Thursday, September 19, 2019

Downton Abbey - Review

The cultural impact of a TV series always, or at least usually, becomes more clear after the show has actually finished its run. There are exceptions, no one would deny the immediate impact something like Game of Thrones had on popular culture, but as something ages and new fans are brought in that watch it in syndication or streaming these days, a show can take on a new life. Downton Abbey had plenty of impact when it aired from 2011 to 2016, but even still, three years later, the show’s fanbase is just as big as it ever was.

The continued story of the Crawley family and the numerous servants who work for them in the English countryside finds all inhabitants of Downton Abbey well. Through wars, disease, triumph, and heartbreak, Downton Abbey has stood tall as the center of the community, but when royalty plans a stay at the historic house, things inevitably don’t go according to plan.

As someone who unfortunately ran out of time to catch up on the full series, only making it to season four of six, there was a worry that the film would not connect as well for non-fans. Fortunately, there was a brief recap prior to the screening of the film for those who needed a refresher, though it is unclear if this will be attached to every screening once it’s released to a wide audience.

Downton Abbey is undoubtedly a film that rewards the longtime fans, and more importantly, the people that have watched it over and over again. Characters are brought in with little introduction to who they are, with expectations that the audience will have some passing familiarity with the show. 

This is the Avengers: Endgame for fans of British period pieces.

If you do find yourself at a showing of the film this weekend, perhaps dragged along by a significant other, or let’s be honest, your obsessed family members, there is still things to appreciate. The production design and costumes are impeccable and elegant in all the right ways, and likely will be the film’s only place for entry into awards conversations. The music, from John Lunn, is as magical as ever and adds to the experience. Personally, going in completely blind to a movie featuring established characters from six seasons of TV is ill-advised, but if you do, you’ll at least be viewing and hearing something beautiful.

For the fans, seeing the cast reunited and enjoying themselves is an absolute treat, even for someone not nearly as invested as others. You’ll still get a whole lot of Maggie Smith delivering snarky remarks, which comprises around 95% of her dialogue over the two hour runtime. The story is kind of wild and all over the place, and it’s fascinating to see how various levels of fans and general audience members will react to the jumpiness of the narrative and where certain characters wind up.

Downton Abbey is exactly what it should be, a continuation of the story with characters that people have fallen in love with over many years of first time viewings and re-watches. A case could be made, or argued, that airing this on TV would’ve been just as acceptable, as it truly does feel like a two hour episode more than anything else, and it’s almost a guarantee that the Emmys would’ve loved to shower it with awards. However, as it stands, in a crowded awards season, it will likely only contend in a few technical categories. For longtime fans, this will be everything they likely hoped for and a much needed, and wanted, trip back to Downton Abbey.

No comments :

Post a Comment