8/10 When I reviewed “The Crown” I stated how I am not big into British, royalty related shows because I can often find them to be rather dry and boring. “The Crown” was a pleasant surprise and infused historical events really well into the show. Well in honor of the “Downton Abbey” film coming out in September, I figured I would give this show a go and see how it stacks up. The first two episodes start rather slow but that is to be forgiven since the show has to establish a rather large group of characters and set up various plot lines. From the third to the seventh and final episode of the season, I was invested all the way and found myself not wanting to stop watching. The acting is phenomenal, as you would expect it to be in a show with a British cast. The costume and production design elements are fantastic at recreating the time period and setting. I loved how the characters were developed and even smaller, supporting characters had time dedicated to their story and growth. I found myself emotionally connected to all of the characters, whether I loved or hated them (I really loathed far more characters than I assumed I would) but the fact that the show made me feel so strongly for each character and invest in what happened to them, goes to the strength of the brilliant writing this show has to offer. The episodes run about 47 minutes to just over an hour and that is the perfect amount of time to hold the audience’s attention and keep us interested. The score was rather minimal but when it was used it was very fitting for helping set the tone. One of the earlier tracks in the season has an operatic vocal over the score which was really beautiful and refreshing. Seven episodes is not a very long season but I was pleasantly surprised at how much the show was able to convey and accomplish in such a short amount of time. The behind the scenes infighting, backstabbing, secrecy and gossip are a great deal of fun to watch unfold. The only complaints I can think of are that some of the jumps in time that occur between episodes aren’t conveyed very well until you realize it yourself (since they don’t always put the dates at the bottom of the screen), which can often be jarring and muddled in terms of the time line and lastly as I mentioned at the beginning, the first two episodes take a little while to get things going, although that is rather understandable. This may not have quite the budget/production values or changes in setting as “The Crown” does, but I actually liked that most of the show takes place in one location and although I definitely recommend “The Crown”, I would give the slight leg up to “Downton Abbey” for its first season. I loved that it ended on a historical cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what season 2 has to offer. If you enjoy British shows, shows about royalty, enjoyed “The Crown” or just enjoy really strong writing and acting, take a trip to “Downton Abbey”.
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