And perhaps that was the real problem. The scenes weren't being written by real writers, but by what appeared to be automatons. We've got a beautiful setting and we've picked a time frame and we've got a list of upstairs and downstairs British characters. Mix them all up in the Masterpiece Theatre Super Deluxe Sunday Night Drama machine, press a button and out squirts a punch-pressed, same-old, same-old festival of cliches.
This season it may be even worse, starting with killing off the youngest daughter, Sybil, in childbirth. Here's how stupid that was.
First, it killed off easily the best-looking and sexiest of the three daughters of the family. Played by Jessica Brown Findlay, Sybil was also the sweetest and most appealing of the three daughters. What could possess them to kill her off?
I mean seriously, wouldn't you want to have this face around on your TV show?
Second, putting the decorative aspects aside, the only reason to use the death of Sybil dramatically is to create divisions between Lord and Lady Grantham. The problem with that is simple.
They are easily the most boring characters on the show. Particularly Lord Grantham, as played by Hugh Bonneville. He's a guy who inherited the estate, was able to save it only by marrying a wealthy American, proceeded to blow all of her money, now has lucked out and had his daughter Mary find a husband, Matthew, who happens to have inherited money from his former fiancee's father (none of which makes sense either), and now is apparently trying to blow that through mismanagement. Why would anyone put up with this incompetent old coot? And, if so, why should we care about his character? Answer: we don't. So why do the writers focus on him?
What they should have done, what the show is really about, is to focus on the conflict between the sedentary, conservative, landed gentry, whose lifestyle is the epitome of a "dying business model," versus the younger, middle-class, business types (like Matthew and, if they had been thinking straight, Branson), who start making "new money" in the Roaring 20s. That would have been interesting. Now, we just have a soap opera where someone has to die every few episodes to keep the machine running.