Seven Late Takes - The Downton Abbey Edition
1. It is with a heavy heart that I state the unvarnished truth: Downton Abbey jumped the shark Sunday night. It's been coming since Edith decided to cap up off a long day at the farm by kissing a married man far beneath her in social rank (and -- let's just be brutally honest here -- a not very attractive man at that).
How else has this series gone astray?
2. The cat fighting between Cora and Isobel was contrived from the word go. Why did Isobel then run off to France?
3. I could see the growing chemistry between Sybil and Branson in Season 1, but this once fetching couple now does nothing but hang out in the garage tossing barbs at each other. Do they have a relationship? Can't they drive off to Ripon for -- I don't know -- bandages or something, and actually interact like normal people? Sybil tells Mary, "You can talk to the chauffeur. He's a person." But they never talk. He's getting more grating by the episode, but it seems a fait accompli that they will run off together. Does he have a first name or will she call him Branson at their wedding?
4. These odd looks between Lord Grantham and Jane? If they take the most decent character on this show and have him embroiled in some tawdry romance, I'll occupy Downton.
5. If only to lend the above scenario a little context, Cora is constantly dismissing Robert, leaving him on his own for luncheon (war is hell, as the saying goes), and blowing off dinner parties. Again, it doesn't ring true. These were difficult, trying times. Would this formerly loving couple not turn to, hmmmm, each other for strength and comfort? Guess not.
6. The plot line that has the entire downstairs crew bullying Daisy into marrying William seemed forced. Over and over and over again, everyone but the cat got his two cents in. I didn't get that.
7. Finally, the Patrick Gordon construct is ripped straight from that pivotal episode of Dallas. Painful, painful, painful. Oh Jullian, you've let us all down! When I've heard Downton Abbey compared to a soap opera, I've bristled a bit. The elegance, the pace, the acting -- these made Season 1 something beautiful to watch. Yes, there were twists, but none that so lacked believability.
Mary rocks this season, as do Sir Richard and Mathew. Their performances are stellar, and their choices are believable (even if painful). I was heartened to see Thomas, the evil footman, gain a modicum of humanity. O'Brien , too, seems more developed. Her compassion for Mr. Lang was genuine and understandable. Mrs. Pattmore is in top form (except when badgering Daisy). She's more than the stereotypical grumpy cook. Like Maggie Smith, she's just plain funny.
So we're left with one essential question:Will I continue to watch? The answer is yes, of course I will.
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