Category: downton abbey

The End of Downton

And now our watch is ended. Denisa and I caught up with the finale of Downton last night, and it was pretty much as we both expected it to be: one long “let’s fix every problem we ever came up with” session that was about as close to fan service as any series finale I can remember. In the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, “If there was a problem, yo I’ll solve it.”

And lo, all the problems were solved by the end of the episode. Let’s just run them down one by one, shall we?

  • Edith didn’t have a husband? No problem! We’ll have Bertie Bott show up and say he can’t live without her. And because Mary was the one who messed things up, we’ll have her be the one to fix things. And that mother we mentioned last episode? We’ll have her get over her internal hangups and presto! Marriage. Happy happy happy.
  • Anna kept on not being able to have a baby? Cue the time jump to her being fully pregnant, and on comes the baby! I know that in pass Downtons, this is where Anna would die in a horrible child birth scene, but no more! She has the baby in Lady Mary’s bed, and everything is 100% wonderful.
  • Carson’s been a gigantic jerk? We can fix that! Give him the palsy out of nowhere, and suddenly we all feel super bad for him, and hope he gets better soon. (Though of course he can’t. Introduce a major illness and magically cure it in a single episode? What sort of chicanery do you think we’re up to here? This is Downton Abbey! We must have some standards!)
  • Isobel still isn’t married, and Dickie has a shrew of a Daughter-in-Law? Pair up Isobel with Lady Violet, and together the Wonder Twins will swoop to the rescue. And because Dickie turns out to have a heretofore unknown illness, Isobel gets over her hangups and marries the old man anyway. And then to make sure that we’re all extra happy, we’ll take away the death sentence and cure Dickie! (What was that about Carson still being sick? Hush. This is Downton Abbey! Standards are for the weak.)
  • Thomas has no job? We’ll give him one! And then when he hates it (because he really turned out to love Downton all along), we’ll give him Carson’s job! You get a job! And you get a job! And YOU get a job!
  • Molesley wanted to be a teacher? Make it so! Give that boy a house and a career.
  • Chewbacca Nurse still was attached to her past ex-con love? Fix it! In this case, all she has to do is reach deep inside herself and realize she doesn’t need that ex-con anyway!
  • Mary married a guy who loves racing, even though she hates it? Not anymore! Now he doesn’t like racing, and instead just wants to . . . sell cars! That’s the ticket!
  • Who else can we fix? Tom! He doesn’t have a sweetheart anymore. That’s okay, we’ll imply he’s going to get together with the Editor Girl.
  • Daisy! She’s been a nincompoop for forever  We’ll have her make an idiot of herself with a hair dryer, then solve that problem and hook her up with Farm Boy. Bingo!
  • But what about Mrs. Patmore? Hook her up with Farm Man, of course!
  • Violet shouldn’t be angry at Cora anymore. Fixed!
  • Spratt might be in trouble for writing articles for the paper? Not in my finale, he’s not!
  • Dumbledore died in Harry Potter! Not anymore! Lady Mary used the Time Turner and . . . what? Oh. We didn’t fix that? Okay. Sorry about that.

I’m sure I’m missing a couple, but it’s all good. Everything’s good in Downtonville. And I must admit, I really enjoyed the ending, despite how blatantly it was fixing everything. Really, I was quite impressed with how they managed to salvage Carson. I didn’t see the debilitating illness card being played not once, but twice in a single episode. Impressive.

And Thomas . . . Think back to season 1. Who would have thought that the finale would involve him taking Carson’s place, and everyone being good with that? Bizarre, but they pulled it off. Put characters into a bad enough spot, and it turns out your audience can root for just about everyone.

It’s been an interesting road, these six seasons. Some really great television, and some real stinker episodes. On the whole, I’ve enjoyed it, though I wouldn’t mind an edit that leaves us with just the great stuff and skips over the bad.

And of course, none of you saw the alternate ending they filmed for the series, where it turns out Thomas poisoned the wine at the New Year’s/Wedding party, and he killed every single character you’ve ever loved. It was just a five minute scene that was going to be tacked onto the end, just for kicks. You know. As a sort of “And then Matthew died in a horrible car wreck” good bye to the characters. For old times’ sake.

Thanks for watching and reading. I’ll have to find something else to obsess about now. Any suggestions of shows you’d like me to review?

Downton Abbey 6:8 Review

Hard to believe that this was the last regular season Downton left. (There’s just the traditional Christmas episode to go, and that comes for us next week.) Downton certainly seemed ready to go out with a bang, however. A Lady Mary-infused she-harpy bang. There was a lot to like about this episode (as well as some stuff to strongly dislike), so let’s dive right in:

  • First up, I have to talk about Lady Mary, because it was the piece of the episode that was both the most compelling and the least well handled. My big problem with it is that it felt to me like the show suddenly decided to have her shift gears and go into full beast mode in this episode. True, she’s been catty to Edith all along, but this was above and beyond that. This was much more like the Mary from the first season, even while she’s being her new self with everyone *but* Edith. All in all, it didn’t feel true to the character for me. It was like the writers were forcing her to do and say things that the character now simply wouldn’t do. That said, I get that she was upset, and so maybe she wasn’t acting rationally. Still . . .
  • The marriage. In a hurry much? All it was missing was Elvis and a Las Vegas setting, and you’d be good to go.
  • Car Boy. As I said last week, I haven’t been a big fan of Car Boy. (Henry? Is that his name?) But the episode made me actually root for him a little. He showed some spine and stood up for himself against Mary in her angry mode, and that says something. I just wish that the show had spent the time on his character that we got with Matthew. It’s hard to care about a character you barely know, and yet the show has treated all her suitors that way. They come in, hang around for a bit, and then exit stage left. The focus has all been on Mary, and who cared what face was behind each suit? This approach really cheapened the plot for me.
  • Edith. I don’t for a moment seriously believe Edith and Bertie Bott aren’t getting together in the Christmas episode. I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before. But this all felt so contrived, and so final. Or did the upper class really make their mind up so quickly and permanently?
  • Thomas. All of the sad Thomas scenes finally culminated in this one. Kind of interesting to see the parallel between him and Mary, but overall, this felt like a bit of a cop out to me. Carson and Lord Grantham both decide to let him stay because of it. Problem solved! Not that they shouldn’t have been understanding and all that. It’s just that it felt to me like a vast oversimplification of a complex problem. But again, perhaps that’s just how they approached suicide attempts back in the day.
  • Mrs. Patmore’s House of Ill Repute wins the award for best potential novel title. I felt bad for her, but it was a fun subplot that didn’t really endanger anyone or anything. Amusing.
  • Carson showed that he’s still capable of being a big fat jerk, even after he did all the cooking. He’s very much a part of the old school, and he wants nothing to do with the new school at all, thank you kindly. He managed to be mean to just about everyone downstairs this week, which about wraps it up for him. Sad that one of my favorite characters gets such a lousy exit. “And he was a grouch for the rest of his days” just seems pretty lame.
  • I was pleasantly surprised with Molesley’s teach experience. I was worried they were gearing it up for him to be a colossal failure after last week’s high point, but they didn’t go there. Huzzah! Still good to see him get his moment in the sun.
  • Spratt is the advice columnist? This was funny, but I wish they’d set us up for it a bit better. Maybe dropped some hints here and there throughout the season that alluded to it. As it was, it felt like they decided at the last minute to pick the most unlikeliest character to be found in that chair, and then stuck him in it. The only way it could have been more bizarre is if it had been Carson.

I’m nitpicking in a lot of these examples. I did enjoy the episode (minus the out of character Mary stuff). I’ll say that the show’s final season has been a solid one. Lots of great stuff, and so much better than some of the previous seasons. I’ve been looking forward to the episodes, which wasn’t always the case.

Next week we finish it off!

Downton Abbey 6:7 Review

Come on, Downton. A car racing episode? How in the world could these people not realize that bringing Lady Mary to a car race was going to make someone die a violent death? It’s one of those incontrovertible laws. Like what happens when scientists monkey around with dinosaur genetics, or going into a dark room alone by yourself in a horror movie.

Some things just must not be done.

So while I wasn’t really surprised that Charley died, I was disappointed that it wasn’t Car Boy instead. I really don’t care for him, and I don’t know why Mary does. I was ecstatic when she dumped him on the phone (too soon for dump-etiquette to be a thing, I guess), and quite sad when I saw in the previews that he shows up again next week. (I’m afraid that just about seals their fate.) Whatever happened to the guy with the pigs? He was a nice guy. Why couldn’t she end up with that guy?

Sigh.

Other comments on the episode:

  • It’s high time we had Mrs. Hughes give Carson a taste of his own cooking. And while it was thoroughly enjoyable watching him fumble his way through the meal, I still feel like that was a plot line that went on for one too many episodes. But hey–he got his just desserts in the end. (Apple crumble, in case you were wondering.)
  • Thomas, how you have fallen. You’ve gone from a fearsome pit bull into this tiny little schnauzer who keeps getting kicked by anyone who passes by. And while a few seasons ago, I might have thought an entire episode of nothing more than a game of Thomas-pinata would have been great fun, I’ve discovered it gets quite old after a while. However, maybe he’ll be able to take over once Molesley leaves?
  • Speaking of Molesley, that was a very nice moment for the man. I enjoyed seeing him have a bit of success and getting such a nice celebration. He hasn’t been my favorite character, but he’s come a long way.
  • Edith is kind of engaged. Good on her. Now to see if the writers can let her be happy, or if her Marigold surprise will end up being too scandalous for Property Man.
  • Daisy managed to get through an entire episode without being an idiot. She should be congratulated. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
  • Violet was absolutely awesome in this episode, making me remember how great she can be when she isn’t being forced by the writers to debate hospitals. That fact finding expedition to the gold-digger? Fantastic stuff. Zingers left and right. Loved it. And who can make a better guilt-trip-ridden exit than Violet? “I’m going to Paris because you all scorned me. Have a puppy as a remind of just how awesome I am.” Zing!
  • Carson and Mrs. Hughes on the couch. Hot times at Downton, indeed!

It was a fun episode, over all. Not perfect, but very enjoyable. If only Car Boy would drive off for good, but I have a sinking feeling that’s one wish of mine that won’t be granted . . . 4/5 for me on this one.

Downton Abbey 6:6 Review

Time for another Downton. A less bloody one for once, which means my hope for a Downton/Game of Thrones crossover have been well and truly dashed. But that’s okay. I’ll get by.

Somehow.

This week’s episode was a generally fine Downton. Nothing jaw-droppingly awesome. Nothing that I could really dig my teeth into and complain about either, but that doesn’t mean I won’t give it the ol’ college try.

  • Lord Grantham got better fairly quickly. And he’s reduced to sort of chilling in his room for the whole episode, which made me realize that being sick in pre-television days would have been just about the worst fate ever. (But they didn’t have the DMV, so I suppose it’s about sixes in the end.) He’s toned down a fair bit from his earlier days, and that’s fine by me.
  • Violet has a fit when she’s usurped. An interesting plot, and one the entire family saw coming. I’m a bit stumped why no one thought to just tell her what was going to happen, though I get that they’re all scared stiff of her, so they just figured they’d postpone the inevitable. I keep waiting for Violet to have a heart attack and die, and I’m not convinced she’s still safe. These writers have a tendency to kill people in rather violent fashion, after all . . .
  • Mary and her suitors: okay. Honesty time here. I can’t for the  life of me tell any of them apart at all. They’re all kind of good looking, dark haired guys. They blend together, and the only way I can even have a hope of remembering who is who is by their careers. The guy who helped with the pigs. Car boy. Gillypants the gigolo. This is actually probably my main beef with Mary’s suitors storyline. There’s been nothing to really make me care about it. (Well, other than hating Gillypants, and let’s all be glad he’s gone for good.) It’s like the writers spent their best stuff on Matthew, and now they’re just going “durrrrrr” for the rest of the plot. Sigh.
  • Daisy. Downton needs a “very special episode” where we lose Daisy, tragically, in a baking accident. And everybody sniffs a little and wipes at the corner of their eye, and then life continues just fine at Downton.
  • Carson is a jerk. Okay, writers. We get it. He’s a complete tool when it comes to being a husband. Do we really need to be reminded of it 50 times an episode? And just how long will Mrs. Hughes put up with him? I’m wondering if this is the setup for another murder investigation . . .
  • The hospital continues to be one of the most non-riveting bits of television I’ve watched. It boils down to “Violet is being snippy. Perpetually.” FINISH IT ALREADY!
  • The tour of the house, on the other hand, was hilarious. So interesting to see just how clueless the Downtonites were about their own home. They had the artwork up because that’s the artwork that’s always been there. They don’t question. Don’t think. They just inherit. Loved it!
  • Thomas: this is actually one of the better plots of this season. Sure, the scene with him crying himself to sleep was a bit much, but I appreciate them taking the vile Thomas and having him try to improve and be better. It’s like a real-life Grinch story, except the Whos all decided to get even with the Grinch when he turned over a new leaf. Of course, some of it only works because it’s been so long since we had really evil Thomas. I wonder if I were bingewatching the show if this new Thomas would resonate at all with me. He did a lot of nasty things earlier in his life, remember . . .

Almost to the end of the show!

Downton Abbey 6:5 Review

I never thought there’d come an episode where Downton Abbey decided to go full on Exorcist. The genres just didn’t seem to line up. And yet here we are, discussing what can only be described as a Downton/Alien/Exorcist mashup.

At least all this “internal discomfort” of Lord Grantham has finally paid off in something entertaining. (I’m heartless. I know.)

Let’s get right to the play by play:

  • I watched this a day later than the rest of you, and as such, I’d seen a bit of chatter about “something bloody” on Downton. The whole episode, I kept watching, wondering what the bloody thing would be. At first, I thought it might be another car crash. Memories of Matthew oozing blood out of his ear weren’t pleasant. Surely they wouldn’t go there again, right? Right. So then it was looking for a moment like it might be Anna losing the baby. Surely the writers wouldn’t do that to us, right? Right. And so at last it seemed clear: Lord Grantham was going to have something happen to him with his ulcer. Bing! I still wasn’t expecting things to get quite that . . . eruptive. Still, they’ve gone there before on Downton, with Sybil’s death. I do believe these sort of things happened more often in days of yore. Which makes me ever so glad not to have lived then.
  • Thomas really truly seems to have turned over a new leaf. He’s trying to help Pig Boy out, and I actually kind of like Thomas for the moment. Which makes me think Donald Trump really ought to hire Thomas’s publicist. Just saying.
  • Did anyone else realize that Baxter fixes Chewie’s arm in The Force Awakens? That just hit me.
  • Speaking of Baxter, what’s up with the bait and switch? This whole time, we’re gearing up for a big courtroom showdown, where we finally get to see Mr. Bad, and right before it happens, the rug’s pulled out from under us, and the writers are all just “Psych!” Thanks a lot, writers. Way to waste our time.
  • Daisy is getting all territorial over grandpa, meanwhile, and heaven forbid Mrs. Patmore take a shine to the old man. I swear. Daisy is one of the most boorish characters on the show. Whenever something idiotic or lame is about to happen, you can bet she’ll be the cause of it, somehow. (Maybe she sabotaged Matthew’s car back in the day? I wouldn’t put it past her.)
  • Edith, on the other hand, is taking a page out of Thomas’s new book and is actually (gasp!) an interesting character for once. I wonder if she’ll make a habit out of it? Whatever she does, she needs to get out of Downton’s shadow and go do her own thing.
  • Spratt vs. Denker. A battle for the ages. And it seems like Denker’s got the upper hand at last. I was really rooting for her to get the boot. Alas, I can’t have it all, it appears.
  • Carson has now proven himself to be kind of a tool when it comes to the domestic life. Though maybe I should try out his approach in my marriage. On the other hand, maybe not. I really don’t want my last words to be “Denisa, why don’t you go get a few baking tips from ________ next week while I’m out of town? Your casseroles have really been–” Know what I mean?

Anyway. A fun episode, even if it went all horrorshow at the end. 4/5 from me. What did you think?

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