Lisa and I are among the millions of US fans who have spent the last 11 months pining for our favorite period drama. Downton Abbey Final Season will begin on January, 3, a date already circled in red on my calendar.
Here is what I’ve missed the most during this long wait for the show to resume:
1. Theme Song
The gorgeous orchestration of the theme music by British composer John Lunn prepares viewers for the weekly feast of audible pleasure to come. While I have endured the months since the show’s last episode, I have clicked on the YouTube recording, closed my eyes, and imagined the cast assembling at the manor house.
2. Opening Photo montage
Creator Julian Fellowes is a master of detail and the opening montage richly displays life in both the upstairs and downstairs quarters at Downton. Fellowes’ wonderful dialogue and highly textured use of period furnishings in this television production are of the caliber of feature film Gosford Park, a movie for which he wrote the script, winning a best screenplay Academy Award in 2002.
3. British History
Every Downton Abbey episode gives viewers a chance to absorb lessons in British history. The writers have already covered WWI, the influenza epidemic, the decline of the landed aristocracy, and the beginnings of the Irish Free State. We’ve lived through the Roaring Twenties and I can’t wait to see what is in store as the series concludes.
[Related: Much to learn and love about the UK and here’s some of what we’ve learned through watching Downton.]
4. Interior Design
I savor the details of Downton Abbey’s set design, and wonder what it would be like to live with the sweeping staircases, vaulted ceilings, and formal home furnishings. Every Sunday night I am inspired to take my own decor up a notch.
5. Parenting Lessons
Lord and Lady Grantham face challenges with their daughters and extended families that are surprisingly relatable. Watching the interpersonal dynamics presents vivid examples of parenting do’s and don’ts. The world may have changed much in the last ninety years but the challenges of parenting remain unaltered.
6. Grantham Clan
Downton has an expertly drawn cast who I love watching every week. Fellowes made these characters real to me and I am invested in the lives of both the gilded Granthams and the downstairs help.
7. Smash Hit
Downton Abbey is a rare quality costume drama, the biggest success ever for PBS and ITV, where it is shown in the UK. I recall watching every episode of Brideshead Revisited and Lisa fondly remember Upstairs, Downstairs. But those shows were televised in 1981 and 1971. Success like this does not come around often.
8. Gorgeous Clothes
The ladies’ period costumes are stunningly beautiful. From wedding gowns to sleeping attire, the luxurious fabrics and intricate accessories are breathtaking. Watching the show feels like playing dress-up. Just imagining the contents of the Grantham ladies’ closets makes me want to put long leather gloves and strands of pearls on my Christmas list.
9. Maggie Smith
Dame Maggie’s lines alone make the show worthwhile, and she dominates each and every scene. I lean into the TV whenever she appears to make sure I don’t miss a word (although I can count on seeing her in a Monday-morning meme with the best zinger of the previous evening.)
10. Lady Mary’s Suitors
The hopes for happily ever after for Lady Mary Grantham and Mathew Crowley ended with the Season Three finale and we have come to know several handsome leading men interested in the wealthy widow. Her pickiness means we continue to stand in the televised receiving line of her potential suitors.
11. Date Night
Discovering a show that both my husband and I enjoy is a gift. On the evening of January 3, we will set a fire in the fireplace, pour two glasses of wine, and watch the first episode of Downton Abbey final season together. In our empty nest, watching this favorite show together has become our date night. I am counting the days until it returns.