Downton Abbey

BULLSEYE: Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens, Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey

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Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens and Joanne Froggatt from the totally unstuffy costume drama Downton Abbey talk about the peerage system, upstairs and downstairs love affairs that make us swoon, and the show's bridge between the old customs and modernity. The second season of the show begins airing January 8th on PBS's Masterpiece.

Interview with the cast of PBS's Downton Abbey by Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The AV Club, Dan Deacon, Downton Abbey and Chris Lilley

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Hugh Bonneville
Guests: 
Dan Stevens
Guests: 
Joanne Froggatt
Guests: 
Chris Lilley
Guests: 
Dan Deacon
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson
Guests: 
Josh Modell

This week! The AV Club: Tasha Robinson and Josh Modell of The AV Club join us to recommend the thriller Contagion, out on DVD, and Daniel Handler's new novel Why We Broke Up. (Embed or share)

Dan Deacon with "The Song That Changed My Life": Baltimore-based musician Dan Deacon talks about why a player piano composition by Conlon Nancarrow changed his life and the way he made music. (Embed or share)

Downton Abbey: Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens and Joanne Froggatt from the totally unstuffy costume drama Downton Abbey talk about the peerage system, upstairs and downstairs love affairs that make us swoon, and the show's bridge between the old customs and modernity. The second season of the show begins airing January 8th on PBS's Masterpiece. (Embed or share)

Chris Lilley, Creator of Angry Boys: Chris Lilley, the very funny Australian comedian and showrunner, talks about his new series Angry Boys. The show pushes boundaries with his faux-documentary of characters in different stages of life and scenes of adolescent torment. Lilley plays six characters, both male and female and occasionally side by side, in sort of a natural continuation of his work in the acclaimed show Summer Heights High. You can catch Angry Boys on HBO on Sunday nights. (Embed or share)

The Outshot: And we close with The Outshot -- Jesse's pick for this week, the anthem "F--- 'Em" from Bay Area rapper E-40. (Embed or share)

You can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the RSS feed -- stay tuned for next week's Bullseye!

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Downton Abbey: Unmissable.

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I've just finished watch the first season of Downton Abbey. It's currently running on PBS' Masterpiece in a slightly abridged form, and ran I guess last year on ITV in the UK.

Frankly, it's one of the best TV dramas I've ever seen. I'd put it on par with Mad Men and within spitting distance of The Wire.

It's a period drama, and an upstairs/downstairs drama, but it won't meet your expectations for either of those things. Well, maybe it will in part... if you're into that kind of thing, you'll enjoy it. But I'm not, and I was blown away.

Basically the first season is about an Earl and the danger to his estate. Because he lacks a male heir, the estate, including his American wife's fortune, will pass to a second cousin he's never met, who doesn't even want it. Because of the laws of the nobility, that's how it has to be. This is also a tremendous threat to his three daughters, who are thus forced to marry into the aristocracy or lose their positions in life, and to the entire household.

That hardly begins to describe how elegantly written, acted and directed the series is. It has all the twists and turns of a soapy TV drama (or at least many of them), but I found it absolutely compelling throughout. I never felt forced away from the material, which is usually my reaction to all but the best TV drama.

Do yourself a favor and watch it on PBS. Or buy the DVD, which is only $17 right now on Amazon, and is unabridged.

For those already on board, I've started a thread on the forum for discussion. Let's keep it spoiler free at least until the PBS run ends.

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