On the surface, transforming a popular television program into a film seems easy. The beloved characters and well known narrative are already in place, it is just a matter choosing how to expand the world beyond what already existed on the small screen.
But like many things, it is often easier said than done.
The DowntonAbbey film premiered last night. Set a year and a half after the television show ended, everything is tranquil. But tranquility, as it always does on Downton Abbey, does not last.
King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be visiting the Crawleys while on a tour through Yorkshire. The news forces the Crawleys and their servants to be on their A-Game. But being on their A-Game is a challenge to say the least.
Upstairs, Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and the rest of the family are preparing to be the perfect hosts for their majesties. Downstairs is a flurry of activity, which requires the steady hand of Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) to keep everything running smooth. That steady hand is not helped by the royal servants, who take over the running of the ship while the King and Queen are in residence at Downton.
There are quite a few movies that have been made based on television programs. A good number try, but don’t live up to the reputation of it’s television predecessor. Downton Abbey not only lives up to that reputation, it builds the reputation of the series and the world within the series.
Though some reviewers have stated that this movie is strictly for the Downton Abbey fan base, I disagree. It helps to have at least some knowledge of the television series, but it does not hinder the overall enjoyment of the film if one goes in as Downton newbie.
At first glance, Downton Abbey appears to be just another BPD (British Period Drama).
But it so much more than that. Set in an English aristocratic home in the early 20th century, the focus of Downton Abbey is the story of the Crawley family, led by the Earl and Countess of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) and their household staff.
The visitor is first greeted by Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan). Mr. Carson is eager to show the visitor the upstairs where the family lives, but he questions why the visitor is interested in seeing the downstairs portion. The visitor then goes up three flights of stairs, starting with the kitchen and areas where the staff congregate, then following the escalators upstairs to see the areas of the house where the family lives.
The exhibit is sheer perfection. Containing costumes, exact replicas of the sets, audio clips, video clips and so much more, the exhibit was made for the fans. It’s as if the creators of the exhibit were able to read our minds as to what would like to see and experience.
When a television show is as beloved as Downton Abbey is, an exhibit like this is akin to coming home. It is as if the visitor is a fly on the wall of the set. It is beautiful, it is enticing and worth every moment of my visit.
It is a must see.
Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is at 218 West 57th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue until January 31st, 2018.
I am aware, like many within the Downton Abbey Fandom, that filming of series 5 has already commenced.
No one is perfect and no writer is perfect. Every television series has at least one episode or plot line where the viewer is questioning the judgement of the writer or writers.
From one writer to another, I would like to make a few suggestions for the fifth series.
Baby Bates. Between John in prison in the third series and Anna’s rape in the fourth series, they deserve a little happiness.
Fire Thomas. Yes, we all know that he took a beating for Jimmy and was nearly fired without a recommendation at the end of the third series for kissing Jimmy, but he has apparently forgotten those who showed him kindness at his hour of need.
Tell us what secret Baxter has that Thomas is alluding to. And let her hook up with Molesley.
Allow Edith to win at something. Career, romantic relationship, something. We all know that the scrapes in life make us stronger, but she deserves to win for once.
Give Daisy a boyfriend. After Thomas, William and Alfred, she deserves a little love in her life.
Show us the Crawley grandchildren. Granted, the UK may have similar laws that the US has in regards to child actors, but it would be nice to see Sybbie, George and Edith’s unnamed daughter.
Let Mary be single for a while. It’s not like she needs a man to provide for her or give her a home. She has a home and an income. She also has a son to raise and an estate to run. It’s not like she is sleeping until noon and eating bon bons all day.
Answer the will they or won’t they between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. I’m not a Charles Carson and Elsie Hughes shipper, but I’m sure the final moments of the 4th series gave those who are a little hope.