Downton Abbey--Upstairs/Downstairs, Stiff Upper Lips, and Tea!

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Matryeshka, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I haven't seen Homeland and am looking forward to checking it out, but did enjoy Season 1 of Game of Thrones as well as Pillars of the Earth Series last fall - I don't know how well known the latter is outside of Canada?

    This past year I've also watched Rome, I Claudius, and The Borgias.

    Downton Abbey is my favourite of all of these because of its attention to detail and slow pace. I enjoyed it almost as Poldark, which is perhaps my favourite Masterpiece Theater series of all time.

    Its the attention to detail that makes the difference. HBO had it in Rome, whereas Pillars of the Earth seemed rushed. I haven't yet made up my mind about The Borgias and Game of Thrones, both of which I'm enjoying. It's hard to pronounce an evaluation of a series before it is finished.

    I think Fellows may be challenged to bring Downton to a graceful close, but will say no more at the moment to avoid spoilers.
     
  2. Alixana

    Alixana Definitely NOT a sonogram

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    I, Claudius. Now THAT was a series worth watching.
     
  3. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

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    Indeed. Shame is was decades ago. It was brilliant.
     
  4. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I loved Poldark, also.

    Downton may be nothing more than high-class "soap opera"; but, there's nothing wrong with that!
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  5. Latte

    Latte Well-Known Member

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    I watched it last night and enjoyed it just as much as the last two seasons.
    But, early days yet.
     
  6. Reuven

    Reuven Official FSU Alte Kacher

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    That was where I first saw wonderful actors like John Hurt, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sian Phillips and Brian Blessed.
     
  7. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    Except when it is misleadingly presented to one as high-class Masterpiece drama.
     
  8. kittyjake5

    kittyjake5 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. I thought it was interesting when Bates showed his temper to his cellmate.
     
  9. Scrufflet

    Scrufflet Active Member

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    And Patrick Stewart, with hair!
     
  10. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    :confused: Is that how it's been presented by media in your area? It's part of the Masterpiece "Classic" programming, which basically are "period dramas" (in contrast to the Masterpiece "Mystery" programs which run in the other half of the year), but none of the promotions I've seen here make any pretense at it being anything more than a highly popular costume soap opera. After all, with DA actors appearing on Letterman and Leno and features on the PBS website like the "Which Downton Abbey Job is Right for You?" quiz, they don't seem to be mistaking themselves for Shakespeare -- or even Dickens. ;)
     
  11. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

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    well I loved the opening of season 3.. in reading the none spoiled comments my expectations were low.. however I quite enjoyed it.. but then again I've been exposed to north american crap TV for the past few decades so I have likely lost some brain cells ;)
     
  12. Reuven

    Reuven Official FSU Alte Kacher

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    nm
     
  13. Reuven

    Reuven Official FSU Alte Kacher

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    That’s right, the wonderfully vile and overly ambitious Sejanus, who gets his comeuppance.
     
  14. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    If you have the Rome DVDs, the commentary on one of the Season 2 episodes includes that episode's director and writer begging the BBC and HBO to remake "I, Claudius" with the same kind of care and expense spent on Rome (they both clearly love it, but also rightly point out the cardboard BBC sets and the "same potted plants in ever room.") In fact they finish up the episode with "And write HBO, tell them to make 'I, Claudius!'")

    Japanfan--have you also seen 'The Tudors'?

    Regarding last night, anyone else have that one moment where you're torn between this being "Prison changes a man" and "Um...he IS innocent, right?" Which is wonderful on the actor's part.
     
  15. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    My faith in Bates never wavered -- that is, my faith in his being innocent didn't. I was/am a bit afraid that he might get into deeper trouble from some prison fight, though. :shuffle: Brendan Coyle is a marvelous as Bates, in my (easily pleased) opinion.
     
  16. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Shakespeare's work. which we now regard as "high-class drama" was viewed as the "soap-opera" of its' day.
    "Masterpiece"/"Masterpiece Theatre" was seen as "important" when it arrived on the scene, (IMO) for two primary reasons: they chose historical dramas, and it was amongst the first programming "imported" from the UK.
     
  17. victoriajh

    victoriajh Well-Known Member

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    tudors- one of the best series EVER- i could watch season 2 (aka the anne bolyen season) over and over- Rhys meyers and natalie dormer have some serious chemistry! is on netflix (in the usa) and cbc archived it all on the website- go loose a few hours!!!!
     
  18. Artistic Skaters

    Artistic Skaters Drawing Figures

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    I love that little Daisy. They ran her ragged the last two seasons - you go right ahead & stand up for your rights girl!
     
  19. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    I got the complete series DVD set for Christmas...have GORGED on "The Tudors." I think my favorite is series 3-Sarah Bolger is great as Mary and I enjoy watching Cromwell slide towards his appointment with the headsman (though it's a testament to James Frain's acting while I can't stand the character I still feel bad for him). And the costumes! I love costume dramas, though Downton moving into the twenties means it's in a period where I'm not really enamored of the clothes.
     
  20. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    I LOVED Pillars of the Earth and its sequel, World Without End. :swoon: It made me sad that no one on the internet seemed to know it existed so I could chat about it! Both had some pretty big stars, too - Matthew Mcfayden, Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell in PotE, and Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Ben Chaplin in WWE.
     
  21. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

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    I have read the books.. absolutely loved them especially the first one..
     
  22. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    World without End is now available on Netflix online streaming (planning to watch as soon as there's someone to watch with me)
     
  23. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I loved them both as well and reread Pillars before reading World Without End. Follett always has to insert his (rather juvenile, IMO) sexual fantasies into his books, but he was rather restrained in these stories, which were so good that the fantasies were easily forgiven.

    But I'm not sure how widely the series was aired in the US and Europe. I thought it was too short to really do the book justice, IMO the book warranted double the episodes.

    No, because I usually watch series with Mr. Japanfan and he's resistant to the Tudors. Given the recommendations here, perhaps I should suggest it to him again.

    And I don't understand why 'Downton Abbey' isn't suitable for Masterpiece Theater at all or isn't high class. It's a lavish production of a period piece, is very well-written, and features an exceptional ensemble cast. The story and the characters are engaging and draw you in, and the characters are well-developed and multi dimensional.

    That's high class enough for me.
     
  24. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I'm with you!

    I don't understand what some of the "FSU Critic's Circle" expect.
    I've watched, learned from, and enjoyed "Masterpiece Theatre" since it first appeared, 40 years ago,
     
  25. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    As long as he's good with some pretty explicit stuff, he should be fine. Though I note a weird tendency--"The Tudors"/Showtime isn't shy about female nudity, but they're DEFINITELY not doing male full-frontal like "Rome"/HBO.

    I think fewer people are aware of/saw "Pillars of the Earth" in the US because it ran on Starz, a pay channel that I don't think is as popular or widely subscribed as HBO and Showtime, and with "World Without End" it ran on, IIRC, Reelz, which I don't think you get unless you're a DirecTV customer (though I've only had DirecTV for years so I don't know what's on Dish or cable.) Also, I think, to indulge in some TV Tropes-speak, it sometimes slips a bit too far over the line from Medieval costume drama into the Dung Ages (though not even CLOSE to how accurately that's done in the film of "The Name of the Rose") and has a few too many people who appear to be evil For the Evulz (ie with no obvious motivation or redeeming qualities.) The advertising for "World Without End" also lead one to believe seeing "Pillars of the Earth" would help, but since it had run on another channel...

    And I agree with you and skatesindreams, I have no problem whatsoever having Downton on Masterpiece. It's not any more melodramatic than "I, Claudius" or "The Pallisers" or the original "Upstairs Downstairs" (never mind the sequel). I mean, what, does it have to be that incomprehensible depressing mess "South Riding" to be "worthy", or veering towards aggressively quaint like "Lark Rise to Candleford"?
     
  26. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

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    I was just going to post that as long as Mr. Japanfan is okay with gratuitous female nudity, then he'll probably be okay with The Tudors. I think that's the producer's secret plot to draw men into watching The Tudors with their wives/girlfriends.
     
  27. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    And they changed the story quite a lot in World Without End. I thought the changes worked, except they dropped the ball on showing us how Merthin, Caris, Gwenda and Ralph were connected other than just living in the same town.

    Maybe the objection to "Masterpiece Theater" is that it should be reserved for BBC-style films of classic books like Austen and Dickens, not modern-day-written soap operas in period costumes? Not sure what else they'd call DA, though maybe they don't even need to call it anything.
     
  28. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    But the PBS "Masterpiece" franchise has always had a variety of series, not all of them from the so-called "classic" canon. The Duchess of Duke Street wasn't "classic" literature -- it was made-for-TV as was Upstairs, Downstairs, and any other number of programs.

    Well, PBS does have their identified programming "slots" so I think that they want to call it something. :lol:
     
  29. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I didn't even know they had produce World Without End for TV. Pillars ran on Canadian public TV, not a pay channel, last fall. Did the same producers do World Without End?
     
  30. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    Same producers I believe.

    World without End aired in Canada on Showcase (I think) this past fall IIRC. I personally wasn't impressed, didn't get past the 2nd episode. But then I found the book of WWE to be a complete rehash of Pillars ...