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January 16, 2011

Watch "Downton Abbey" on PBS: My 1st Big Recommendation of the Year (Video)

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Elizabeth McGovern One of the first things I watched when my TV tune out week is over was a recording of last week's premiere of the new PBS series, "Downton Abbey."

Can I just tell you, if you like great costume drama, historical drama or just plain old family intrigue drama, run--don't walk--to your TV's and watch "Downton Abbey!"

The premiere was excellent, immediately catching me up in the time period and the intrigue of British family dynasties: their lives, their loves, their servants and their money.

Intrigue at the Abbey

In a nutshell, the Crawley family consists of the Earl, his American wife, his three daughters and the sprawling family estate and castle, Downton Abbey.  Because the Earl had three daughters and nary a male heir, by law the estate and the title goes to his nearest male relative. 

Due to the sinking of the Titanic and the loss of his nearest male relative on that doomed ship, the new heir is some distant cousin no one has ever heard of. 

Not only does the distant cousin get the estate and the title, he also gets the fortune Lady Crawley, an American, brought to the marriage during the period that poor English aristocrats were calling on the colonies to woo and wed her rich daughters.

Then of course, there are the servants of Downton Abbey who have their own lives, loves and ambitions.  For example, the Earl's new valet is a war veteran with a limp and is immediately targeted by the footman who thought the valet job should have been his.

Here's a behind the scenes video with the writer and executive producer Julian Fellowes and some of the stars.

"Downton Abbey" stars Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern--where's she been, by the way?--Joanne Froggatt and the incomparable Maggie Smith.  It was shot at the gorgeous Highclere Castle in Hampshire and from the costumes, to the hairstyles to the austerity of the servants quarters, everything is re-created with exquisite detail.

The series is in four parts and airs on "Masterpiece" every Sunday at 9pm.   If you missed part one, until 2/11/22, you can watch it online at the PBS website.  Since tonight is part two, you have plenty of time to catch up and experience a marvelously entertaining bit of television.

Image courtesy PBS

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