I have been a fairly faithful viewer of Downton Abbey since its inception. I liked the cast, especially Maggie Smith (the series could never have progressed without her) and I liked the premise of the big and flashy Edwardian and Georgian soap opera.
No point in suggesting it is anything other than a soaper because it has all the facets of standard daytime soaps. In English context there’s little point in suggesting Downton is much different from Coronation Street other than nicer houses, more expensive clothing, and posher accents.
Otherwise there is the normal soap opera stuff of family scandals, people screwing people they shouldn’t be, drinking too much, bringing shame on the household and so forth.
Sometimes I get caught up in these multi-season epics and look forward to episodes and seasons. I’ve watched Mad Men from the outset and can honestly say I watched the whole of Lost, despite what a huge cop-out the concluding episode was. Larcenous Kate more than made up for it with me.
I have given a couple of favorites a miss due to my own tastes. I think I maybe watched one episode of Dexter because I’m not charmed by psychopaths regardless of the nobility of their intentions, and similarly Breaking Bad offended me by its very premise. Meth cookers are not inspiring people and the only time I watched I couldn’t help but think all of them should be shot.
But, Downton was more sanitary and the players were more scrubbed and there was even a little history to be had, what with the Boer War and the social upheaval brought about by the ghastly and wasteful First World War.
And there was drama. Matthew got wounded in the trenches and we didn’t know if he’d walk again (he did), and he married Mary (despite her chronic bitchiness and snobbery) and they had a child and then he snuffed it in a stupid car wreck and that was the dramatic finale to the previous season.
So, with all that said, I cannot express strongly enough how disappointed I was with the season that just finished, and what a drag the grand finale was. I mean, Matthew bought the farm in the one prior; in the first season the decent and heroic Bates is hauled off to the joint accused of killing his ex.
This time? The generally abused downstairs lot got a day away from tugging their forelocks before people who aren’t worthy of even a foreskin tug, and they went to the seaside and paddled about a bit, and that was it. Huh? That was it? And they hope to trot out a further season after that anticlimax?
The one thing that has come through consistently with Downton is the corruption of a system that is so caste=ridden that it is never questioned by a serving class who must tend to the needs of a lot of less-than-agreeable folks whose lives are an inane series of parties, balls and fetes, with a little rumpy-pumpy thrown in just to add a teeny element of spice.
The season just completed was set in 1922. In a way it’s rather understandable that the Labour Party built up a major following during that decade. I am not a socialist but watching the wasteful lives of the toffs as opposed to the brutal and demeaning chores of their servants I was left with an impulse to cry out: “Au barricades, enfants de la patrie!” How Britain staved off revolution during the interwar years is still something that confounds. Happy they did, since all revolutions turn to rubbish – but still.