Thursday, August 14, 2014
Downton Abbey: To Downton or Not to Downton This Time Around?
At this point, it doesn't matter: for us luckless Americans, Series Five of Downton Abbey begins in January 2015. But Downton will begin airing in the UK and other parts of the world soon, and already promises that earth-shattering changes are on the way.
The year is 1924. Socialism is on the rise, and the Labour Party runs the country for the first time. There will be change like never before, and Downton Abbey may not survive!
Pause and consider what you just read. Does it sound different from what was promised in previous series?
Unprecedented change in the social order? Check. Downton may come apart at the seams? Check. Downstairs characters reveal a desire for social advancement? Check. Lord Grantham sputters with outrage? Check. The Dowager Countess has the perfect witticism to capture it all? Double check.
Each year promises remarkable change, but the greatest upheavals -- Matthew and Sybil's deaths -- were unplanned, thrust upon the show by the actors. Otherwise, every episode features Downton Abbey and its slow, stately lifestyle, only offering a glimpse of the gritty outer world when Bates gets in trouble for something. The most socially rebellious character, Tom Branson, has been tamed into an agreeable house pet. The most disgruntled downstairs resident, Thomas, has been a soldier and a businessman, but always ends up a servant. Daisy has more outs than you can count, yet somehow prefers to remain in the kitchen under the tutelage of Mrs. Patmore.
Upstairs, Mary has boyz... please. The Dowager is witty, Cora simpering and clueless, and Lord Grantham is offended by the very idea of change.
For Series Three and Four, I wrote a blog post recapping each episode. This year, I don't have the patience. It's like watching a ferris wheel turning. Downton will be pretty and timeless and utterly dull. I not only don't feel inclined to blog this time around, I'm not even sure that I want to watch.
Then there is Edith's plot line with her bastard daughter and the Gregson disappearance. That alone could get me to tune in. But of course, it depends on how Fellowes portrays it. If he continues to force poor Edith to endure misery upon misery while Mary lives the charmed life, I'll have had it. Give Edith some victory, Fellowes. Make us feel like you care about her, even a little. She is by far the most interesting upstairs character.
So for Edith's sake, I will likely tune in, but I probably won't recap every episode the way I have the last two series. Since I don't have as much time to blog these days, I don't want every post for a month or two to be about Downton Abbey. Instead, I may just write an essay or two critiquing Series Five.
Will it be the season of change? Or more of the same?
The above image was used under the Fair Use Doctrine.