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  1. #1
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    Default Downton Abbey Newbie Here

    I've been watching Downton Abbey this season (shortest season I've ever heard of for a TV series!). I have a couple of questions for Downton Devotees:

    I realize it's mainly a drawing-room drama, but it's set in a stately home.
    How come the local hunt never meet there? I realize it's Yorkshire, not Berkshire, but there must be a local hunt ...

    A family with 3 daughters and not one horsewoman among them? The guys go stalking and fishing in Scotland; do they never go hunting/riding/shooting at home?

    Has anyone else noticed an absence of gardeners, under-gardeners, grooms and stableboys, laundresses, etc., in the servants' hall? No one ever shows up with freshly cut flowers (or fruit or veg) from any of the gardens. Even the young ladies of the house never walk in with armfuls of flowers (maybe that's too Edwardian?).

    I tried the series with great expectations the first couple of seasons and was not only disappointed, I was put off by the poor burned soldier and the influenza epidemic. Entertainment that was not. This third season has been OK, but the estate just doesn't seem a fully staffed one. I know the Great War took MANY young men, but they have able-bodied footmen. Why not outside servants? A chauffeur at least?

    Just doesn't seem to be a very realistic household, and since they never mention current events I have no idea what year it's supposed to be.

    Would love some clarification or empathy.
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  2. #2
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    wow have you even READ the other thread?
    They showed Mary on horseback, sidesaddle, in the first or second eppie. They showed a foxhunt in the 3rd episode, 1st season. William, who was a footman, and killed in WW1, was good with horses, and they showed him saddling Dragon, and mentioned he wanted to work with horses, not inside staff.
    It is filmed at Highclere, and PBS did a neat special on it. You might want to watch it from the beginning, and not come in in the third season and not know what is going on!
    Another killer of threads


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  3. #3
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    Downton Abbey:
    Starts in the early 1900's, goes through WWI, the Spanish Flu and now we are in the 1920's. People are beginning to have difficulties with losing their investments, and are beginning to lose their estates because of it. The Crash is coming. The writer/creator is an acclaimed Edwardian period specialist who spends a lot of time working to get things right. He is the reason many of the actors got involved in the first place, because they could trust he would get it right. There is a lot of attention to detail in the filming. The dining room scenes each take 8 or more hours to film, and are the longest to shoot. The meal they start out with at the beginning of the shoot remains on the table, under the hot lights, for the entire time. Most of the time the meal is fish, and some of the actors are now off of fish. The woman who plays Anna says those scenes are a minefield of things that can possibly go wrong, requiring shoot, after shoot, after shoot. Some of the costumes are real period dresses; others are reproductions.

    The focus is really on the residents and staff within Downton Abbey, and the service providers on the outside who take care of them (Doctor, financial advisor, etc). The chauffeur Tom married their third daughter, Lady Sybil. They had a baby girl named for her mother, and then Lady Sybil died of eclampsia earlier this season. Tom is now living with the family as a family member on the estate and helping Lord Grantham run it (L.G. lost money in the stock market). The third investor in the estate, who's timely infusion of cash saved Downton Abby, Matthew (Mary's husband), just died in an auto crash.

    Lady Mary rode aside in one the hunts. Nice horses!

    You might find you like Upstairs/Downstairs (PBS) better. It moves at a faster pace. I have watched both and prefer Downton.
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  4. #4
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    Thank you both for updating me! I have not read any other Downton Abbey thread.
    Glad to learn Tom's story as I gathered he had moved up in social rank but hadn't known his background other than that he's Irish. So I guess his having been a chauffeur is why he drove everyone to the fair at Thirsk.
    I know a little about Julian Fellowes; have seen and read some of his other stuff. Also know what a pain it is to film meals, not just the food but the actors eating--continuity is a big bear there!
    I think it was totallly unnecessary to kill off Matthew. I just don't get that at all.
    I loved the old 70s Upstairs/Downstairs--the king coming to dinner, the suffragette movement, didn't love that Lady Marjorie was lost with Titanic but did like that they brought in current events for a frame of reference. The reason I can remember Edward VII's dates is because of one U/D episode in which Pru says it will be a new date for the schoolchildren to remember.
    NB: the Great War and the 1920s were not part of the Edwardian period.
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  5. #5
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    You can stream the previous seasons on Netflix



  6. #6
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    Thanks!
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  7. #7
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    Wellspotted - you won't get much empathy here - everybody seems addicted.
    You should settle in and it will probably addict you, too! I've missed quite a few episodes and everybody has been so helpful in sorting me out!

    I do feel there is an awful lot of sitting arund - they don't seem a very active lot, and they sure don't smile and laugh much.

    I spend quite a bit of time looking at the elaborate costumes and furnishings.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellspotted View Post
    I think it was totallly unnecessary to kill off Matthew. I just don't get that at all.
    .
    Well, again, if you'd read the other 15-page thread discussing the show, you'd know that the actor left the show. It would be a little awkward to sub in someone three seasons in..


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  9. #9
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    I saw a great program last night about Highclere. Very informative -- and there was a horse in it! And gamekeepers, another group I missed in the series.

    Thanks, everyone, for the info about the show. I hadn't even known there was a COTH Downton Abbey thread already in existence.

    Until this program, the only Highclere I knew about was a filly bred and raced by the Queen.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellspotted View Post
    I saw a great program last night about Highclere. Very informative -- and there was a horse in it! And gamekeepers, another group I missed in the series.

    Thanks, everyone, for the info about the show. I hadn't even known there was a COTH Downton Abbey thread already in existence.

    Until this program, the only Highclere I knew about was a filly bred and raced by the Queen.
    Highclere has long had a very strong horse connection.

    http://highclerestud.co.uk/the-stud/history/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yM6WeYdOz4

    They consigned last year's Derby, and almost Triple Crown winner, Camelot.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wellspotted View Post
    I saw a great program last night about Highclere. Very informative -- and there was a horse in it! And gamekeepers, another group I missed in the series.
    Yes, ONE horse, in a stable made for 60 horses! What a shame. And the riding was really not, um, up to par. And the horse is an Arabian! (nothing against Arabians horses, but not in a Manor in England!)

    Disappointed...

    I feel the same as you do, OP. There should be more horse-related things happening in DA!
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  12. #12
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    I'm glad someone agrees with me about the riding. I didn't think it was up to par either.

    I did just see a couple of things online about the actor who played Matthew leaving, including something about Julian Fellowes not being at all sympathetic with fans who are unhappy the character was killed off.


    I was kinda tickled at the online news flash that a whole nation [the UK?] bewails the death of Matthew, and that all America is in an uproar. I hardly think whole nations really care that much about some fictional character. I admit I thought the death was unnecessary, and I can't understand an actor leaving a successful role in a successful series, but then I'm not an actor.
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  13. #13
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    Matthew's death WAS necessary. He was in a happy marriage. He just had a son. WWII is still 10 years off. There was NO drama anymore. The actor had only ever signed on for 3 seasons and wants to do (and is doing) many other things. If you think this is an uproar, imagine the fury if season 4 opened with any other actor than Dan Stevens in the role.

    I've heard season 4 opens 6 months after his death.
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  14. #14
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    As soon as I saw last fall that Dan Stevens had a Broadway hit on his hands I figured he'd be toast. I actually expected him to get brained last week by a line drive cricket ball hit by Thomas


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  15. #15
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    Found some interesting Daily Telegraph articles online about various historical inaccuracies in the series, including horsey ones. Some viewer pointed out that in a hunting scene someone was riding a coloured cob and that early in the last century people weren't hunting on coloured cobs.

    A COTHer once posted that one reason National Velvet the movie changed The Pie to a chestnut was because there weren't any coloured cobs at the time who could portray a Grand National steeplechaser.
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