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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2013
These episodes are always well written and the writer is clearly not afraid to tackle contentious issues as well as highlight day-to-day problems. How the various characters cope with changing times has perhaps been the main theme of the whole series. The greatest disappointment to this particular episode was its ending. It seemed the storyline was going to end on a high note for all the viewers to enjoy and savour with new potential stories for the next series. Then, right at the end, tragedy of the worst sort that left the viewer stunned in disbelief. Rather than setting us up ready for the next series, the ending has actually discouraged us from wanting to view the next episode. There has been quite a bit of tragedy through the various series in the past (and sadness has to be expected in any drama) and it has been very well acted by the cast, but the extreme circumstances of some of the tragedies has seriously dented the story's authenticity and changed the tone of the programme altogether.
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on 26 December 2012
I must be honest, I was thoroughly disappointed with this Downton Abbey Christmas Special. There was virtually no plot, and when something did happen, I wished it hadn't and wondered why I hadn't switched the channel earlier. It's not that I'm not a Downton fan, I really am, and I was so excited for this episode, especially after last years triumph. In fact, if somebody had told me two days ago that I would write a 3-star review for the Downton Christmas special I would have thought them mad. But this year something was missing, it didn't flow well: Julian Fellowes' writing has been reduced to cringe worthy muck and it had one of the most bleak endings there's ever been in a Downton episode (yes, up there with the Sybil episode - followers of the show will know what I'm talking about). I was left feeling utterly numb and truly wished I hadn't bothered with this episode. Hopefully things will pick up for series 4, but, in all honesty, it's hard to see how it will. Another reviewer mentioned that they think Downton has almost run its course which I would agree with; it's no longer a joyful programme to watch, instead I'm constantly anxious about how the episodes will end - there's a developing theme of plot-less episodes followed up by a dramatic final three minutes, which is rather unsettling. The whole way through this episode my family were saying to each other "something MUST happen in a minute". And it did, but not in a good way.
I would, however, highly recommend the 2011 Christmas special, which is fantastic, and I will continue to watch the fourth series in the hope that things will improve. But this episode will, unfortunately, be a disappointment for even the most loyal of Downton fans.
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on 19 March 2013
Great show - good soap. Downton is a lovely series. Ending was a bit pants due to Matthew's character not wanting to renew his contract with the show, but understandable scripting. Unfortunate that the speed of his exit caught a lot of people by surprise.
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VINE VOICEon 28 December 2012
As anyone who has read any of my other reviews knows, I am a great Downton Abbey fan. I could not wait for the 'Christmas special' despite knowing it was not set at Christmas. In this episode, the family have gone to Scotland for their Summer break and the servants have been left behind in Downton.

Firstly, what I liked. I loved the beautiful scenery of Scotland alongside the stunning abbey. The sub plot involving Mrs Patmore was lovely - it was nice to see her character take on a much bigger role in the show. The mentions of Thirsk, where I'm from, made my day.

Unfortunately, this episode left a very bad taste in my mouth. I had no idea that the character who plays Matthew was leaving but the whole episode had been planned around this. Mary had to have had a baby by the end so there was somebody to succeed Matthew, instead of it being this wonderful occassion considering their fertility issues in the last series. I didn't like that this was how the producers chose to start the special. It is blatantly clear following this that Rose is intended to become the next Sybil. She is possibly one of the most annoying characters yet they have chosen to bring her in full time from series four.

Matthew's death happened in the last three minutes of the show and felt terribly rushed, for a main character. It will be interesting to see how they open the next series - either the aftermath, with a repeat of the grief we've just had for Sybil or it will be six months later. Either way, we are going to see Mary return to the cold character she is grieving over her husband's death, which doesn't really make for interesting viewing. It's also, as I have said, remarkably similar to the Sybil/Tom/Baby Sybil storyline. All we need now is for the baby to be called Matthew...

I don't think this was a special for the fans, it was for convenience and I think it shows by the poor (compared to other specials) ratings. As much as I love Downton, I think we might be coming to the end of the road. Series four could well be the last...
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on 10 May 2013
It seems to me that people who were fans of the first 2 (possibly 3) series are beginning to lose interest. Although I can see their viewpoint, I am not one of those people. The Christmas special for 2012 has been criticised for having very little content until the dramatic ending. However the same can also be said of the Christmas Special for 2011. I do not see the Christmas specials as the ends of a season but as fillers that mark the transition from one season to another. I for one am very interested to see what will happen in the next series: It seems once again the luckless Robert's world has been rocked with a certain accident and with the arrival of Rose to Downton in the forseeable future. I for one am interested to see how Julian Fellowes will deal with so many of the cast leaving. However, I do believe that the next season will be make or break for 'Downton Abbey'. As people have rightly pointed out, some of the most popular characters have moved on: William, Lady Sybil and now you-know-who. Will Downton Abbey still have enough to keep interest? I sincerely hope so, but I don't think the 2012 Christmas Special can be used to make a judgement one way or another.
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on 25 May 2013
I love Downton Abbey and enjoyed the previous Christmas Edition. This one was less enjoyable, but still worth buying and viewing.
It does feature sports and pastimes away from Christmas, so don't expect a huggy huggy Christmas all the way through.
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on 31 December 2012
I must say, based on the 2011 Christmas Special, I was looking forward to something uplifting to resurrect what I thought had been a rather dull, boring and drawn out Series 3 compared to the brilliance of the past two Series and special. Sadly I was not impressed and think that Downton has run its course. As others have commented on, to focus on the marriage woes of an unknown couple in Scotland, seems to reflect that there is no more storyline for the main stay characters. I understand that season 4 and the next Christmas special have been commissioned but feel if not for the last dramatic scene (which was such as to not leave anyone in the 'festive spirit') Julian Fellows would have nowhere to take the story - and perhaps he still doesn't. I love his writing and am a big fan - but all good things must come to an end... Lets hope they can go out on a high and not further dissappoint !
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on 4 May 2014
Downton Abbey is an amazing series that keeps us enthralled with each episode. a Journey to thre Highlands is the link between the third and fourth series. It sets the scene for the commencement of the fourth series as the Crawley family realises it must adapt to changes in society in the years following the first World War.
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on 30 December 2012
How can a good TV series kill off two of it's main characters in less than a year, and still remain good? If all the actors want to leave, I can't say I blame them. This special wasn't special. Can you imagine Carson even considering employing someone like Edna? Mrs Patmore's 'relationship' with a bottom-pinching cad ended (yes, all two brief encounters of it). The whole plot was stupid and terribly rushed. Don't bother buying this.
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on 27 December 2012
I am an ardent fan of Downton, but I must confess that I was a little disappointed in this special. As previous reviewers have stated, I was disappointed at the criminal under use of the infinitely brilliant Violet, and the ending just about finished me off. I appreciate that there were very few options for the character in question but the manner in which the event was dealt with felt a little lazy. Where was the fallout? I can only assume that they are saving that for the series 4 opener- if it is skimmed over I will be fuming! There's still an element of classic Downton in here but parts of the episode drag and you find yourself wondering if this beloved show is nearing its end.
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