Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh, The Shame of It!

The whole point of British costume drama series is that they are, well, a little higher toned than the US variety. The implication is that the viewers, also, are a cut above.

Imagine my dismay at Masterpiece Theatre's Downton Abbey, which finished its first season with a cheap cliffhanger straight of of Dallas.

Oh the shame of it!

Of course there is nothing wrong with Maggie Smith playing an impossible dowager countess, though she played the role before in Gosford Park. There is nothing wrong with three problem upper-class daughters. There is nothing wrong with a a rather over-solid butler. There is nothing wrong with a rich American heiress putting new blood in a threadbare British aristocratic family. There is nothing wrong with an Earl of Grantham utterly abandoned to his noblesse oblige and sending the cook to London for eye surgery.

There is nothing wrong with beginning the series with the Sinking of the Titanic--so many friends lost, darling--and ending with the outbreak of the Great War.

But when you end the series with (plot spoiler!) the ridiculous smashup of the budding romance between the heroine, Lady Mary Crawley, and the hero, middle-class solicitor Matthew Crawley, over the ridiculous issue of whether or not she would have married him if her mother hadn't lost her baby over the criminal neglect over her ladies' maid, O'Brien, who deliberately slicked up the bathroom floor with soap causing her ladyship to slip when all Lady Mary needed to do was admit to Matthew her rather tawdry roll on the death bed of a Turkish diplomat. Well!

And then to end it with the outrageous teaser that Series Two is now in preparation! Even now!

The shame of it, I say. The shame of it.

There is one other thing that needs a disapproving mention. Not that I have anything against British costume dramas!

It is the influence of the tobacco Nazis.

Think now. Here we are in the global world of the 2010s and the food Nazis and the smoking Nazis are everywhere making life miserable. Now let us return to the Edwardian atmosphere of Downton (yes:there's a foreshadowing of decline). None of the upstairs people smoke. But some of the downstairs people do, and guess what, they are the villains, the lying, stealing Thomas and the conniving bitter O'Brien. They seem forever off behind the barn, veiled in billows of cigarette smoke, hatching their evil complots.

I say back to Ben Disraeli and the heavenly Sybil singing in the ruins of an abbey. You know that all those abbeys were stolen by evil Whig followers of Henry VIII, don't you! And I'm sure that there was a Robert Crawley back then helping himself to a dissolved monastery or two in South Yorkshire and getting himself a barony into the bargain. That was before the Crawleys got the noblesse oblige bug.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say it: I had such a gooood laugh reading your review! By the way "food Nazis" have you noticed that all the good produce, especially meat, has gone into dog food advertising? "Shame of it" too!