Downton Abbey the movie not just for fans

At the end of every Downton TV Season, there’s a two-hour Finale. Downton Abbey the movie feels like one of those grand finish. If there’s any TV series that can move to the big screen with just a TV script, Downton Abbey will be it. The iconic Jacobean styled mansion, superb cast, beautiful costumes and set design, not to mention creator/writer Julian Fellowes’ screenplay are its assets. Nothing close to the caliber of Gosford Park (2001) which brought Fellowes a Best Writing Oscar, but this will do. Nothing deep and poignant as some of the TV episodes, but for two hours of viewing time in the theatre, there are a lot to see and savour.


Just by listening to the rhythmic rumbling bringing out the single melody line of the theme music can send vibes of excitement. The majestic aerial shots in the setting sun (or is it rising sun?) establishing the grand manor Downton Abbey’s stature on the big screen is a thrilling experience for fans. In the theatre I was in, almost full house with fans obviously, laughing out loud at all the jokes and witty lines, embracing the film with a celebratory mood. After 6 Seasons, 3 Golden Globes and another 54 wins and 219 nominations (according to IMDb) plus three years of absence, a Downton movie is something worth celebrating.

But this isn’t just for fans. For those who come to Downton the first time, they might have missed six Seasons and 52 episodes of backstory, the movie could be an appetizer whetting their appetite for the full feast that’s offered in the PBS Masterpiece series. The estate that they must have heard in recent years called Downton Abbey, possibly wondering if it’s a cloister for monks or nuns, is now magnified on the big screen with stunning establishing shots. No medieval garbs or habits but 1920’s, Gatsby-styled fashion and hairdo. Inviting cinematography both exterior and interior familiarize them with the setting, albeit fans might find watching in a theatre is more dim with the cinematic mode, less vibrant than via their home TV which they can adjust the brightness.

Those not comfortable with the priggish social system of the past (and present to be sure, and not only limited to England) can look deeper into the series for some revelatory themes. While The Crawley’s are originally contented with their status quo and privilege, and some rejecting all forms of modernity, like Violet’s complaint about the ‘blinding’ electric lights or Mr. Carson’s fear of the telephone, the Great War (1914-1918) changes everything. Lady Sybil goes into nursing to contribute to the war effort, the whole Downton is turned into a convalescent hospital for the wounded (a historic fact of Highclere Castle), heir Matthew Crawley and footman William fight side-by-side in the trenches, and later Lady Edith venturing out on her own to start a journalism career. The most significant is probably Lady Sybil marrying Tom Branson, the driver of Downton who’s on the ‘wrong’ side of politics, Irish republican. In this movie, he reiterates his stand: “You can love people you disagree with.”

Director Michael Engler picks up from Season 6 Finale and set the time to a year later, 1927. The movie starts with a reminiscence of the very first episode in the first Season with a train pulling into the station and a telegram delivered to Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville). No Titanic bad news this time but earth-shattering nonetheless, King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be coming to Downton Abbey  and stay for one night while on route to the Yorkshire area.

The household is in warp speed mode preparing for the royal visit in just two weeks. Before the arrival, the royal management team plus chef come to set up their commanding post, brushing away the Downton stalwarts downstairs. A coup is planned subsequently to offset such an invasion. Thus the movie diverge from its realist styling to a bit of a comedic/fantasy mode. That storyline lasts for the first hour. Then the subplots begin, allowing more interesting development.

Why Downton hasn’t lost its appeal through the years is highly due to the characters and how the actors slip into their skin so perfectly. Every character has his/her own back story, idiosyncrasy, viewpoint, and despite the class system that seems to segregate upstairs from downstairs, they are relatively free individuals who can and usually speak their minds. Take Daisy (Sophie McShera), for example, a kitchen maid, expresses her view against royalties, while Tom (Allen Leech), despite his stance for a republic Ireland, chooses to support his father-in-law Lord Grantham nonetheless. Just reflects the complexity of each individual character, a key asset of the TV series which a two-hour movie is impossible to delve into.

Thanks to scribe Fellowes, there are more duels of dialogues between Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) and Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton), two darlings of opposing views. Here are some samples from the movie:

(Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to skip these lines so you can experience them first hand.)


When talking about the coming royal visit, Violet and Isobel have the following exchange.

Violet:  Will you have enough clichés to get you through the visit?
Isabel:  If not, I’ll come to you. (Not missing a beat.)

Or here, as the family talk about a relative who’ll be coming with the royalties:

Isobel:  You’re plotting something. I see a Machiavellian look in your eye.
Violet:  Machiavelli is frequently underrated. He had many qualities.
Isobel:  So did Caligula — not all of them charming.


As with the finale of the last Downton Season, we see romantic pairings and the movie picks up where it left off.  Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton) are happily married, so are Isobel and Lord Merton (Douglas Reith); Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and John Bates (Brendan Coyle) finally living in bliss, Tom meets a comparable mate, and that dancing scene outdoor with the two of them in silhouette is nicely shot. Downstairs Andy (Michael Fox) makes his intention known to Daisy, and Barrow (Robert James-Collier) finds a friend. While Molesley (Kevin Doyle) isn’t seen with Miss Baxter (Raquel Cassidy), he has the time of his life serving the King and Queen.

New members to the cast include Imelda Staunton (spouse of real-life Mr. Carson, Jim Carter) as the Queen’s lady-in-waiting Lady Bagshaw and Tuppence Middleton playing her maid Lucy Smith, a pleasant addition and a character with some significance. The short vignettes of Princess Mary’s (Kate Phillips) unhappy marriage to Henry Lascelles (Andrew Havill) has historic basis and it’s side stories like these that make the movie more interesting. Surprisingly, Tom Branson is the thread that weaves these characters together, and saves the day too.

An important conversation between Violet and granddaughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) towards the end may have dropped a hint for the future. And what of Mary’s new hubby Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode)? He appears like a flash and cameo. I just wonder if Dan Stevens (Mary’s first love Matthew Crawley) ever regretted leaving Downton so soon.

Beautifully shot, classy costumes, and as always, top performance from a great cast, while not delving into deeper stories, the movie overall can satisfy fans’ longing and make a good introduction to pique the interest of first timers, hopefully prodding them to binge on the full-fledged episodes.


~ ~ ~ Ripples



I’ve a write-up for every episode beginning with Season 3 of Downton Abbey here on Ripple. The following post has the links to all of them plus some other related topics:

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey


Downton Abbey S6 Episode 6

An episode of romantic linking and midlife career changes. First the pairing of some main characters: Mary and Henry Talbot, Edith and Bertie Pelham, Isobel and Lord Merton, (again), Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mason (now, what’s with Daisy spoiling the fun?) And Baxter and Coyle? Not a reunion I hope.

Midlife career changes are thrusted upon other characters. The most important one is Cora, a job that she has never dreamed of, or dared to think about. Crossing Violet? Definitely not her own choosing. On second thought, after a career of bringing up three daughters, now she’s ready for another challenge. Being the President of the merger of the village hospital with York’s, she’s ushered into a brave new world. Now, that sounds like a much easier task than her previous job.

As for Molesley, his midlife career change is something he hasn’t dared to entertain before, beyond his wildest dream. Need to pass an exam first, but still very exciting. It’s interesting to see that his open tuition to help Daisy is so well received and respected by everyone, while Barrow’s secret tutorial offered to Andy is met with suspicion. But kudos to him for keeping Andy’s problem confidential. O Mr. Barrow, can you ever redeem yourself?

So Barrow is now the in-house piggy backer. The position of under butler is soon to be obsolete. Looks like Mr. Carson has a clearer view of occupational trends than Barrow: “In twenty years time I doubt there’s one footman working at Downton.” Or a lady’s maid, for that matter. Nothing personal, just the end of the aristocratic era. So when Season 6 ends, we’re saying goodbye to all that.

Mr. Carson, you won’t be long either, I’m afraid. The butler too will soon become “a post that is fragrant with memories of a lost world…” Eloquent with words strung up like that can sure open doors for you if it’s your time to leave. Prepare for the day when you’ll have no one to polish your cutlery or fold that bedsheet into sharp corners. Poor Mrs. Hughes, I knew her decision to have the wedding reception at the local school would be her last autonomous say. Would the real Mrs. Hughes please stand up? I sure miss you.

Downton Open House

The main attraction of the episode is the Downton Open House for the local hospital, a charity event. Wait a minute, charging people to come look at your living quarters? Who would want to pay? Yes, as Isobel Crawley says, “even Elizabeth Bennet wanted to see what Pemberley was like inside.” But that’s different though. For one thing, she didn’t have to pay; further, she got a bonus seeing Darcy in a wet shirt. Now, Barrow, since you’ve already warmed up with odd jobs like offering piggyback rides to the kids, get ready to jump into the pond.

No worries, people line up to pay to get in. Good idea! Tom’s business mind quickly turns and comes out with a wonderful idea. Wouldn’t that be a fine source of revenue to help maintain the huge mansion? Sounds like a version of reality. Isn’t Scribe Julian describing Highclere Castle where Downton is filmed?

But still, the question remains in some of their visitors’ mind I’m sure. Why, the pint-size philosopher who pops into Lord Grantham’s bedroom has posed a legit question: why not buy somewhere comfy instead of living in such a big house? Well son, it’s a long story. Never mind that. But one thing we can agree upon, it’s our mothers. They get terribly wrought up about things.

In this episode, we get to see another side of Lord Grantham. He looks like a totally bored little boy trying to entertain himself with all sorts of funnies while sick in bed. Mary in the bath? O my, wait till Mommy hears that.

To London again, Mary brings Anna to see Dr. Ryder, and thank God it’s just normal pregnancy discomfort. But what a great opportunity to do some side shows like… surprise! Henry Talbot must feel like he’s lured by a racing trophy. What a catch, Mary Crawley. Here’s the funny thing, looks like Mary is encouraging Henry Talbot, but when he does get close, she rejects him somehow.

Certainly, she has her bad memory. Matthew died in a car crash. But is that all that’s holding her back with Henry Talbot? Or is it the idea of marrying down? Or too fast too soon? Don’t forget, Mary, Henry’s a race car driver. Time is of the essence. Speed is the thrill. Occupational hazards, no, skill sets.

And romantic characters have the rain to thank, for usually what happens when sudden rain befalls, somehow that would lead to a private escape resulting in the first kiss. It happens in Woody Allen movies and it can happen right here in Downton Abbey.

In contrast, Edith and Bertie are enjoying some smooth sailing, despite Mary’s skepticism. Mary, you need to know, any man willing to take Edith plus a child must be genuinely in love with her. So, Marigold could well be the tester of true intention.

Your take on this episode?


With this recap, Arti is taking a hiatus from the pond. There are 600+ posts on Ripple, you’re welcome to spend your time lingering still and throw in your two pebbles. Hope they can hold your interest until Arti’s return.


Previously on Downton Abbey Season 6:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Downton Abbey S6 Episode 3

The language of leave-taking is always gentle, pleasant, accommodating. Looks like this whole season is an extended farewell. While it is what we all want to see, characters we’ve befriended over five years are now coming together for one last time to happy resolutions, it is also sad to see this is their last efforts to entertain us.

And entertained we are, however placidly here in S6 E3. A long awaited middle-aged wedding finally takes place and I’m glad the reception is held in a school house as the bride desires and not in the grandeur of the great hall at Downton. No, I don’t think Cora is being a snob. Mary is unreasonable to accuse her mother as such only to further her own plan to have Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes hold their reception right there in the grand mansion. If Cora is being snobbish, then Mary is downright patronizing.

What’s the greatest farewell gift for us all? Here’s the foreshadowing: “Last night I dreamt I went to Downton again…” Julian Fellowes’s version of Rebecca, equally moving in Tom Branson’s letter.

A pleasant surprise indeed. Tom realizes where home really is, even though he has to go all the way to Boston to find out. The best scenario is always to have someone leave for a short while so that he can come back for good willingly. What more can a viewer ask? Sadly, even the great scribe Julian can’t bring back Sybil and Matthew; he can at least do us this favour with Tom and little Sybbie. Look at how George welcomes his little cousin back, embracing her and softly uttering this endearing word, “Sybbie.” Awww… Even Marigold gives a rare, spontaneous smile.

Next, Rose? I doubt it, since she’s almost everywhere lately, busy living her multiple personas as Cinderella, Natasha in War and Peace, and soon Elizabeth Bennet confronting zombies.

Another gratifying storyline is Edith’s. She’s the Anna upstairs. Something good is finally coming her way that warrants our congrats: Living on her own in London when she’s in town, firing the obnoxious editor Skinner, taking his place and beating the deadline to get a new issue out with some incredible teamwork from Bertie Pelham. Of course, Mary can smell that team miles away, but so what. Edith, go for it, both magazine and team, and the new you.

Edith in S6.jpg

In the slightly darker side, Miss Denker has a major role to play as the necessary nuisance to stir up some ripples in the calm waters of Downton’s final Season. Denke is a more animated stand-in for Mrs. O’Brien, still remember her? But she’s not the leave-in-the middle-of-the-night kind; looks like she’s going to hang on as long as Violet wants her. Violet seems to be fine with her own in-house Punch and Judy sideshow with Spratt and Denker.

After all, Violet Crawley is just too preoccupied with her own Punch and Judy show with Isobel. Now the line-ups are Isobel, Cora, Lord Merton, with Dr. Clarkson shifting ground. How can Violet step down gracefully without losing face, I wonder. Hope this is not as violent a show as Punch and Judy.

And Cora, never thought she can be so angry, scolding a bride on the night before her wedding? Definitely out of character. But the resolution is quick, again, now that’s more like Cora; since we don’t have much time left, so… apology accepted. Mrs. Hughes deserves not just a fancy piece of clothing but her total respect.

Finally, Anna has some good news. But hush, we won’t say more. Having been dealt bad cards all her married life, can this be a real, winning hand? It’s the farewell Season. I trust the handling will continue to be gentle and pleasant.


Previously on Downton Abbey Season 6:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Another Year, Another Downton: Season 5 Finale

For the past five years, Downton Abbey kicks off the new year for us North American viewers. For nine Sunday evenings in January and February, I’ve been prodded to get back home in time, or simply stay home so not to miss a Downton episode. Now that I can record the series on my HDTV, I can freely watch The Oscars without dilemma.

Last night’s Finale “A Moorland Holiday” has finally picked up rhythm and grabbed my attention for a too short 1.5 hours.

The time is Autumn of 1924. Rose’s father-in-law, Lord Sinderby, has rented the beautiful Brancaster Castle in Northumberland and invited the Crawley family to a grouse shooting party, a marvellous setting to end the Season. But why would the grumpy and disagreeable in-law want to do that? Probably because every Finale ends with an outing, the best setting for turns in the road, and we’re treated to an exciting ride. It is also the annual Christmas episode for the UK viewers, so we can see how that blessed Festival can join hearts in the Finale.

Last night’s extended Episode has once again confirmed why this annual major TV event is worth all the wait and staying in on Sunday evenings. Why don’t I just buy the DVD’s so not be constrained? No, watching Downton one week at a time together with all the millions of PBS viewers makes this Finale all the more gratifying.

This Episode has redeemed itself from a relatively uneventful Season, which begs the question, why didn’t Mr. Fellowes unleash his ingenuity more often instead of having us wait eight weeks to arrive at this gratifying end? No matter, we are a patient lot. Let’s face it, the Finale is well worth the wait; it rewards us with justifiable twists and turns, ties up all loose ends and gives us a major surprise. It has once again recharged my enthusiasm for the show and even moved me to tears at the rare spot.

If every episode this Season was as rich and juicy as the Finale, Downton could have easily doubled its weekly viewers.

Downton S5 Finale

Kudos to director Minkie Spiro who has brought to life Julian Fellowes’ dense and captivating script. She has woven multiple story lines simultaneously, delivered the tensions, characters and conflicts at a flowing pace seamlessly without missing a beat. Both Fellowes and Spiro understand so well our collective psyche, that we in our hearts yearn for poetic justice: embarrassing the nasty, rewarding the good, reconciling the distant, and uniting the lovers… and I’m not just saying Rose and Atticus.

The father-daughter heart-to-heart in which Robert acknowledges Marigold, Edith’s child out of wedlock with Michael Gregson, is most endearing. How often do you hear a father utter these words: “I’m sure I need your forgiveness as much as you need mine.” And yes, he does have his secret of which even Cora is unaware.

Fellowes also ingeniously puts the skills and instincts of Downton’s trademark schemer, their very own Thomas Barrows to good use by letting him meet his equal in Stowell, and let them loose to wrestle and butt heads and finally to have Barrows come up on top, scoring for the visitors. The satisfying gesture is that he is winning the game for his employers and for Tom Branson, a worthy gentleman indeed, giving him his long due respect. Fellowes once again has proven that he is a master of tension at the formal dining table.

As for Anna and Bates, how many more trials and tribulations can a couple go through without having their marriage totally ruined? Fellowes knows when to stop; he is the ultimate puppeteer in the fates of the wrongly accused, but we thank him for leading them through thick and thin and bringing them out unharmed. And we enjoy the vicarious ride.

Rose too has redeemed herself. Looking back to her manipulative scheme in her earlier days, the fling on the town with jazz singer Jack Ross in Season 4 just to spite her mother, to Season 5 helping out the Russian refugees to finding and giving true love. We have seen Rose mature and proven herself considerate, trustworthy and resourceful, gaining favour from a very harsh father-in-law Lord Sinderby. BTW, recognize the man? He’s Uncle Geoffrey in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

And Atticus, don’t you just love that name? He is a good match with the totally transformed Rose. But with their move to America, we are sending them off with this Finale.

The ultimate union though belongs to Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Julian Fellowes once again knows what his viewers want and generously give them what their hearts desire. And Mrs. Hughes, being utterly surprised and most kind to demand Carson do it properly as Matthew and Atticus had done, kneel down and propose. Now that would have been a total shocker.

What falls short is the courtship between Isobel Crawley and Lord Merton, and that’s a shame, for they’d make a lovely pair. Violet Crawley can rest assure that her companion is still around to sharpen the iron in her, for it is not easy to find an equal like Isobel who is ever so ready to counteract her views. The reappearance of Prince Kuragin in her life turns out to be just a fleeting romantic interlude, gratifying still for an octogenarian.

Matthew Goode as Henry Talbot is an excellent prospect for Mary Crawley, why, they get to know each other by confrontations, however mildly put, not unlike Mary’s first encounters with Matthew. Hopefully this introduction would usher in Goode’s full-time presence in the upcoming Season, for here’s one that can make a worthy suitor for Mary. But what’s uncanny is, he’s into cars. And we all know what that passion can lead a man to, as Matthew’s tragic end is still vivid in our collective memory. I’m sure in Mary’s as well.

The heartbreaking event of course is Tom moving from Downton and England with young Sybbie to Massachusetts to help his brother with his auto-business. Again, the automobile seems to be the invention that brings mixed blessings. The most moving scene is the joining of hands of Tom, Mary, and finally Edith, to remember Sybil for a short moment, and Tom soaking in his last presence, storing memory of the room, or is it Fellowes’ way to let us do that, imprinting Allen Leech in our collective memory.

“We’re the three who should have grown old with her… and who knows when we’ll be together again.” I admit, this really hit me, the value of growing up and growing old together, the treasure of one’s peers. I’m not one who easily succumb to emotion, but this scene did it, not just for missing Tom in the future Season, but for all the family to miss seeing little Sybbie grow up.

Tom and Sibey

And now, another year’s wait… You know, Julian, we don’t mind waiting. Let’s have a few more.


Downton Abbey Season 4: Episode 4 (PBS)

What a gripping episode. But before the most important storyline comes to a resolve, there are some interesting development.

Who’s this Baxter, new lady’s maid to Cora Grantham? Nothing is explained how she’s friends with Thomas. When Bates asks Anna’s opinion of her, and what Baxter sees in Thomas, Anna replies:

“You know the old saying: there’s nowt so queer as folk”

Layered with meaning. First for Baxter, her inexplicable (so far) relationship with Thomas; then for Anna’s own situation, the tragic and most unwanted event had turned her into a totally different person to her husband. It could also refer to Green, her attacker, although I would not venture to use that saying on him. Just too kind a comment for such an evil man.

“The world moves on and we must move with it.” Wisely says Mary. I’m glad she has finally come out of her loss and mourning and immerses in new responsibilities. But who knows moving on involves a dilemma: the tension between legal and moral rights, the rational and the heart. The Crawleys have all the legal rights to foreclose on the son of an estate where an elderly tenant just passed away, leaving debts unpaid. Robert shows his colours in letting Tim Drewe stay and farm the land. Tom waves his socialist flag and stands on the side of the farmer, leaving Mary, surprised, on her own. But she is not difficult to win over when it’s kindness that dominates.

In the mean time, upon Mr. Clarkson’s urging, Isobel tries to find a position for a village young man John Pegg. She corrects him when he calls her ‘your ladyship’, just ‘Mrs. Crawley,’ she says. Julian Fellowes can always find her the right words:

“He’s going to be so disappointed to find out how ordinary I really am.”

Edith waits in vain for news from Michael Gregson. At the mean time, she goes to London and visits a Dr. Goldman. Again, I haven’t seen any future episodes, but this doesn’t look good. I mean, we still remember Sir Anthony Strallan.

Napier is back, on business passing by. Now, why is Mary so excited to see him? She literally glows. And why does Napier look so reserved and serious? Why does he come anyway?

Iron Chef Downton version does not go well with Alfred, albeit the preparation work looks delicious. Now Daisy is grinning from ear to ear. Alfred is not going to the Ritz Hotel in London any time soon.

Bates and Anna embrace

But the pivotal story belongs to Bates and Anna. Bates goes to Mrs. Hughes after overhearing her talk with Anna. Threatening resignation, he gets the truth, but not the whole truth. Mrs. Hughes swears on her mother’s grave that the attacker is an outsider and not Green.

The scene belongs to Bates. We have seen Anna’s tragic attack in Episode 2, we now see a belated, yet vicarious reaction from Bates, just as heart-wrenching. We see him leave Mrs. Hughes’ room, stunned, holding his rage with much restraint, but soon, break down in tears.

And yet we are gratified to see, finally, the secret is out and a cathartic end to Bates and Anna’s silent ordeal. There’s no shame, he assures her:

“You are not spoiled. You’re made higher to me and holier because of the suffering you’ve been put through. You are my wife and I could never be prouder or love you more than I do at this moment.”

This will likely go down as one of the all time love quotes.

But not too soon, Bates’s last words send chills up Mrs. Hughes’s spine. You can see her nuanced reaction as she hears him utter, also with much restraint:

“Nothing is over and done with, Mrs. Hughes… Be aware, nothing is over, and nothing is done with.”

Here ignites a new storyline: The Revenge of Bates.


Season 4 Episode 3

Season 4 Episode 2

Season 4 Opening Special


Downton Abbey Season 4: Episode 3 (PBS)

Here’s a Downton episode that shows why it keeps gathering fans. That’s when every plot is captivating, and every other line uttered by the characters is a quotable quote, plus, two strong female characters saving the day: Violet Crawley upstairs, and Mrs. Hughes downstairs. Thanks to them, the good regain their zest for life (Mary and Isobel), and the bad are banished (Edna Braithwaite).

The most important storyline of course is Anna and Bates. And Mrs. Hughes is the only one to know about the rape. I have been successful so far to block out spoilers for future episodes but I hope Mrs. Hughes is wise and strong enough to make sure the right steps are taken in this heart wrenching case. After the most controversial tragedy befalls a faultless character, we’re all eager to see the aftermath.

Anna is thrice victimized. First raped, then silenced, and ultimately guilt-laden. I’m sure such a scenario is real even for today. “I must have made it happen. I feel dirty. I can’t let him touch me because I’m soiled.” A gap has developed so quickly like the ground has parted suddenly between a once loving couple. Now Anna and Bates are standing on opposite sides of a deep chasm. Mrs. Hughes urges her to go to the police to report, and tell Bates about the assault. She can see how hurtful it is for him to suffer from not knowing. But Anna sees the possible reality for Bates. “Better a broken heart than a broken neck.”

Several people have noticed Anna’s recent silence. Who wouldn’t? But not many would ask Bates directly except of course Lord Grantham himself. Julian Fellowes has written him some good lines. I just want to quote the whole thing here:

“There is no such thing as a marriage between two intelligent people that does not sometimes have to negotiate thin ice. I know. You must wait until things become clear. And they will. The damage cannot be irreparable when a man and a woman love each other as much as you do.”

But as always, the punchline comes after a pause:

“My goodness that was strong talk for an Englishman.”

Downton Abbey S4E3

On a slightly more pleasant note, Lady Mary’s dilemma regarding Lord Gillingham and his lightning speed of a marriage proposal. Michelle Dockery has put forth some very fine acting in this episode, especially the scene when they are walking on the green grounds of Downton, when Gillingham asks her a very short question: “Will you marry me?” The setting is romantic, the cinematography gorgeous, but this is what I’m most gratified to hear from Lady Mary:

“I can’t. I’m not free of him. Yesterday, you said I fill your brain. Well, Matthew fills mine. Still. And I don’t want to be without him, not yet.”

After all, it’s only about seven months after Matthew’s death. Further, if Tony Gillingham can discard a previously engaged relationship so readily, what kind of a lover will he be to Mary? Again, I don’t know about any future story development, but in my heart, I wish Mary would wait a while longer. But, she gives him a warm kiss though. What a conflicting heart. Did she say later that she’d done something she might regret?

Same with Edith. Have you seen anyone signing away a document without giving it even just a skim over? Julian Fellowes knows exactly where to grab our attention… when the character is least attentive. This is a document prepared by her very sincere-looking love interest, the man admittedly had had a ‘dubious, misspent youth’, and who had won back everyone’s poker losses from a crook within the same night. Oh but love conquers all fears for Edith. Lady Rosamund reminds her she’s “gambling with her future”. So Gregson leaves for Munich the next day. Interesting.

While in London, we’re introduced to the first black character in Downton Abbey, the jazz singer Jack Ross, who leaves a fine impression on Lady Rose, launching another interesting plot line.

And don’t you just love Mrs. Hughes even more, a bulwark of discernment and authority? Tom is wise enough to come downstairs to seek her advice as Edna blackmails him to marry her for a fake, just-in-case kind of pregnancy. Even Thomas (it’s Mr. Barrows now) the schemer isn’t a bit sympathetic.

And it’s Mrs. Hughes again who is so kind, and sweet, to restore a loving memory for Mr. Carson, framing up his once, young love. Can you imagine Mrs. Hughes taking time off Downton to go to town to shop for a nice picture frame? Anyway, it’s good to know these characters have heart, and are not afraid to show it. Very well done here. And no, I don’t particularly wish that Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson would become late romantics. They are just fine now. It’s much rarer to see genuine friendship than romantic love.

Mr. Carson gets the best quote here in Season 4 Episode 3:

“The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end that’s all there is.”


Season 4 Episode 2

Season 4 Opening Special


Downton Abbey Season 4 Opening Special

That we use a TV series to mark the beginning of a new year speaks volumes about our contemporary life. However, we are products of our time and culture, and our annual waiting has run its course of patience training. So, let the games begin.

There are so many characters to reintroduce to us that I can understand Julian Fellowes has to write a fast-paced opening. In the first hour, almost all the scenes are like vignettes, spanning 30, 60, or 90 seconds. That means, if you don’t much care for one plot line, like Mrs. Patmore’s ambivalent encounter with an electric mixer, you can just count a few more seconds, you’ll see another character with another dilemma.

Downton Abbey S4  copy

Is it an apt opening? I must say, as with that of Season 3, I am a bit underwhelmed. But I’m sure, as the episodes roll out, I’ll get warmed up real soon. After all, there are so many characters and plot lines, there must be one that I like.

Season 4 opens six months after Matthew Crawley’s very untimely death, 50 years too early according to his widow. Mary’s sorrow has shrouded the first hour of this two-hour special, subtitled ‘House of the Walking Dead.’ So we just hope that Mary will soon take her grandmother’s advice, choose life over death. Violet Crawley remains one of my favourite characters, she beseeches effectively at the right moment, and despite her old age, is more lucid than her son.

We see Robert Crawley’s less than amiable self once again, trying to take charge of grandson George’s share of Downton by sidestepping Mary, all in the cover of protecting her fragile emotions. No malicious intent there but merely convenience over principle. Violet Crawley has once again shown that mother knows best. This has got to be my favourite line of the whole episode, an eighty-something Violet Crawley talking to her sixty-something son Lord Grantham:

When you talk like that I’m tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed with no supper.

So it is a rewarding scene as we see Mary finally decides to come out of the land of the dead, crying over the shoulder of not her parents’ but Mr. Carson’s, who has seen her grow up and always has a soft spot for her. That’s one of the few moving scenes in this special.

Mary could have gotten closer to her mother-in-law Isobel Crawley who on her own has to deal with the loss of an only son. Mrs. Hughes has done a kind act, drawing her out of mourning by appealing to her benevolent spirit, while at the same time helping Charles Grigg, Mr. Carson’s former showbiz partner, to get back on his feet. To kill two birds with one stone, or invasion of privacy? Depends on who you ask. Nevertheless, I’m sure at the end of the day, Mr. Carson would thank Mrs. Hughes for intruding into his past so he can find some reconciliation with Grigg.

A character that seems to have turned into a lively spark of the household, hoisting the flag of modernism, other than the obvious, ever bubbly Rose, is Lady Edith. She has taken hold of her life, venturing out to seek her own fortune, or misfortune, in career and in love, disregarding her father’s safe standards. In the London social scenes we see some fresh, Gatsby-eques fashion and set designs. Her love interest, Michael Gregson, is willing to take up German citizenship in order that he can divorce his lunatic wife and marry Edith. There in the 1920’s turning to Germany? I can expect the plot to thicken quite a bit later.

O’Brien’s midnight move is an efficient way to handle actors not renewing their contracts. Now this one is easier to swallow than killing them off. With no obvious villain left to be his partner or rival, Tom Barrow has to shoulder the whole realm of evil plotting against the innocents. But with Nanny West, he just hits it by luck. So now he’s in favour with Cora Crawley. Who’s going to be his next victim?

Mr. Bates has been quiet, while Anna has some adventure as chaperone of Lady Rose to a working-class dance hall. I have not watched any of the upcoming episodes, but I feel Bates and Anna can be given more story and screen time. Let’s say, their strong relationship can withstand some slings and arrows Julian Fellowes wishes to hurl their way.

So what do you think of Downton Abbey S4 E1? Favourite scene and characters? Quotable quotes?


Related Posts:

Downton Abbey Season 4: Episode 2

Downton Abbey Season 3

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey Seasons 1 & 2

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey Season 3


Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 6 & 7 Finale


Apparently I’m one of the last ones to find out what happens at the end of Season 3. Only a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon this video of the Downton Cast meet the Press after their SAG awards. Mrs. Hughes spilled the beans about Dan Stevens not coming back for S4 and what a bombshell for me.

I Googled it right away and found, lo and behold, it was already a known fact since last December. Of course, that’s when Britain had their first round of the Season 3 experience. So now the ripples have finally reached North American shore. What do you call it? Delayed shock? And we’ve just witnessed it. People, face the fact, Matthew Crawley is no more. Now, we have one whole year to process it, let it sink in, accept the fact, and move on to the next Season.

Just a brief recap of these last two episodes.

Episode 6

Mr. Bates is finally released from prison. All your Free Bates posters can now come down. While Thomas is the last one to join the welcome home party, ironically he is the one receiving the good graces of Bates and others. O’Brien has no place in any plot against anyone, for she has her soapy track record. She should have known better.

The clubbing fling of young cousin Rose with a married man old enough to be her father takes us away from Downton a while. The Gatsby-like 20’s atmosphere reminds us what the rest of the world is like if one is not a Downtonite.

And way to go for Edith, finding something to do before she is permanently settled into her destined role at home, at least this is what Granny Violet would have wanted for her Grand-daughter.

The Cricket Match

The cricket match is a visually beautiful scene. I love the colour scheme. The character that starts to come alive? Molesley. Wait till E7 where he will show what he’s truly made of.

Episode 7

By now we all know the ending. We have a whole year to forgive and forget. But of course, we’ll treasure the memories… The Scottish vacation takes us away from Downton for a short while to let us see how the usual characters behave in different situations. And that’s when we find O’Brien meeting her equal, Anna’s hidden talents, and Molesley’s true colours. Never underestimate a couple gulps of whiskey can do… total emancipation. Never thought Molesley can be so alive.

It’s the country fair again. Last year, Mrs. Hughes turned down an old crush there. This year, it’s Mrs. Patmore’s turn of stopping just in time of being fooled. Jimmy and Thomas come to an understanding that despite differences, they can still be friends. And Dr. Clarkson and Isobel Crawley? What will happen to them now? And oh, what will Mary name the young heir of Downton? Baby Matthew?

Downton Abbey Christmas Special

If you find Sybil’s death the saddest episode, I don’t know what to call this one. Matthew Crawley, the madly-in-love young husband and day-old new father, terminating his contract with a senseless car crash. After three Seasons, his demise covers less than a minute of screen time. What a difference between the endings of S2 and S3.

All these just show the cruel reality of media contracts and the inevitable plot treatment faced by TV script writers… killing off a character when his/her contract is up. Do you feel betrayed? Short-changed? Are you looking forward to Season 4? Will it begin with a funeral? Can you imagine how everyone will react… I think of Isobel first, then Mary, and Tom who has just found a friend in his new place in Downton. What about Robert, can he wait for another twenty years for the baby heir to grow up?

But most tricky of all… what will happen if another character or characters decide not to renew their contract? Wait, WWII is coming up soon, now that’s easy enough.


CLICK on the following links to:

Season 3: Episodes 4 & 5

Episodes 2 & 3 

Episode 1

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey (S1 & S2)


Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 2 & 3

Posts like this should go without saying: Spoilers Alert!

After a shaky start in E1, slowly picks up in E2, Downton Abbey is back on track and full steam ahead in E3. What a relief! I want to see it go on and on, season after season. But I would not wish to see it just ride on its popularity. I want the Downton feel back, that appeal which first captivated me from Seasons 1 and 2. I can feel it again in last night’s E3.

Previously in E2, the main event is the Runaway Groom: Sir Anthony Strallan gets cold feet and jilts Edith at the altar. Dramatic? Yes. Contrived? No. It takes courage for him to run away like that. Of course, he should have done that long ago and not wait till everyone is all dressed up. But I know, he isn’t sure before. I give him credits though for stopping the new career of Edith right there at the altar. And he needs to get out of there quick, before he changes his mind again.

I trust Sir Anthony is altruistic, thinking only of Edith. It’s not right for her to give up her life for an old man even though she sees him as her life work. Violet Crawley is quick to step in, contradicting Robert, with the three words that show who is still in charge: “Let him go.” With this dramatic scene, all else in E2 seems to fade by comparison.

The fancy wedding cuisine goes to the servants downstairs, and to the poor. But if they don’t want it, Violet Crawley wants them doggie bagged.

Gourmet wedding cuisine for downstairs

And oh yes, a letter suddenly appears, from Lavinia’s dead father, its content releases Matthew of his guilt for inheriting the large sum. So he is now free to chip in to save Downton Abbey from appearing on the real estate page in the paper. Does this deus ex machina device qualify the show as melodrama, or just sloppy screenwriting? Oh, who cares, the Crawleys don’t have to move, and that’s what’s important. A big hassle, downsizing. You can ask the Dashwoods of Sense and Sensibility, no fun moving from a big mansion to a little cottage.

Good news for Mrs. Hughes, it’s benign something something, not cancer. The relief is equally shared by Mr. Carson. Good man, the news sends him back to his former showbiz days, singing his heart out. But the kind words from Cora Crawley should not go unchecked. I’m sure Mrs. Hughes will be forever grateful: “You will stay here, and we will look after you.” Even though not getting cancer is still better.


With that we move on to E3, that’s where the drama begins, and the plot thickens.

Watching E3, I’m captivated once again as in previous Seasons. There are witty LOL lines, mostly from Violet Crawley as always; there are some not so LOL lines that are equally well said by others.

First off, I’m glad that Edith is no Ms. Havisham. Life is too good to be bogged down, even when you’re being jilted at the altar. And, as her mother says, testing can only make you stronger. That turns her from a jilted bride to women’s suffrage advocate. Take that, Ms. Havisham. So Edith has shifted her life purpose from taking care of an old man donning an arm sling to writing letters to the editor.

But the main event here in E3 involves Tom Branson, the former Downton chauffer turned Downton son-in-law turned Irish revolutionary. Woa, what drama. He escapes from Dublin police and slips back into Downton, leaving Sybil to run for her life. Oh, it’s all planned. But still, herein lies the dilemma. He wants to go back to Dublin but he’ll be arrested as soon as he sets foot there. Sybil wants to give birth in Downton, peaceful and safe, two words that are not in her husband’s dictionary.

Some memorable lines come from Tom’s confrontation with his father-in-law Robert Crawley, patriarch of Downton, who seldom wears anything else other than a tux, choice of wardrobe being black or white ties, with clout in high places, albeit still a good man he is.

Robert:  What a harsh world you live in.

Tom: We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do.

Something Robert would not have understood.

Ethel saying goodbye

Ethel the former maid turned prostitute can surely understand. It is a harsh world she lives in, having to raise a child with little means. Of course it’s heart wrenching to have to give up her son, handing him back to his grandparents, out of her own choice this time, knowing the child will have the best opportunities with them; with her, he has no chance. She had fought to keep him, tried to raise him on her own, but it didn’t work. That’s what makes it sad. It is poignant to see her wave goodbye as the coach moves away, with Mrs. Hughes and Isobel Crawley standing behind her, supportive yet each holding a different opinion about her choice.

New footman Jimmy is the main attraction downstairs, a timed bomb I can tell. And Mrs. Patmore finally gets a new kitchen maid to lighten up Daisy’s work load. But with this new gal, I’m sure Daisy regrets having started labor grievances. Alfred wants to make the new kitchen maid feel at home in no time. Be careful what you wish for, Daisy, you just may get it, nemesis in disguise.

I haven’t mentioned Bates and Anna you may have noticed. I know, Bates legal team is working day and night on Twitter, and free John Bates signs in the real world. But for dramatic effects, and a change of scenery from the lofty and elegant Downton Abbey, we see Bates debased in a prison cell. Here’s another person to agree with Tom. It’s a harsh world outside Downton. But then as Cora Crawley has said, testing would only make you stronger. Bates and Anna are exemplary in living out this motto. That Julian fellow sure knows how to lead and tease. With Bates and Anna madly reading each other’s letters after weeks of non-communication, Episode 3 ends, leaving us wishing the week would just fly by.


Other Related Posts:

Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 1

Season 3, Episodes 4 & 5

Season 3, Episodes 6 & 7 Finale

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: Facts that Give Rise to Fiction


Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey

SEASON 6 Recaps:

SEASON 6 FINALE: Goodbye to All That

SEASON 6 Episode 1, Jan.3, 2016

SEASON 6 Episode 2, Jan. 10, 2016

SEASON 6 Episode 3, Jan. 17, 2016

SEASON 6 Episode 4, Jan. 24, 2016

SEASON 6 Episode 5, Jan. 31, 2016

SEASON 6 Episode 6, Feb. 7, 2016


‘You can’t do very much as an actress unless you have the proper words to say…’ — Penelope Wilton, Isobel Crawley

Four weeks have passed since Downton Abbey Season 2 Finale aired on PBS. How are you holding up? To alleviate Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms, I’ve been in a perpetual state of re-watching all the episodes from Season 1 and 2. Downton Abbey on Blu-ray is absolutely beautiful.

Downton Abbey film location: Highclere Castle

This Golden Globe, Emmy, and BAFTA award-winning miniseries has many appeals. For me, apart from the sumptuous setting, attention to details, great acting, and inspiring cinematography, the main attraction is the writing. Julian Fellowes’ script gives us intelligent dialogues reminiscent of Oscar Wilde’s wit and satire.

I have compiled a list of quotes from both Seasons. Lucky for 78 year-old Maggie Smith, she gets the best lines as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

Here they are in chronological order so you can reprise the scene. Enjoy!

Season 1

“O, heavens, girl. You’re building a fire, not inventing it.” — Mrs. Hughes to Daisy, S1E1

“Nothing in life is sure.” — Mrs. Patmore, re. Titanic sinking, S1E1

Mrs. Patmore and Daisy

“Every mountain is unclimbable until someone climbs it. So every ship is unsinkable until it sinks.” — Lord Grantham, S1E1

“We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective.” Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, in reply to Cora Crawley’s “Are we to be friends, then?” S1E1

Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

“What is a ‘weekend’?” — Violet Crawley, S1E2

“Daisy, what’s happened to you? I said you could go for a drink of water, not a trip up the Nile.”  — Mrs. Patmore. S1E3

“Are you afraid someone will think you’re American if you speak openly?” — Lord Grantham to Dowager Countess, S1E3

Dowager Countess and Lord Grantham

“But nobody learns anything from a governess, apart from French and how to curtsey.” Lady Sybil, S1E4

“No one ever warns you about bringing up daughters. You think it’s going to be like Little Women. Instead they’re at each other’s throats from dawn till dusk.” — Cora Crawley,  Countess of Grantham, S1E5

The Crawley Sisters

“Mary can be such a child. She thinks that if you put a toy down, it’ll still be sitting there when you want to play with it again.” — Lord Grantham, S1E5

“I love you Mr. Bates. I know it’s not ladylike to say it, but I’m not a lady and I don’t pretend to be.”  — Anna, S1E5
Mr. Bates and Anna
“If she won’t say yes when he might be poor, he won’t want her when he will be rich.” — Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess, S1E7
“First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.”  — Violet Crawley, S1E7
Season 2
Mary Crawley seeing Matthew off to war.
 “War has a way of distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don’t.” — Matthew Crawley, S2E1
Matthew Crawley in the trench

“I’m not a romantic… But even I concede that the heart does not exist solely for the purpose of pumping blood.” Violet Crawley, S2E2

“I’m a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.” Violet Crawley, S2E4

“Are you like everyone else in thinking that because she’s a countess she has acquired universal knowledge by divine intervention?” Isobel Crawley to Dr. Clarkson re. Cora, Countess of Grantham, S2E4  (And you can substitute the word ‘countess’ with any word you need when quoting it.)

Dr. Clarkson and Isobel Crawley

“I’d rather have the right man, than the right wedding.” — Anna, S2E5

“I’m an American, I don’t share your English hatred of comfort.” Cora Crawley to Lord Grantham, S2E6

Lord Grantham and Cora Crawley

“Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s very middle class.”  Violet Crawley to Edith, S2E8

“Sir Richard, life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.” Violet Crawley, Last Episode, Christmas at Downton Abbey.

“I want a good man for you, a brave man. Find a cowboy in the Middle West and bring him back to shake us up a bit.” Robert Crawley to daughter Mary. Last Episode, Christmas at Downton Abbey.

“1920. Is it to be believed? I feel as old as Methuselah.” Violet Crawley, Last Episode, Christmas at Downton Abbey.



DOWNTON Season 5 Finale, March 2, 2015: A Moorland Holiday


Season 4 Episode 8 (PBS): London 

Season 4 Episode 7 (PBS) 

Season 4 Episode 6 (PBS)

Season 4 Episode 5 (PBS)

Season 4 Episode 4 (PBS)

Season 4 Episode 3 (PBS)

Season 4 Episode 2 (PBS)

Downton Abbey Season 4 Opening (2 Hour) Special 


CLICK HERE to Quotable Quotes from Season 3: New List




SEASON 3: EPISODES 4 & 5 (More Downton Quotes)

SEASON 3: EPISODES 6 & 7 Finale

CLICK HERE to visit the Highclere Castle website. An absolute must-see.


Other posts you might like:

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey Season 3

Downton Abbey The Complete Scripts: Season 1

The Downton Ripples

Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey: Facts that Give Rise to Fiction


Jane Austen: Sense Or Sensibility?

With PBS Masterpiece Classic broadcsting Sense and Sensibility (2008 ) again on Feb 1 and 8, it’s good time to muse on the question:  Which Austen heroine was Jane herself most like?  You can see the poll on my side bar, and the results so far. 

As you watch Sense and Sensibility once again, look closer at Elinor and Marianne.  Mind you, if you have a chance, watch the 1995 movie too, then you’d appreciate Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet in bringing out the differences between sense and sensibility even more clearly I think.

No doubt, we all like to perceive Jane herself as the very source that had inspired the creation of our all time heroine, Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, intelligent, witty, self-assured, sharp in her critique of social norms, and brave enough to challenge, and diverge.  She dominates our popular votes here with a 44% lead… so far.

But Anne Elliot of Persuasion is also a popular choice, mature, patient and wise.  The silent lover is a strong second with 23%.


After reading the biographies of Jane, knowing how she had loved the burlesque and to play a part in the family’s performances, how openly she had engaged in activities with her brothers and the student boarders in her home, how she had  written satires while still a youngster, how critical she could be, and above all, upon my reading Claire Tomalin’s incisive analysis of Jane’s relationship with her older sister Cassandra, I tend to lean toward a very unpopular choice. 

I think Jane by nature was more like Marianne Dashwood, passionate, spontaneous, expressive and bold.  It’s Cassandra, like Elinor, who reminded her to rein in her emotions, to keep her skepticism in check, and to help her fit into a world that was not ready for a female like her.  Have you wondered why Cassandra needed to burn so many of Jane’s letters to her after Jane’s death?

Is it sense and sensibility we’re talking about here, or rather nature and nurture? 

No matter.  It’s best that our favorite writer remains an enigma.  But, if you have to choose, thinking back to all the Austen heroines in her six novels, who do you think Jane resembled the most?

Cast your vote and let Janeites decide.

To read my review of Sense and Sensibility (2008, TV), Part 1, Click here.

Click here for Part 2.