I have never been a fan of the Merchant-Ivory-ish type of British period dramas. They always seemed more like melodramas or period soap operas. So it was with a very jaundiced eye that I decided to give DOWNTON ABBEY a look. Boy am I glad I did. It is definitely one of the best dramas on television. The story of a fictitious estate begins with the sinking of the Titanic and that toll that takes on the heir to Downton Abbey (hint: he was on the Titanic). But it is more than simply a look at an upper crust collection of Lords and Ladies. It seems to reflect and embrace the times. Season One ends with the start of World War I and the war occupies much of Season Two. It is also not afraid to poke fun at the social absurdities of the society on which it is based. There is scheming and conniving, but also love, tenderness and caring. wow, it sounds just like a family. It can get “soapy” at times and a bit melodramatic, but those moments never last long. In addition to the wonderful writing and direction, the acting is top notch. There isn’t a weak sister among the cast. Everyone has an important role to play and does it with style. It’s a collection of talent that is only rivaled by the cast of Mad Men. Season Three is still about a year away (hopeful that it is early 2013), but Season One is on Netflix and Season Two is available on iTunes. Take the time to watch it, you will not be disappointed. — Alan Yudman

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