Downton Abbey: Season 3, Episode 1 (B+)
I’m excited because this is the first opportunity that I’ve had to review an episode of the highly acclaimed PBS British import individually. I watched all of seasons one and two during Labor Day Weekend this past fall in order to be fully caught up for the Emmy Awards, and now I’m delighted to be watching each week as the show airs its third season in the U.S. There’s something wonderfully attractive about this show, from its dramatic music to its melodramatic plotlines and its thoroughly-constructed characters, and it’s simply a pleasure to watch. As tends to be the case, no one thing happens without something else occurring to make it all the more relevant, namely Robert’s devastating discovery that he has invested away all the fortune and Matthew’s news about inheriting Lavinia’s father’s money. Matthew and Mary have battled worse, and it looks like they’ll get through this just fine. It was good to see Branson back from Ireland with Sybil, and to see him stand up for himself and also fall victim to a cruel prank by an unkind former suitor of Sybil’s. It’s hard not to like the eternally endearing Sir Anthony, and I’m glad that he pointed out that Branson’s words were not entirely his own. Shirley MacLaine’s arrival as the sisters’ other grandmother has proven already to be a terrific addition, and I loved her interactions with the Dowager Countess and with Isobel. Daisy’s attempt at a protest was entertaining, and I’m sad to see that Thomas has once again demonstrated himself to be entirely detestable, alienating the one true friend he had, O’Brien, by refusing to look out for her nephew. Bates, as always, is the world’s most selfless man, and let’s hope it doesn’t take too long for him to get out from his current prison. This is sure to be an extremely soapy and thrilling season.