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The first three series, plus the Christmas special, of the ITV costume drama following the lives and loves of those above and below stairs in an English stately home.
In series one, set before the outbreak of World War One, the Grantham family, long time custodians of Downton Abbey, face a crisis when the heir to the estate dies on the Titanic. With his three daughters unable to inherit by law, Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), the current Earl of Grantham, must try and marry his eldest daughter off in order to obtain an heir. Meanwhile, the family's determination to cling to class and rank is mirrored in a number of growing rivalries between the servants which threaten to undermine the smooth running of the house.
In series two, after the outbreak of WWI, Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Thomas (Rob James-Collier) are off fighting at the Somme, while both Lord Grantham and William (Thomas Howes) feel frustrated at being barred from taking part in the war. Meanwhile, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) defies her aristocratic position and enlists in the Royal Army Nursing Corps and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) puts on a brave face when Matthew arrives home on leave with his future wife, Lavinia Swire (Zoe Boyle), in tow.
In series three, with the war finally over, the 1920s heralds the promise of a new age for those at Downton Abbey. But while the family prepare for the wedding of Lady Mary and Matthew, Lord Grantham learns that the future of Downton is in grave jeopardy after the collapse of investments made with his wife (Elizabeth McGovern)'s fortune. With the family beginning to gather for the wedding celebrations, a grand entrance by Cora's thoroughly modern mother, Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), threatens to ruffle a few of the Dowager (Maggie Smith)'s feathers.
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I'm not a fan of television series usually. However, I saw an advert for Downton Abbey once and I'm so glad I was in the room at that time to witness it. Ever since then I've been so wrapped up in the world of the Grantham's. The episodes in Downton Abbey - Series 1-3 and Christmas Special are so well crafted together. The producer, director, writer, editors all need a massive pat on the back for making the 50 minute long episodes so entertaining and leaving me wanting more. I never thought I could go from laughing to bawling my eyes out so quickly. It's such a great series, and I've been recommending it to all my friends. I'm looking forward to series 4!
What an exquisite, gentle look at society and its changes over a 30 year period. Maggie Smith is made for her stellar role, and all the rest of the extraordinary cast. Each generation has its problems to face, and I do think the 'manners' of the Grantham Family show us that we can deal with these problems with a certain grace which might ease the sting of the troubles.