December 25, 2014

Downton Abbey 5 - Christmas Episode

Watch HERE

or HERE for part one and HERE for part two

The labrador’s backside is back for Christmas. And let’s hope it’s not just for Christmas, eh? Actually, my Christmas wish would be that it is just for Christmas. Because if this convoluted outing proved anything, it’s that this series has outstayed its welcome. Unlike Isis the dog, whose absence in this Christmas special finally disproved the conspiracy theory that she was just absent from the last episode to tease us. Sorry, people, but Isis really is dead.
As always this was a beautifully made and wonderfully acted confection showcasing all the shortcomings of the Downton Abbey brand. In the opening sequences, it felt as if the actors had been directed to speak the dialogue slowly and carefully in order to help viewers a) worse for the cooking sherry and b) unfamiliar with Downton (as probably many Christmas-only viewers were – lucky them). There was a lot of signposting of characters and history, which only served to flag up that there are often far too many people involved and far too many things going on.
downton-christmas-2014-2-As a standalone piece for anyone not following the series, I suspect this outing worked rather well as retro festive wallpaper. And there can surely be no finer features on screen than those of Matthew Goode (Wickham in last year’s Death Comes to Pemberley and also a series regular in The Good Wife), seen fleetingly here flirting with Lady Mary and making a Dukes of Hazzard-style getaway in a fast motorcar. If he is coming in as the dark-haired replacement for Dan Stevens, that will be a happy event indeed.
For those of us who have been suffering the joys and pains of the past five series, it tied up a paltry number of loose ends (Dame Maggie’s Russian tryst, Rose’s uncomfortable relationship with her new inlaws, Edith not knowing that her father knows about the Impostor Child). And Uncle Julian did at least give us the payoff we’ve been anticipating since last year’s Christmas episode: the marriage of Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson. Hooray!

Downton Abbey Christmas special: Carson proposes to Mrs Hughes
But unbelievably (or totally believably if you are used to the snail’s pace of Downton) he left the “Who killed rapist valet Green?” plot open. We don’t even really know if it definitely isn’t Anna or definitely isn’t Bates. My money, despite the pub landlord’s evidence, is still on Bates. But surely by now we deserve resolution on this? We found out Green was dead on 10 November 2013. Seriously, Uncle Julian, how long are you going to leave this hanging? Do you even know who killed him? I suspect no one cares any more.
There were some pleasing details. The Russian Silver Fox! Midnight skating to the strains of the balaika! Setting sail in the prince’s yacht! The manic depressive Russian princess (Jane Lapotaire) was superb and, as every guest is forced to on this show, really made the most of her three sentences. Alun Armstrong as The Evil Butler, Stowell (yes, I know, I heard it as “Stole” and “Stowe” the whole way through, too), was wonderful: “I am not a novice anywhere.” And there was plenty of Molesley, which is always a delight. But what a missed opportunity! When Molesley was rifling in Anna’s drawers, I was convinced he would find the Ill-Defined Contraceptive Device. So disappointing.
But let’s draw a veil over that and concentrate on the best marriage proposal ever from a man resembling a cautious and lovable badger: “Well, that’s the point. I do want to be stuck with you ...” Who wouldn’t drink to Mr Carson’s happiness on Christmas Day?

Random subplot alert

The healing broth certainly rivals the controversial electric toaster, the impromptu soup kitchen and the miscarriage-causing soap as the most random subplot of all time. Still, who cares when it gives Spratt (Jeremy Swift) the chance to make his most excellent faces? The jury is still out on Denker. Sue Johnston plays the role as if there’s a lot more to Denker than meets the eye. It would be wonderful if this were true (and Spratt hinted at as much). But knowing Uncle Julian, this is likely to be another red herring. Or a plot point that won’t get resolved until 2017.

It's Christmas!

Surprise character development

One of the biggest surprises of series five has been the revelation of Cousin Violet’s former life as a hussy. Dame Maggie has played this wonderfully, reverting to her 21-year-old self every time the Russian Silver Fox enters the county. The moment between Cousin Violet and Cousin Isobel about the “immoral proposition” was vintage Downton. The twin storyline about her love for the prince and Cousin Isobel’s love for Lord Merton has been a good one, allowing the two women to draw closer together whil still holding each other at arm’s length. This is the kind of thing Downton does so well. But we see it too rarely and too fleetingly, thus rendering an infuriating experience even more infuriating.

In need of a breath of fresh air.Golden eyebrow of the week

It has go to to the Earl of Grantham, who leaped up from his seat – in a manner reminiscent of Lazarus-Matthew leaping up from his “the-tingle-is-back” bath chair – as soon as he learned that there was an alibi for Bates. “We know which pub it was ...” “What?” He was closely rivalled by Branson, however, who rarely gets any eyebrow action but was forced to emote fiercely throughout this episode. An honorary mention for a beautifully furrowed brow during the weeping over Dead Sybil, swiftly undermined by the line: “I love the way you love her.” What is this? Is Branson secretly Michael Bublé’s lyricist?

That's a very big tree.Excuse me, could you just repeat that awkward line of dialogue?

 “It breaks my heart to see her there. But she is strong.” Brendan Coyle (Bates) manages to deliver his lines as if he is simultaneously James Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life and Hannibal Lecter. 
 “You know me: never complain. Never explain.” Dismayed that the mystery of Dame Maggie’s Russian adventure has been solved. We want more Wayward Violet!
 “You’re in for the Downton Christmas and if that doesn’t put you off, nothing will.” Also a metaphor for this phenomenon generally.

Next week

There’s no Next Week! Hurrah! But series six is already confirmed and will be back on our screens in autumn 2015. Exhausting.
recap by Viv Groskop at


  1. Any more links? That one is already overloaded. :-(

  2. I can't seem to get the video to stream.

  3. Why is it that I never want these episodes to come to an end. It was a wonderful conclusion to Christmas 2014. I also would like to send a special Thank you to June.... your certainly not "Simply June" more like Splendid June.... thank you so very much for your efforts to bring these episode to us.....

  4. Thank you June! Happy Christmas and a joyous New a Year to you and yours!

  5. Thank you! Merry Christmas!

  6. Thank you very much, June, for providing us with the opportunity to watch Downton! I am a US citizen, but my family lived in England for 15 months nearly 20 years ago, and it is my adopted second homeland. Life hasn't been easy the past couple of years, but watching shows like Downton has "helped to pass the time", as Mrs. Patmore once said, but in such a lovely way! I love this show, and am so grateful to you giving us the means to continue my DA obsession. I have seen every episode on your site, and I can't wait until 4th January to watch it all again here at home. I have even turned my 14-yr-old daughter into a Downton fan (editing the content that isn't appropriate for her age, of course). Merry Christmas to you, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year! Thank you again! I'll definitely be back in the fall, if you will. Cheers!

  7. I am unable to download Onedrive says a problem viewing the video. Usually I am able to watch with Onedrive. I even tried the google links knowing they never work for me- and it still didnt work.
    Happy New Year. Thank you so much for doing this!!!

  8. I can't view any of the Onedrive videos or google either.

  9. Merry Christmas June and thank you for these wonderful gifts that you have brought us over the past years. You are truly a Christmas angel.

  10. SO loved watching the Christmas episode! Thanks so much for your kindness June.

  11. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, June for the Christmas special. Happy New year, and all the best for 2015.

  12. Not working either way for me!����

  13. Hmm. . . still can't view on One Drive. Was able to watch Call To Midwife Christmas special- thanks!!! The Downton Christmas special still not playing. I really appreciate all the hardwork you put into this, so we can watch these great shows. Thank you!!!

  14. Thank you so much for posting these. The way my hours at work are, I am unable to watch these programs (Downton Abby as well as call the Midwife)

    You have no idea what a wonderful present you have given me. Thank you again.

    Have a wonderful New Year

  15. I still can't get it to show...anyone else having this problem still...on the 28th????

  16. thanks "simply june" . We waited for a few days and had no trouble... worth the wait and we enjoyed our family on Christmas and beyond

  17. Will you be posting the dr who christmas special? I loved watching downton abbey, thank you!

  18. Thank you so much, June, for posting Downton and all of the other wonderful shows. You are wonderful!

    I'm not on board with the snark from Viv Groskop at the Guardian---I was glued to this Christmas special, and I loved every minute of it!

    Happy New Year!

    1. I completely agree with you, Jill! I was glued to the Christmas Special (as I have been with them all)! I was taken aback by the snarky review though! Not hat I expected to read on here...

  19. neither click "here" access works and both attempt to get you to download dangerous attachments. :( too bad 'cause I really wanted to watch the Christmas special again.

  20. I couldn't get the video to play, either :(. Anyone found a solution??

  21. Christmas Episode 5 still not working! Would love to see it again....can you reload it??

  22. I can't view the Christmas Episode! Its the only one I haven't seen this season :(

  23. Hello Simply June!! Can you please reload the link for the Christmas Episode for season 5. Please please, message reads no longer available. 😢

  24. Season 5 Christmad Special is still not loading. States troubling loading video. Please help