#ThinkpieceThursday – Why I Kept Watching Downton Abbey
I loved Downton Abbey as a fan but I can say it is not well-written nor well paced as a television series. I did love the characters and thought they were well drawn, well cast, well acted. I loved the sets, the furnishing, and decorations. And I loved loved loved the costumes. But there was a lot of dramatic floundering– developments made agonizingly (not in a good way) slowly or raced through like throw-away plot lines.
Even the cast complained about the quality of the scripts and the uneven pace. For example, the same emotional beat was played over and over with Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) and her working-class love interest, driver Tom Branson (Alan Leech). The actors admitted to groaning every time they found themselves together AGAIN in the garage.
Then there was the quick appearance and even quicker disappearance of a badly burned Major Gordon who claimed to be Patrick Crawley, heir in line for Downton. He insists that he survived the Titanic sinking, but developed amnesia. He was sent to Canada for treatment where he was mistaken for a Canadian. It’ was a dead end with no real dramatic purpose.
The endless murder investigation involving Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) AND his wife Anna (Joanne Froggatt) dragged on and on and on and on with no real season ending resolution. Cynically, waiting until the Christmas Special to come to an uninspired end.
Lady Mary ended up alone, after eight weeks of watching her wavering between the same two (dull) suitors as the previous season, wasting more time without real dramatic purpose.
We can love something that is not well constructed or well executed. That’s okay. But as professionals, it’s important to recognize and acknowledge flaws and missteps.