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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 11 October 2011
Downton Abbey is already close to an institution as the most popular costume drama for about 30 years, and produced by ITV as well despite this being very much on the BBC's home turf. So far we have two series, with a third promised which will take us up to the 1920s with doubtless more to come. This DVD set covers the first two series, with 15 episodes, 7 from the first series and 8 from the second.

The first series covered the period from 1912, just after the sinking of the Titanic, up to the start of the first world war in 1914 and much of the story line is about the matchmaking within the Crawley family where financial and social influences have a major bearing. Of course the interaction between the family and those who serve them `below stairs' is a continual contributor to the excellent story lines. The second series picks up two years on from the first series in 1916, in the middle of World War 1. Downton Abbey has been converted into a convalescent home for injured servicemen and the action covers the period from the Battle of the Somme up to the end of the war. In both series topical events of the period, political, economic and military are covered.

There are many superb individual performances but mention must be made of Maggie Smith. What a stroke of genius to cast her as Violet. She dominates every scene she appears in and often has some very funny lines.

This box set will appeal to, what the TV viewing figures suggest, will be the few viewers who may have missed out first time round and also to the many who enjoyed this superb production and will want to revisit it.
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on 27 November 2011
I remember the '70s and another Series which was cut more or less in the same parameters as this one, and that was "Usptairs, Downstairs".

This too was a masterpiece of a social study, of the times at the turn between the 19th and early 20th Century.

The only difference was that it was set in a City based household, while "Downton Abbey" is set in the very elegant English countryside.

Both series display the best of British Theatre and Cinema, in terms of production teams, actors, technicians and general staff.

It is absolutely to be considered high quality movie-making, even though meant for the home screen.

Everyone, but everyone, in this series, knows his business and does portray his own character with honesty and truth.

There is no dull moment, due to a skillful editing of scenes that are almost put together like in an elegant dance sequence.

It is a very intelligent show that explores every facet of Society as it was structured (so far, in season 1 and 2), before, during and right after World War I, and as people behaved and felt back on the Homefront, being so detached, yet totally involved with the destinies of those men sent abroad to fight.

It is no melodrama in the classic sense of the word. It is an honest depiction of what people "downstairs and upstairs" went through during those years.
The conventions, the rigid rules, the traditions, all changing just in a ten year period and being uprooted and twisted by the new winds of war.

There is something for everybody here. You want a thrilling story? Check! You've got it. You want love and romance? Check! You've got it. You want a social drama? Check! You've got it. You want a war drama? Check! You've got it too.

It's a very human story of all characters on board of this static ship that is "Downton Abbey". As firm as the Rock of Gibraltar one might say. And yet, not so static after all... Lots is happening here, and this, day by day.

Just think of the nightmare to have a sudden dinner invitation. The kitchen is in uproar, serving hands are missing, the masters are nervous, and everything seems to be doomed from the beginning, but then, somehow, everything comes together beautifully, like by magic...
Magic? Let's say blood and a lot of sweat...

I started this saying that it was addictive, and indeed it is. After an episode is over you immediately want to jump back in and watch the next to see how it goes on.

I only have Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and I am already asking for the 3rd Season to appear, just to know what happens next.

I simply can't wait... I hope it pops up soon (including the Christmas Special that I am sure will be a delightful treat).
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on 19 March 2012
Downton Abbey is a superb series and well worth seeing. However please be aware that there seems to be a quality issue with this season 1/2 boxed set. The Season 1 discs can appear grainy and poor quality, and with a white flickering imposed across the whole image. This is apparently a common issue reported on some of Amazon's forums as far back as May 2011. I purchased this set in January, found it to be faulty, and exchanged it for a second set that has the same fault. Amazon now say they prefer to refund than replace until they get to the bottom of this issue, although it is still being offered for sale....
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I was a bit late getting into 'Downton Abbey' but once I started to watch it I was pretty much hooked. Personally, I thought series one was better than the second series but that is not to say that number two wasn't compulsive viewing because it certainly was in our household.

In all honesty there were quite a few far fetched moments in the second series but so what? Julian Fellowes does a great job at merging the many different goings on and by and large the acting is solid throughout. It goes without saying that Dame Maggie Smith steals every single scene that she is in but there are other fine performances from the likes of Joanne Froggatt, Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan. The sets are great and the stories are compelling.

Series one won many awards and rightly so and it introduces the characters superbly well and has some very good storylines. Series two takes place during the first world war and it can be unintentionally funny in places with some scenes dying to be parodied and some odd dialogue but it is still top rate television. Many people have slated the later series which was predictable really and yes, Downton is going to get the mickey taken out of it in many a comedy sketch series. In fact, it is almost beyond parody anyway, much the same as 'Upstairs Downstairs' was in it's day. For all of the reviewers that are giving this one or two stars I would simply say to them that this really isn't as bad as they think when compared to reality tripe like 'Big Brother', it's just a fine drama where quite a lot happens. To get both series in this box set is a treat and if you are new to the weird and wonderful world of 'Downton Abbey' then you could do a lot worse than purchase this.
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on 13 March 2012
DVD series one and two very good veiwing. Holds your interest all the way through Very disappointed that final episode not included. Leaves you up in the air as to the conclusion. No indication when purchased that you are not buying the WHOLE story.
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on 29 September 2012
This has got to be the English aristocracy as seen through American eyes. Everything is so simple and tidy and shiny, the lighting is so good in that big old Abbey, it's a miracle! There's never any background noise, perfect quiet reigns throughout the Abbey (compare say Gosford Park). People spend whole scenes posed in position as if for a photograph. There can be 8 people in the room and no one is moving, everyone is paying full attention to the person speaking, no one interrupts or whispers or starts a second conversation. It's all very very simple.

The characters are pretty simple too - there's goodies and baddies. The dialogue is also simple - we always know what everyone means and where they stand on every issue. The goodies are not that interesting or inspiring to be honest - the word that comes to mind is 'nice'. In fact, syropy sentimentality reigns in this Disney world. Some may enjoy it. I couldn't watch more than about 5 episodes...

I love it how chummy the masters are with the servants. Servants feel free to offer advice, sympathy, and generally act like good pals to their masters. Upstairs, downstairs, they're not that far apart really. It's all so nicely egalitarian. Just what the English aristocracy are known for! (Slap forehead here).

The range of human experiences exhibited at Downton is so limited - even the war leaves things pretty simple! - that it's quite safe for those who want to relax with something safe and stress-free.

For those who like complexity, ambiguity, messiness, drama, noise - realism, in short - look elsewhere. That's where I'm looking.
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on 11 October 2011
Downton Abbey is fantastic TV and is a must buy for anyone who enjoys costume drama's.
It's nice to see ITV do something this great as the BBC normally outshine at this sort of thing, it's well written, well acted and the location is stunning and beats anything else British I've seen on television this year.
As for the boxset itself, it's a lovely looking set and the price isn't bad, it does work out a little cheaper to buy them individually at the moment but I like this set so don't mind paying the pound or so more .
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on 10 April 2012
Don't buy this Bluray...most of the first series after episode one is the worst quality I've seen so far on any dvd...never mind Bluray. At first I thought the tv was about to die on me it is so poor...but it was the disc...very grainy in the darker parts...which in a series like this...when a lot of scenes are in servants quarters..its very dark...there is a flickering also, ...throughout a couple of episodes...the colour is so crap it makes it hard to watch.

Such a shame as I would have watched this a few I do with nearly all I buy...I don't think I have ever returned a dvd or bluray disc it shows how dissappointing the quality is - wait until you hear that this has been corrected.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 3 December 2011
I absolutely love period dramas, I love the houses, the costumes, the pomp and splendour and Downton Abbey has all of this in abundance.

The quality of the production is spellbinding, watching this on my new Samsung 3D TV (the series is not in 3D though) really amazed my husband and was so clear, sharp and deep that it looked 3D and you felt you were almost there.

We enjoyed this series so much I bought the box set for my sister as a Christmas present.....I really hope she enjoys this as much as we did.

One last thing......Maggie Smith......utterly superb from start to finish.
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on 5 December 2011
Yes, it really is a parallel version of Upstairs-Downstairs, but with the inimitable Maggie Smith having the best lines throughout. She doesn't need lines at all to upstage the rest of the cast by a long way. Whatever you think about tales of this particular genre, this series is worth every farthing, every groat, just for the delight of Maggie Smith's performance.
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