Follow me on Twitter

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I love Downton Abbey, who doesn’t?  Seriously, saying “no” to DA is like saying no to a free massage.  Or no to drinking expensive red wine that is guaranteed not to give you a headache.  And no to eating good, dark chocolate that doesn’t have any calories.  It’s self-punitive to say no, plain and simple!  It is a free, delicious, luxurious treat, so why not indulge?  There is not a single reason in the world to abstain from this not-so-guilty pleasure, the definition of “me time”.  And men like it too!  It’s not something you need to hide away.  Watch it loud and watch it proud!  You are going to get a lot of support in this endeavor!
But…(you could see that coming, I’m sure)…but, we are in the 4th season and it is a little creakier than it used to be.  Like maybe that free massage didn’t go as deep as you needed it to, or that very excellent red wine gave you the teensiest bit of a headache.  The characters that we have grown to know and love are maybe behaving a bit…shall we say, uncharacteristically these days.  And of course the body count is quite morbidly high; The Walking Dead’s got nothing on the Abbey.  I think we can all accept and actually expect older shows to resort to stunts such as untimely death and (very unfortunately) rape; but at the same time, remember how absolutely unexpected and delightful the untimely death of Mr. Pamuk was the first season???   I remember laughing with a sort of maniacal glee when that happened; by the time Matthew Matthew died, it was more like “of f*cking course he did”.

Also, watching characters devolve to suit these melodramatic storylines is a sad and confusing experience.  Remember Mr. Bates?  Oh, I know he’s not dead, I realize there is still a character named “Mr. Bates” on Downton Abbey, but he does not bear much resemblance to the man I met and fell for in season one.   Ohhhh my God, season one Mr. Bates, how I loooooved you!  What an incredible character, what a remarkable man.  Remember when Thomas tripped him in front of an important guest, trying to make him seem lame and weak and unreliable?  Did S1 Mr. Bates leap up and beat Thomas’s face into a bloody pulp with his walking stick???  Because that’s what I would have done, especially with that stick being so handy.  No, S1 Mr. Bates most decidedly did not.  He didn’t so much as tattle on Thomas, he just gracefully apologized and took responsibility for what had happened without so much as a crack in his composure.  S1 Bates was so calm, cool and collected, he made James Bond look like a freakin’ spaz.  Why else would Anna have fallen madly and deeply in love with this person so soon after meeting?

But now we have to contend with season 4 Mr. Bates.  First, as an aside, we have all now seen him shirtless, and that did very little for his case in general.  But S4 Mr. Bates, instead of being the pure-hearted, noble prince of Anna’s dreams, is apparently regarded by his onetruelove as such an out-of-control rage-aholic that she can’t trust him, her husband, with the horrible fact of her rape, for fear he will go ballistic and murder her rapist in cold blood.  Say what???  I mean, I certainly felt that Mr. Bates behaved in a slightly sinister and threatening way while he was in prison, but I chalked that up to the fact that he was IN PRISON, and when in Rome, right?  If you cannot muster slightly sinister and threatening while in prison, you are in for a world of hurt, so I supported his choices.  And when he came home, did he not protect and defend his old tormentor Thomas against a certain and horrible fate, like S1 Mr. Bates would have done?  Why does Anna feel he is going to go all “death wish” on the guy?

Speaking of Thomas…we really do get a different Thomas every season, don’t we?  S1 was pure evil and I guess they decided that was what worked best for him, because after two seasons of nuanced performance and character from the very excellent actor who plays him, we are back to pure evil.  But we’re not sure why.  What is his motivation for hating Bates again, especially after Bates saved his ass out of common decency?  Why would he be gunning for Tom Branson, when he professes such admiration for his late wife?  Why is he infiltrating the house with an unwilling spy, when he has been treated so well by the very people who should’ve sacked him about 14,000 times so far?  We may never know; for now, Thomas is a very bad guy simply because life is more interesting that way.  And as for poor Edith (you'd think she would just go ahead and change her name to that already)…is this the same girl who slut shamed her older sister in season one???    How does it feel when the shoe is on the other foot, girlfriend?

And finally Robert…oh, excuse me, Lord Grantham… perhaps the most disheartening of all.  His season one incarnation was absolute perfection, but by now we have come to expect him to be sexist, stuffy, out-of-touch and horrifyingly bad with finances.  Seriously, can we hide the checkbook from this guy?  It is sad to see him made to be such a buffoon when he used to be so extremely awesome, but extremely awesome was not terribly dramatic, I guess.  Good thing we can count on the Countess!  And how much do we love her?  Let us count the ways!!!  Actually, let’s not; we’ll be here all day.   But if there is one thing about Downton Abbey that is consistently brilliant it is the performance of Maggie Smith as this towering and impregnable woman; and bravo to the writers for never leaving her without the exact perfect thing to say.  Whatever its flaws, Downton Abbey remains a bright spot in the dull winter months; so we give thanks and cross our fingers that Dame Maggie Smith lives forever.


  1. I COMPLETELY agree with you here. It is bad enough that Anna was raped (If we never again see a woman raped on television, it will still be far too many). But what made it even more horrifying is that Anna's rape had to become about protecting her husband (from himself, no less). How is RAPE about the husband?? Ugh.

    And you are spot on about Thomas and Lord Grantham too. The only character who is actually better in season 4 is cousin Isobel. I loved her in season 1 (LOVED her!) and then hated the character assignation they did to her during the war years. But with another season comes another change in personality for her, and they have redeemed her. Her scenes this season with Thomas and Violet (and about Mary) have been some of the show's best.

  2. Oops. Typo.
    "character assignation" should have been "character assassination".

  3. HAHAHAHAHA! Can we hide the checkbook?!!!! That made me choke on my coffee!