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'Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Season 5'
(Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, et al / 3-DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)

Overview: Season 5 of the international hit finds the Crawley family and the staff struggling with responsibilities and choices as they adjust to life in the Roaring Twenties. The beloved ensemble cast includes Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt, and a host of others.

DVD Verdict: For all those armchair fans that may have already watched these fifth season episodes "live" anyway, now they can settle back in once more with this incredibly beautiful, sweeping cinematic 'Downton Abbey - Season 5' now out on DVD. Returning for this epic fifth season of intimately interlaced stories centered on an English country estate, a deliciously entertaining formula that has made it the highest-rated drama in PBS history, 'Downton Abbey' is back and ready to enrapture your collective hearts once more.

We left season 4 with Carson and Hughes wandering into the ocean, ankles exposed! It appears that the liberality of the modern age is starting to effect the Help! It also seems as if the Dowager is just as confused about it all too, but I'm sure that will come full circle soon enough. Having withstood various murders, once-hidden children, old-fashioned forbidden love, and so much more (seriously!), season five begins in 1924 where the invention of the radio is the latest "miracle" of the modern age.

A new Labour government heralds changes throughout the land, and Downton's traditional ways are besieged on all fronts. Robert, Mary, and Branson must navigate these shifting sands together to ensure the future of the estate for generations to come.

Downstairs, all of the servants must consider what effect social changes may have on their working lives. No one, from Mr. Carson to Daisy, will be left unaffected. The Crawly family and the servants who work for them remain inseparably intertwined as they rise to meet the new challengers of the day.

Indeed, this acclaimed ensemble is joined by guest stars Harriet Walter ('Atonement'), reprising her role as Lady Shackleton, and Peter Egan ('Death at a Funeral'), who returns as Lord Flintshire, together with completely new characters played by Richard E. Grant ('Girls'), Anna Chancellor ('The Hour'), and Rade Sherbedgia ('24').

In closing, 'Downton Abbey' has plots where the dialog is always witty and good for a quick chuckle, or a gasp of disapproval, if required. The character motivations are all played out in a convincing manner, true to each person involved. Which makes this TV show very compelling to view the fluid stories unfold with their many sub-plots and shadings of the class warfare that existed in the UK, both then and now. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of over 40 minutes of Bonus Video (see what happens behind the scenes of Season 5!).

www.PBS.org





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