Downton Abbey–Lazy Writingitis

I am becoming more and more disillusioned and bored with Downton Abbey. I’ll probably continue to watch it for the rest of its natural life, but I wonder, quite honestly, how much of a life it has left because the plot element is almost zero.

You may say “Erastes, are you mad? Loads of things happened this series: Bates got into and out of jail, Thomas had a flirtation, Ethel nearly got married, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.” But let’s be honest, nothing actually happened, or at least stayed happened. OK there was the thing with Lady Sybil, that’ll stay happened but the whole run up to that was so bloody woolly it sort of illustrates my gripe about the series. Lady Sybil gives a cryptic telephone call in the middle of the night worthy of the Third Man and then it all collapses into Nothing Very Much and Nothing Happens. It’s the same with The Bandaged Man who may or may not have been The Heir last series – what the hell happened to him? He just wandered off and no one bothered about him every again.

Just about every other thing could be under the label of “mild peril but phew, it all got sorted.”  It’s like there’s a fairy godmother standing around with a magic wand sorting out everyone’s problems, tapping them and going PING!

1. Ethel goes on the game and almost scandalises the entire community, has to give up her son and then PING! she’s miraculously offered a job in a house which is miraculously close to the boy’s grandparents and PING! the grandmother steps out of the shadow of her bullying husband (the last time we saw her she was entirely cowed by him) and says “Leave him to me!”

2. Thomas has some kind of brain transplant and seems to think that someone lurves him when all they’ve done is be careless. This threatens Thomas right up until the Cricket Match when the Rozzers come to give him two years hard labour but the fairy is watching and PING! it’s all sorted out, and he’s rewarded for his idiocy. This piece of pussy footing seems to me to only achieve one aim, to fuel the feud further with O’Brien and Thomas

3. Incomprehensibly, and with the worst shoddy and lazy writing, instead of having one of the gels break out (I was so hoping Ethel would move to London and become a Bright Young Thing) we are presented with Rose. A character that we’ve never heard of before. We couldn’t care LESS when she sneaks out of the house and goes to meet a married man. She’s bundled off again in disgrace at the end of the show and I bet my dollared bottom that we’ll never see or hear from her again. PING! Once more it was a lazy and ham-fisted introduction to “Nice Gels Don’t Date Married Men” as it’s as plain as the nose on my face that Ethel and Married Editor are going to hitch up. And really? Ethel’s never read Jane Eyre? Incroyable. Foreshadowing thy name is Julian Fellowes.

I’m betting that they thought Ethel wasn’t pretty enough to become a Bright Young Thing which is pretty disgusting in my book, she’s lovely.

4. Robert. Someone want to explain his volte-face to me?  He’s stomping around being “It’s my estate and I’m shout if I want to” and Matthew and Branson are Taking Over and Not Sharing Their Toys and Robert is all “Well, don’t include me” then (and the plan is never actually EXPLAINED because obviously the viewers either don’t count or they are too STOOPID to understand – or the writer doesn’t think we want the details, all we are interested in is the pretty outfits) suddenly with no explanation (unless I missed something) it’s said PING! “I hear Robert is coming round to your point of view” and by the end of it he’s on board with…. whatever on earth it is. BAH.  There are so many loose threads floating around Robert he’d be lucky not to take someone’s eye out with them.

I don’t know what possessed them to run the series like this, the only thing I can put it down to is “We’d better tie up all these loose ends in case we are cancelled” because there’s no other explanation.


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4 Responses to Downton Abbey–Lazy Writingitis

  1. Erastes, alas, on this side of the pond, the new season doesn’t start ntil January. So nobody here will have much to contribute until then.

  2. Erastes says:

    Oh I don’t know – many many of my USA chaps are watching it, must be getting the feeds from somewhere!

  3. Like Victor, we too in Australia won’t be seeing it until January. It will do very good business as the first two series were hot ratings winners, just as in other markets.
    However, they were already showing signs of a network production committee ticking boxes on a list of Required Early 20th Century Issues for scripting. Then maybe writer Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park” et al) had to scurry through his chores to meet the necessary deadlines to deliver a third series suited to its huge USA market?

  4. Erastes says:

    Oh – it will do great business wherever – it’s costume drama and that rarely does badly – even the terrible version of The Paradise is doing well.

    But Fellowes has shown very clearly that he’s unable to sustain anything more onerous than a two hour film – a series like this needs threads, chekhov’s gun, interweaving and the like. He relies horribly on foreshadowing, deus ex machina, coincidence and “let’s just ignore that”

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