Elizabeth McGovern Down on 'Downton'
Actress blasts her own show for 'glossing over' character detail
When asked by the media about the show that currently pays their bills, most television actors are scared to profess anything other than their deep and undying admiration -- whether true or not.
Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as the countess Cora Crawley in "Downton Abbey," aired some refreshingly honest criticism of the British period drama's second season, which concluded in the U.S. in February, to the L.A. Times yesterday.
"The first season was more to my taste than the show in the second season," McGovern said, blaming her disconnect on the necessity of dealing with World War I.
"What's made the show successful and different is that attention to character detail, and that's what the audience likes," McGovern said. "Writers [in Season 2] had to do a lot of glossing over the domestic life, and some of the small moments between characters that characterized the first season."
Many critics and fans agree with McGovern's assessment, and she should be celebrated for daring to express it. But that will probably be a tall order for her colleagues on the set of the show's third season, which is currently filming in Britain.
Season 3 of "Downton Abbey," which is expected to return to its character-driven roots, premieres in England in September, and on PBS in January 2013.
This is just some web-writer who doesn't have enough to stay occupied. There was no "blast" or slight intended. Just another case of "if there is no news to report, we will make some...."
I love this show....
The show has always been about the interaction of the lives of Downton Abbey as effected by the events of the world around them. The first episode started with the report of the sinking of the Titanic (the telegraph and telegraph lines). So I can understand that some felt the second season became a little too much about the war and not enough about the characters. But the truth is that this story can't be told without reference to outside events.
I hate to shock anyone, but the end to this story is that way of living, by and large, has disappeared, and it disappeared as a result of external influences...
I dare say, the reason World War I was made such a central story in the second season is precisely because World War I nearly killed off most of the heirs to the great aristocratic houses of England - this is important detail, people! Most educated British and Anglophiles in America (and elsewhere) would appreciate this fact.
"Downton Abbey" is a direct reflection of such an aristocratic house, and for the clearly uneducated here expecting a lot more "character development" (which I believe is sufficient enough) and wanting less of WWI drama are, in fact, missing the point of this epic tale altogether. People, you seem to have been raised on reality tv shows and "light-weight" soap operas. Are you afraid of learning about a little history of the aristocracy (their great rise and subsequent fall, the latter largely due to WW!) or do you just want a lot of fluff? GOOD GRIEF!
I apologize for characterizing you all as insensitive clods. It seems that the positive comments to what I've written have overtaken the silly ones seen earlier tonight. Thanks to all who gave me a "thumbs up!"
You consider World War I a "minor detail?" People do not exist in a vacuum. If they did, nothing about them would be interesting. I can't help but believe that many of those who are commenting are VERY, VERY, young.
Suggestion: if that's your analysis of the show, why not write to the producers and ask them (or should I say, tell them?) what their show is about? I'm sure you might get a very surprising answer, if they bothered to answer at all.
I'm sorry, but only in 2012 could there be so many people that love this show without having the slightest clue what it's actually about.
Long ago and far away, the king in the castle spent most of his day worrying about and scheming about "minor details" like major wars.
Signing off in utter amazement,
I don't know anyone who loves the show MORE than I do. I have a large collection of period films including, now the first and second seasons of DA through a friend in the UK who got them for me pre-release (even before they were available through PBS). Season III is already paid for and on order.
I totally agree with the actress regarding all the tedious and boring war scenes. The show is about Downton Abbey and it's residents, caretakers and visitors not about every minor detail that goes on in the world around it.
Suffice to say, they could have touched on the war story just enough to show who was the hero and who was the coward.