November 21, 2012 8 Comments

Anyone who has watched this series – which I believe is basically… everyone, knows its sorrows, joys and triumphs. It’s an award-winning ITV series penned by Julian Fellowes that has evolved a great deal in the last three years. Praised for its first season but earning lackluster reviews in its second (which I attribute to the time frame), the series returns for a stronger, but emotionally driven third season. One that wouldn’t be the Downton Abbey we know and love without some fun and soapy drama – and there’s plenty of it!

Downton Abbey, Series Three (2012) ITV TV Review

It has been many months since the house of Downton Abbey has seen such life and happiness as that of the impending wedding of Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew (Dan Stevens). Butler and stickler of the rules, Carson (Jim Carter) couldn’t be more proud if Mary were his own daughter. Always his favorite, Carson would do anything to see to it that Mary and his employer Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonnville) receive only the best care and are never subject to scandal. Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) couldn’t be more delighted that Mary and Matthew are finally marrying after a tumultuous relationship and for once, Cora and her mother-in-law, Countess Grantham (Maggie Smith) agree on something.

The big day arrives along with Cora’s opinionated – and bossy – American mother (Shirley McClain)… and Cora’s youngest daughter, Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) who creates waves of conflict after marrying the chauffer, Tom (Allen Leech). Accepting a tradesman for a son-in-law soon becomes second to the dreams of Edith (Laura Carmichael) becoming a journalist; the arrival of new downstairs staff; Thomas’ shenanigans; scary possibilities for Mrs. Hughes (Phyillis Logan); and financial woes for Downton Abbey.

‘DOWNTON ABBEY,’ SERIES THREE (2012). Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens and Hugh Bonneville co-star in series three. All text © Rissi JC
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What makes this series such a success is its characters. The foundation would simply crumble without them. It’s the things that we laugh, cry and bite our nails over that makes Downton so distinctively what it is. Three years in, that is still the key to why this is so darn successful and I am pleased to say that even entering an age of renowned promiscuity – the “roaring 20’s,” Fellowes still retains the charm and (mostly) wholesome ideal. Marvels galore – from new characters and old favorites… to inventive new costuming! – will delight devoted fans of this popular British-originated and now “imported” American series.


Leaving off from the second season, certain character’s fates are in tatters and in jeopardy; and others lives were finally getting on the track of happily-ever-after after much angst. I’ll confess to reading spoilers and gossiping about this in anticipation with a couple of friends so there’s nothing I didn’t prepare for in the stately halls of my favorite British mansion. There is plenty of soapy drama mixing in with tears… and lest you despair, never fear, there are events that make our hearts inexplicably happy. Edith’s happiness takes a turn, ripping a page straight from a Bronte novel. Thomas and O’Brien continue to scheme. Also returning is Daisy, Anna and Bates, as does Isobel and even the re-appearance of maid Ethel. New faces also become a fixture at Downton between a besotted new kitchen maid and a vain footman. That alone creates loads of tension.

Some of the highlights consist of meeting Cora’s mother (she and Violet are a riot together) as well as the characters who evolve into something more mature. Being something of a romantic, I wish Matthew and Mary share more intimate moments and stolen kisses but being the proper British couple they are, they don’t; but seriously, as my mother says, “even when they’re fighting, they are cute!” She’s so right! Their interaction is darling and all too rare.

From the motor cars to the scenery, the grandeur of a London club to the costuming, everything is gorgeous. I love the production for that reason alone if nothing else though there are many other reasons. With rumors that some of the main cast (nooo! Please say it isn’t so!) is leaving and no report that there will be a fourth series (yet!), I can accept this ending but am wishing that we will be granted another series beyond just the upcoming Christmas special.

So many moments are precious (including the acceptance of Tom, I love Robert’s shifting attitude), and memories are made that we cherish. All of this the all of which the phenomenal cast carries along with the emotional, witty script. Perhaps it’s not as “brilliant” as when it first debuted though far be it from me to judge, but Fellowes is on the right track and for me, Downton Abbey won my heart over anew.

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

You can Downton Abbey, series three digitally on Amazon Video

So, those who watch it, let’s talk. What do you think of these installments? Do you have any strategies for what could come in a possible fourth season – what scandal will befall the house of Crawley in the next chapter? Let’s pile up the comments with some jolly good gossip, friends!

Content: Implications revolve around homosexuality [it was against the law] and one man makes unwanted advances towards an unwilling participant, including one kiss [episode seven]. Minor flirtations are present between a married couple as well as references to prostitution and an extra-marital affair. There are a couple of “tense” prison scenes.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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  • Rosie November 21, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    WHAT? The cast may not come back?? NO!!! I forbid this. They must come back! :'( I demand to see Edith married and happy, Matthew and Mary get pregnant, and…and… *sniff*

    • Rissi November 21, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      My reaction is the same as yours, Rosie!

      Spoilers: Rumors are everywhere that Matthew (Dan Stevens) may not return so yeah… I am like, "how can we have Mary without Matthew???" In all likelihood, it will return for a fourth series and everyone will be back. These are probably just scare tactics to get better contracts but if it's not… I might cry. Then again many of these actors do want to work in Hollywood, so it could be fact…END

      Like you, there is so much more I want to see! :)

  • Jess-Rose November 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Great review!
    I share many of your thoughts about this series, and I've kept myself mostly spoiler-free, for once! Though I'm a little upset at the one spoiler I have seen, which has to do with the character they kill off, as soap-opera dramas are wont to do. Tell me it's not true!!
    Anyways, I'm likely to watch it all the same, in spite of my feelings towards Julian Fellowes at the moment.

    By the way, I so appreciate your small-print warnings!

  • Rissi November 24, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    Again… thank you for reading!

    This is definitely a "soapy" drama series but in retrospect, it's SO much more also. It has humor, sorrow, drama and mystery – and it can be really wonderful when it wants to be.

    SPOILER: Unfortunately, that rumor is true. I hope you won't be upset by it too much. I knew well in advance so it didn't affect me as it did some fans who were watching it live. END SPOILER

    If you liked S1 and S2, you should appreciate this one – it is SO good even when it brings on tears.

    Thanks for that closing comment! When it comes to popular series like this, I am always wondering which is the best course: write the review with spoilers or try my best to refrain from spilling everything? The former is the best route. I prefer to know all the "big" spoilers but I know others don't appreciate that so… I refrain. Most the time. Besides, if anyone wants to talk spoilers, all they have to do is ask and I'll oblige. :) I hope you found this one relatively spoiler free.

    Enjoy when you see it, Jess-Rose!

  • Jess-Rose November 25, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Ah well, Fellowes has to add some drastic drama, doesn't he?
    I'm looking forward to it in spite, hoping it lives up to the first two series'.

    Yes, you succeeded in keeping spoiler-free. So far, that one plot point is the only one I know about, and this will be the first time I'll watch DA without already knowing what will happen next. I'm pretty excited!

    • Rissi November 26, 2012 at 10:35 PM

      Fellowes does like the soapiness in this drama series – or it sure reads like that! LOL!

      YES! Glad to know I succeeded in no spoilers, from your perspective, Jess-Rose! I try to consider all potential readers and I appreciate you bringing that up. :)

      Hope you enjoy – and are able to keep away from spoilers. Sometimes that's a HUGE challenge. Good luck!

  • Jessica McDonald December 4, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    I just don't know if the show could continue without Matthew. He's SUCH A pivotal character. But hey, at least it wasn't Maggie Smith that is rumored to be leaving…I would seriously stop watching the show. lol

    I thought I heard somewhere that they are going to have a fourth season? Now I can't remember where I saw it. Perhaps it was just another rumor…

    I haven't finished the third season yet…trying to ration myself so I won't have a long wait for the Christmas special. *laugh* But I'm loving it thus far…

    • Rissi December 5, 2012 at 12:07 AM

      Hiya, Jessica!

      Subsequent to this review being posted, yes, the series was renewed for a fourth season (yay!) but I've not heard if Matthew (or the rest of the cast) were going to be back. Likely it's all a rouse for their to be more suspense and more money for their contracts. It's still mean though.

      So glad you are enjoying this season so far, girl – making it last is excellent policy though I don't think I could be as restrained as you when it comes to 'Downton.' :D The Christmas special sounds WONDERFUL. Do let me know what you thought of it; I'll likely just wait and see it when the U.S. DVD set releases in January. It'll be something to anticipate. :)

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