“Downton Abbey” is the PBS gift that keeps on giving. On occasion what it gives, bummer, is indigestion. Let’s just say Julian Fellowes’ dramatic narrative—that is, his story—is notable for hairpin curves appearing inexplicably on straightaways. Or is it straightaways on hairpin curves? No matter. As The Trumpet might ask: “What in the hell is going on?”
Inconsistency is consistently going on.
Now, I love “Downton Abbey” for all the reasons you do if you’re one if its flock. How can one not swoon over a household whose Crawleys (these are adults, remember) are unable to dress and undress themselves? And whose daily routine largely mimics my cats: a lot of eating, grooming and down time, and a lot of not much else.
What I look forward to as much as “Downton Abbey” itself, however, is the biting eloquence of Louis Bayard, his witty recaps in the New York Times where he addresses the show’s loyalists as Abbots. No, wait. Not just witty, often laugh-out-loud, cough-spasmy hilarious. Do I need this with my asthma?
The Times is a great and vast-reaching newspaper, but if you’re a Downtonphile with access, I urge skipping everything else Mondays and heading right to Bayard, a master of respectful ridicule.
So much to choose from this week, with Bayard having his way with the Crawleys reluctantly opening Downton to curious tourists and simmering trouble between newlyweds Mrs. Hughes and harrumphing Mr. Carson. And here he was on Barrow, the tormented under-butler whose five seasons of nastiness are being wiped in a stunning personality overhaul that has him volunteering as a reading tutor and becoming Mister Rogers with the family’s kiddies, just as he’s being pushed out the door:
“He’s awfully unhappy about leaving Downton, so is it too much to ask that he become the world’s first manny?”
Only a trickle of episodes remain. Like Bayard’s Abbots, I’ll miss the Crawleys and their decadent splendor a lot, as I’ll miss revisiting them through their ace recapper’s eyes.