"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, January 31, 2011

Downton Abbey

My wife and I watched the Masterpiece Theatre show Downton Abbey last night.  We have to play catch up, because we missed the first two weeks, but PBS thankfully has the shows available online.   Set in the years just before World War I, the show is an almost classic British period drama:  a death in the family (on the Titanic, no less) means that an entailed estate will pass to a distant third-cousin because the family has three daughters and no son.   Naturally, this plot recalls Pride and Prejudice, and naturally much of it revolves around efforts to marry off the family's daughters to suitable suitors, but the show in reality is much more of a realistic drama than a romance, and the focus is less on the daughters (who aren't nearly as likeable as the Bennett girls in Austen), and much more on the life of the servants below stairs in the great house.   The first episode was wonderful, and I can't wait to watch the rest.   Apparently, too, the BBC has renewed it for a second season.  

This sort of thing is maybe the only thing the Brits still do well, but they do it very well indeed.  

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