Downton Abbey, Series Three (2012)

November 21, 2012 8 Comments
Though I cannot promise I won’t “slip up,” this
will be a spoiler-free review.
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!

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) and the family 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 isn’t complete without the arrival of Cora’s opinionated
– and bossy – American mother (Shirley McClain)… and Cora’s youngest daughter,
Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) who created waves of conflict in the family when
she married 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.
What makes this series such a success is its characters.
It’s been said time and again by reviewer after reviewer. And it’s true; 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 were left 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 I wasn’t unprepared for anything that was happening 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 us
smile and 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 directing hate towards each other. Lest you think some fan favorites are
absent, you’d be mistaken; Daisy, Anna and Bates are still a familiar presence,
as is Isobel and even the re-appearance of the fallen 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 – like she and Isobel, they are constantly at odds)
as well as the characters who have evolved into something more mature and if
possible, more wonderful. Being something of a romantic, I wish Matthew and
Mary had shared more intimate moments of flirting and stolen kisses but being the
proper British couple they are, that is kept to a minimum but seriously, as my
mother said, “even when they’re fighting, they are cute!” She is so right! Their interaction is darling and
all too rare. Everything from the motor cars to the scenery, the grandeur of a
London club to the costuming is gorgeous and beautifully puts us in mind of
this era. 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 were precious (including the acceptance
of Tom – loved Robert’s shifting attitude) and memories were made that we will
no doubt cherish all of which is carried by the phenomenal cast and 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.
Downton Abbey premieres
in the U.S. January 2013 on Masterpiece Theatre.
So… those who have watched it, let’s talk: What did 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? What are those of you planning to watch it on ITV looking forward
to seeing? Let’s pile up the comments with some jolly good gossip, friends!
(Parental concerns: 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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8 Comments

  • 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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