Downton Abbey Second Pass

Downton AbbeyLast night I introduced my father to Downton Abbey. (Listen up, JMF!) He seemed to like it well enough. But he was really bothered by how horrible all the upstairs people were. I didn’t think they were all that bad. And he very much liked the cook, who, on second view, is very amusing.

The whole time, I was thinking of one thing: Bates. As you may recall, Bates is the noble valet how was injured in the second Boer War. But also: Alan Bates played the honable, but troubled butler Jennings in Gosford Park. It was one of his last roles. And it made me wonder if Julian Fellowes didn’t provide Bates this name as an homage to the late great actor.

One thing I was reminded of that I had meant to note when I wrote about it before, is the rather over-done direction. I’m all for making such a film dynamic and unlike what have traditionally been the very boring Masterpiece Theatre film versions of novel classics. But I’m also not keen on the Steadicam, and it is way overused here. I had flashbacks of Goodfellas. (Scorsese’s worst excesses involve the Steadicam.)

So there you go: a few thoughts on watching Downton Abbey with my dad.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Second Pass

  1. Glad you both enjoyed it. I can see why people do; it’s well-acted with dramatic tension.

    There are just certain subjects that rub me the wrong way, and the decency of the nobility is one of them. Obviously "DA" is not all about that, but the lord of the house is practically a saint (at least in the three/four episodes I saw) and there wasn’t enough in the writing to keep me engaged past my initial "yuk" factor (as there is in Austen or, say, "Grand Illusion.")

    A friend who suggested the show (an old-school, that is, not crazy conservative) to me actually predicted my reaction. I wanted him to be wrong, but alas alack. My take was closer to your Dad’s – I found the servants largely unsympathetic. It probably improves as the show goes on, and I’m sure there’s historical accuracy behind it, but everyone has their likes and dislikes. I’ll stick with "Gosford" . . .

  2. @JFM – I continue to have problems with it. But there is much to like. The lady of the house is a very good character: privileged, but understanding the need to [i]seem[/i] nice to the servants. If you haven’t done so, I recommend watching [i]Gosford Park[/i] with Fellowes’ commentary. It is very interesting.

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