing untagged spoilers, please head to the Downton Abbey expanded forum

 

There seems to be some confusion about what constitutes a spoiler in here. Any major media article or interview about the show in Britain is not a spoiler by TWoP rules. Neither are sneak peeks, promos, episode synopses, or press releases. Casting news is not a spoiler. Spoilers are leaked plot details, and not given out in interviews. You can find our spoiler rules in the Spoiler section of the FAQ. PM me if you have questions beyond that.

 

Finally, if you want to discuss Mary and Pamuk, you have missed your chance. Don't bring it up at all, please. Sorry you missed out, but the reasons are here. Thanks.



#5941

bijoux83

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 4:57 PM

I think all he's saying is Branson's going to have a baby, which we all already know. Happy news for him, downfall for Ethel.
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#5942

Meabh

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 5:16 PM

'everything you regret' for your character has happened to mine WTTE.

Death? Having your character killed off is regretful if you're the actor.

Soutlet - he's not quite 12, but he is looking more youthful these days, he's got that sort of face, and he's lost weight!

Edited by Meabh, Mar 14, 2012 @ 5:18 PM.

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#5943

ScarletAngel

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 5:24 PM

Scoutlet
Would you PM me your suspected scenarios?

I think Allen was being hyperbolic. He likes to talk. He also likes to show off his chest hair (maybe so no one will think he's twelve).


You have a PM. ROFLMAO! The chest hair. The thing is that sometimes he acts as if he's 12, but he also looks young for his almost 31 years. Yes, he does like to talk and perhaps talks before he thinks.

Maebh
Death? Having your character killed off is regretful if you're the actor.


True about the actor. Branson death? I don't believe it.
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#5944

Scoutlet

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 5:50 PM

I don't think Fellowes wants to get that dark. He didn't even let Matthew stay paralyzed.
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#5945

ScarletAngel

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 6:06 PM

I agree. JF's DA storytelling has been mainly upbeat and the bad guys don't tend to win. Look at how many of Thomas's plots worked against Bates. I think the only really bad thing that happened in S1 was the loss of the baby heir and his purpose to begin with was to break up Matthew and Mary. As for S2, the only bad things to happen were 1)William dying and even then Daisy gained a father figure and 2)Lavinia dying and JF had to get rid of Lavinia anyway. As for Bates going to prison, if he swung from the gallows maybe. However, I'm just looking forward to the day when someone finds evidence to exonerate him because it's almost a given.

ETA
Forgot to add that not only could he not keep Matthew paralyzed, but also didn't leave him and William missing for more than 1/2 an episode.

Edited by ScarletAngel, Mar 14, 2012 @ 6:07 PM.

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#5946

Limbonaut

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 7:05 PM

The Film Critic Hulk's take on why Season 2 was disappointing compared to season 1. Now some of you might be put off by the all caps lettering and the way he talks like the Incredible Hulk. That's just his shtick but ultimately his essays and reviews are very well thought out and insightful. I thought this observation of Maggie Smith's character was on point:

IN THE FIRST SEASON, MAGGIE SMITH'S COUNTESS DOWAGER WAS SO INTERESTING BECAUSE SHE WAS A CURMUDGEONLY OLD FART WHO WOULD SURPRISE YOU WITH A FEW HINTS OF HUMANITY (EVEN IF THOSE HINTS OFTEN HAD A TENDENCY TOWARD SELF-INTEREST). THESE MOMENTS OFTEN RESULTED IN THE BEST MOMENTS OF THE SHOW. BUT BECAUSE THIS SEASON IS ALL ABOUT INDULGING THE DAMN AUDIENCE, FELLOWES CAVED AND TURNED THE COUNTESS INTO A CHARACTER WHO WAS NOTHING BUT THAT UNDERCUT HUMANITY.


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#5947

ScarletAngel

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 7:48 PM

I just read that whole HULK review and he is spot on. Even though I don't agree with him entirely he pointed out every bit of contrived plot to be found.

I really liked this passage:

... AND BECAUSE OF THAT HULK HOPES BATES ACTUALLY MURDERED HER JUST TO GIVE US SOMETHING TO CHEW ON. AND IF THAT ISN'T CYNICAL THAN HULK DOESN'T KNOW WHAT IS.


Not to mention what he said about the whole damn trial.

I really miss S1.
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#5948

Scoutlet

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 8:50 PM

He makes some really good points, although almost all of them have already been made by other reviewers. I particularly agree with him about Bates and Anna, Lavinia and the treatment of my girl Isobel.

Some of the plot lines he criticizes at least had excuses for being forced or silly. Lavinia was just an obstacle and a contrast to Mary, Fake Patrick was yet another not-Matthew heir, Sybil and Branson's talk-heavy storyline was (IMO) largely a setup for S3. But Bates and Anna was a central storyline that got plenty of time to breathe and still managed to make no sense.

I also wish he would critique the sacrosanct M/M relationship, which I find far from universally compelling.

And I believe that Sybil knows Branson can be an impetuous powder keg but loves him anyway, and that he actually calmed down/matured a bit by the end of the season. He doesn't have to be perfect for her to love him. Mary loves pissy bourgeois Matthew and he in turn loves bitchy Mary of the Killer Vagina.

I predict that all of Branson's talk about sacrifice and her family coming around will come back to bite him, as his own people might reject them and he'll have to put his ideals aside for the sake of his family.

Edited by Scoutlet, Mar 14, 2012 @ 9:02 PM.

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#5949

plums

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 9:21 PM

The Film Critic Hulk's take on why Season 2 was disappointing compared to season 1.


I completely agree with his specific complaints about Isobel and Vera Bates, but I differ with him in his assessments of most of the other character arcs and in his judgment of season 1's quality. Though I do feel the same sense of overall disappointment with season 2.

I disagree with that particular assessment of the Dowager Countess's character. To me, she had one of the most consistent characterizations from seasons 1 to 2.

I don't believe she turned into someone defined by the humanity that was only hinted at in season 1. I could easily see the Dowager Countess of season 1 going through the same trouble for William as the Dowager Countess of season 2. Her inner softy has never really been all that hidden when it comes to the people she cares for, her family and the villagers/servants she knows well. She's always been a conservative thinker and is set in her ways, but she's open to change when the situation demands it. The same woman who wouldn't disown Mary for the Pamuk story because she was family and told Cora, "When something bad happens, there's no point in wishing it had not happened. The only option is to minimize the damage" is exactly the same woman who told Robert, "The aristocracy has not survived by its intransigence. No, we must work with what we've got to minimize the scandal."

And she wasn't a paragon of humanity or always right in season 2, by any means. She was against the house becoming a convalescent home, and when she was overruled, she was against the idea of it being open to both officers and enlisted men. She was in the wrong in her conflict with Isobel over writing to the war office on behalf of William and Molesley, and I think the show endorsed that conclusion. She was also just as pragmatic in her dedication to Mary's interest as she was in season 1, both in her willingness to break up Matthew and Lavinia by using a social scandal against Lavinia and by trying to get Matthew to break it off with Lavinia by telling him Mary's feelings after he and Lavinia became engaged again.

I guess I just don't really see how she was written very differently.
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#5950

Scoutlet

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 10:21 PM

I agree. I found her consistent and reliably entertaining.
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#5951

Princess Aldrea

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:04 PM

She was in the wrong in her conflict with Isobel over writing to the war office on behalf of William and Molesley, and I think the show endorsed that conclusion.

Did it? Moseley was grateful and stuck with the lie and William was tragically killed.
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#5952

3down1up

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Posted Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:10 PM

Forgot to add that not only could he not keep Matthew paralyzed, but also didn't leave him and William missing for more than 1/2 an episode.


But JF killed off William in the next episode (token WWI death) and then Lavinia later on (token Spanish Flu death). So if Ireland is going to be a focus for series 3 (and I am not sure if we have heard that Ireland will be a "focus", other than the oft-mentioned "Catholic storyline"), does this mean a character needs to die to represent the Troubles? I know Allen is a talker, and I think he is very aware of how he stirs up fans (like me), but a month ago he did an interview where he said that, in series 3, there are laughs and tears, a lot of tears - or something like that. Now this comment. I fear the worst, but I have feared the worst before and been wrong and I hopefully am wrong again!
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#5953

plums

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 12:09 AM

Did it? Moseley was grateful and stuck with the lie and William was tragically killed.


I think so. When Isobel made her point that there could be no allowances made for special cases because everyone at the front was a special case to someone, and she herself had a son fighting, I think that pretty much defeated Violet's argument. Also, I don't think William would have appreciated the patronizing meddling if he knew about it, because that whole episode showed him eager to fight and frustrated that he was choosing to wait for the call up instead of enlisting.

Actually, in thinking about this, I'm reminded about how much I liked how the first episode (couple of episodes in the US case) handled each of the notable male characters' contrasting situations and thoughts about fighting in the war (with the exception I think of Bates).
-Robert is frustrated that he's not wanted for fighting at the front, which makes him feel unmanly and useless, setting up his descent into mid-life crisis depression land later on in the series
-Matthew is off fighting at the front and is having some trouble with the horrors he's seen but feels loyalty to his men and experiences some disconnect when he comes back to England.
-Thomas has been in the trenches for two years and is desperate to get out by any means necessary.
-Branson hasn't enlisted and is perfectly fine where he is, feeling absolutely no desire to fight or guilt about not fighting when the white feather girls try to shame him and isn't apparently thinking about the call up.
-William feels completely ashamed when they give him a white feather and is desperate to fight for his country but hasn't signed up because of his father's wishes.
-Molesley doesn't want to fight and lies to get out of being called up because he's afraid, and any guilt he feels is out-weighed by his sense of self-preservation.

I thought it was well done and interesting anyway.
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#5954

ScienceGirl12

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 12:09 AM

The all-caps shtick was incredibly annoying, but having made it through the critique I don't think he's saying that other discerning critics haven't already said. I thought it was interesting that he felt he could have bought Sybil marrying Branson more easily in season 1 vs season 2. That might have worked for me too. But after season 1, Sybil/Branson had a lot of potential going into season 2 - hell, even the first episode of season 2 (when Branson mockingly takes the white feather offered to him and Sybil goes off to learn to nurse) seemed promising for the characters. And then the factoid-heavy, development-light five second conversations started. Even if this was a set-up for season 3, it's not a very good one. Fellowes would have been better off making them a more central romance in season 3 and actually investing time in developing them as individuals and friends in season 2. And for what it's worth, I don't see Fellowes killing off Branson. I don't think he has the guts to get rid of any of the truly main characters and in all honesty, I wouldn't want him to.

Re: his lack of a critical take on Mary/Matthew - maybe he enjoyed that dynamic (the Christmas special review links in the piece seemed to). For me, their relationship is one of the highlights of season 2 and I think this is something Fellowes got right. The train station scene in the first episode remains one of my favorite scenes of either season. We'll have to see what the consequences of the "re-set" are, but there are certainly many ways to keep Mary/Matthew interesting even while married and I hope Fellowes goes in one of those directions. I do appreciate that Fellowes realized he couldn't draw out the Mary/Matthew will they/won't they story forever.

While I would have liked Lavinia to have been a more developed character, Fellowes centers the viewer perspective around that of Mary a lot of the time so I think it makes sense that we ultimately didn't learn much more about Lavinia than what Mary found out. Lavinia wasn't just an obstacle to Mary's happiness, but also a way of tangibly demonstrating that Mary has matured. Season 1 Mary would have treated Lavinia very differently. So I think the character served an important purpose. And her death wasn't actually unrealistic so there's a detail Fellowes got right.

She was in the wrong in her conflict with Isobel over writing to the war office on behalf of William and Molesley, and I think the show endorsed that conclusion.
Did it? Moseley was grateful and stuck with the lie and William was tragically killed.

Yeah, I didn't think the show presented her decision to try to get William out of service as wrong or right. I actually thought this was an interesting subplot because I was sympathetic to both Isobel and Violet in this argument.

ETA: plums, you summed up the varying male perspectives on participating in the war nicely. I totally agree that the contrasts were interesting - it's too bad a lot of it was squandered post episode 1 (which I too thought was very strong). But as you said, Robert is set up for the mid-life crisis/maid problem later in the season (a subplot I didn't have a problem with because I thought it made sense actually).

But agreed generally - the Dowager Countess' characterization has been very consistently awesome. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, HULK.

Edited by ScienceGirl12, Mar 15, 2012 @ 12:14 AM.

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#5955

Princess Aldrea

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 12:24 AM

When Isobel made her point that there could be no allowances made for special cases because everyone at the front was a special case to someone, and she herself had a son fighting

Sure there can be; it's just not fair.

Edited by Princess Aldrea, Mar 15, 2012 @ 12:24 AM.

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#5956

plums

plums

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 1:04 AM

That's exactly why it appeared to me that when Fellowes wrote the Violet/Isobel argument, he was making Isobel look like the one with the winning position, because it was made explicit that Violet's actions, while sympathetic, weren't fair. YMMV, but that's just how it seemed to me.
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#5957

Princess Aldrea

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 2:07 AM

It's just hard for me to see "We have to send everyone to their needless deaths for the sake of fairness" as the right position.
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#5958

romantic idiot

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 3:59 AM

Agreed, but "let only those who don't have any rich connections willing to pull strings go off to the front and die" is hardly right either. I'd argue that it's less right than having everyone die in the name of fairness. Violet's way, only the really poor would have died, and people like Isabel who chose not to use theirs.

Edited by romantic idiot, Mar 15, 2012 @ 4:03 AM.

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#5959

Scoutlet

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 7:43 AM

I did like the way the individual characters were shown to have some control over their Wartime fates. I'm not sure it was realistic, but I liked it.
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#5960

absolutdc2001

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 9:20 AM

I was watching part of season 2 and I was struck by the fact that such a big deal was made out Matthew’s “obligation” to Lavina in part because of her promise to take care of him, when in fact it was Mary that we actually saw taking care of him on screen. I’m not sure why that didn’t stand out to me the first time I watched.

I also discovered another favorite moment. I loved LG saying “You’ll never get it. You’ll never get it” with a goofy smile while playing charades.
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#5961

bijoux83

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 10:17 AM

Fashion shoot with Tom Hiddleston and Michelle Dockery. Check out the video.
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#5962

Shanna Marie

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:33 AM

To some extent, Violet had to be written differently in season 2, but that doesn't mean the characterization was inconsistent. In season 1, when we didn't know her as well, the bits of humanity peeking through the starch were a surprise. By season 2, the bits of humanity were no longer a surprise because we'd gotten to know her better and had already seen that she had a softer side. At that point, it was more about finding humor in the mix of starch and softness -- like her phone call to "Shrimpy" where she's very much in Dowager Countess mode while still on a mission of mercy -- than about the surprise of the softness.
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#5963

Jodhaa

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:35 AM

Thanks for the video, bijoux83. So glad to see Michelle making the most of her exposure from DA. Really rooting for her gain more roles after the show
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#5964

exzim

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 12:37 PM

Fashion shoot with Tom Hiddleston and Michelle Dockery


Pity the clothes are so ugly. Waste of a very pretty 'model'
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#5965

not Bridget

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 1:27 PM

It's just hard for me to see "We have to send everyone to their needless deaths for the sake of fairness" as the right position.


Well, we didn't see the Dowager espousing pacifism & starting a defense fund for Conscientious Objectors. And the main reason she gave for lying to keep the two servants at home was that they had elderly fathers. Gosh, who might end up supporting the old guys if their sons died? The Granthams, that's who.....
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#5966

Scoutlet

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 1:50 PM

I think Violet's heart was in the right place, but everyone left behind loved ones. I don't imagine things went easy on all of the people who lost husbands, fathers and brothers either. Think of Jane and her son.
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#5967

SpringBarb

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 2:55 PM

I was watching part of season 2 and I was struck by the fact that such a big deal was made out Matthew’s “obligation” to Lavina in part because of her promise to take care of him, when in fact it was Mary that we actually saw taking care of him on screen.


If Lavinia and Matthew got married, it would be Lavinia taking care of Matthew, not Mary. For a good chunk of the time Mary was taking care of him, Lavinia had been sent away, or was preparing for the wedding or whatever other excuse they came up with to leave Mary and Matthew alone.
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#5968

absolutdc2001

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 4:18 PM

Lavinia definitely would be taking care of him if they got married, not disputing that. I just think it's interesting that it was Mary we actually got to see doing it.
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#5969

ScarletAngel

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 4:49 PM

Well, we can't have Lavinia looking useful. Her job was to sit around and say things like "I'll die without him."

re: the Hulk and Violet. Perhaps he was missing the type of stuff that she did at the flower show in S1. Everything that she did in S2 was generally a matter of life and death, but then S2 was much more about life and death than in S1.
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#5970

Princess Aldrea

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 5:27 PM

If Lavinia and Matthew got married, it would be Lavinia taking care of Matthew, not Mary.

Yes but before they even got re-engaged Matthew was back on his feet so Lavinia never had to take care of him. Why is Matthew treating the fact that she would have had they gotten married (when he refused to consider marrying her while he was injured) as an obligation to marry her?
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