Downton Abbey - Am I the only one who finds this show increasingly absurd?
I discovered it after reading all the hype here and in the press. In a month's time I watched all of the first season and have caught up to the second.
It was fun to a point, but it all seems to go in a big circle. Would these rich, class obsessed aristocrats in early 20th Century England REALLY be allowing the servants all of the graces they allow? Would "Lord Grantham" really do things like ask the maid about her son and offer, without her asking, to help in the son's admission into school or turn to his valet and say things like "you're awfully quiet tonight"?
The downstairs drama goes in an infinite circle. Bates comes, he almost leaves, he stays, he leaves again, he comes back, there's a wife who leaves, paid off, then comes back again to "ruin" him.. There are two evil servants. WHY they're so evil nobody seems to know, and why they're hellbent on ruining the saintly valet and his (adorable) house maid girlfriend, nobody knows.
SHEESH! It's just becoming rather silly now. I get the acclaim during the first season, but will it continue to receive praise at this stage? It's just so campy.
I agree completely. It just whirls by. Plot points are made and disappear. Characters do one thing and then turn around and do something completely different in the next scene. I understand that it's only a soap opera but at least last season it was done with more subtlety.
No you are not. Just about everyone says the same thing.
R1, I've seen other people describe it as a soap opera and didn't get that until this weekend when it dawned on me that it really IS a soap. But even many soaps have better continuity and stronger plots than what I'm seeing.
It's high camp all the way.
I tend to agree. I thought the second series was building up to some drama or new relationsip between the Earl and that nice new widow housemaid, particularly as Lady Cora was getting rather nasty - I thought she might be carried off in the flu epidemic and the Earl would marry the new girl for the next series, and she could provide a new male heir, thus leaving Matthew out ... but no, the Earl and the widow came to their senses and she left.
Also Thomas and O'Brien were not quite so nasty any more ... and the whole Bates saga was simply ridiculous.
The Christmas special was great though, so looking forward to the story moving into the 20s, just like Upstairs Downstairs.
What drama queens you queens are.
It's fantasy, girls!
It seems PBS is showing the Christmas special next week as part of the second season.
Wait, isn't in the second season NOW???
I bought all of the first season/last year's episodes off iTunes. I never saw a Christmas special. I'm not on the second season, or so I thought.
Could somebody help me out?
The Christmas special is the last episode of the second season as PBS is showing the series in the US. (I gather it was broadcast in the UK some time after season 2 aired there.)
Here in the UK the Christmas special was a separate 2 hour show, aired several months after Series 2 finished.
I get them all on dvd as there are too many commercial breaks here on the commercial station.
Yeah it's turned into crap. A shame. It was a great mini-series. Now it's a silly soap opera.
You know you're in a bad show when minor characters keep having to be killed to keep the major characters' action going....
So the episode that aired last night in the US, with Bates being led off in handcuffs, was the finale of Season/Series 2 in the UK, whereas in the US it's the next to last episode.
Next week's finale (in the US) was the Christmas special in the UK.
The second season is not nearly as good as the first.
But I disagree with you about how ridiculous it is that the upstairs is getting jiggy with the downstairs. It seems to me English literature and life has a long tradition of that.
From Lady Chatterly to Upstairs Downstairs to Downtown, this is nothing new.
Not to mention similar tales and events: Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistresses, Wuthering Heights, the countless tales of governesses and lords. kings and working class women, etc.
The last episode was beyond mere dumbshit absurdity. It was Ionesco absurdity forced through the Edith Wharton's bowels.
The top-down view of the dead fiancee who had just admitted she heard all about Matthew and Mary and SAW THEM KISS as she, dressed to leave and tottering down the grand staircase despite being one day away from Flu Death. and in releasing him from his vow somehow left him HOPELESSLY GUILTY because of course it was sorrow that killed her.
The Lord kissing a maid and pitching shit at his American wife for no reason except the plot needing more entanglements.
The endlessly evil Thomas pounding plaster sugar in the shed and being generally hated AND YET still having a job, with his clothes still pressed and ready in the servants' cupboard.
O'Brien's bird's nest, yarn, tea cosy and kindling pile hair-do.
Mary's and Matthew's ridiculous troubles,
Bates's ridiculous troubles.
And so on.
The only character now who has a lick of sense is the Dowager, and she was the one who started out being a silly old bitch.
I LOVED Bates but now just want him to go away. All this fucking drama around the guy. He couldn't keep a job at a modern day McDonalds with all his drama, much less have some highbrow valet job for a Lord in 19'teens England.
It's all so silly, like the writers didn't know when enough was enough. The Bates' character should be quiet for a while and maybe the drama turned up on someone else.
People who don't like the show can watch something else, no one is forcing them to.
It's a dose of much-needed camp. I'll miss it when the Christmas special airs. Good thing there will be a third season.
total melodrama....but the penultimate episode was great: the death scene, the dance scene, graveyard scene, the chaffeur/lady sybil scene (wow)...somehow it got to me.
I enjoy it immensely. I don't know what all the griping is about, besides bitching for the sake of bitchiness.
Ooh, you're sooo sophisticated!
Maggots writhing on a hunk of meat.
Last week, Matthew became a cripple and broke up with Livinia. I happened to fall asleep and missed the last 10 minutes.... and now this weeks he's walking and engaged to Livinia! If you close your eyes for a couple of minutes, you miss important turn of events!
Its almost like the writers make up plot points as they go along.....they can't stick with one scene for more than two minutes.
For fuck's sake, OP, just STOP WATCHING and stop whining. No one's forcing you to suffer through it, you know.
People were critical of the whole second season, but I think Matthew leaping out of his wheelchair to catch Lavinia was probably the point where the shark was jumped.
[quote]Would these rich, class obsessed aristocrats in early 20th Century England REALLY be allowing the servants all of the graces they allow? Would "Lord Grantham" really do things like ask the maid about her son and offer, without her asking, to help in the son's admission into school or turn to his valet and say things like "you're awfully quiet tonight"?
I think the problem is, as much as they want to do a show about the upstairs-downstairs culture of the time, they need the aristocratic characters to be relatable for a 21st century audience, so they have to be far more liberal and caring than they would ever have been.
I have no idea how much the upstairs were connected to the downstairs but they were all human beings in actuality and regardless of social standing it wouldn't surprise me at all if they intermingled and occasionally got it on.
The shark was jumped when the shell exploded, wounding William and Matthew somewhere in France, while simultaneously Diasy and Mary each feel a sudden chill.
Or perhaps it was when known disgraced thief Thomas was allowed to assume control over the running of DA.
Or was it the bar of soap?
Oh, it's just fun, not a history lesson. Each of these plot elements is symbolic of social change in post-WWI England, right down to Violet's throwaway comment about how she can "work with" the chauffeur's new job to smooth over comments about him marrying into the family.
[quote]Or perhaps it was when known disgraced thief Thomas was allowed to assume control over the running of DA.
A job we never once saw him doing. After he was appointed he seemed to spend all his time smoking in the kitchen.
I love the homage to Rebecca's Mrs. Danvers.
Don't understand what's not to like. I always took it to be a soap opera, nothing more just with great houses, costumes and English accents. I loved all series one and now I have finished half of two and still love it.
It's just lazy, mawkish writing; nostalgia porn for the pledge-marathon-tote-bag set and an unbelievably reductive look at the class system -- oh those rascally servants, just like overgrown kids! Thank God there's a beneficent Daddy to protect them from themselves.
If you want to see the basis for Fellowes' grave robbing, watch "Upstairs Downstairs" from the 1970's -- there's never been a better show on television.
except "beneficent Daddy" is just as silly as they are...
"Would "Lord Grantham" really do things like ask the maid about her son and offer, without her asking, to help in the son's admission into school or turn to his valet and say things like "you're awfully quiet tonight"?"
While the show is a work of fiction and takes a great deal of liberties - as almost all tv shows do - the answer to your question is yes. Such conduct is steeped in English Liberalism, noblesse oblige and the great obligations the aristocracy felt toward those in service. Also, imagine you are being watched night and day by a retinue of people some of whom are quite intimate with you - they dress you, feed you, serve on you. Of course there was a degree of familiarity.
And this is nothing new in terms of artistic portrayal. The close relationships between masters and servants are a mainstay of world literature. See, e.g., Juliet and her Nurse.
I enjoyed Season 1, but Season 2 turned into "Dynasty Abbey" very quickly: amnesia, setup for murder, an incurable cripple walks, even a character whose face was blown up.
Watched the opener for Season 3 -- it was entertaining, but we're deep in nighttime soap territory. I did enjoy that with all the buildup to the wedding, the nuptials and reception were never actually shown. Weddingfraus on both sides of the pond must have been crushed.
[quote]If you want to see the basis for Fellowes' grave robbing, watch "Upstairs Downstairs" from the 1970's -- there's never been a better show on television.
Please "Upstairs Downstairs" was great for it's time but it's deadly dull today.
Crap fest from day one. --- Is that a Dowager Countess line?
[quote]Am I the only one who finds this show increasingly absurd?
Yes, OP, you're the only one. That makes you very, very special.
I keep waiting for Poirot to show up.
Stupid things about the season 3 opening episodes:
*We discover Lady Grantham is Jewish (her mother's last name is Levinson!), which makes no sense, because she married Lord Grantham in the 19th century and rich American Jews simply did not marry out of their faith in the 19th century
*We discover Lavina's father was somehow worth hundreds of millions of pounds (he was only a barrister), and that he left them to Matthew, of all people, who did not even marry his daughter, and this is revealed exactly at the moment Lord Grantham loses hundreds of millions of pounds and is about to lose the entire estate and also that Matthew has married Lady Mary
*Lady Grantham's mother, one of the richest women in America, who frequents Newport, not only is incredibly lackadaisical about etiquette but also is this staunch everywoman (if you've ever read Edith Wharton, you know that the rich women of Newport were even more uptight and snobbish than their English counterparts)
I think there's only one writer, Julian Fellowes.
It feels like he writes it in a rush. They moved far too quickly through time. It's entertaining in it it's way but it's not particularly good.
Plus, they are entering Dynasty territory with new cast upstairs replacing the departed. They might well have done better to keep upstairs at a slim cast and focus more on the characters they have.
And Bates... zzzzzzzzz. Who fucking cares? I was sorry he beat the rap.
It's certainly true you've got to be careful with replacements in the cast. One wrong move and it's tits up.
The show is terrible.
With that face and voice, Jessica Brown Findlay as Sybil will be a huge star.
"Please "Upstairs Downstairs" was great for it's time but it's deadly dull today. "
No dear. "UpDown" is still great ... it's the audiences which have become deadly dull.
[I think the problem is, as much as they want to do a show about the upstairs-downstairs culture of the time, they need the aristocratic characters to be relatable for a 21st century audience, so they have to be far more liberal and caring than they would ever have been.]
There's a lot of 21st century artistic license going on. Especially in dealing with the former chauffeur marrying into the family. Yes, it's true that aristocratic women did marry men of a lower social class but it would have been a form of social suicide for them to do so. Most of them would have been ostracized on some level from their families and peers. It just wasn't 'done'.
The dowager countess would NEVER have stood for it and certainly wouldn't have sent money to make sure Sybil and her husband could attend Mary's wedding. (Likely Sybil would have been asked to attend but not her husband. The former chauffeur sitting in the family pew would have been "too too.") And Matthew asking the chauffeur brother in law to be his best man... would never have happened.
But today's 21st century audience wouldn't relate to those kind of extreme social lines that were never crossed, so I think Fellowes took a much more watered down approach.
I would agree that Upstairs Downstairs has not aged well, unlike many of the other old 70s BBC series that were shown on Masterpiece Theatre (I, Claudius; The Pallisers; Fall of Eagles; etc.)
I hate all the bloopers, last season i could spot several late model vehicals, as well as CD players.
I want my own very Beneficent Daddy and I want it NOW!
I started watching it this weekend, but couldn't get through the first episode. I've never been a fan of period dramas for some reason and wanted to see what the fuss was about.
I couldn't get into it at all.
It's tv darling so of course it is absurd.
I thought that the Shirley Maclaine romp was a one-trick pony. All she did was stick pins in the old lady for two hours and keep repeating how wonderful Chicago was.
What I want to know is where are they all getting Botox in the 1910s?
There's a time machine in the basement, R52. It takes them to the Botox era in the evening and back to the Abbey the next morning.
My dad loathes Downton Abbey. He's repulsed by the concept of one class of people willingly subjecting themselves to another class.
[quote]My dad loathes Downton Abbey. He's repulsed by the concept of one class of people willingly subjecting themselves to another class.
Does your Dad understand that that's how it was in those days? And that's what the show is essentially about? And that it's a fictional soap opera and not a training video?
First season was excellent and Maggie Smith's one liners were brilliant. Two next seasons were bad and Maggie S was the only reason to watch it.