- Actors: Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Brown-Findlay, Laura Carmichael, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery
- Directors: Brian Percival, Ben Bolt, Brian Kelly, Ashley Pearce
- Format: NTSC
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 3
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Public Broadcasting Service
- Release Date: Jan. 25 2011
- Run Time: 368 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 221 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0047H7QD6
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,828 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Season 1 (U.K. Edition)
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Downton Abbey—a sprawling, lavish Edwardian mansion nestled in the Yorkshire landscape—needs an heir. Dame Maggie Smith stars as Violet, the stubborn Dowager Countess of Grantham, matriarch of Downton. Hugh Bonneville stars as her son, the stoic, unflappable Lord Crawley; Elizabeth McGovern is his far-sighted American wife, Cora. From Academy Award®-winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park).
An addictive blend of suds and social commentary, ITV's Downton Abbey brings a microcosm of Edwardian society together under one roof. Lord Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and his family live a life of leisure, while a fleet of servants, including butler Carson (Jim Carter), attend to their every need, but two events conspire to shake things up: the sinking of the Titanic, which claims Crawley's heirs, and the return of his valet, Bates (Brendan Coyle). Since Crawley and Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) have three daughters, his distant solicitor cousin, Matthew (Dan Stevens), becomes heir to the estate. With that, the scheming begins, since Thomas the footman (Rob James-Collier) views Bates as an interloper and Crawley's mother, Violet (Maggie Smith), feels the same way about Matthew's mother, Isobel (Penelope Wilton).
In the tradition of the BBC's Upstairs Downstairs and Robert Altman's Gosford Park, for which writer-creator Julian Fellowes received an Academy Award, the royals, servants, and middle-class relations struggle to get along. Sniffs uptight maid Miss O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran), "Gentlemen don't work," but that doesn't stop Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael) from competing for Matthew's affections. Though it takes awhile to warm up to the tightest-wound characters, most everyone reveals their more vulnerable side before the first season comes to an end, and a new small-screen classic is born.
The entire sprawling cast is quite wonderful, particularly Bonneville, Carter, and James-Collier, who provide a fascinating study in contrasts (the latter is downright dastardly). Unlike the version that aired on PBS's Masterpiece Classic, this set offers seven parts rather than four. Extras include a featurette, in which cast and crew discuss the production, and an introduction to Hampshire's Highclere Castle, which doubles for Downton Abbey. The first season was a phenomenon in the United Kingdom, and Fellowes has promised a second season set during World War I. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Maggie Smith will definitely get a BAFTA for this if not an Emmy. "What is a week-end?" Bwahahahah!
Season one starts with the sinking of the Titanic and ends just as war has been declared in 1914. Season two is now in the works and I hope it goes even longer.
Makes me want to go back to England to see the filming location, Highclere Castle. Deep sigh!
N.B. Just a note about the editing by PBS. The reason that the ITV episodes were longer was mostly due to commercials (2 hours worth). PBS has edited their version a little but not much was removed. In any case, this version is the original UK version, so fear not!
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