So. Now that I've gotten around to watching the third season of Downton Abbey, like you to know what I thought of it?
As I explained last year, the first two seasons didn't make me such a big fan of the show as many people are. I sort of enjoyed watching it once and that was it. So it figures that, when I've heard some say that Season 3 was the worst so far, it would be the one I enjoy the most. But what factors exactly made that difference? Three things come to mind.
Most shows need some time to get on their feet, get the characters settled in, and get the audience used to the characters. In the first season, I didn't exactly like any of the characters; by Season 2, I started to be more interested in some than others. But in Season 3, I actually started to care about them--still not all of them, but some of them. That in itself can make a big difference. (If you were wondering, I usually like Branson and Anna and sometimes Daisy.)
There is also the timeline. It mildly bothered me that the show made such big leaps across time over so few episodes. Pre-war, then suddenly the war starts, then suddenly it's over, and so on. I felt like that didn't allow the small things to develop, if everything was constantly being forced forward. But Season 3 remained in a relatively small amount of time.
Last year I described the camera's fly-on-the-wall approach, saying that it left the audience to make their own judgments. I didn't always know what my reaction was supposed to be. But now I know. Carson and Maggie Smith's character deliver funny lines (unintentionally on the characters' parts). Everyone hopes for things to work out for Anna and Bates and for Mary and Matthew. So on and so forth. If I had originally fell in love with the old format, I can see how I might be slower to embrace the new, more common one. But I didn't, so I enjoy this one better.
It feels like more of a drama now, whereas before there was a certain distance from the characters' emotions, I thought. It was that distance that I didn't like. Now, however, I find myself rather wishing Season 4 weren't so far away (in the U.S., that is).