October 24, 2016

After Downton: What to Watch

It’s been months since Downton Abbey closed its doors for the final time, ushering legions of devastated fans back out into a cold, harsh, Crawley-less world. While there may be never be a replacement that completely fills the Carson-sized hole in our hearts, there are certainly a few period dramas that give us hope: 

imageDoctor Thorne

From the creator of Downton Abbey himself, Julian Fellowes’ Doctor Thorne adapts Anthony Trollope’s 1858 novel into a three-part series with no shortage of fierce heartache and fancy hairpieces. Starring a few familiar faces (like Alison Brie) and some equally charming newcomers, Doctor Thorne centers around penniless orphan Mary Thorne, who unwittingly upheaves the lives of the aristocratic Gresham family when she falls in love with their son while living at their estate. 

Mercy Street
An American period medical drama set in the midst of the Civil War, Mercy Street follows two fairly green nurses on opposite sides of the battle as they navigate both national strife and personal struggles. The PBS series seems determined to pick up where Downton left off, weaving a compelling narrative of romance, politics, and history with plenty of stomach-churning surgery scenes to boot. All in all, it’ll teach you a thing or two about the Civil War while making you glad you never had to live through it. 

With long brunette locks that seem to always blow perfectly in the wind, protagonist Ross Poldark often seems to have stepped straight from the cover of a romance novel, though his backstory is firmly set in a grim reality. BBC’s Poldark takes a dramatic trip through 18th century England, following young Poldark as he returns from fighting in the American War of Independence only to find his father dead, his tin mines in ruins, and his fiancée engaged to his cousin. Rough day. However, Poldark’s brash spirit isn’t so easily squashed—and neither is his penchant for love (and revenge).

For Downton fans who love a little mystery to go along with their historical drama, PBS Masterpiece series Grantchester offers both in spades. James Norton stars as a handsome young vicar and amateur sleuth who becomes involved with a local suicide case, much to the chagrin of his unwilling partner Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). Though the murders are grisly, the show keeps things humorously lighthearted as the unlikely duo competes to crack the case—and each other’s weaknesses.

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