Downton Abbey Season Premiere Review

New York Magazine’s review here

Last night, the highly anticipated Season 2 of Downtown Abbey premiered to much fanfare (at least, in my household).  With bated breath, we waited to see what the state of things would be between Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley only to have it unloaded on us like so many unexpected weekend visitors.  I’ll leave the details alone for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but suffice it to say that a lot occurred off-camera and in the words of the Dowager Countess, I don’t care much for Greek drama where everything occurs offstage.

Frankly, I’m a little worried about this gem of a TV show.  In the premiere episode, I saw all the makings of your average evening soap opera brewing beneath the understated tone.  The characters repeat the mantra “the war is changing everything,” and indeed, things are changing a little too quickly for my taste. Too much happened in the premiere.  There was too much plot.

Part of the magic of Downton Abbey’s first season was its slowness and its near plot-lessness at times.  For me, at least, it was more about getting to see this bizarre world and how it worked than what happened.  Sure, there was intrigue and sensation, but that wasn’t what had me watching.  It was the craziness of someone not dressing herself, or of wearing formal wear even to a quiet family dinner, or of the Dowager Countess asking “what is a week-end?”  In a way, historical fiction is more akin to the fantasy genre to me – an incredibly different world is developed for the reader, with different rules and laws.

Here’s hoping the magic continues this season and that my foreboding is incorrect.

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