Imperfect as it may be, Downton Abbey continues to be the only British series that excites me this much. It may be a soapy British drama, but Julian Fellows can bring us back. Full of beloved characters, the Christmas installment is equally lovely but will crush anyone who tunes out spoilers.
Downton Abbey: A Journey to the Highlands (2012) ITV Review
Lord and Lady Grantham (Hugh Bonnville, Elizabeth McGovern) prepare to holiday with the cousins of Lord Grantham in Scotland over the Christmas season. Expecting their first child, Mary (Michelle Dockery) determines to be a part of the family’s traveling party against the objection of her husband, Matthew (Dan Stevens). Along with Edith (Laura Charmichael), their Grandmother, Countess Grantham (Maggie Smith) and a small party of servants, including Anna and Bates (Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle), the group leaves on their journey. Upon arrival in Scotland, the Crawley’s meet again with the wild, forward-thinking Rose (Lily James).
Things become complicated when Edith again meets up with the editor who loves her but his circumstances prevent him from marrying. Back home in England, Tom Branson (Tom Leech) looks after the estate along with the assistance of Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan). Branson finds himself mourning the death of his beloved wife though he finally feels more at ease in the family. At least he does until his old doubts and awkward feelings rise again with the upset a new member of the household staff causes.
There is something “comforting” in hearing the first strains of Downton Abbey’s theme song. Before even seeing anyone, I’m excited at the prospect of the world I’ll be lost to for ninety minutes. Opening a year later may seem like a mistake given how determined this series seems to be to pass by milestone moments. However knowing all the tears we shed in middle of this season, the lapse in time is appropriate. It made the difference in Tom’s character credible and allows the audience one last moment of beautiful happiness. Settling in for the duration of this review, here’s my incoherent thoughts on the episode that put everyone in a bad mood. Let me tell you, it’s a long way away from that happy image of the family frolicking on the lawn. (That’s all I’ll say!)
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When first I read about the Crawley’s holiday involving travel, I thought that it sounded like a grand time. And it is! How lovely to see them outside of their usual surroundings and meet some extended family. If there is a flaw in having to cover two locations (Scotland and the family home), it’d be the edits. It’s not always as smooth a transition in cutting from one place to the next. It seems most awkward in the instances when scenes are cut. Other than that, this installment is perfect.
The costuming is again stunning. Cora looks classy as ever, young Rose brings a new look, and then there’s Edith, who seems to be coming into her own. If I may divert from the “proper review,” may I just say; like her or not, Mary has this dude of Edith’s pegged exactly! Also, hooray for Matthew getting that dig in about his dress “tails.” Yes, indeed, for once, Edith, you should trust Mary; Gregson is out to “ruin” you, my dear.
Seeing Thomas and Jimmy agree to be “friends” is the low point of the series. My fingers cross that it won’t as it cheapens the integrity of the show. Delights that make up for this is the adorableness of Mr. and Mrs. Bates! It’s so evident how much Bates loves his Anna but never more so than their moments here. Likewise, there’s a tender scene between Robert and Cora ten minutes prior to the end. It’s important to note that this is a sad end. What is good isn’t soured for my family since we knew over a month prior, so I already had my “rant” and disappointment out of my system.
Now, I’m actually curious to find out what series four will bring. The theme is going to focus on one character according to Fellowes. If it’s possible to be upset and satisfied by the direction a script goes in, then I definitely am! Much as I detest what we go through, the highs and lows of the emotions, this is a gem of a special kind. From a dramatic standpoint, I understand the writing. The heartbreaks could open up something that we otherwise would never have imagined and for that, I cannot be too harsh on the show. Yet.
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Content: Minor flirtations between a married couple is present as; is the implication that a married man may have a relationship with another woman. One character is seen bleeding out, crushed beneath a car, another takes a harsh beating. Other minor homosexual implications crop up. Downton Abbey: A Journey to the Highlands is a TV-PG rating.