There are certain benefits in coming to a show late.
For example, when there’s a big death – you miss all the
hoopla because you weren’t paying attention to the spoilers when it was
What am I babbling about?
I finally jumped on the Downton Abbey brigade this week and
not only did I start watching the show, but I finished it as well. How did I
watch the fourth season before it hit American airwaves? Yeah, I went and
bought it on Blu-Ray – that’s how much of a slave to (quality) television I am.
Binge-watching has its benefits, let me tell you. As a
viewer that managed to watch all four seasons in several days, I didn’t have to
sit and lament the long breaks between television seasons. As a viewer, I
jumped right from Matthew and Mary’s Christmas engagement to their wedding
planning. There was none of that pesky eight months of nailbiting to hold me back.
Since I came to the show so late, I think I probably have a
view of the show that is unique (or less mainstream might be more apt).
In other words, no one could bend my opinion
because I plowed through the show on my own and didn’t let them.
First off, I’m not going to lie, while I love the show there
seems to be an obvious drop off in the
quality of writing between the second
and third seasons. Yeah, I said it.
British television shows are different from American
television shows. British shows usually sign actors to three-year deals –
compared to the seven-year deals American television shows boast. Because of
this, there are a lot of British television shows that only last three years (or less) and even more that have high
turnover rates in their casts because of this fact.
That’s why the main cast of the British Being Human, for
example, had a complete cast turnover before the end of the show.
So, when the third season of Downton Abbey hits, it becomes fairly obvious
early on that Jessica Brown Findlay was obviously being set up to be written
out as Lady Sybil. While her death is heartbreaking (she was my favorite of the three sisters), it’s not all that
More surprising – but not shocking, I guess – was the death
of Matthew Crawley, one of the main characters on the show. Dan Stevens was
clearly one of the breakout stars, much like Aidan Turner was on Being Human.
The fact that Stevens would try to turn his success on Downton Abbey into a
film career isn’t exactly shocking.
What I find most interesting about Downton Abbey is that
everyone I know (yes, pretty much
everyone) says it’s one of the best shows
they’ve ever watched.
The show is entertaining, don’t get me wrong. It has a
certain magic attached to it. You get to see how both sides of the economic
coin live in a period time piece, while interacting with each other. It’s
At its heart, though, Downtown Abbey is a soap opera. It’s
just like General Hospital – only with believable accents.
Sure, no one has come back from the dead yet (well, Matthew
kind of did in the second season, but not quite) but we’ve had a breast cancer
scare, prostitution, lying about sex, almost affairs, actual affairs, young
women marrying older men, women marrying men their fathers don’t approve of,
dramatic death by childbirth, men being locked up for crimes they didn’t
commit, rape, etc.
I can hear it right now. People are going to start emailing
me and telling me that Downtown Abbey is much better than any soap opera. True,
the acting is better than most soap operas, that doesn’t mean it’s still not a
high class soap opera.
I guess it’s a good thing that I like soap operas.
The truth is, I think I watched the entire run of Downton
Abbey at the same time the show will start
its inevitable downturn.
The quality of the writing in a show usually goes first – and we definitely saw
that in season three. Then some of the cast starts to defect. We’ve seen that,
too. Now some of the storylines will get more and more ridiculous – season four
is all over the place, quite frankly – and then the show will suddenly be
Still, Downton Abbey is unique in the fact that it’s a
simple tale that caught on at a time when it had no business being popular. For
that reason alone, I was prepared to like the show.
The first two seasons of it, though, were so well done that
I fell in love with it. That’s enough for me to ignore (most of) the foibles of
the third and fourth seasons. Let’s hope the show let’s go before it needs to be
put out of its misery, though.
What do you think? Am I crazy to equate Downton Abbey to a