This hour-long Masterpiece special is obviously just a space-filler to quench the thirst of viewers who are salivating over all-things Downton Abbey. It has the depth and feel of a DVD extra, with behind-the-scenes glimpses at the show that has become a worldwide phenomenon. It is fluffy and entertaining, and gives us a look at the actors letting down their modern hair, so to speak, as they deal with all of the careful intricacies of behaving very properly for the show, as folks did a century ago in the world of lords and manors.
The host of this special is Alastair Bruce, the historical advisor for the show. He is an enthusiastic guide, giving viewers an overview of the knowledge that he bestows on the show, to get things JUST. RIGHT. Broken into segments like, “How to Eat,” “How to Marry,” “How to Make Money,” etc., the special gives a good introduction as to how carefully the era is recreated, from clothes to manners to social roles, so that no mistakes will be noticed.
Particularly enjoyable are actors like Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) and Ed Speleers (Jimmy the footman) gushing about how they are constantly instructed on how to behave, from motions, to body language, to who starts the conversation at the dinner table, and how quickly they are corrected if they don’t do it right. It doesn’t matter if a character is in the background of the action (particularly the “downstairs” folks in the dining area). Each role is very precise in the big scheme of things, and Alastair Bruce and his crew very diligently keep everyone in their proper places.
If, like many fans, you find yourself unable to wait for new episodes as they slowly trickle to this side of the pond, The Manners of Downton Abbey is certainly a fun divergent.