By MAGGIE M, Editor, the wedge.LIVE
Viewers around the world waited for Season 7; but, it was not to be. Downton Abbey, the highly celebrated television series called it quits at its feverish height. In our own region fans pine–or rather, ache–to re-connect with this extraordinary production.
Julian Fellowes is the visionary Creator and Writer of the series. Every aspect of its production is stellar: the script, the sets, the costumes, the lighting, the sound, the musical score.
The script is perfection in its economy of words. The skilled non-verbal delivery of its Actors is a para-language all of its own. Director, Michael Engler, is extraordinary at bringing all Downton elements together seamlessly.
In his writings, Fellowes is brilliant in his juxtaposition of scenes, anguish and pain are buttressed by pettiness and vanity. This contrast serves conflict sought in so many scripts well. It also makes a vivid demarcation between the classes.
“anguish and pain are buttressed by pettiness and vanity”
The characters are so well developed, the viewer remains emotionally engaged. Viewers loathe Bates’ wife and Lady Flintshire for instance. John Bates and Matthew Crawley are paragons of virtue. The full spectrum of society’s peacocks and misfits are represented. Everyone knows a Molesley (valet) or an O’Brien (lady’s maid).
Today, viewers get their Downton fix on Netflix or from DVD box sets. I just read of a man who downloaded the theme music for his wife–she is viewed enraptured on video in social media.
Make no mistake, Downton Abbey is a phenomenon. And it is addictive.
Downton events are occurring everywhere to satiate the yearnings of fans. NYC has just wrapped its epic Downton Abbey Exhibition. In our neck of the woods, the Crossroads Tea Room in Perth ran a pseudo Downton high tea event two years in a row. A larger venue in Perth and Carleton Place were required to host sell-out crowds.
Downton events have taken place in Brantford, Elmira and Toronto–just to name a few. Ottawa should give serious consideration to a Downton Abbey event since Highclere Castle in England where the series was filmed is also the place where Sir John A. MacDonald and Lord Carnarvon penned the constitution of Canada. It just makes so much sense.
We in the Ottawa region are inextricably connected to Downton Abbey.
The wedge has been asked to assist in Downton-styled productions many times. The impetus comes from this writer mouthing many lines on cue–along with a deep respect for its body of work.
I’ll never forget when Lady Edith sauntered up to her sister Lady Mary and sneered, “So he slipped the hook.” The Duke had just rebuffed Mary. In true form, she cruelly returns to Edith, “At least I’m not fishing without bait.” (Edith is not a great beauty.) This dynamic tension between the sisters is sustained throughout the seasons with few short-lived moments of reconciliation.
This story would not be whole without mentioning the Dowager Countess of Grantham played by Maggie Smith. She is the glue, the heart of wit and comedy throughout the six seasons. Her performance is extraordinary. I watched Laura Carmichael who plays Lady Edith hardly contain laughter as Maggie Smith used the telephone for the first time to call “Shrimpy.” Phone calls made Bob Newhart famous in his television series; but, Smith struggling with technology in this performance feat is exceptional.
Downton Abbey event anyone? There’s a little English Tea Room in Brockville, Cosies, contemplating the idea.
For newbies here is a Vimeo video clip to enjoy: