Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens.
Set in an Edwardian country house in 1912, Downton Abbey portrays the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. In the drawing rooms, library, and beautiful bedrooms, with their tall windows looking across the park, lives the family, but below stairs are other residents, the servants, as fiercely possessive of their ranks as anyone above.
Season 1 is the best! The plot lines got a bit more outrageous in other seasons, but this one is solid. The characters are complex, the setting and costumes are gorgeous, and the story is interesting. A fantastic show well worth watching.
Luckily, I started watching Downton Abby at the end of season 2. When I borrowed the Season I disks from the library, I realized I might not have continued to watch it if I had only seen the first show. Keep watching- it improves every season.
This series is a lot of fun. It's not totally original to a lot of BBC historical dramas, but it's definitely worth checking out. The costumes are beautiful, the sets are phenomenal, and of course the acting is great. Maggie Smith plays "Maggie Smith" again, but she also provides some great comic relief in her little conservative quips. You can't help but love the good guy characters, loathe the villains, and be interested in all the rest.
This is the best series PBS has put out in years! I watched the entire first season in a day. The storyline moves at just the right pace, and the characters are so personable you find yourself rooting for them.
It's really easy to get quickly swept away. As other reviewers pointed out, the upstairs/downstairs dynamic is a fascinating look at the running of an English manor house, but there's also so much well-played drama afoot! Scheming Thomas and O'Brien vs. wholesome Anna and the honorable Mr. Bates. Awful Edith and cruel Mary. Politically-minded Sybil and ambitious Gwen. And of course, snobby, snobby Dowager Countess Grantham - the inimitable Maggie Smith.
Basically, with the sinking of the Titanic, the Earl of Grantham's two male heirs are wiped out. This entails the line out of their immediate family and onto a distant cousin, Matthew Crawley. The acting is impeccable, the setting is well, huge, and the costumes and details are pitch-perfect.