Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Episode 1

With mysterious music, a gorgeous setting, and tons of drama, the new PBS Masterpiece Classic miniseries Downton Abbey unfolds splendidly. As I watched the first episode, I went sailing back in time to the age of the Titanic--a world full of discovery and tragedy.

This story is about more than heirs and inheritances. It is a story about friendships, loyalty, betrayal, and second chances. It is a story about identity. And I have become invested in the lives of numerous characters, wanting to know what it is they find on this four episode journey.

*Potential Spoiler*

To be honest, there are some characters I am wary of, and some that have secrets I really didn't want to see spotlighted. Of course, I was frustrated watching the rivalries brewing both upstairs (with the wealthy) and downstairs (with the servants). But what really bothered me in this episode was a rather explicit scene of homosexuality, involving kissing between two males. Instead of just suggesting their feelings, the scene was quite shocking and, I believe, unnecessarily upfront. I'm not sure whether this will be addressed in later episodes, but if anything it does show that homosexuality is not anything new. However, whatever the eventual point of the scene is (or will be), I think it could have been expressed without showing the kiss to the viewers.

*End of Potential Spoiler*

Although I did have my qualms with certain characters, I've already grown fond of others, especially John Bates and Anna. Bates (actor Brendan Coyle) was destined to be a favorite of mine after his brilliant role in North & South, and Anna's compassionate heart towards his character, along with her gentle but strong personality, won me over. I'm still a bit unsure about the Crawleys and the supposed new heir, but I'm eager to learn more about them.

Overall, I have again been thrilled by the grandeur of a Masterpiece Classic miniseries, and I'm looking forward to watching the second episode, which will either bring more secrets to light or plunge me into more dark intrigue (or both!).

*Click HERE to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey on the PBS Masterpiece website for a limited time.*


Unknown said...

Great review, Amber! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you about the scene between Thomas and the Duke...I do think it wasn't necessary to include it, but on the other hand I'm also thankful it wasn't *more* explicit. *sigh* I will say it did get me to thinking about the cost of secrets, and the pain they bring...there are a lot of characters in Downton that I think that applies to!

Kav said...

Sounds intriguing. You always seem to find the neatest series. I don't think it is shown up here though. I'll check the link when I'm at home and see if it works for me.

Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you! You go into so much depth with your reviews--I hope mine are still helpful/enjoyable, even if they're rather short. :)

I'm glad to hear you agree about that scene, although I also agree with you that at least it didn't go any further! And yes, I think there are a lot of lessons about secrets and lies to be learned throughout this miniseries. Looking forward to episode 2!

Thanks for stopping by!


Amber Holcomb said...


It is! I think you would enjoy it. :) I'm falling more in love with the PBS Masterpiece series, and they often show their new episodes/shows online for a limited time after they air. I think that since it's online, you should be able to watch the episode wherever you are. Hope it works for you! Would love to hear your thoughts. :)


Renee said...

Great review, Amber! The scene with Thomas and the Duke surprised me, too. I figured out the flavor of what was going on when the Duke picked Thomas out and then searched the men's quarters. I thought those actions showed his inclination well enough . . . The scene in question definitely was a bit off-putting.

I also love the Brendan Coyle character.(He's in Lark Rise, as well as N&S.) When that horrible ladies' maid tripped him--ooh! I do hope he and Anna are allowed a happy ending. I liked that Cora and Robert Crowley are presented as truly loving each other. I hate to see a drama as beautiful to look at as this one is peopled by dreary, dissatisfied socialites who find no meaning in life . . . Here's hoping future episodes are satisfying! Blessings!

Amber Holcomb said...

Renee Ann,

Thank you! :)

I think I didn't quite get what was going on with Thomas and the Duke until that scene--it was quite a shock/surprise. I guess I didn't recognize the signs for what they were. I think you word it well in saying that the scene was "off-putting."

And oh! I know what you mean! I love Brendan Coyle's character, and it was awful when that ladies' maid tripped him! So sad. :(

I also am hoping for Bates and Anna to get a happy ending, and I agree that Robert and Cora are very sweet together. :) It's wonderful how they were honest with each other. And the way they fell in love after they married reminds me of the idea of love coming softly represented in the movie Love Comes Softly. So sweet!

Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts!


Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

Hi Amber! I loved this series but I'm with Ruth and Renee, that scene was just about the only part of the film that I didn't care for. I'm really looking forward to more from this series however and I like to see both sides of the coin, the servants and the wealthy socialites!

XOXO~ Renee

Amber Holcomb said...


Same here. Could have done without that scene! But other than that, I'm also eagerly awaiting more of this series! :) I agree that the series does a wonderful job of showing the various levels of society. Love it!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)


Amanda Stanley said...

Nice review, Amber! I haven't seen this yet and I'm not entirely sure I still want to, but I thank you so much for the warning, my friend :) And I'm happy to know there was some good in it and that it came from our Higgins- LOL, he'll always be Higgins to me ;)

If you haven't seen Lark Rise yet I highly recommend it! I've only seen the first seasons but I think I'm gonna go search YouTube for season 2 :D I LOVE the opening music to the show and the whole overall feel of it! Oh, and Higgins is wonderful in it, too ;)


Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you! :) I hope that if you do choose to see it you'll enjoy it. Higgins definitely brought a lot of good to this first episode. ;) He does a great job in his role!

Thank you for reminding me about the hidden treasures on YouTube! There's so much on there, that it's easy to forget what to look for. ;) I was so happy when you told me before about Christy and other shows being on there, and now I'll have to see if I can watch some of Lark Rise sometime, because with everyone's recommendations I'm sure I'd enjoy it! :) And of course I'd love to see more Higgins. ;)


Unknown said...

Lark Rise just started its 4th season in the UK (or it will start on Sunday, I can't remember...). Just FYI. :) But I read that Brendan Coyle doesn't appear in the 4th season...I think it was due to the time he took to film Downton Abbey.

I have a sneaking suspicion that "Higgins" is going to be largely responsible for my liking Downton. His character promises to be SO good! :)

Amber Holcomb said...


This sounds like a series I really need to check out! Thanks for the FYI. :)

And I agree--"Higgins" will probably be one of the main reasons I like Downton Abbey. I can't wait to see more of his character! ;)


P.S. I like your new profile picture. ;) Yay for Downton Abbey!

Melissa said...

I just discovered Downton Abbey yesterday, and was really enjoying it until the scene between the Duke and Thomas. As my young children were watching with me, I immediately turned it off. I was so disappointed! Can someone please tell me if there are any more scenes like that I should be aware of in upcoming episodes on Season 1? I don't want to expose my children to any more of that. Thanks in advance, and I loved your review!

Amber Holcomb said...


Oh, I'm sorry to hear that! Yes, I found that scene to be really troubling and shocking, as well. :(

To be honest, I'm probably not the best person to ask in regards to the series as a whole, as I gave up after skipping through some of the second episode last year. Here's the link to my brief thoughts on episode 2:

I know a lot of people love this series, but from what I've heard and the little bit I've seen regarding the content, I think it's more for adults rather than children.

If you'd like to learn more about the series, Ruth over at "Booktalk & More" writes very thorough reviews, so maybe her reviews of seasons 1 and 2 might help you:

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, and I'm glad you enjoyed the review! :) Hope my comment helps!