All in the Eyes
Back to The World of Downton Abbey. The fact that I've read it might also be funny if it weren't such an interesting, gorgeously designed, and skillfully researched and written book (by Jessica Fellowes, niece of the show's creator, Julian Fellowes), about the history and sociology of the era and class divisions as much as about the show itself. Oh, and a book that happens to be about a TV series I'm so addicted to that I've seen most episodes at least three times.
For Christmas I received the book's sequel, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, which is mostly tied into the third season (the first book covered the first two). It looks equally yummy, but I haven't explored much beyond the photos yet because I'm nervous that it might give too much away. (I already inadvertently heard two spoilers when I was in London in November, where the season had finished its run.)
One of the first book's insights pertains to one of my favorite characters, O'Brien—the lady's maid who is as loathsome as a badly overripe and discolored cheese, yet (in the third season) an increasingly, and strangely, sympathetic character, even as she plots revenge against her former ally, the footman-turned-valet Thomas. We're seeing more of her fear now as well as her sadness. She's becoming, for the first time within her downstairs world, a victim.
|Siobhan Finneran and Rob James-Collier ( Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for Masterpiece)|
As for the actress who plays O'Brien, Siobhan Finneran, I agree with a comment in the same book by Rob James-Collier, who plays Thomas: "Siobhan is a fantastic actress to work with—you really learn from her. She's very measured and it's all in the eyes. In rehearsal you think there's nothing going on and then you see it on screen and you think 'wow—everything's happening.' "
A similar thing occurs when you watch an episode for the first time . . . and then for the third.