Sunday’s Downton Abbey

edith

Ahh, the house was abuzz as everyone quickly prepared for Edith’s wedding to the older Sir Anthony. What are my thoughts? Well, there will be spoilers below, so don’t say you weren’t warned. Here’s my 2 cents on an episode that kept me rivetted:

  • I’m wondering if Mrs. Hughes really is well or if she just hated all the fuss and told Mrs. Patmore she was.
  • Why didn’t Mrs. Levinson stay for Edith’s wedding? Was there some previous engagement? Isn’t she aware of Edith’s feelings of inferiority to Mary and therefore sensitive to the fairness of staying on? If she doesn’t like Downton, she could have gone to London or the Lake District to take in the sights and then returned to see Edith wed.
  • I did think Shirley MacLaine was poorly used last week. She sparred nicely with Violet, but that could have been better and she was one dimensional as the Yank who believes in change. She had few scenes with her daughter, which was weird. I wanted to know how Cora could be so different from her mother Martha. They seemed like acquaintances, not relatives, let alone mother and daughter. Very odd.
  • I’d glad the money issue will work out. I wasn’t ready to give up Downton and I’m like Mary in that I see the Countess of Grantham as living in Downton Abbey.
  • I hope someone divests Daisy of her fascination with fast women. It’s not her character and so she’s on thin ice. Trouble looms, my dear, when you stray from your true self.
  • There was a fair amount with the prison and Bates. It’s not looking good, but at least he was tipped off about the knife his cellmate planted.
  • What will O’Brien do to Thomas? He best be careful as she’s shrewd.
  • Edith will need to find something to do, something noble. Stop all this spinster talk. Mary was older when she married.
  • Sir Anthony, how could you?  it’s one thing for a hobbledehoy to jilt a bride at the altar with all her family and friends watching, with thousands spent for delicacies and libation, and quite another for a grown man. You’re no school boy and we all expect more character from a gentleman!
  • Violet’s Best Line: “Vulgarity’s no substitute for wit.”
  • Kudos to the Golden Globe voters for choosing Maggie Smith.

Downton Abbey

I’d heard Downton Abbey was excellent some time ago and have found time to watch the first few episodes. Set in the early 20th century, before WWI, Downton Abbey delves into the lives of the inhabitants of a magnificent family estate. Like the earlier Sense and Sensibility, the family who has lived in this mansion for generations is likely to lose it because there’s no living male heir. A middle class third cousin is now in line for the estate including the wife’s fortune and though everyone involved sees the injustice, there’s something of a sho-ga-nai (it can’t be helped) attitude towards this change of events. The young lawyer who’s set to inherit moves to the village and really does not want this house or the servants that come with it.

Half the drama takes place amongst the servants. There’s deceit, rivalry, jealousy and envy. When Bates a new butler arrives, he is in the crosshairs of the more venial staff, who’re appalled because he walks with a limp and thus the more superficial see him as an affront to the dignity of the house. The characters are reserved and articulate as you’d expect. The drama is elegant and tense with little surprises. The clothes are exquisite and while I’m more like the third cousin who doesn’t see the need for assistance getting dressed, etc., it is interesting to watch how this house operates and how everyone cares so much about doing their work with excellence. (A sharp counterpoint to my maid in Indonesia.)

The cast features some familiar faces. Elizabeth McGovern (Ordinary People) plays the mother and Hugh Bonneville (Notting Hill) plays the father.