Monday, February 13, 2012
Has Downton Abbey Jumped the Shark?
I'm not sure, but it may have veered too far toward the most obvious kind of soap opera. Will Matthew walk again (and will his wanger work)? Will Mary marry the evil Richard Carlisle or stay true to Matthew? And how will the writers get the sweet Lavinia Swire out of the way? Who is the mysteriously burned man who survived Passchandaele and claims to be the long-lost heir, Patrick Crawley? Will Sybil announce her love for the chauffeur, Branson, and what on earth is the attraction there? Did Bates murder his evil wife Vera? Will he ever get to marry the angelic Anna?
OK, so I'm still hooked, but I can't help thinking that the writing got weaker once they had a hit on their hands and had to plan for a long series.
UPDATE (and bumped): A lot of people must be coming to the same conclusion, because I'm getting a lot of hits on the old blog from people searching for "Downton Abbey jumped the shark." After last night's episode, I'm inclined to say that my conclusion is reinforced. We only watched half-way, but from what we saw you have a completely unbelievable deus ex machina of Matthew regaining his ability to walk (and, presumably, other abilities that will impact the storyline); a wretched storyline with Lord Grantham trying to seduce the maid, Jane (completely out of character and stupid for the writers, since Lord Grantham's decency was one of the things that made the show work); an equally wretched storyline about Thomas' failed efforts in the black market (an evil manipulator who isn't smart enough to check the merchandise?); and an almost unwatchable storyline about Ethel, the erstwhile maid who got herself knocked up by a British major who subsequently got himself knocked off (complete with the world's fattest baby-actor). Not good. What the show needs: more Maggie Smith; a proper lover for sister Edith; more Sybil but less Branson; Bates and Anna free from the clutches of his ex-wife; and a lot more Mary and Matthew.
Speaking of Bates, I can understand from a literary perspective why he's reliving the Book of Job, but didn't anyone realize that inflicting endless pain on one of our favorite characters makes for bad TV?
And this doesn't even begin to deal with the ridiculous time-frame of the story, where Sybil looked 21 in 1912 when the story started, and now, in 1919, announces that she can marry whomever she wants because she's.... you guessed it, 21! And are we to believe that Mary, who was the older sister and seemed to be about 25 in 1912, is still waiting around for Matthew seven years later?
I still like the show, and will still watch it, but sheesh is this one I could have written better.