For the last while I managed to evade the buzz about this series quite well but thanks to my sister, I actually succumbed to the period piece and have found the antics of both the upstairs and the downstairs types of Downton actually quite gripping. Of course, it’s mostly the downstairs lot that win out but with a cast like Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Dan Stevens, this show certainly aimed high and succeeded because of it.
Episode 1: A really solid opening episode. Gorgeously shot, it set up the main premise about the Grantham’s dilemma over Mary’s inheritance going down the crapper as well as Robert’s attempts of solving the solution with adding Matthew and Isobel into the mix. And I loved the Titanic connection as well here. April 1912.
Episode 2: Stronger episode. The tension between Mary and Matthew worked pretty well, but the rivalry between Violet and Isobel was a lot more gripping to watch. It’s a good job; they actually paid attention to Isobel’s medical knowledge in this one too. Both Thomas and O’Brien make for a scheming double act and Carson’s music hall past was an interesting reveal. September 1912
Episode 3: One of my favourites of the bunch. I didn’t see Kemal’s death coming but I did see Mary, Cora and Anna’s attempts of saving Mary’s dignity being scuppered though. However, this was also an interesting episode for Gwen when Sybil stepped into the fray and tried to help her. The Matthew/Edith part just petered out though. March 1913.
Episode 4: A good one for showing us more of Mrs Hughes and there was some nice moments between Anna and Mr Bates too in this one. Also, trust Thomas to stick in the boot with William by trying to cosy up to Daisy and there was also the debut of socialist chauffeur Branson as well. May 1913.
Episode 5: Thanks to O’Brien and Thomas, Edith had the perfect means of getting even with Mary and she did it with malice style. Other good plots included Mary getting closer to Matthew, the whole snuffbox debacle (nice save, Bates), Sybil’s continuous encouragement of Gwen’s secretarial endeavours and Violet at the flower show. August 1913.
Episode 6: Ah, damn, they nearly got there with Anna and Bates and we got bloody sidetracked. Still, at least Mary and Matthew kissed and it even seemed like Edith was getting a love interest while Sybil was doing her bit for women’s rights. I also liked that Mrs Patmore’s eyesight issue got dealt with and Daisy did the right thing as well when O’Brien and Thomas continued with their plotting against Bates. May 1914.
Episode 7: Cora had an heir to the house and thanks to O’Brien getting the wrong end of the stick, she lost her baby. Mary lost Matthew and also made sure that Edith got her comeuppance, Sybil finally seemed successful in getting Gwen a job, Anna learned more about Bates’s past, Patmore got her eyesight fixed, there was fuss over the house getting a telephone and Robert had to tell everyone that Britain and Germany were at war. Plus much joy in William punching Thomas’s lights out as well. July 1914.
An absolutely gripping first run. For seven episodes, this show ran smoothly, packing in a lot of action, great character moments, sublime performance and now, I finally get why everyone is raving about it. I’ll be watching the second season without further delay.
Rating: 9 out of 10