When it comes to television, my favorite shows usually are action thrillers like “Dexter” and “Justified.”
But my new guilty pleasure is a little bit more sophisticated. I’m talking about the Masterpiece Classic “Downton Abbey.” Season 1 is available on instant download via Netflix and Season 2 is currently on on Georgia Public Broadcasting.
If you’re familiar with “Upstairs/ Downstairs” or “Gosford Park,” then you’ll have some idea of what to expect from “Downton Abbey.” The series is set in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Crawley, the earl and countess of Grantham. The Crawleys have three unwed daughters and a couple dozen servants in World War I-era England.
The soap opera-like entanglements of the aristocrats and servants alike are addictive. Eldest daughter Lady Mary Crawley can’t find a suitable husband and will lose her family fortune to her distant cousin, who was born into the working class. That’s kind of an insult. She’s in love with him and won’t tell him. That’s frustrating when their marriage would solve all of the family’s problems.
The personal lady’s maid to the countess, Mrs. O’Brien, is as mean as a viper and manipulates her ladyship like a puppet. The good-natured valet, Mr. Bates, is ridiculed for his disability. His archnemesis, the dashing but evil Thomas Barrow, will stop at nothing to get Bates fired.
All the while, Violet (Maggie Smith of the “Harry Potter” movie series) oversees the family’s goings-on as their cranky granny. The part just earned Smith a much-deserved Golden Globe nomination.
Obviously, I’m a fan!