DVD Watch: 'Downton Abbey'
Finally, a box set of Downton Abbey worthy of the lord and lady.
PBS Distribution today released a 10-disc* set of all of Downton to date. On the first nine* discs, you can relive all your favorite (and, let's be honest, the most heartrending) moments from the first three seasons: love and loss, family and foe, war and obscure inheritance laws, the whole gambit.
The DVDs themselves are fairly simple – a title card, every episode of the three existing series, plus the crucial and deceptively named Christmas specials – albeit with a few hours of behind-the-scenes extras. Not to belitte the series: Indeed, it's been nominated for 120-plus awards, and has taken home Emmys, Golden Globes, and more for good reason. But it's the one-hour bonus documentary called The Secrets of Highclere Castle really stands out in this set.
The thousand-acre wo … er, estate … that plays host to the series is a veritable character in its own right – and the only one to challenge Dame Maggie Smith in ornamental flair, brassy statement [pieces], and classic elegance. The hourlong documentary introduces viewers to the actual Lord and Lady who live in Highclere, the modern-day Mr. Carson (one Colin Edwards, who admits he's "quite envious" of his PBS counterpart), and everyone from the resident deer stalker to the chef and sous downstairs. You get a closer look at what the Crawley family takes for granted – silk wall coverings in the drawing room, the takes-two-days-to-clean-and-polish chandelier, the sweeping grounds and "romantic but utterly pointless" temples and homages to architectural history – plus one room that's been forever hidden from the series' cameras. It's the most up-close-and-personal look you'll get at this "playground for the rich and famous" without taking a trip to the castle itself.
It'll set you back a pretty penny ($89.99 for DVDs or $99.99 for Blu-ray), but this limited edition set is a must for the Downton devotee in your life – after all, there's a reason they call it a Masterpiece. And maybe, just maybe, it'll tide you over while you bitterly and impatiently wait for series four to make its way over from our friends across the pond.
* The Blu-ray set is nine discs, which puts the series itself on the first eight.
Also Out Today:
• This Is the End (Sony Pictures, $17.99 DVD, $40.99 combo): Maybe this apocalyptic tale of bromantic comedy, Hollywood insider jokes, and dick-waggling is better enjoyed in the comfort of your own home, with a couple close friends … and enough food and drink to last a few months, just in case. Read our theatrical review here.
• The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (Shout! Factory, $19.28 2-disc DVD, $24.97 combo): Luc Besson's adaptation of Jacques Tardi's comic series is fanciful, fantastic, and nothing if not far-fetched, and now it's finally available in a director's cut.
• Latino Americans (PBS, $34.99 2-disc DVD): Six episodes and as many hours dive into the rich cultural history of the largest minority group in the United States.