Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

I fell hard for EVERYTHING in “Downton Abbey”: landscapes, buildings, costumes, manners, accents, dialog, relationships, music — you name it.

OK, OK, I will grant you it was derivative from other PBS/BBC dramas. But, honestly, I was instantly at one with the opulent sets, the countless period costumes, the beautiful English countryside, the last-gasp-of-Victorian-era soap opera plots, and the subdued but engaging soundtrack. Add to that the writing of Julian Fellowes coupled with those amazing English accents, turns-of-phrase, manners, and sly looks — sheer perfection.

This clip shows the rapier wit of Maggie Smith’s dowager countess character at her best.

Downton was so popular that, among other things, it spawned numerous parodies on both the tube and online. One of the best was from Stephen Colbert’s old show where he demonstrates what would happen if the creative minds behind Downton and Breaking Bad — Julian Fellowes and Vince Gilligan — created a new series together. Here 3 of the Downton cast members go along with the gag. CAUTION: language.


Personal connection: The mother-in-law of the lord of the manor is played by the legendary actress Shirley MacLaine who — in this article — talks about how the “Downton” appearances introduced her to an entirely new audience. Shirley, her brother Warren Beatty, and I all attended the same high school in Arlington, Virginia (as did Sandra Bullock). I will, however, hasten to add we were all in different graduating classes.