Monday, February 27, 2012

My Take on Downton Abbey

Because so many bloggers have written their thoughts on the recently concluded Downton Abbey, I thought I’d chime in. Unlike Season 1, which was an outstanding drama on every level, Season 2 was a mixed bag.


The scripts – Frankly, the plots were terrible. In some cases, they were so bad that it affected the actors’ performances as with Lord Grantham and the maid. Even someone as talented as Hugh Bonneville wasn’t convincing as a man lusting after a servant. Why? Because he knew his character wouldn’t do that. The scripts gave him little to do except strut and pout, very unlike the Lord Grantham of Season 1.

Repetition: How many times can Lady Grantham put on hand lotion while O’Brien gossips? How many times can Daisy say her marriage to William was a fraud? How many times can Mary look longingly at Matthew, and vice versa? How many times can Thomas screw up?

Unbelievable story lines: Patrick, the true heir to Downton, shows up badly burnt and wearing bandages and just as quickly disappears. Doesn’t anyone recognize his voice? Is he not interested in pursuing the vast Crawley fortune? Nope. He just goes. Why? Because “people don’t believe me when I say I’m really Patrick.” I imagine Julian Fellowes wanted to find something for Edith to do other than to pass out books to the convalescents, but this wasn’t the answer.

Don’t care: You have to like someone to care about them, and we didn’t like Ethel. We also didn’t care about her lover getting killed. Ditto on the prospective groom for Lord Grantham's sister and her maid. Just didn't care.

Predictable: We all knew that Charlie, Ethel’s illegitimate son, was going to have a mean grandfather who would insist on the conditions for adopting the boy would be for her to disappear from his life. We also knew that Ethel would rise up and thwart the meanie’s intentions.

Ridiculous: Patrick surviving the Titanic and suffering a memory loss? Seriously? This is not the 1930s or a daytime soap opera.

Underdeveloped storylines: Sybil and the chauffeur. Why did they fall in love? And what happened to feeding out-of-work vets? Poof! Gone!

Overdeveloped storylines: Anna and Mr. Bates. It had “ick” written all over it.

World War I: This is the one that bugged me the most. Even though Lord Grantham wore his uniform, he did nothing but mope and complain during the war years. Why? He was put out (as was Lady Grantham) because Downton was turned into a hospital . This is bunk. Over 500 peers or their heirs were killed in The Great War. Grantham would have known most of them, and he’s annoyed because he might be denied his dining room? Where’s the compassion shown in Season 1?


The acting: Hats off to Michele Dockery. So many of her scenes required that she look longingly at Matthew, and yet, after five years, we still believed that she was that much in love with him. I was also impressed by her scenes with Richard Carlisle. She showed us that she could still sting.

I loved the downstairs staff: Mr. Carter, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore, O’Brien, Daisy, Anna, etc. There wasn’t a lemon in the bunch. And I loved the variety of accents. I was on every night to find out where these actors grew up.

Highclere Castle: Wow! What a setting! And the war scenes. Very well done and believable.

And, finally, the Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley. How many scenes did Maggie Smith steal? Every one she was in. Julian Fellowes gave her all the best lines, and she delivered! Kudos to Penelope Wilton, Maggie’s fencing partner.

That's my two cents worth. What did you think?


  1. Haha! Very enjoyable critique of Downton Mary. It was a bit soap bubbly wasn't it? I think you have to watch Gosford Park to see Julian Fellowes at his best. I still ate it up however, and it was great water cooler talk at work with the girls!
    I would only say that I thought Patrick wasn't really Patrick. I think he was a fraud and so he took off when he realized that Edith was the only one who believed him. Poor Edith, has she NO self respect? Anyway, Patrick is either a fraud and gone for good (I hope) or he will be resurrected in season 3. Let's hope not.

    Did you know ABC is going to air the Julian Fellowes/ITV Titanic series over 2 night in April? We get it the same time as the UK this time. April 14/15 and it is 4 hours worth. I hope it is good...

  2. I just started season 1 on Netflix. I have such a crush on Hugh Bonneville.

  3. I agree with your assessment almost totally, but you are far kinder than I was with the compliments on season 2. It has quite put me off the show. After leaving me with no couple to root for, the only parts that I enjoyed were Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville (when he has a decent story), and the castle. Oh, and the horses.

  4. Jenny, You are one of those delightful people who see good in everyone/everything, just like Jane Bennet.

    Angie, Season 1 is really good.

    Jennifer, You and my daughter always look at the horses! It shows where your passion is.