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 Downton Abbey
Lang Thompson
Posted: Sep 25 2011, 10:50 PM


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So apparently the first season of Downton Abbey was one of the highest selling DVDs ever in England and now the new season is starting. Any good? The description sounds like it could go either say.
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Lisa Larkin
Posted: Sep 26 2011, 07:03 AM


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It's as well made as any of the BBC period dramas, but I found most of the characters, including the female lead, extremely unlikable. There's a lot of bitchiness and backstabbing below stairs as well [the personal maid of the mistress of the house is particularly awful]. There are a few characters to root for. The valet, played by Brendan Coyle, the earl, played by Hugh Bonneville, and one of the housemaids, who is sweet on the Brendan Coyle character [played by Joanna Froggatt, who I loathed in ROBIN HOOD so it took me awhile to recognize her here].

DOWNTON ABBEY ran on PBS in close proximity to the new UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS and they were so similar in many respects that I find myself confusing the two, though DOWNTON is WW1 era and UP-DOWN is WW2.
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Jim Donahue
Posted: Sep 26 2011, 07:18 AM


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I had mixed feelings about it when watching--there are big tonal shifts that I found jarring.

And yet ... I now think back on it with fondness, for some reason, and I'm looking forward to the next series. Maybe because it was a lot livelier than the resuscitated (and now comma-free) UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS?

Semi-off topic, but I found it funny that Julian Fellowes kept thanking NBC during his Emmy thank yous, assuming he was confusing it with PBS--but I looked it up, and it turns out DOWNTON was co-produced with NBC Universal.

This post has been edited by Jim Donahue on Sep 26 2011, 09:26 AM
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Wade Sowers
Posted: Dec 9 2011, 12:26 PM


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For those like me who don't want to wait, or want to see the original British shows (I don't know if Season 2 will be cut a bit for America), Season 2 is out on Blu-ray in England, it is Region Free, and is well worth watching, although (WARNING!) there is a lot of very melodramatic action this year - unless this is your thing (I love this stuff!) best avoid as you will be driven up and probably down the wall:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Downton-Abbey-Blu-...23454987&sr=1-3

There is also a Christmas Special that comes out at the end of the month that seems to continue the stories presented in Season 2 - I suppose this will be shown on PBS at some point:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Downton-...23455141&sr=1-1

This post has been edited by Wade Sowers on Dec 9 2011, 01:18 PM
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Jim Donahue
Posted: Dec 9 2011, 02:16 PM


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I'm having trouble confirming this now, but I have read the plan was to present DA II intact on PBS. The original was a much bigger hit here than expected, and I assume the public TV powers that be want it to run as long as possible. (And, yeah, I've also read DA II is soapier than the original--not sure how I feel about that. Looking forward to it, anyway.)
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Wade Sowers
Posted: Dec 9 2011, 04:20 PM


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The eight chapters of Season 2 run at various lengths - around 48 minutes to just about one hour, with no introductions by a host. It will be interesting to see how PBS fits them in. As usual with this stuff, I cannot image what might be cut, but I have never watched the PBS run of Season 1 to see what "they" thought was or was not important enough to leave in. But then, I thought the original British explanation of the inheritance law of the period (they went over it three or four times in various chapters as it must have seemed odd to the modern British as well) was quite clear and do not really understand why PBS made a big deal out of it, so what do I know.

A BIT LATER IN THE DAY: I just received the PBS schedule for January and they show Season 2 will be shown in an hour slot from 9 to 10 on Sunday, each part being one of seven. I do not quite understand as the British Season 2, as I mentioned above, has eight parts. No doubt some explanation will be forthcoming.

This post has been edited by Wade Sowers on Dec 9 2011, 04:47 PM
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Lisa Larkin
Posted: Dec 10 2011, 09:55 PM


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I will be very surprised if they don't cut it. Near as I can tell, they cut everything. A cyber-friend attended some JASNA screening in New York of one of the Austen adaptations and during the Q&A, she questioned Rebecca Eaton about the cuts. There were audible gasps from the audience who had no idea the thing had been cut for PBS. She said Eaton was rather pissed to be confronted on it and rather defensive about it.
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Lang Thompson
Posted: Dec 11 2011, 09:32 AM


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So is the US DVD of the first season cut at all? There's one post on Amazon that says it's the original UK version but then in the next sentence mentions "changes". It's streaming on Netflix which is how I keep planning to at least watch the first episode.
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Wade Sowers
Posted: Dec 31 2011, 12:22 PM


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We just watched the CHRISTMAS AT DOWNTON ABBEY Region Free British Blu-ray mentioned above - it turned out to be a 90 minute chapter of the series (actually, very little Christmas is involved, but it has a "seasonal" setting) that continues right after Season Two ends and resolves (!) some of the plot points that have carried us through Seasons One and Two . . . I wonder how PBS will handle this (is it scheduled? Will they wait until Christmas 2012?) - without a knowledge of these events Season Three will seem a little odd . . .

This post has been edited by Wade Sowers on Dec 31 2011, 12:28 PM
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Michael Blanton
Posted: Jan 1 2012, 08:08 PM


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QUOTE (Lisa Larkin @ Dec 10 2011, 09:55 PM)
There were audible gasps from the audience who had no idea the thing had been cut for PBS.

I just picked up the British R2&4 PAL DVDs of BBCs of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The 1979 version with Alec Guinness has seven episodes but was trimmed to six episodes for PBS. So apparently, they've done this for quite some time.

From wiki:

"In the United States, subsequent syndicated broadcasts and DVD releases compressed the seven British episodes into six, in which scenes were shortened and the narrative sequence altered."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker,_Tailor,_Soldier,_Spy

EDIT: The original airing in the US may have had all seven episodes (see below), the wiki article linked above is a little confusing.

"In 1979, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was adapted to television as a seven-part series for the BBC, featuring Alec Guinness as George Smiley, of the SIS. ...In the United States, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) broadcast it as part of its "Great Performances" series, introduced by the Canadian journalist Robert MacNeil, who explained the workings of SIS."

However, the new Acorn DVD release from last October is the edited (subsequent?) PBS version.

"No...apparently it's not the original U.K. cut. Just in time to soak up some of that cross-promotional gravy for the new big-screen adaptation of this story, Acorn Media has released Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the original 1979 U.K. miniseries adaptation of the John le Carré best-seller, starring Alec Guinness as owlish spymaster, George Smiley. This particular edition is a three-disc set, with two episodes per disc―which sounds like the edited, U.S. syndicated version that played over here on PBS' Great Performances."

http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/51858/tinke...or-soldier-spy/

This post has been edited by Michael Blanton on Jan 1 2012, 09:04 PM


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Brian Camp
Posted: Jan 2 2012, 09:52 AM


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QUOTE (Lisa Larkin @ Dec 10 2011, 09:55 PM)
I will be very surprised if they don't cut it. Near as I can tell, they cut everything. A cyber-friend attended some JASNA screening in New York of one of the Austen adaptations and during the Q&A, she questioned Rebecca Eaton about the cuts. There were audible gasps from the audience who had no idea the thing had been cut for PBS. She said Eaton was rather pissed to be confronted on it and rather defensive about it.

Interesting story, but who's Rebecca Eaton and why was she so defensive? And what's JASNA? Jane Austen something, I presume.


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Wade Sowers
Posted: Jan 2 2012, 06:29 PM


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QUOTE (Brian Camp @ Jan 2 2012, 09:52 AM)
Interesting story, but who's Rebecca Eaton and why was she so defensive? And what's JASNA? Jane Austen something, I presume.

Here is a bit more about the Q&A taken from the IMDb:

"Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline's coverage of TCA At an afternoon TCA panel promoting the new season of PBS' Masterpiece series, exec producer Rebecca Eaton was asked to explain a story in Britain's Daily Mail that charged the acclaimed Masterpiece period drama Downton Abbey (recently nominated for 11 Primetime Emmys) lost two hours of content in its journey from the UK to America. Sounding unusually contentious, the typically unflappable Eaton explained, "I'm glad you brought this up. This was a story in the Daily Mail. Do I have to say anything more? And they got it wrong and they made a big deal out of it, that we'd taken two hours out. It wasn't true. Our version was overall 20 or 25 minutes shorter and had to do with (advertising) and the need for different formatting. We didn't chop it up to make it more palatable to the dummies in the American"

The following article from Monday's New York Times goes on about how PBS hopes to encourage people who enjoy HBO and SHOWTIME to give them a try, but I really think people who watch those services enjoy the uncut nature of the programing, you know, shows for adults like HOMELAND, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, THE SOPRANOS, GAME OF THRONES, and on and on. I am not sure PBS will get them if they keep cutting bad words (this goes way back to PRIME SUSPECT) and other items (content some people in Congress who wear their social agenda on their sleeve find objectionable) from British shows, as well as continue cutting 20 to 25 minutes from a fine series like DOWNTON ABBEY for formatting and advertising purposes. We would rather spend about what it costs the two of us to go to a movie on a nice British Blu-ray of the uncut series in its intended format. According to this article, the good news is it does now appear DOWNTON ABBEY will be shown in seven chapters which is the number of the British version of Season Two; hopefully, they will not need to snip, snip to fit in the Laura Linney intros and adversiting moments.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/business...2&sq=PBS&st=cse

This post has been edited by Wade Sowers on Jan 2 2012, 07:09 PM
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Bob Cashill
Posted: Jan 3 2012, 10:21 AM


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For all intents and purposes, Rebecca Eaton is MASTERPIECE and MYSTERY programming, on two legs.

I regard PBS and BBC-A as sample sites for British programming. If I like the show enough, I'll buy it--and if it was cut, why, it's like getting a special edition.


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Lisa Larkin
Posted: Jan 6 2012, 10:46 AM


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QUOTE (Brian Camp @ Jan 2 2012, 09:52 AM)
Interesting story, but who's Rebecca Eaton and why was she so defensive? And what's JASNA? Jane Austen something, I presume.

Re: Rebecca Eaton, Wade and Bob fielded that. She was defensive about the cuts to the Jane Austen series, which she clearly was hoping wouldn't come up at the screening. JASNA is the Jane Austen Society of North America.
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Kenneth Warner
Posted: Jan 18 2012, 12:26 AM


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QUOTE (Wade Sowers @ Jan 2 2012, 07:29 PM)
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/business...2&sq=PBS&st=cse

According to that article, MASTERPIECE typically has an average viewer age of 64. Yikes!

That's advertiser poison for the most part. No wonder they're trying to freshen things up.

This post has been edited by Kenneth Warner on Jan 18 2012, 12:28 AM
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Jim Donahue
Posted: Jan 20 2012, 10:35 AM


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QUOTE
A BIT LATER IN THE DAY: I just received the PBS schedule for January and they show Season 2 will be shown in an hour slot from 9 to 10 on Sunday, each part being one of seven. I do not quite understand as the British Season 2, as I mentioned above, has eight parts. No doubt some explanation will be forthcoming.


I see PBS combined the first two U.K. episodes into one almost-two-hour episode.

Despite the lukewarm reviews, I'm enjoying season 2 so far. (Looks like we won't get the Christmas episode until Christmas, if I understand correctly, which is too bad, as it appears to be very much a part of season 2's plotline.)
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Wade Sowers
Posted: Jan 20 2012, 11:58 AM


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Perhaps we will get the Christmas show at the end of this season - according to my PBS guide for February, chapter seven takes place at Christmas.
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Chester Berne
Posted: Jan 25 2012, 10:45 AM


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I liked this at first, but it really seems to be slowing down, even for this type of production.


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Jim Donahue
Posted: Jan 27 2012, 12:25 PM


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QUOTE
Perhaps we will get the Christmas show at the end of this season - according to my PBS guide for February, chapter seven takes place at Christmas.


You're right--the Christmas special airs Feb. 19. Given the number of episodes airing, I guess that means two more episodes are combined into one two-hour ep?

This post has been edited by Jim Donahue on Jan 27 2012, 03:18 PM
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Jim Donahue
Posted: Feb 7 2012, 11:21 AM


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Wow--the most recent episode was a real stinker. I don't mind when the show gets melodramatic, but that was waaaaaay overboard.
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