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Friday, February 22, 2013

Cures for Downton Abbey Withdrawal

Written by Kyle Slagley

Another season with the Dowager Countess has come and gone. I won’t spoil it for you, in case you haven’t yet seen the season finale, although chances are your patrons may have already done so. Season four will likely begin airing in the UK in late October or early November, but that means that even those of us who happen to be Internet-savvy will have to wait months before getting our fix of aristocratic dramatics.

Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, has been tapped by NBC to create a new show called The Gilded Age. The show will chronicle the rich and powerful of New York in the late 1800s. Although we have no idea when the show will begin filming, period dramas are all the rage right now.

My favourite miniseries, aside from Downton Abbey that is, is set in the relatively recent past during World War II. A far cry from the prim and proper nature of Grantham estate, Band of Brothers ran in 2001 and starred Damian Lewis as Major Richard “Dick” Winters. This series is frighteningly realistic in just about every way imaginable, including the graphic nature of the wounds. I own the series and also the book; both are fantastic.

For those who like to go further back in history, try The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Meyers stars as the corrupt, promiscuous, and slightly insane Henry VIII, and through the series viewers get to watch the drama and deception unfold in the King’s court. The series follows King Henry through his attempts to divorce Catharine to marry Anne Boleyn, and the political turmoil that results. With four seasons and great acting, there will be enough to keep you entertained for quite a while.

If you want to stick with turn-of-the-century England, I highly recommend The Forsyte Saga, which brings us back to Damian Lewis, this time as Soames Forsyte. Soames is a well-to-do solicitor who, through the course of two series totaling 14 episodes, falls out of love with his wife and remarries a Frenchwoman named Annette. The series begins in the 1870s and ends in the 1920s. At only 14 episodes, it won’t last very long, but it’s well worth it.

Finally, there is the series Upstairs, Downstairs. The premise is similar to that of Downton Abbey: the show is set in London in the 1930s and details the relationships of the wealthy upstairs as compared to the servants downstairs. The 2010 series is actually a revival of the award-winning series from the 1970s that won BAFTAs, Emmys, and Golden Globes. The original series lasted five seasons, and the revival for two. Between the two, you should be able to get your fix for quite a while.

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