Photo Credit: Courtesy of PBS
If you haven't had a chance to tune into PBS' award-winning series, Downton Abbey, now might be a good time -- season 2 begins on Sunday (check your local listings for the time). The smart-yet-soapy period drama has it all: engrossing narratives, scandalous love stories, gorgeous scenery and plenty of backstabbing. Take a look at a season 2 teaser to get you in the mood:
If you took note of the buzz that surrounded season 1, then it's likely that you're already engrossed in the lives of Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), his American heiress wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and their mettlesome family members and servants -- all of who live on a magnificent country estate in Yorkshire, England. The series averaged 5 million viewers per episode last season and the second season premiere in the U.K. (the Brits are a season ahead of us) attracted 9 million viewers. There's no doubt that Sunday's episode will have a strong showing stateside, considering that Downton Abbey won six Emmys in 2011 and is nominated for four Golden Globes this year. As the Chicago Sun-Times put it: "Abbey is pleasure without the guilt."
Why all the attention and accolades? The show, created by Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes, features top-notch acting, led by veteran screen star Maggie Smith (who plays Robert's imperious mother). The costumes are gorgeous and spot-on. And the servants and aristocrats all have equal footing in the storytelling. So you find yourself rooting for love affairs both upstairs and down.
Season 1 chronicled a time period during the Edwardian era, beginning with the sinking of the Titanic. Season 2 will pick up two years into World War 1, which will obviously bring big changes to the mansion's residents. For one, Robert has offered part of the house up as a convalescence home for wounded soldiers. Despite the added household-running pressures on Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan), the head housekeeper and Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), the head butler, the staff rises to the occasion. "Keeping up standards is the only way to show the Germans that they will not beat us in the end," says Mr. Carson. Sounds a lot like the present-day mantra about "not letting the terrorists win," doesn't it?
War or not, the show's central dramas continue to hinge on love and money. With only three daughters, Robert has no choice but to leave his entire fortune (really, Cora's fortune) to the closest male heir -- Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), his third cousin, once removed. Cora's attempts to marry him off to her daughter Mary have been thwarted, though based on this 1-minute clip, there are still some lingering feelings. Or is that just wishful thinking?
You can see why women thrill to subtle scenes like that one -- who can resist all that repressed desire?! Well, Downton Abbey is full of them. If that short clip whet your appetite, you can screen the first ten minutes of the next episode by "liking" the show's Facebook page.