For a podcast and a site where I usually rant about comic related media, you may be shocked to learn that I’m a HUGE Downton-head. I f****** loved this show. It is about people cleaning and having dinner every episode and I am equally invested on my couch having a ball.
Did I enjoy the film? F*** yes! It felt like one large episode that too was about cleaning and eating some good food. It worked. The audience at my theater consisted of super-fans and it was a communal experience. One of my favorite theater experiences this year.
Now, I could rant about everything I loved about the film, but instead I want to dive into the likelihood of this setting off a new film franchise.
Goodnight Dowager: Out of the gates I have to give all the respect on Earth to Dame Maggie Smith. Just as she did during the series run, she was easily my favorite in the movie. “I don’t argue, I explain.” Love it.
However, as I lightly suspected, the film closed with the confirmation that cousin Violet was indeed ill and had little time left to live. I appreciated that the plot wasn’t inserted into the film to bring it a somber tone. Instead, much like the character herself, it brought up at the end to see her off with respect and with her usual charm.
I think a reason why I was so at peace with the decision was because the film had already laid out so many ideas as to how it intended to keep going (we’ll get into all that) and if it were the case, there was just no logical way to keep Violet along. After all, we meet the cast on April 15, 1912 (the sinking of the Titanic) and know that this film took place in 1928! It has been a total of sixteen years! Yes, no one is aging, but time is a bitch and cousin Violet would logically not be around much longer.
Mary’s Legacy: The other thing I enjoyed about her departure scene was that she only had the conversation with Mary. What this film did without my noticing was that it established Mary very much as the heart of Downton. It is hers after all until her son is old enough to take it. Yet, even that becomes a plot point.
Should the series wish to continue as a film franchise we must be aware that WWII is not TOO far in distance. When it does come, George will be of age to go to War thus leaving the future of Downton at risk.
Yet, it might not work that way. When Mary had her issues of taking the estate back in 1912, things were different for women. It could be that in the 1940’s, even if George were to die, that she would continue to keep the estate as most nobility abandoned the lifestyle.
Though that is farther away than the dawn of the Great Depression that is literally at their doorsteps! For us history nuts, we know that it is LITERALLY a year away from the conclusion of the movie. This film teased a Mary that works hard for her estate and her community- How will she manage, how will they all manage, during the greatest financial crisis in history?
Thomas!: We know that during the show’s run Thomas got no hints or hopes of happiness. I was content to find that the film, hitting the bigs-screen, would allow for him to get SOMETHING. I would personally like to see more of Thomas and his new love interest. Though the creators admitted during the shows run that the likelihood of Thomas finding a partner in that period would be nearly impossible, it does not take away from the fact that gay people existed. More representation of his story and what it was like back in the 30’s would be greatly appreciated.
Edith, the Mama Years: I didn’t care for Edith too much this time around. Won’t lie. Yet, I am curious to see her as a mother. I am also curious to know if she too would have a son and if he would be affected by WWII. Though, likely not as he would only be about sixteen at the wars conclusion. Should something happen to George, would Edith’s son/daughter claim the estate?
Tom and His New Lady: The dance between Tom and Lucy stole the film for me. It was escapism at its finest. I want to see more and I want to know more.
Overall, Downton Abbey premiered #1 at the box office on its opening weekend and as of September 29 has earned over $100 million. Not bad at all! Will it be enough for a franchise?
Time will tell.