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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 10 November 2013
A new series of Downton is an annual treat, and as usual this year it is followed by the DVD compendium released just in time to give as a very welcome Christmas present. This includes the 33 episodes to date. There are seven episodes from the first series, eight each from the second, third and fourth, plus the 2011 and 2012 Christmas specials of which the first was a dramatic masterpiece, but the second did not deliver in the same way in the opinion of most people although it ended dramatically.

The four series so far have taken us from 1912, just after the sinking of the Titanic, up to 1922. Each of the four series to date has had a slightly different background. Series 1 takes us to a very formal setting within the household with much concern about match making for the Crawley daughters to find them suitable partners which will secure the financial future of the estate. However, those above stairs are generally shown in largely a sympathetic light in their relationship with their servants below stairs and this sets the scene for the whole subsequent series.

The second series takes us through World War 1. Downton Abbey has been converted into a convalescent home for servicemen injured in the conflict. This quite different scenario provided the script writers with some interesting stories and the series runs from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 up to the end of the war in 1918.

The first Christmas special and the third series take place from late 1919 into 1920. The first features a very dramatic trial and this was probably the single best episode so far. In the third series the household is far more back to the life of an aristocratic family as it was in the first series although the estate faces major challenges in the post war period and a need to embrace change if Downton is to survive.

The second Christmas special sees most of the action move to Scotland, and a tragic conclusion which shocked most viewers and rather put a blight on Christmas Day for many. The fourth series takes us a little further into the 1920s and some relaxation of the divisions between those above and below stairs is obvious, although it still all looks like a rigid division to our contemporary eyes.

A major source of story lines for the script writers has been the interaction between those below stairs and those above stairs. Quite a few of the main characters in both groups have been in Downton from the beginning and there are some very strong performances. However, I am not sure things would be the same without Maggie Smith as the matriarch of the family and she continues to dominate any scene she is in.

If you are interested in the additional features, this DVD set includes all the extra features which were on the individual season releases. These amount to several hours of additional viewing.

Personally I have been an avid follower of Downton Abbey from the first series and have seen every episode to date. I have now started to enjoy reruns of the earlier episodes. However, if you have missed out so far, then this DVD set is an excellent introduction to probably the best costume TV drama in recent times. Prospective purchasers should be aware that there will be a further Christmas Special later this year which is not included on this DVD set and there will inevitably be further seasons of the show, so whilst this is the definitive box set to date it will not remain so.
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on 25 October 2013
It's really hard not to give this set 5 stars. The show definitely deserves a 5 star rating, however, I had to take away one star because this entire set was supposed to be Region Free. The first two series are, indeed, Region Free, but Series 3 is locked in at Region B/2. This is the only complaint I would have about this set. It is a magnificent show and is definitely worth purchasing if you can play Region B/2 locked Blurays.
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on 14 January 2014
Though this excellent Blu-Ray package is in Region B, I was able to play on a regular US Blu-Ray player, by pressing the menu button on the remote after the region warning comes on the screen. This brings up the main menu on the disks from where you select the episodes and play it. The Blu-Ray transfer is excellent. The series itself is amazing with great acting, story, costume and settings. Amazon delivered the package to US in two weeks (during the Christmas rush period) which is fair enough. The set is worth every penny.
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on 4 December 2013
Worth every penny a fantastic quadrilogy of downton deaths romances betrayals and Christmas specials a must buy item A MUST BUY ITEM

P.s way better than upstairs downtstairs
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on 11 December 2013
A wonderful story, brilliantly acted ,marvelous costumes and settings well worth watching. Waiting and hoping there'll be another series following,
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on 9 January 2014
Living in Spain and missing out on the last series was well-frustrating. So I was glad I came across this boxed set of 1-4 series of Downton Abbey ... not only can I relive the few episodes that I did catch on Spanish tv, now I have been able to catch up on the second half of series 3 and all of 4. If there is anyone out there who does not know the series already, it is a must for all who love period drama, with well-researched historial aspects, wonderful costumes and settings, and excellent acting and casting. The story lines hold well together, with heart-wrenching tragedies interspersed with beautiful family moments and hilarious escapades. I really can't fault the series as a whole - wonderful entertainment and comentary on life in England from 1912 to 1922. I can't wait for Series 5 to come out!!
Not sure that the bonuses are worth the effort but a bit of background is always welcome! Perhaps a little expensive, but considering the number of viewing hours, I think it was worth it.
Arrived on time and well packaged. Vison and sound excellent.
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on 27 November 2013
Sadly!! This is a Christmas present for my friend, I could not, at this time, justify buying myself a copy. But I will.!!!
I watched it all on TV. it was absolutely wonderful. If you want to slip into another era this is the Box Set for you.
I will add that I do have Series 1 to 3, Christmas Special and A journey to the Highlands, all of which have been watched many many times, Arrived very prompt and in perfect condition.
Regards PH
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on 10 December 2014
I am Spanish but I earn my living by teaching English. I teach a humanities-related course at university. This means that I have read a lot of books (literature, philosophy, social science) in English and thanks to all that reading I can write well. But sometimes I find it difficult to talk and to understand other people talking.

Downton Abbey has met that need. It has exposed me to colloquial English (which I hardly find in the books I usually read) in a whole range of different accents (Yorkshire, London, American, English upper, middle and working class) and has allowed me to immerse myself in an English milieu which, although it dates back to the early 20th century, reflects very faithfully present-day situations and characters.

I love Downton Abbey for its lack of Manicheism. Unlike Dickens' characters, at Downton no one is entirely good or entirely bad. That's why it is a reflection on most viewers. We have virtues, but we also have weaknesses and foibles; we are capable of doing good deeds but we can also commit dreadful sins, if only because we are weak. Downton Abbey's characters reflect this. But when the bad threatens to drown out the good there is always a reconciliation putting things right again. In spite of their misgivings, Matthew Crawley and Mary Grantham make up, opening up the path for a loving relationship in the future; and Mary prays that Matthew may not be killed in the war.

Mary and her sister Edith also make up. They have been terribly bitchy to each other but the story shows that they are both capable of good feelings towards each other. And they end up being a model of sisterly love.

There is another salient feature: the servants at Downton are not downtrodden or exploited. They are just part of the family. Their dignity is protected by Lord Grantham and his family. Lady Sybil, the youngest of Lord Grantham's daughters, gives all her support to a maid who is struggling to become a secretary and thus improve her life's prospects.

All in all I think Downton Abbey is a great artistic creation.
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on 27 January 2014
Technically this is well presented although the US release contains the Christmas special which must be ordered separately in the UK at an unreasonably high price. This series has morphed from a good drama to an increasingly dreary soap and the only thing that keeps it going is that it still seems to sell, as all the artistic talent that graced the first two series has more or less drained away though the cracks. Even the cast are sick of it and are having to be killed off to explain their absence! It is really time to call this a day!
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on 10 January 2014
I had never seen an episode on T.V., but decided to buy Series 1-4, at a very competitive price, and see what all the fuss was about !.
This caused many late nights (early mornings), as I had to find-out what happened in the next episode(s). It was well-worth the bleary-eyed mornings: Beautifully filmed a top-class cast and wonderful settings all contribute to magnificent entertainment.
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