5-sentence review of ‘Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 4′

DontonAbbey

Series 4, Episode 4 | Original air date (U.S.): Jan. 26, 2014

  1. Tonight’s episode was a mixed bag as most of this season has been and in light of the assertions of Alan Sepinwall and Andy Greenwald, that thereis almost too much good TV on nowadays, it is perhaps instructive to evaluate how Downton Abbey matches up.

    Bates, the new Charles Bronson

    Bates, the new Charles Bronson

  2. On the down side, the sexual assault storyline was uninspired by definition as anything is from later seasons of The OC and Bates looking to get revenge, a plot point that Anna helpfully points out the very night of the assault, is uninspired and telegraphed and better done by Charles Bronson in however many Death Wish movies there were.
  3. On the plus side, the constant asides from classical literature or Greek mythology (tonight an accusation of Robert’s frugalness or high morals lead him to protest that he was not Simon the Great) are much preferred, to say, The Hard Times of RJ Berger referencing the latest gross sexual lingo the writers pulled off of Urban Dictionary that week.
  4. It also helps that the show is English in appealing to an American audience; Molesly’s failure to pull the trigger on a lower job than he way used to because he wanted to think it over resulted in the job no longer being available…that would be depressing in the U.S. job market of today but set in 1950 England, Molesly’s typical bad luck feels British in the same way the weather is always perfectly dreadful or that of course your soccer team screwed up on the weekend and is definitely getting relegated this year.
  5. Tom is sadly talking about going to America now and the Daisy-Alfred cooking flirtations were too lean for me (No Reservations and its French equivalent did this but I am not tired on those storylines yet)…but I hope to see more and Downton Abbey does enough things that I enjoy and are nowhere else on TV that I am staying with it.

5-sentence review of ‘Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 3′

DontonAbbey

Series 4, Episode 3 | Original air date (U.S.): Jan. 19, 2014

  1. Episode 3 of the fourth series of “Downton Abbey” started slowly but finished brighter and there is hope for storylines that are not Bates and Anna.
  2. Lord Grantham is generally written as a anachronistic jerk and the episode started with Bates shut out by Anna and Tom blackmailed by Edna Braithwaite; I was left with the feeling that for all the sorrows of the women of “Downton Abbey” deal with, it is not always awesome being a guy either.
  3. The guys rebounded some with Alfred set for some cooking lessons with Daisy, Dr. Richard Clarkson setting Isobel up with outpatient clinic work to take her mind off Matthew, Thomas not really doing anything nice per se but not being typically jerky either, and a couple good bits of advice, Tom going to Elsie to clear up things re: Edna on Mary’s advice and Bates getting advice on marriage from Lord Grantham, that did not clear up anything with Anna but did show Robert in a better light than normal.
  4. Suitors to the Grantham daughters had mixed results; Michael Gregson had a night of passion with Edith before going to Germany to process his divorce but Lady Rosalind finds out and judges Edith for poor not guarding the family name while Lord Gillingham gets close to and proposes to Mary who turns him down but gives him a parting kiss, leaving Mary open to the idea of love in the future it seems.
  5. I am hoping for flirty cooking lessons between Daisy and Alfred and Tom and Mary feel like they have a spark or at least a really close friendship brewing, while hope for Anna and Mr. Bates looks at least a few episodes away.

5-sentence review of ‘Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 2′

DontonAbbey

Series 4, Episode 2 | Original air date (U.S.): Jan. 12, 2014

  1. After a great premiere episode for Series 4, Sunday’s offering sadly had the effect of revealing that underneath the British manners and language, the breathtaking English castle and Ralph Lauren clothing, Downton Abbey is at heart an adult soap opera with a plot out of Dynasty or Knots Landing so obviously soapy that no pretty set dressings or hoity-toity references to The Lady of Shalott could disguise it.
  2. The action centers around a house party to cheer up Lady Mary and bring some pre-war pomp back, except with dastardly guests in the form of a poker cheat victimizing the aristocratic males and ‘to up the ante’, in the servant side of the episode, the valet of Lord Gillingham, Mr. Green, moves from flirting with Anna to raping her with musical accompaniment from Puccini as sung by a visiting opera singer.
  3. My description may seem glib but I feel like I am only treating the assault as seriously as the show, as the effects of a sexual assault on a settled TV power couple has been done frequently in soaps and within the show the gambling debts of the rich men (the gambling debts and the rape are both topics that are not shared with the victims’ spouses incidentally) are resolved within the episode by Edith’s beau Michael Gregson with his own card sharp skills viewed as “gentlemanly” by Lord Grantham especially as they erased his own debts and thus the need to come clean with his wife.
  4. The episode was not all dark as there was some comedy of manners elements; Mosely’s shame at working as a footman after being a butler/valet, a footman making the sauces for dinner, servants listening to an opera singer and indeed the awkwardness of the opera singer joining the family dinner table.
  5. The best moment of the night is one that gives me hope for the season going forward, as Lady Mary suggests she is as much sad or guilty over the loss of the passionate (read:horny) person she was with Matthew as she is over losing Matthew so hopefully a return of passion means more positive storylines and hopefully less trite ones as well.

5-Sentence Review of Downton Abbey: Series 4, Episode 1

DontonAbbey

Downton Abbey” | Series 4, Episode 1 | Original air date: Jan. 5, 2014 (U.S.)

  1. The death of Matthew Crawley at the end of Season 3 left things in a state of grief, a state perfected by the dour English, and when combined with the usual sterling dialogue, ambiance and exacting sense of time and place meant Season 4 started as strong as “Downton Abbey” ever has.
  2. It is hard to overstate how enjoyable the dialogues of “Downton Abbey” are: well-crafted and amusing sentences — as opposed to the pun and pop culture based conversations of say “Gossip Girl” or a rapid-fire Aaron Sorkin script — with sentences entered at the speed and in the circumstances of actual humans.
  3. Grief over Matthew’s death was palpable but impacted three stories particularly, Joseph Molesley search for a job after being Matthew’s valet, Isobel Crawley helping Charles Grigg (Carson’s partner on the stage) and finding the her life can still hold purpose after her son’s death and Mary Crawley grieving her husband’s death most awakens from grief over the course of the episode through tough love from Carson the Butler, encouragement in a found will from Matthew bequeathing everything to Mary and an apprenticeship of sorts to Tom Branson, agent of the estate and widow of Sybil Crawley, an apprenticeship that looks like it might blossom into more.
  4. Grief over Matthew is prominent but the emotion is thickened by a sadness over changes in society like the introduction of contraptions like mixers and vacuums (part of why Moseley is struggling to find a valet position) and changes in society, like Edith Crawley and editor Michael Gregson able to eat in public in a restaurant (the scandal!) and perhaps able to marry if Michael can get a quicky German divorce.
  5. Societial changes have not prevented references like “being as rich as King Croesus” and a reference to King Canute that I did not understand but all the same enjoyed for not being served up like like batting practice meatballs during a MLB All-Star Game Home Run Derby.