Monday, January 7, 2013

Downton Abbey

I love Downton Abbey. Love it. Though I have to say I felt a bit of disappointment during last night's US opening of season three. First, the "upstairs" characters seem to have become, in this script, caricatures of themselves. Lady Mary has gone back to being stiff and tied to tradition, assumedly so that her character has somewhere to grow again. Everyone seemed to be insisting in their lines that "this is what I stand for"--no one more heavy-handedly than the American mother-in-law. I'd be curious to know how her character played in Britain. Perhaps because I am American, her comments about being less tied to tradition sounded normal to me and made the other characters look stodgy. It was as though reality was creeping in...which of course it is in 1920.

Which brings me to point number two. The stakes are higher than ever, with Downton Abbey itself on the line, but they don't feel high. I assume--again, American viewpoint--that at some point they will have to sell Downton. Too ridiculously huge to upkeep. Perhaps if there was more focus on the jobs that would be lost (which they may well do later on), then I would feel it. The loss of Cora's fortune and the two other fortunes that various characters hope might save them seem so off-the-stage to me. That said, what else but an inheritance would be a proper source of income for the aristocracy? And the earning of said money no doubt feels far away for most of them, too. As it is, Matthew's surprise inheritance feels engineered just to cause strife.

I do really like how housekeeper Mrs. Hughes' fate seems tied to the house. She may have cancer, but it will be months until she knows for certain. They may lose the house, but not yet...

With so many story lines wrapping up and others pulling less emotional weight than last year, I think part of me was really worried there would be two episodes and done. But no, there are another 6 to go on the books, so I can rest assured that more is to come. And I will, despite my complaints, be hanging on every word.

It is so much fun to see how the nation has been swept up in this series. Apparently, the first lady got her copy of season three early.

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