Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Downtown Withdrawal

This week I'm in mourning.  Drapes pulled closed.  Knocker muffled.  A dress of stiff black bombazine.  You see, this past Sunday the last episode of the second season of Downtown Abbey aired on PBS, and I'm utterly bereft.  No more hobnobbing with the Earl of Grantham and his family.

No more peeking belowstairs where the butler Mr. Carson steers a taut ship. 

No more longing looks, tension-filled intrigue, or let's face it, what we all lived for - the dry, perfectly uttered wit of Cousin Violet played by Dame Maggie Smith.

What is it about this show produced for TV by Julian Fellowes that has captured America's imagination and kept us glued to our seats every Sunday night?  Is it the soap-opera melodrama, the gorgeous period costumes and extraordinary setting, or is it a peek at the doings of the aristocracy in a period when the first cracks in their unscaleable walls started showing and the seeds for great stories was born?

For me, it's a little of all three.

How far will the controlling and dangerous Sir Richard go to ruin Lady Mary now that she's thrown him over for the love of her life, Matthew, the heir to the earldom?  And will it affect their happily-ever-after?

What's next for Lady Sybil who broke with her uppercrust upbringing to marry the family chauffeur and Irish revolutionary Branson?

Will the evidence ever be found that will exonerate the valet Mr. Bates of the murder of his horrible ex-wife?

And what will the devious footman Thomas and his accomplice in nastiness the lady's maid O'Brien plot next?

PBS had been milking our obsession on their website with lots of fun extras.  There are synopses and film recaps to catch you up on each episode, blurbs introducing the characters, interviews with the actors and actresses and behind the scenes info on Highclere Castle, the gorgeous real-life setting for the fictitious Downtown Abbey, and even a neat interactive love/hate "rate the character" chart you can play with your friends.

If you're suffering withdrawal like me, the publishing industry has jumped on the bandwagon as well, and you can continue your fix with three books inspired by the show that have recently hit the shelves.

The World of Downtown Abbey
by Jessica Fellowes

Lady Almina and the Real Downtown Abbey
The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
by the Countess of Carnarvon

Below Stairs
The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downtown Abbey
by Margaret Powell

Hopefully by the time you've finished all that, it will be time for the third season to begin! 

What about you?  Are you a Downtown devotee?  Or are corsets, rigid class consciousness, and British stiff-upper-lip soulful suffering not your cup of tea?

 ~ copied from Blame It On the Muse blog