Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Downton's Fifth Run

It's happened slowly, and with time. I remember being in a literature class my sophomore year of college when the professor and quite a few of the students were Downton Abbey addicts. I didn't get it. I watched the first season and I didn't like it that much; I liked the second one a little more, but still not much. I was getting more interested by the third and fourth seasons and guess what? By the fifth season, I realized I was enjoying it.

It's a social show. There are so many characters that the plot is their interactions with one another. Mary's relationship to her men, Edith's relationship to Mary, Robert's relationship to Bates, Carson's relationship to Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore's relationship to Daisy, and so on. It's a web--so the viewer has to be in a web, also. I started to find myself interested because I've never watched this show by myself, and when you're watching with other people you can talk and comment and give opinions and make predictions. And this show really lends itself to all of that.

While, I believe, there are still two more episodes of the latest season to air on TV (in the U.S., that is), I conveniently know someone who bought the DVD set last week, so I've finished the season. I think it had everything I've come to expect and even enjoy about the show: humor, sentiment, drama, a touch of the socio-political.
The relationship between Violet and Isobel plays out rather nicely, building on what's been hinted at in the previous series: that while they fight with each other, they've really become quite close friends. Miss Baxter has come to be an interesting character, one less clearly defined by a single characteristic: she seems demure but she can speak for herself if she chooses, and she does her job well now but she has a past; she makes for a good foil for both Molesley and Thomas.

I'm happy at the development Rose has undergone in her journey from partying flapper to a serious young woman who knows what she wants in life and knows what's important: she's done volunteer work to help others, she's tried to do what she can to mend relationships with her family, and she's married a nice man that she seems very happy with. On the other hand, as unfortunate as the path Edith's found herself on is, I'm glad to see that she's finally finding a way to make it all work out: she has a career now from the publishing company and a family of her own with Marigold. Branson I'm curious about. I kept wondering if he really would leave to America since he's been talking about it for so long, and now I wonder if he'll come back. My prediction is that he'll come back when Robert gets sick and/or dies--but the latter might not even happen. So we'll see. I was glad to see Miss Bunting go; she was getting rude.

I also had a prediction about Daisy. I'd thought they were setting up this relationship between her and Mr. Mason so that she could eventually move out to the farm and the show could widen its scope and also show the rest of the estate, not just the house. Maybe that'll still happen. But I kind of was right about the widening scope: we saw a good amount of the Drewe household because of Marigold and there was also a lot more of Violet's house, what with Spratt and Denker, than we've seen before.

Did you notice that? No technical observations about pacing or tone or anything. That's all fallen into the background in favor of plain interest in the characters. I'm not a Downton Abbey addict still, but now I can freely admit to enjoying it.

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