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'Downton Abbey' Second Season Premieres January 8; Early Reviews and Trailer

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood January 4, 2012 at 8:20PM

"Downton Abbey," the gorgeous, turn-of-the-last-century, period Brit TV soap opera is back to please audiences and critics alike. Premiering this Sunday January 8th on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre, the second season will show how World War I dramatically upturns the lives of the aristocratic set and those who serve them. The characters created by executive producer Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") face dramatic changes. Early reviews suggest that the effects of the war on style and character are both distressing and stirring.
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Downton Abbey Cast

"Downton Abbey," the gorgeous, turn-of-the-last-century, period Brit TV soap opera is back to please audiences and critics alike. Premiering this Sunday January 8th on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre, the second season will show how World War I dramatically upturns the lives of the aristocratic set and those who serve them. The characters created by executive producer Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") face dramatic changes. Early reviews suggest that the effects of the war on style and character are both distressing and stirring.

Variety,  Brian Lowry

WWI is creating fissures in the bedrock of their insular world, but it has done nothing to dim the glow of a production that genuinely merits the weighty "Masterpiece" label... If anything, the backdrop of war has enriched Fellowes' writing, which also benefits from several new characters, including a nouveau-riche newspaper editor ("Game of Thrones's" Iain Glen), who begins courting Lord Grantham's daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery), even though she's harboring regrets for having refused Matthew's proposal.


Newsday, Verne Gay

Well, goodbye to all that -- the kaleidoscope of Merchant Ivory-stylized flourishes that made the first season of this import so addictive. Casualties of war on "Downton Abbey" include food, fashions, colors -- grays and browns now predominate -- and, to a certain extent, fun. That's unfortunate but probably inevitable, too.

Mercury News, Chuck Barney

Let's be honest: "Downton Abbey" does indeed provide a bit of a history lesson and taps into potent themes of ambition and power. However, it's the soapy twists, not intellectual rigor, that made it an addictive, accessible hit and spawned a six-page spread in "Entertainment Weekly" -- something virtually unheard of for a PBS production.

This article is related to: Television, TV, Reviews, Reviews, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.