British series gains American popularity

Rebecca Neumann

Entertainment Editor

The show Masterpiece Theater brings popular British televisions shows and mini-series to American programming. Most recently it has produced “Return to Cranford” and the instant hit, “Downton Abbey”.

“Downton Abbey” follows the wealthy Crawley family in their aristocratic British lives, as well as the maids, footmen, chauffeurs, butlers, and cooks that serve them. A period piece, it begins right after the sinking of the Titanic, during which the Crawley  family’s two cousins, and heirs, were killed.

Like many of their class, the Crawley’s are plagued by an entail on their home, Downton Abbey. An entail means that the estate and all of the family’s money passes directly to the closes male heir after the death of the current heir, often leaving the women of the family without a penny to their names. This and many more complications drive the plot of the dense, surprisingly realistic story.

The series is not based off any existing work, rare for period shows like this one. But because it is allowed more creative freedom, it’s allowed to be changed and molded into a solid story. Now that it has come to America, “Downton Abbey” will most likely be in the running for several costume design Emmy’s, and hopefully, if it’s lucky, it will gain some popularity, too.

For more information, visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/index.html