Down on Downton

Hamming it up

Shortly before the holiday crush, I was left to my own devices and turned to Netflix Streaming to alleviate my boredom. Since so many people whose opinions I respect had raved about Downton Abbey, I watched two episodes of the first season. After the second episode, I tweeted a stunning realization.

Just watched two episodes of Downton Abbey on Netflix. I…am totally going to be addicted to this show, aren’t I?

After several nights of hours-long viewings of the remainder of Season One and all of Season Two, I was all caught up just in time for the start of Season Three on PBS. I was thrilled. What would become of Meestah Bates? Oh, to see the sparks fly between Mary and Cousin Matthew! More Dowager Countess sass! Drop-waisted skirts in the Twenties!

Last night, I foolishly decided to watch the Patriots lose to the Ravens instead of watching Downton Abbey. Thankfully, OnDemand allowed me to catch Season Three, Episode Three.

What a disappointment. [NOTE: Spoilers abound below.] [But not in an overall-season-Three sense. You people who watched all the bootleg episodes online this summer are the same ones that tried to see every present before Christmas morning when you were a kid. Don’t you want to preserve the magic?!]

Not every episode can be a revelation a minute. But this one was almost all pure rehash. Poor Anna isn’t getting letters from Mister Bates! Mister Bates is getting no letters from Anna! Oh, what shall we do? Why doesn’t she just go to the jail and ask him what’s up? It’s not like Anna won’t write letters to random strangers and then show up at their homes to go all Nancy Drew on their ass. She’s no shrinking violet.

They’re not the most insufferable couple, however. That title belongs to Matthew and Mary. I understood Mary’s reluctance to marry Cousin Matthew—he’s kinda doughy and preachy compared to a handsome, cocky Turk. But sparks eventually flew and I was delighted when they finally married. But since their sexy around-the-door kiss on the night before their wedding, the magic seems to be gone. Money problems would put a strain on any marriage, especially when the son-in-law finds out his wife’s dad is a moron. There was also a hint at a fertility issue with Lady Mary in this episode that will likely develop as the season unfolds. But could we see that old twinkle in their eyes? Maybe hatch a plot to lock Branson up in the servant’s quarters before he goes back to Ireland and is incarcerated before his baby is born?

Even the Dowager Countess’ sass in this episode seems forced. Sure, that Irish castle might have been a dump. But surely she’d be more upset about the idea of lords and ladies being cast into their summer cottages than the architecture of any one given castle? Especially given her stone-faced panic when Matthew tells her the Crawleys might lose Downton if Lord Grantham doesn’t stop sinking fortunes into Canadian railroads and not collecting his rents.

Don’t get me wrong—I am still in Downton Abbey‘s thrall. (The costumes are as amazing as ever, and I’m a sucker for money shots of the English countryside.) But I hope the writers don’t lose sight of the characters they’ve created as the season continues.


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