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Masterpiece: Downton Abbey - Season 6 (The Final Season)

PBS // Unrated // January 26, 2016
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted February 4, 2016 | E-mail the Author
Downton Abbey - Season 6 - The Final Season Blu-ray Review

Downton Abbey is one of the most successful television dramas of all time and it has garnered worldwide fandom and success. The series arrives at its final season and the results are quite satisfying. From executive producers Rebecca Eaton, Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame, and Liz Trubridge, Downton Abbey is a classic period piece drama from series creator and writer Julian Fellowes.

The series revolves around the life of the Crawley family and the downstairs staff who works at Downton Abbey. This season has the enormous task of concluding the various storylines which have been interwoven into the series across its earlier five seasons. It is no small task for creator Julian Fellowes but somehow Fellowes managed to craft one of the best seasons of the series in its final season.

At the heart of the concluding season of Downton Abbey is a majestic sense of love: the season's biggest focus is on the relationships between the characters and on the romantic between many of them. Fellowes crafts the most romantic season of the series to date. It is the most heartfelt season of the entire series.

While Fellowes still keeps some episodes intense with exciting turns in the Downton Abbey storyline, Fellowes seems primarily interested in bringing a sense of closure to fans of this beloved series. The final season feels like a long goodbye to the series characters. It might sometimes feel like an extended epilogue at the end of a great book but Fellowes keeps the season enthralling and emotionally resonant throughout.

Family is also a huge element of this final season. The relationship between Lady Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael) and Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is explored further with the concluding chapter. While these characters have always had rough patches on Downton Abbey this season more fully explores the sister's relationship. Lady Mary and Lady Edith's  storylines are handled wonderfully.

Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) began a romantic journey together at the end of season five and this chapter in their story is more fully explored and expanded upon in this final season. The relationship between these two characters is one of the more charming elements of the series and it was wonderful to see the way this storyline unfolded during the season. It's a core focus of the beginning of the final season.

The series continues to explore the lives of the staff working at Downton Abbey. The characters are facing changing times. Molesley (Kevin Doyle), who has always respected education but never had the opportunity to explore education in the fullest manner is given a opportunity to teach. This storyline is a moving and satisfying chapter in the Downton Abbey saga. Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier), on the other hand, faces possible unemployment as the Crawley family considers budget cuts because of the high costs of maintaining Downton. Barrow must similarly deal with the fact that jobs like his are transforming as well.

Downton Abbey also continues to explore the relationship of Bates (Brendan Coyle) and Anna (Joanna Froggatt). Their romantic relationship is still a huge aspect of this final season of the series. The season gives excellent moments to beloved supporting characters Daisy (Sophie McShera) and Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) too. Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) and Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) continue to have some of the best scenes in the show. Smith is as delightful as she always is on the show. Isobel Crawley's storyline has a satisfying conclusion during the series finale.

The final season still focuses upon the relationship between Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) as well. Robert can no longer maintain Downton the same way due to health issues.  Lady Mary and Branson (Allen Leech) end up helping him maintain Downton as a result. Supporting characters throughout the series are also given moments to shine during this final season and some returning characters make nice guest appearances, including Lady Rose (Lily James), who was luckily a part of the series finale.

This remains one of the most exquisite television productions around. The production design is altogether remarkable and this final season is one of the most gorgeous seasons to date. The costumes by Anna Robbins are beautiful and well-suited for the cast of characters, hair and makeup styling's are absolutely wonderful, and the production design by Donal Woods is a lavish and breathtaking accomplishment. The season also finds room for special production elements.  In one particular episode this season, the series highlighted classic race cars to splendid effect.

The cinematography by Graham Frake is another one of the strong elements of the production. The series is lush, beautiful, and bold. The series is one of the best looking television series. It certainly excels with the breathtakingly beautiful work of cinematographer Frake.  

Writer Julian Fellowes remains at the heart of the series. Fellowes has crafted one of the most impressive television series around with Downton Abbey. The cast of characters is excellent. Downton Abbey's story is wonderful. Fellowes, who wrote every episode during the run, accomplished something astonishing with this series. It is a gift to fans.

Downton Abbey also benefits from talented directors, including David Evans, Phillip John, Minkie Spiro, and Michael Engler (who directed the Christmas Special series finale). The directing for this final season remained excellent throughout. The efforts of the directors certainly helped this series to become such an iconic favorite.

It's sad to see Downton Abbey end. It was a long and beautiful journey. Fans will be immensely satisfied with the series finale, though. The show remained creatively strong during its final season and it is actually one of the best seasons of the entire series. The characters were so memorable, well-written, and developed. While it is sad the series is over the conclusion is something that was wonderfully achieved by Fellowes, the entire production team, and the wonderful cast.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Presented on Blu-ray with a lush and impressive 1080i MPEG-4 AVC high-definition encoded image in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen, Downton Abbey looks as beautiful as always. The colors are vibrant and lush throughout. The picture-quality is vibrant and satisfying and the high-quality production elements are well represented. From the costumes to the stunning cinematography, Downton Abbey excels as a beautifully produced series.

Audio:

Downton Abbey is presented on Blu-ray with a lossless quality DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo presentation. The focus of the presentation is on the dialogue and the music and the presentation works well in both regards. Clarity is excellent throughout. The music score composed by John Lunn sounds terrific.


Extras:

Surprisingly, the final season of Downton Abbey arrives on Blu-ray with only a small selection of supplements. (Perhaps more extensive extras will be included on a complete series collection sometime down the road?)

Farewell to Highclere Castle (7 min.) is a brief farewell to the location which has been the central backdrop to the entire series production. The cast, crew, and creator discuss the importance of the location to the series.

The Cars of Downton (11 min.) is a featurette discussing the significance of the cars in the final season of the series. This season has a entire sub-plot about racing and an entire episode of the show featured a variety of classy cars. The cast and production team discuss the significance of the episode and production aesthetic.

Changing Times at Downton (14 min.) is a featurette which focuses more on the characters of Downton Abbey during the final season.

The featurette explores how Downton Abbey was changing due to the changing times with more opportunities becoming available for the downstairs characters as some of the characters moved on to doing other things (such as teaching). The featurette also explores how the changing times made maintaining a house like Downton much more difficult to do. The cast and creator discuss the series emphasis on changing times.

Final Thoughts:

It's hard to say goodbye to these characters and to Downton Abbey. It's one of the best television series of all time. The writing was always excellent and the production quality of the series was remarkable throughout. While fans will miss the series, Downton Abbey ended on a high note. Season 6 manages to be one of the best seasons of Downton Abbey. The series finale is quite moving and satisfying and while fans might be left wanting more the series conclusion does beautifully conclude the story. Fans will be pleased with the heartfelt series finale.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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C O N T E N T

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A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

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