Downton is Coming to a Theatre Near You

The new year has started off with a bang, not literally of course. But figuratively, with political fireworks and bad weather coming together in potent combination that leaves one feeling that the best move would be to stay in bed, under the covers, for the duration of the colder months—or until Trump and Nancy Pelosi come together to end the government shutdown. You know, whichever comes first.

Just kidding. The real reason to get out of bed will come later this year, when the Downton Abbey movie comes out, at a yet-to-be-determined date. See the nothingburger trailer here:

In this sneak peak we see that the Abbey still stands, the sweeping lawns as green as ever, and that the Downtonians still drive really nice cars and sleep in freshly-made beds. Other than that, we are adrift. No plot points or even a glimpse of Stone Cold Mary’s marble face is given to us, the proletariat who so enjoy staring at rich people using their fancy things and sitting upright on very beautiful couches.

BUT! All is not lost, at least for those of you with Amazon Prime video subscriptions. Jeff Bezos has provided access to a lovely series, featuring the legendary British baker Mary Berry. The show is called Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets and the first stop is Highclere Castle, where much of Downton Abbey was filmed. This new show offers ogling, voyeuristic viewers the chance to experience the world of Downton Abbey without having to hide a dead body, or have a secret baby, or glare at one’s enemy across the servant’s table while vigorously darning socks.

I thoroughly enjoyed having Mary Berry as my tour guide through Highclere Castle. It was as if The Great British Baking Show and Downton Abbey came together to produce television offspring of the loveliest sort, and for a brief, gentle hour, I forgot the political blizzard raging all around me on the internet and I forgot my ice-covered front stoop, the one that gives me pause when I consider leaving my house. I could stay home and watch Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets on my screen and rest easy, knowing that somewhere out there, civilization still exists.



Downton Abbey & The English Country House

Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed.

So a whole bunch of us watched Downton Abbey, according to WGBH, which is my local NPR and PBS station and also a co-producer of Masterpiece Theatre. I thought the radio announcer was going to break through his bland NPR-patented nasal delivery and actually squeal with delight during his promotional spots for Downton Abbey, so blatant was the atmosphere of happiness at WGBH over the success of the series. And they should, indeed, be proud. I somehow missed the crucial detail that the series ran four weeks – not five, as I had expected. When the fifth Sunday rolled around without a Downton Abbey punctuating its close, I nearly wept with despair. Which is a perfectly appropriate way to phrase one’s emotional relationship with a costume drama television series. Since then my regular diet of HGTV shows and other, even sadder fare is not managing to fill the void. I can’t imagine why. Continue reading