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Absolutely Outstanding Period Drama
on September 29, 2012
The much anticipated Downton Abbey Series 3 starts in Spring 1920, carrying on from the superb Christmas Special which was set over the 1919/20 holiday period. The first episode picks up with Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley at last about to get hitched, but as usual there is quite a lot going on at Downton both above and below stairs and you just know that nothing is going to go smoothly.
Shirley Maclaine makes her appearance as Martha Levinson, Lady Grantham's American mother. As usual, Violet, played by Maggie Smith manages to set the scene with some rather pithy comments. Martha has no time for the stuffy English and their traditions and is not slow to voice her opinion. Clearly she was introduced as a foil to Maggie Smith and the interplay between the two does work very well as one suspected it would. Violet seems to manage to continue to dominate any scene she is in.
There are plenty of dramatic moments in the new series, as life on the Downton estate returns to more as it was shown in the first series, before the First World War when it served as a convalescent home for injured servicemen. However, there are new challenges for Downton in the post war period. The interaction between the family and those that serve them `below stairs' continues to be a rich source of story lines for the script writers and is a major contribution to the success of the show.
Downton Abbey is the most successful costume drama from British TV since Brideshead Revisited some thirty years ago - and this is quite an accolade as they produce a lot of this sort of drama in the UK. Regular viewers of Downton will have been holding their breath wondering whether Series 3 could possibly keep up the very high standards of the previous episodes. However, we need not have worried and few will be disappointed will the latest series. You really wonder how far Downton can go - personally I would not be surprised if it runs up to the 1930s in due course so hopefully plenty to look forward to! The really good news is that we know there will be a two hour Christmas Special in 2012 and although a fourth series has not yet been announce it will be very surprising if it does not follow.
Although the UK issue of this DVD does not include the Christmas 2012 Special, it is very likely that the North American one will - certainly the North American Series 2 DVD did include the 2011 Christmas Special. US and Canadian buyers would therefore be advised not to order the separate Christmas 2012 DVD until this point is clarified as they may well find it is included with Series 3. The UK DVD also includes 68 minutes of extra features which one would expect that the North American DVD will also include. The special features are Downton Abbey in 1920, The Men of Downton Abbey, Two Weddings, an Interview with Shirley Maclaine and Behind the Scenes - The Cricket Match.