Tag Archives: DowntonAbbeySeasonTwo

Downton Abbey Season Two: Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

Welcome to the 1920s.

For Christmas we are all given happy endings. Well nearly everyone, and some of those happy endings are relative. But for those looking for all the loose ends left dangling at the end of season two to be tied up, the Christmas special delivered everything, plus a little more.

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The (Men’s) Hats of Downton Abbey

The men of Downton Abbey don’t wear nearly as many hats as the women. As The Dowager correctly states: This is NOT the 14th century.

Below, the much shorter male-centric companion to my original post “The Hats of Downton Abbey.”

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Downton Abbey Season Two: No One Expects The Spanish Influenza

Well, except maybe the History majors. And those looking for a way to remove inconvenient fiancées with no loss of nobility on the part of anyone involved.

(First a quick note to those who are reading this who aren’t watching in real-time: This week was a two-hour episode comprising both episodes 7 and 8 of season 2. I assume this is so they could tack on the Christmas special at the end of the run next week.)

But before we get to the outbreak of well-timed flu, let’s discuss the fact that, no matter how much Cousin Violet wishes, things are not going back to the Edwardian era, pre-war way things were. (Was anyone else sorry to not see Violet wrestle with the gramophone? Let’s hope for that in the Christmas Special) Certain people have tasted being useful, and once one has done that, it’s hard to go back. The expression on Edith’s face as the last of the equipment carted away and the house returned to the way it once was bespoke how devoid of purpose she suddenly found herself again. Too bad her only thought seemed to be that now she was destined for maiden aunthood.

But the first to announce she wasn’t going back was, of course, Sybil. Her failed elopement (thwarted because someone taught Edith to drive!) was only the first overt sign of what was rapidly becoming Lord Grantham’s very bad year. Continue reading Downton Abbey Season Two: No One Expects The Spanish Influenza

Downton Abbey Season Two: The New World

100 years on, we all know the drill: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month… Of course, in this country, the 11th hour part has been sort of lost, and the day itself is now known as “Veteran’s Day,” a holiday we only pay much mind to when we’re at war. But in England they still refer to it as “Armistice Day” and in countries where the WWI slaughter still stands as their highest casualty count per battle, poppys and “In Flanders Fields” readings still stand as the order of the day. So it’s not surprising that this episode made a grand stand of it, the artificial moment when The Great War lurched to a sudden and bizarre halt.

As the War grinds to this halt, the reality of the new world that is dawning finds itself shining out of all the cracks of the shattered old. Some see and welcome it–Isobel Crawley, Branson and Sir Richard. Some see and try to only accept the parts that will benefit them–Cora and Mary. The rest of the world does what most people do when confronted with change. They bury their heads in the sand and deny, deny, deny.  Continue reading Downton Abbey Season Two: The New World

Downton Abbey Season Two: Poor William

Everything I know about WWI, I learn from watching Oh! What A Lovely War.

It may seem odd to learn history from a musical, but OWALW is no ordinary musical. It was historically accurate, with historical figures uttering famous lines, all of the music was taken from actual songs sung at the time, and like WWI, the musical drags on forever at the end until the Americas show up and then very suddenly, it’s all over. (As an aside, for those Downton fans who have not seen it, I highly recommend it as a movie. Among other delights it features a scene with Maggie Smith, in her prime.)

I bring this up because towards the end of OWALW there is a scene that stunned my 8-year-old self the first time I saw it, and to this day still blows my mind. I found myself wondering the other day if we would in fact get to seeing it on-screen here, or if William and Matthew would do us all a solid and get themselves injured and sent home first. As 1918 drags on, the troops are ordered to strap their bayonets on their weapons, and at 5am precisely on a day in September the entire British Army jumped out of their trenches at what was known as the Fifth Battle of Ypres and ran like idiots straight into the gunfire of the Germans in an act of mass suicide at the behest of General Haig, who never let a little thing like the reality of the war get in the way of his reasoning.

Something about that scene, with the commanders anxiously staring a their pocket watches and holding their whistles has always stayed with me. That is why, as this week’s episode opened, and Matthew pulled out his pocket watch and stared anxiously at it, I knew, all at once, what we were in for.

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The Hats Of Downton Abbey

Let’s face it. We don’t watch Downton Abbey for its gripping plot lines, or novel approach to story telling. We watch it for the setting, for the period details, for the clothing. But most of all we watch it for two things: Maggie Smith as The Honorable Dowager Countess Violet, and for the Hats.

Let us now watch the former fight with a chair, and also wear a hat.

Below, some of the most fabulous examples of millinery to be found on Downton Abbey.

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Downton Abbey Season Two: Broken Barriers

“War breaks down barriers. When peace time comes and restores them, we don’t want to find ourselves on the wrong side.”

Thus the Dowager sums up this week’s twin main story lines. Barriers are breaking down between Lady Sybil and Branson and Ethel and Major Dickwad Bryant. The difference, of course is how one’s upbringing affects how those barriers are broken. As Sybil defends herself to Mary, “I’m not sure we’ve ever even shaken hands.” Meanwhile, Ethel has done far more than hand shaking, and is now with child and without job as repayment. Continue reading Downton Abbey Season Two: Broken Barriers