Monday, June 30, 2014

A belated obsession with "Downton Abbey"

Finally! I am all caught up on "Downton Abbey," but I sort of wish I weren't so I could have the joy of watching the shows again for the first time. I now know that many (most?) of you must have been clucking your heads at my several admissions on this blog that I had yet to view "Downton Abbey." Friends far and wide had said I'd enjoy it, for all the glorious tea scenes if nothing else, but something in me resisted. When my friend Maureen loaned me Season One back in March, I figured I'd better watch at least a few episodes and get the DVD back to her. You won't be surprised to learn I was immediately addicted. Since I know many of you are "Downton Abbey" devotees, I hope at least a few of you will humor me with a few questions and comments since I am absolutely besotted with this show! (Spoiler alert: I DO mention some things below that will no doubt ruin the viewing for you if you haven't seen the show yet. If you're as behind the times as I was in watching "Downton Abbey," then please, for the love of Highclere Castle, DO NOT read to the end of this blog post. Just to be safe, you might not wish to read past the Republic of Tea mention …)

Midway through my recent binge-viewing, I bought a tin of Republic of Tea's "Downton Estate Blend" tea largely because it featured Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, on the front. Oh, how I love her! I do believe I have laughed out loud at something she says in every episode! The Earl Grey and vanilla blend of tea is just delicious, by the way, and I hope to collect the other Republic of Tea blends honoring "Downton Abbey" as well.

When I finished watching all four seasons of the show, I read a book recommended by a friend, "While We Were Watching Downton Abbey" by Wendy Wax. This is the story of three women who bond over Sunday night viewings of "Downton Abbey" at their historic Atlanta apartment building. The book doesn't have quite as much of a "Downton Abbey" focus as I would have expected from the title, but it was still a good book and I've already got a friend lined up to read it next.

I'm still desperate for "Downton Abbey" news, so I started looking in back issues of Victoria and Tea Time for their "Downton Abbey" features. Fun, fun, fun! But as a latecomer to the party, I have several questions/comments for those of you who had the good sense to watch the show all along.

1. I couldn't believe it when Lady Sybil died following childbirth! I LOVED Lady Sybil! Were you as shocked by that as I was?

2. Alas, nosy puss here just couldn't wait and had Googled some articles about the actors online, so I knew that Dan Stevens was parting the show before I saw the episode in which he died. That was sad but not devastating because I knew this was going to happen. I later learned of the uproar that ensued in the UK when this show aired on Christmas night! It aired later in the U.S., but did those of you watching get upset? Did any of you vow never to watch the show again? (I heard that some did!)

3. Who is your favorite character? Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, is my clear favorite, followed by Carson, Lady Mary, Anna and Bates (tie), and Isobel Crawley. (I took two different "Which Downton Abbey Character Are You?" tests and got two different answers: the Dowager Countess in one, Anna in another. Does that mean I'm a blend of upstairs and downstairs?) I really, really enjoy the scenes where Violet and Isobel are going at it, because I admire the strengths in both of them. I like Violet's love of tradition and the old ways, and yet I was cheering on Isobel when she took in the wayward maid Ethel despite the uproar it caused. You go girl!

4. Do y'all think Bates killed Lord Gillingham's valet? I would not mind if he did it, frankly, but I don't believe he's guilty of this. I *would* like to know what he was doing off by himself that day since we're being all mysterious about it!

5. WHY on God's green earth do the Crawleys keep that nasty piece of work Thomas Barrow in their employ? I cannot remember when I've despised a character more. Each episode I want to knock that cigarette right out of his sneaky little hand and have Carson kick him (oh-so-politely) to the curb.

6. I think Daisy and Alfred will eventually get together, don't you? (Although, to show you how obsessed I've become over the show, I dreamed recently that Daisy married Prince Harry. Which would not be a bad idea, actually.)

7. Is there any, any way to rig one's TV or computer so we can see "Downton Abbey" in the fall when it airs in the UK rather than waiting until January when it comes on PBS here?

Thank you for indulging me, fellow "Downton Abbey" fans!


  1. Hubby and I have watched through season 4 over again at least 5-6 times. It is just a diversion from the depressing news. If I were home more I would enjoy baking more of the recipes from the Downton Abbey Cooks site. Of course I seel 2 of the teas but World Market had an exclusive on the one you are showing with Lady Violet. The rose one has been the most popular in my shop.(one with the girls/Mary,Sybil,Edith) This is a fun post!

  2. Welcome to the club! You have joined the surprised but addicted viewers which include my 40 yr old WWF fan son! He couldn't believe it! I knew Dan was leaving, but not how, until I saw it coming during the episode. HATED that! Have seen the teas and am looking forward to the new season. Although you can't get a hookup to watch the UK airing, bootleg segments show up on youtube, and a friend tried it with skype but it didn'y work...

  3. OMG!!! So happy you finally are in the know about Downton! My husband and I really enjoy the series. We tried to get tickets to HIghclere but they were sold out. A friend visited and said it is as lovely as shown. I did get to see Ealing studio where they film the downstairs. The outside only, closed to the public. My London friend said they were all put off by the rape of Anna. We must be more immune to violence on television here. I want to know who will Lady Mary marry? The pig farmer? Where is Lady Edith's love interest? It will be a sad day when it ends. Have you also seen Mr. Selfridge, and The Paradise? You will love them too!

  4. I knew you would love the Downton Abbey series. I am a "delayed" fan also. I finally ordered DVDs last year and binge-watched them! Honestly, I liked watching them on DVDs better than the weekly series. I ordered the last season as soon as it was available and finished the series before the PBS airings. I loaned the DVDs to Mary who became a fan, too.

  5. You need to watch the episode of The View where they interviewed Jim Carter (Carson) and Rob James-Collier (Thomas.) He's really cute in reality. He is a very good actor to be such a villian.

  6. Fun post - you are adorable! I need to watch - out of the loop!

  7. So glad you finally jumped on the Downton Abbey bandwagon. I have been hooked from the very beginning and read every article I can find about it. I had seen the teas in Tea Time magazine and immediately called our local gourmet shop, who already carried Republic teas, and asked for it. You practically had to get on a waiting list it went so fast. I love the English Rose Tea (caffeine-free blossoms and raspberries) as it is a beautiful rose color and the tin is really pretty with the 3 girls on it. But I also like Grantham Breakfast blend with its gingery taste. The Sales rep from The Republic of Tea told us there is going to be a Christmas one too.

    The two most disturbing things I have found in watching Downton Abbey are the death of Matthew (way too graphic) and the assault of Anna. I guess I live in a dream world because I just hate to see bad things happen to good people on my favorite show!

  8. And if you can get to Wilmington, Delaware before the end of 2014, Winterthur Museum has an exhibit of costumes from Downton Abbey. It wasz such fun to see the actual costumes in person and find out something more about them

  9. So glad you've joined the world of Downton Abbey fans! I knew you would love it. I took two of the three Downton Abbey books authored by Julian Fellowes with me on vacation so I'd have reading material while riding in the car.
    He attributes the success of the series to the fact that every character - family members and staff are treated equally in terms of narrative strengh.
    Many of the characters were formed from Julian's own family members.
    A tyrannical great aunt was the model for Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham; His father was the model for Robert Crawley the Earl Grantham; and his mother and wife were the models for Lady Mary. Cora [the Countess of Grantham] was the first character to take on life followed by Robert.
    Thomas Barrow and Sarah O'Brien are the characters we love to hate! ;-) I was happy when she went to India to be the lady's maid to the Marchioness of Flintshire! As for Thomas - he is definitely a talented actor to so convincingly portray himself as a despicable villain. When I attended the lecture on Highclere Castle last May, the speaker said the cast voted Thomas as the nicest person and easiest to get along with. Who would've thought? ;-) Violet and Mary are tied for my most favorite characters. Mary has evolved a lot since Season I.

  10. I also love Downton Abbey! I was spoiler-free so I was shocked by the deaths of Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley. But I understand that these major characters had to be written out of the show because the actors opted not to renew their contracts. Anna is my favourite character. One of our local stores sell Downton Abbey merchandise (e.g., pillows, tea towels), but unfortunately, they don't carry the teas.

  11. Smiling here! I love your summary and agree with it so much. I don't know if it is my ears or if others have a problem listening to the British shows. The voices are hard for me, but I persevere because I do love the show. So sad when Sybil and Matthew died. Thanks for reminding me what I am missing.

  12. Great post today, Angela - I enjoy Downton Abbey too. Such good story lines, good performances, beautiful costumes and sets, it really draws viewers in.

    Maggie Smith brings so much to any scene she is in, just as she is so memorable in any movie she is in.
    Room With A View is one of my favorite movies, have you seen it?
    Cheers to Downton Abbey, Joanie!

  13. So glad Downton Abbey has captured you in its web! What a creative writer with so many twists and turns! Although, some I could do without!

  14. Angela, Republic of tea has created four more teas,you might check it out either thru them or I purchased mine thru PBS.Christine


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