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Downton Abbey: Seasons One & Two: Original UK Edition Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60 (29.970Hz) (Season 1); 1080p/24 (23.976Hz) (Season 2)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A  (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 900 Mins.
  • Discs: 5 (5 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: PBS
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 2, 2012
  • List Price: $64.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:5/5]

Running on PBS’ Masterpiece Classic, Downton Abbey is classic British period drama that hones in in the intersection of class distinctions and romance. Spanning from the sinking of the Titanic through the ending of World War I, the first two seasons of Downton Abbey follow Lord Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) whose lifelong work and family fortunes are put in jeopardy when the sole male heir to his palatial estate, Downton Abbey, dies on the Titanic. Distant cousin, the working class lawyer, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), whom is also seen as a possible suitor and husband for the Crawley’s eldest daughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery). Unfortunately, Neither Lady Mary nor Matthew are at first agreeable to this pairing. Meanwhile, the daily running of the household tasks are overseen by longtime Crawley butler Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) who oversees a staff of servants living downstairs whose lives are filled with their own intrigue, feuds, and romances. Rarely do the two worlds mingle, but there are ample opportunities for the lives of the aristocrats and servants to intersect, not the least of which being a Turkish diplomat dying in the house, which must be covered up, threats of scandal and blackmail involving the servants and the gentry, and forbidden romances. The wit and drama in the series are pitch perfect as are the actors, without doubt the standout performance going to Maggie Smith in her role as the opinionated Dowager Countess Violet. Visually, Downton Abbey is luxuriant and stunning, rivaling the best of the classic Merchant-Ivory films in its period set and costume designs.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Seasons One and Two of Downton Abbey were both captured in high definition on Arri cameras. Season One comes in a 1080i/60 AVC encodement that looks solid enough, but is a little on the soft side and has a rather visible amount of video noise, particularly in darker areas of the image. Season Two has a progressive, 1080p/24 AVC encodement. It is much sharper and cleaner with slightly more vibrant colors and more natural flesh tones. Video noise is minimal in the second season, looking more natural and closer to film grain than something electronic.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Both seasons are provided with lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtracks that have full and clean dialogue, wide stereo panning and a natural spread of ambience. Dynamics are strong while the frequency range is rather good, with punchy mids, beefy lows, and a natural sounding high end.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The various featurettes from each season explore the time period the series takes place in and the production crew’s work to make the series appropriate to the time frame. There are also a couple of promo spots for British tourism.

The supplements:

Season One:

  • Making of Downton Abbey (1.78:1; SD; 00:13:09)
  • A House in History (1.78:1; SD; 00:09:40)
  • Great British Heritage Pass (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:00:40)

Season Two:

  • Bonus Episode: Christmas at Downton Abbey
  • Fashion and Uniforms (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:11:12)
  • Romance in a Time of War (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:13:51)
  • House to Hospital (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:22)
  • About VisitBritain

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Downton Abbey is addictive drama of the highest caliber. From its magnificent sets and costume designs to its high romance, intrigue and quality writing, once you start watching, you yearn for more. This set from PBS collects the complete original UK editions of the first two seasons together and it is definitely worth it for fans of the series.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Downton Abbey: Seasons One & Two on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Season One:

Season Two:

[amazon-product]B008HT4FUW[/amazon-product]

Purchase Downton Abbey: Seaons One & Two on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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