Monday, January 30, 2012

Downton Abbey and more

Well, another wonderful hour of Downton Abbey last night!

After reading some of the interviews with Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame on the PBS website a week or so ago, I decided to watch Gosford Park (written by Fellowes) as well as The Buccaneers (an old Masterpiece series). The Buccaneers, based on the book by Edith Wharton, is about the time period after the Civil War when young American heiresses went to England in search of titles, and impoverished English title-holders sought monied brides to allow them to hold on to their estates. This was Fellowes' inspiration for the character of Cora, who, we learned in the first season, brought her American money to her marriage to Lord Grantham, which was then irrevocably tied into the estate.

Gosford Park was wonderful. I had to repeat the first 30 minutes to get the characters straight - whose valet is whose? Which ones are the sisters, and which men are their husbands? It wasn't obvious from their behavior - quite the contrary.

The Buccaneers, made in 1995, was awful - and as I watched, I remembered just how bad it was when it was first broadcast. The dialog and acting was dismal. And then to contrast it with Downton Abbey made it even worse. So after about an hour and a quarter (why did I even watch that much?), I gave up.

In one of the interviews with Fellowes about creating Downton Abbey, he talks about pulling characters from people or situations he knew of in his own life, including the story of the dead diplomat being carried across the house in the middle of the night. Start at 5:30 to hear that part - really fascinating.

Oh, drat. I've embedded this twice, changed the dimensions, and still it shows too large to view. So never mind the embed: here's the link.


  1. Isn't Downton Abbey just delicious?! Now I suppose I will have to backtrack and find Gosford Park when this series is over. Dee

  2. I love Gosford Park. (You're right about the confusing dynamics.)

    I've never heard of the other one, but I have read about the American heiresses marrying titled Englishmen. Consuelo Vanderbilt was one of them - I believe she married the Duke of Marlborough, and by all accounts it was not a very happy marriage.

    I'm enjoying this season of DA much more than I expected - some negative reviews had rather made me wonder how it would be. I think they're doing a pretty good job of showing how a war can shake things up. William and Daisy's wedding scene had us near tears.

    A rant: Why, oh WHY can't Mrs. Housekeeper (forgot her name) tell Lord Grantham about Major Burns's caddish behaviour towards the former housemaid? It would be the right thing to do - to call him to account for his actions. I don't understand that part of the plot at all.

    Okay, rant over. :)

  3. Dee - yes, do rent (or borrow from the library like I did) Gosford Park. Really good film.

    Mrs M - I agree that it would be nice if Mrs. Hughes would tell Lord Grantham - but I wonder if at the time, the woman (and lower class person) was thought to be the one at fault. You know - men can't control themselves, and it's up to women to be virtuous. (Sadly, that notion still is too much in evidence today.) Ethel has two strikes against her: she's female and below stairs, vs. the Major who is a man and an upper class one at that.

    Daisy is such an interesting character - she seemed to undergo a bit of transformation after the wedding, to take her new role seriously. I'm curious what will happen next to her. Become a farmer? Or stay on at the house?


Thank you!