Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Downton Abbey

I have been sick for three days now.  I am rapidly on the mend, though I definitely have a preferred schedule for improved health.  That is, I want to get healthy right around the time I finish up watching the last of the Downton Abbey episodes available on Netflix.  While I have been ill I haven't had much in the way of brain cycles to work with and so a TV show to binge on is exactly the ticket since I don't think I am much good for other things.  This show, by the way, is amazing.

In particular I can't recall seeing anything before that told so much story with so little telling.  They constantly cut out really important conversations and scenes that by all rights should have taken up five or ten minutes time and simply let the viewer imagine how things went instead.  They tie up loose ends and make sure everyone keeps on top of things by dropping in hints in later conversations but those hints usually take five seconds rather than minutes.  I am left amazed sometimes at how many conversations and events have been cut out of the show even though they were the focus of immense build up - and I don't mind it at all.  I can see how things would have played out in my head.  All I need is for the show to confirm the direction of events and the words just fill themselves in.  Not that this is all new and unique mind, but I have never seen it done so much and so well before.

While I pride myself on being hardheaded about most things I am a ridiculous sap when it comes to drama like this.  Tragic love stories with constant twists and heartwrenching moments around every corner get me all teary eyed and the pace with which Downton Abbey leaps from crisis to triumph has me all aflutter.  I know what they are doing and why and that doesn't stop it all from working.  I can see how they are trying to develop a sympathetic set of romantic partners, I can envision the process by which they torture and abuse the characters to keep things interesting, and I know how the story will play out well in advance.  And yet.... and yet, I still can't stop loving it and desperately wanting more.  No matter how much they abuse my emotions and string me out I just lap it up and come back for another helping.  Said like that it honestly sounds more like an abusive relationship than like a show I watch for entertainment.

It is a testament to the writers that I am so hung up on it even though so many of the protangonists are classist assholes whose main purpose in life seems to be to be upset that somebody is wearing the wrong jacket or that the dinner is five minutes late.  Even when people are trying to be noble and say things to make themselves look altruistic they so easily come off as jerks - it is hard to feel for someone who can't face the idea of not having a valet to undress and dress them before every meal.  At least the show is written for a modern audience and although they try to keep to early 1900s standards they do clearly try to put the people advocating for change and social justice in a positive light.  Clearly somebody knows that showing nobility trying to deal with a world (and a better world, at that) that is passing them by is a ticket to audiences where glorifying their excesses would not be.

Also they keep religion on the sidelines, which is probably a good idea if you want to get as good a review from me as I have given here.  :)

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