Friday, February 10, 2012

Downton Abbey is Becoming a Cultural Phenomenon!

Last night while look at my Tivo suggestions it had Thursday's episode of The View and I figured I would give the hot topics section a watch.  I could not make it through the first five minutes, ironically only because of Joy.  I watched their interview with Viola Davis, which was interesting, but their interviews sometimes lack something.  After the interview the interviewed one of the stars for Masterpiece Theatre Presents Downton Abbey.  During the segment they talked with Michelle Dockery about the show as a cultural phenomenon in the States, and their own obsession. 

I do not know what this segment did to me, but I stopped in the middle ran to my computer and added Downton Abbey to my instant queue on Netflix and watched the first episode right away!  My friend Keith  has been telling me to watch for months, and I trust his judgment most of the time (but he does hate Singin in the Rain). After one episode I am hooked.

Why is the show becoming a cultural phenomenon, is good question.  The shows popularity has picked up on the backend of winning Emmy Awards over HBO's Mildred Pierce.  Pierce was the most nominated film at the Emmy awards, and it lost the Best Mini-Series/Movie, Best Writing, Best Directing, and Best Supporting Actress-Maggie Smith to Downton Abbey.  People were turning into Downton prior to this, but this spurred more interest.  There has been a lot of great publicity for this show but it entrance into being a cultural phenomenon was solidified this past Saturday when Saturday Night Live's only funny sketch parodied a Spike commercial for this show.  Why did this show that was meant to be a mini-series become so successful?

The premise of the show also centers around preserving a families legacy, love, class struggles, and there is treachery abound.  Julian Fellows who wrote the wonderfully brilliant film Gosford Park, is the creative mind behind this show.  The show feels similar to Gosford Park, but Executive Producer/Writer Fellows has created a wodnerfully rich new world filled with interesting characters.  All of these elements combined create an excellent television experience the show just breaks the traditional mold for popular American TV shows because its set in England in the early 1910s, it actually starts and the first episode takes place right after the Titanic sinks.

The US Anglophile mentality has long been a part of film, and their have been elements that have crept into television, but this show becoming a major player on PBS makes sense, and will help them out with gaining great amounts of funding.  I would not be surprised if that spawns of series on HBO or Showtime, and that this television experience promulgates many networks even beyond the major pay calber networks to create shows similar to this one.  I am excited to breeze through the first 7 episodes of the first part of this series, and watch as the Grantham family works to save Downton, as the servants of the house work to play their own games, and the best part will be watching Maggie Smith make wonderfully sarcastic comments.

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