Last 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.