REVIEW: Crownton Dobby

October 30, 2015

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Crownton Dobby

Ruth Torjussen  

21st Century Films

This is a fun romp and a well thought out parody of country house costume dramas and a particularly astute spearing of Downton Abbey.  Crownton Dobby is a 10 x 10 mins online spoof par excellence made by a Downton fan for Downton fans and other obsessives.

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The plots are utterly daft but acted and directed poker-faced, with the kind of knowing ironic urgency that understanding the particular type of drama being gently poked fun of makes happen. The characters have all the wonderful twitches, weaknesses, vices, odd interjections, secrets, shames, back stories and suspicious activities that you want and expect from such romping fun and the narrative tension builds with a ridiculously somber serious majesty as the house literally sinks into disrepair. With every delicious tongue in cheek dramatic moment wrung the f**k out of, and the actors allowing the breadth of madness into their characters this throbs with life and fun and it’s an extra delight to watch something made in local places that you know and recognise. Each and every cliché of the genre is explored and tickled for fun and the characters, from the uber snobbish great aunts to the scheming evil servants all interact and mesh well to give the whole a feeling of a bigger drama happening somewhere else.  I loved the chain-smoking wicked evil servants heaving with menace  and their plotting against The Family and their inbred madness and the wonderfully dotty and drugged up Lady of the House, but all the cast give are very good.

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With special interest for Sussex and Brighton folk as it stars some locally based actors Russell Floyd (Eastenders, The Bill), Sonia Elliman & Rosemary Macvie  (Off their Rockers) and uses interiors of the Albion Hotel and Preston Manor which stands in for Crownton Dobby itself  but set in the glorious lush hills.

This is episode one:

For lovers of parody TV, this reminded me of Brass, a great TV series from the 80’s staring Timothy West and Barbara Ewing.  It was quality, ambitious, equally nutty and just as much laugh out loud fun. Brass was also written by someone who loved the genre and it’s that tender fondness for something which allows a good parody to skirt being cruel and end up being fun.

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There’s a lot of green screen technology gone into the production and the limitations of this are poked fun of too, so there’s a meta-level of deconstructive parody going on here, very clever stuff, but if you don’t know what that means don’t worry, Crownton Dobby is sophisticated enough to be able to aim low and it’s silly, joyous fun manages to shine through in every episode.

Director Ruth Torjussen (who’s also producer, designer, and writer of the series) has done extremely well with this production, it’s neat, bumps along with an interesting tempo and makes you care about the house and its community even if none of it really makes sense at all. I enjoyed it a lot.

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For more info from 21st Century Films who produced Crownton Dobby, click here:

It’s on release now and you can watch episodes 1-5 on-line now on their website or on YouTube.  If you are a fan of Downton Abby,or any number of costume dramas based on the lives of the people who live and work in those great English Country houses of the past then give yourself a treat and log on and catch up.

For more info or to buy the DVD or download the minisodes, click here:

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