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When Exactly Did 'Downton Abbey' Die For You?

By Lord Castleton | TV | February 19, 2015 |

By Lord Castleton | TV | February 19, 2015 |


(minor spoilers from seasons 1-4 possible)

There are five or six episodes of Downton Abbey (or Doooonton, as Lady Castleton and I call it a la Groundskeeper Wille), languishing on our DVR. There was a point several weeks ago when we thought we’d dip our toe into season five, and then, as the opening credits rolled, and we saw the familiar wall of attendant bells and Isis trotting next to the leg of Grantham with Highclere in the distance, I paused the show.


“You sure we want to do this?” I asked.

Lady Castleton shrugged. But it was certainly more of a “no” shrug than a “yes” shrug.

Downton Abbey had become homework. Something we were planning to watch because we had, previously, and because it was there. With children and work and thirty six feet of snow and every second together precious and fleeting, that’s just not enough reason to press play.

For me, it may have just been when Matthew crashed. I remember hearing that Dan Stevens wanted out of the show and I hadn’t heard that he was officially leaving, and then boom, he was gone. That was the only character I could really relate to, his strange and compulsive attraction to a flavorless ice pop notwithstanding.


That may have been the moment that lit the fuse, but Lady Castleton and I ran through a list of possible other beats that really helped us pack our bags out of Grantham Station.

In no particular order:

— The whole Bates murder storyline. Confusing. Unfathomable. Turned Anna, a source of radiance on the show into a one-trick sadness pony. Still don’t know how he made enemies in prison. Still don’t understand anything about it. Maddening.

— The death of Sybil. A horrible turn for everyone, and left Edith more exposed to the sub-zero dominance of Lady Mary.

— Michael Gregson vanishing. Why do bad things always happen to good Ediths? They beat her like a rented mule on this show.

— Lady Mary not going for Tony Gillingham. I’m like “you didn’t come close to deserving Matthew and now you’re rejecting devoted, handsome, impeccably well-bred Tony Gillingham? WTF am I watching?” Maybe once you go Turk you never go…berk?

— Rose. Anything Rose. It’s like someone said “holy shit, we killed off Sybil, the only actually attractive daughter. Let’s hurry and find a pretty replacement. Anyone will do, no matter how annoying.”

— Thomas. Christ, enough with the moustache twisting. So tired. Be something else.

— When they turned Isobel into whatever the hell she is now. She used to be so great in the early days.

— That Lord Grantham cheating stuff. Come on, dummy.

— Deus Ex Machina miracle cash saves. How many times have they been Canadian Railway’d only to have a miracle financial solution? Snore.

— The whole rape subplot. I get it, it’s a sensitive subject and some people loved it. I just hated that it had to be Anna. Option 2 for turning a sunbeam into a wraith.

— When Alfred left for chef school

I’m sure there are more, but these are the beats that kind of turned me away from the Crawleys and their various laments. In general, aristocrats worrying about money really sparks the season one Tom Branson in me. Speaking of which, Lady Castleton asked if there was a plot twist that would bring me back to the Doooonton nest. I can think of a few (and maybe they’ve happened since I haven’t scratched season five)

— Tom somehow is left as the sole heir and takes over as Lord. Sign me up.

— Lady Mary is kidnapped and sold into slavery aboard a barbary pirate vessel. Eventually she learns kung fu and escapes.

— Tony Gillingham reveals that he’s actually a Kingsman: The Secret Service, along with Carson & Dr. Clarkson.

— Bates gets an elevated civil service job for her majesty’s government in a changing India.

— Rose is kidnapped and sold into slavery aboard a barbary pirate vessel. Eventually she learns krav maga and escapes.

— Miss Patmore gets hired to be the head chef at the salacious Warren G. Harding White House.

— Edith becomes editor in chief of a major newspaper/ ambassador to China

— Gregson turns up alive, working for the Nazis.

— Anna finds she has a secret talent writing children’s books about a boy wizard.

So, are you still watching, or was there a jump-past-the-shark-and-out-of-the-pool moment for you? And if so, what would bring you back?

Lord Castleton is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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