Friday, February 18, 2011

On Downton Abbey

I'm gonna get away from Oscar just for a second. Is anybody watching Downton Abbey? Contrary to first impressions, this is not a post about how great this British mini-series is; I am just addressing the fever surrounding it, and why I think it's a lot of noise for... hmmm... not THAT much quality.

I've seen 5 of the 7 episodes, so I think I'm entitled to share an opinion. I'll probably see the other 2 at one point.


  • someone (I really don't remember who) wrote that Downton Abbey puts Gosford Park to shame, or something like that. Whoever said that, needs to do himself a favor and quickly revisit the unmatchable, fabulous, Altman-trophy Gosford Park. You can't even compare. Yes, they have the same writer, but if Gosford is the main dish out of Julian Fellowes mind, Downton makes for some good leftovers.
  • there's nothing groundbreaking about it, and the series is too predictable to become spectacular. Most of the characters are painfully easy to read, and hardly nuanced (especially among the staff).

  • the plot is very Jane Austen, and the episode with the flower contest made me angry. Do they really think I've never seen Mrs. Miniver?? :) it was the exact same storyline.

  • Art Direction and Costume Design are pretty awesome, I'll admit that. So is Maggie Smith, even though it's an easy role for her; Elizabeth McGovern was a nice surprise too. But the leading lady... sheesh, almost no charisma there; he younger sister Sybil is 10 times more charming and terribly underused.


  • I'm not saying it's bad, it's just overrated and unspectacular plot-wise. If you feel like seeing a fabulous British mini-series costume-drama, watch the first season of Cranford. The acting, the humor, the screenplay - one of Judi Dench's best and some of my favorite TV stuff ever.

  • I'm expecting Mildred Pierce to be really fierce, and win all Emmys and stuff. :D

Are you watching Downton? Do you also feel it's overrated? Even Joan Rivers twitted about it, and not in a joke way.


TomS said...

Alex, I have heard the hype too, so it has made me curious...

BTW I am enjoying your writing here, and hope to check in more with you. (Just weighted in on your Bening piece below.)

dinasztie said...

Wow, when I saw the imdb page, I became interested. Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith, so it seemed to be quite a treat. However, I never started watching it and I forgot it.

Lately I've been into Episodes with Matt Le Blanc, which is fabulous. Tamsin Greig (from Black Books) steals the show.

dinasztie said...

Anyway, have you seen Boardwalk Empire? For me it was a bit disappointing though it was quite good.

Still, The Good Wife, Modern Family and Family Guy remain my shows. I watch "only" them regularly.

Alex in Movieland said...


Thanks for stopping by :)

no Angela Lansbury yet. Maybe in the future season 2, but I think they're still working on that.

joe burns said...

I don't really watch currrent TV, so I've never heard anything about this. But I do enjoy british stuff sometimes though.

Wat decade are you picking from next, by the way?

The Rush Blog said...

Actually, "DOWNTON ABBEY" beat "MILDRED PIERCE" for the Best Miniseries Emmy. But I had a problem with this. One, "DOWNTON ABBEY" is a series, not a miniseries. Even the U.S. media knew about a second season before the Emmy nominations. And two, I believe that "MILDRED PIERCE" was better.