Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Down on Downton

I don't know why I kept watching Downton Abbey this season. The plot was such a disappointment—recurring themes that went nowhere and soap-opera-ish, deus ex machina solutions to what could have been life-changing problems/major plot points such as:

  1. We are going bankrupt because of a bad investment decision. We could lose Downton Abbey! My ex-fiancee's father just left me money. I don't want to take it, it wouldn't be right. But, apparently Lavinia knew I was actually in love with harpy Lady Mary and was totally cool with it. So, I'll take the money and give it to Downton. Downton is saved!
  2. Mrs. Hughes has a lump in her breast. Could it be cancer? She is very worried. We are all very worried. She is tired. It must be cancer. The test results are in. No cancer!
  3. Mr. Bates is wrongly accused of killing his wife. He has to go to jail. Jail is very bad; his roommate hates him. But a former neighbor of his ex-wife remembers that she was making a pie crust the day she died; therefore there is the proof that she killed herself—she put poison in the pie. Mr. Bates is free!
This is bad fiction writing, the stuff of wretched romance novels. It was bad enough last season watching Branson the chauffeur mope after Lady Sybil. The actors looked like they were just hanging around the set waiting for an actual scene to occur.

Scene from a 1988 Calgon ad
And yet, last Sunday night, I felt a sudden emptiness as 9PM rolled by. There was no reason for me to go downstairs and sit by myself for an hour. I realized that Downton had become my Calgon moment, even though I usually spent that hour in the cold basement also sorting socks or opening up snail mail. It was a restive pause in my week. The first few familiar chords of the theme song transporting me to... an unnecessary, yet for some reason, guilt-free indulgence. "I'm going to go watch Downton," was all I had to say and then I would disappear.

Apparently, the lovely costumes and the Dowager Countess's quips were enough to  sustain my interest (or for me to pretend that my interest was sustained) for an hour.

Fortunately, the second season of "Call the Midwife" (plot-wise, a superior show) begins at the end of March, so I have only a few empty Sunday nights until then.

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