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Downton Abbey: Series 2 [DVD] 
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Julian Fellowes' hit drama Downton Abbey returns with all the regular cast including Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt and Dan Stevens. Returning to Downton Abbey in 1916, we see the effects of The First World War on the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. The new series sees the return of all the much loved characters whose intertwined lives are rendered more complicated by wartime and its impact on the great house itself. And when the storms of war have finally cleared, will the way of life known by all the inhabitants of Downton have changed forever?
- Episode One Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- House to Hospital
- Fashion and Uniforms
- Romance in a Time of Warfare
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Top Customer Reviews
Admittedly some plot contrivances did not really convince and Mrs. Bates exuded so much venom she seemed to have strayed in from "The Wizard of Oz". Much drama of quality, though, remained as tragedy struck both upstairs and down, all concerned having forever to improvise. Conditions depicted were the result of extensive research. It is easy to mock Lady Sybil's wish to play her part, which meant first learning how to fill a kettle. That is how things were - so many of the pampered classes at a loss how to do even the most basic things for themselves.
The romances rather left me cold, except for Bates and Anna (Joanne Froggatt excellent). Unexpectedly the most moving moments were not the big set pieces but almost incidental: Thomas (of all people) weeping after a sudden death; his crony sourface O'Brien surprisingly sympathetic towards the shellshocked replacement valet Lang.
Maggie Smith's Dowager, as ever, reigned supreme. When Matthew was reported missing, she observed, "The next heir will probably be a chimney sweep from Solihull." Magnificently she championed the cause of badly injured footman William - casting aside pompous officialdom, cutting down to size that odious vicar. In every way a performance to treasure. Others, less showy, also impressed - not least Phyllis Logan as the housekeeper.
The television showing suffered from clutter. DVD spares viewers the adverts, promotions of forthcoming shows (one segment insensitively timed about five minutes from the climax of each episode), the pre-credit spoilers.Read more ›
The acting is as accomplished as could be expected from the cast and the story is suitably interesting, with the typical conflicts of the time, here strengthened by the savage war that touches upon all. The interactions between the aristocracy and the middle classes, and with the servants are all explored, with the difficulties arising from the accelerating change being quite well shown.
The war brings about a truly drastic change for the abbey, both in two of the daughters actually getting gainful occupations, as well as the abbey becoming a reconvalescent home for the military hospital in the village. Naturally this closer contact between the worlds leads to its own conflicts and it seems that the protagonists are not all equally ready to tackle the change. The whole season is also filled with the 'will they, won't they' tension between Mary and the heir of Downton, in spite of their separate engagements, and a similar drama is playing out downstairs, too.
What cost the series the last star for me was that it started dragging a bit towards the second half. While each episode in isolation was good, I felt as if the producers were treading over the same ground for too long, before moving on.
Overall the second season is well worth watching (and enjoyable to boot), with many quite humorous moments provided and plenty of food for thought.
The 'mixture as before' in Series 2 of this great-rating drama. I have to confess that I was panting for the dvd to arrive and when it did, saw the whole 8 episodes over a few days in an orgy of Downton-watching.
Obviously, it has all the same problems as Series 1 - implausible plots, historical inaccuracy and so on - but like the first, Series 2 is strangely addictive. And the good news is that, since it ends on a cliff-hanger, there must be a Series 3 in the pipeline.
In the throes of war the main motif is 'nothing will be the same again' and some of the relationships are strained to prove it. Regrettably, Lady Sybil did not meet the nice young officer I predicted at the end of Series 1, although Thomas does not enjoy his time in the trenches (as predicted). Both Lady Mary and Lady Edith improve enormously and find that being occupied makes them a lot less bitchy. Lady Edith thought she had met a nice officer, and one of the housemaids certainly did, but those wartime romances can be dodgy things and surprisingly (or not) not everyone behaves quite as they ought.
It's often hard for the family and servants to keep track of all the comings and going and what everyone's up to behind the scenes, but fortunately they don't have to rely on the simple expedient of telling each other things people ought to know and keeping quiet about those they shouldn't. Eavesdropping gives sneaky O'Brien and Thomas plenty to plot about, and listening to servants' gossip keeps the family informed about important events.
Poor old Bates has a terrible time with his ex-wife.Read more ›