After the Ball is Over: What to Watch After Downton

the crown (2)Addicted to the aristocracy? Need to know what’s going on below stairs as well as above? Way too interested in how Lady Mary mounts a horse? Really dreading the end of Downton (and all we hold dear)?

There’s hope, and we don’t mean another a season of a show that even its fans agree should come to a conclusion — and please let it involve Anna and Bates happy at last or put out of their miseries. Downton is done, or will be in a few short weeks — shuffled off its mortal coil,  gone to meet its maker, and sing in the bleeding choir invisible, — but there is plenty of good stuff for class-conscious Anglophiles to munch on.

Next year Netflix will be debuting a new series. It’s mostly set in a house so big it’s a palace compared to the Crawley’s dump in Yorkshire (because it IS a palace.) They’ll be a pair of sisters with even bigger issues than Lady Mary and Poor Edith the Ugly One. Plus there are going to be marriages so scandalous they’ll change the course of history. And there’ll probably be some fox hunting. And dogs — not the spaniel kind like the unfortunately named Isis, but sturdy little corgis. There’s even an ancient dowager known for her snippy wit. We don’t know how much attention will be paid to the staff unless by staff you mean Winston Churchill because this is a series all about the life and reign of one Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, aka THE Queen.

It’s called, appropriately enough, The Crown. Each season is supposed to focus on a decade of the reign of Elizabeth II (not the ship) which means the show will run forever because Elizabeth isn’t going anyplace and her mum lived to be two hundred years old.

The Queen Mum on her 160th birthday. She could out-Violet, Lady Violet. They say she was too mean to die.

The Queen Mum on her 160th birthday. She could out-Violet, Lady Violet. They say she was too mean to die.

The Crown is based on the play The Audience, by Peter Morgan, which wowed them on Broadway. Unfortunately, unlike the hit play, the television series does not feature Dame Helen Mirren in the title role.

But she'll always be the Queen of Our Hearts.

But she’ll always be the Queen of Our Hearts.

That honor goes to Claire Foy also known as Anne Boleyn from Wolf Hall. John Lithgow will be chewing the scenery, and maybe judging by his mumbles some tobacco or marbles, as Churchill. At 156 MILLION dollars, this is Netflix’s most expensive series to date. Maybe there are real jewels in those crowns? No word yet on when it debuts.

Here is a preview from the YouTube:

But what if you need a series RIGHT NOW that’s more Downton than Downton, except it takes place in London, not Yorkshire?  No problem! You can binge watch classic Upstairs Downstairs FOR FREE. We mean the original 1970s version, not the cheesy sequel set in the 1930s, which ironically also features Claire Foy, playing a most unsympathetic young “Lady.”

Claire Foy as Lady Persephone in Upstairs DownstairsTNG. She was mad, bad, and a Nazi..

Claire Foy as Lady Persephone in Upstairs Downstairs TNG. She was mad, bad, and a Nazi.

Original brand Upstairs Downstairs starts in 1903, nine years before Downton begins, and ends in 1929 — just five years after Downton’s final season.  Downstairs there are outspoken cooks, scheming maids, and tragic ones. Plus cross-class shenanigans!  There’s even a butler, Mr. Hudson, who could teach Carson a thing or two about obsequiousness. Upstairs there are lords who aren’t so great at holding on to the family fortune, ladies who may occasionally get compromised, and characters that like a certain Downton chauffeur  marry up, only to find they are neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.

Like Mr. Carson, Mr Hudson was married to his work, until he finally married one of the senior servants.

Like Mr. Carson, Mr Hudson was married to his work, until he finally married one of the senior servants.

How can you get this masterpiece once featured on Masterpiece streamed to your favorite device, free and legal? Sign up for your trial month of Acorn TV aka Hulu Strictly for British TV Fans, and have at it, as they say.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

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