Dear ‘Downton Abbey’
Mr. Bates is in jail.
He’s in jail, and poor Anna is being resourceful and determined about it. She’ll get her beloved Mester Bets (that’s how she says it) out!
Plus! Sybil ran off to Dublin with Branson the chauffeur — we were cruelly denied the wedding scene — and Edith’s trying to renew the flame with that old guy, we forget his name. Then, Thomas kidnapped the dog, Lord Grantham kissed the housemaid, that allegedly amnesiac Canadian burn victim disappeared without a trace, Carson and Mrs. Hughes are wonderful, as usual, and Matthew and Lady Mary are engaged! Finally!
Needless to say, these are exciting times for the Downton Abbey Appreciation Society.
Season 3 of the immensely popular British import premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, on Rocky Mountain PBS and the wait has been excruciating. Not only has there not been a new episode in America since last March, but Season 3 premiered in the U.K. Sept. 16.
So, we in the Society have had to scrupulously avoid spoilers, clicking away from any whisper of “Downton Abbey” on the spoil-happy Internet.
You see, if there’s one thing “Downton Abbey” has taught us, it’s that delayed gratification makes fruit all the sweeter, and there are few things quite so sweet as turning on PBS and getting that first glimpse of the dog’s bum as opening credits roll on a new episode of “Downton Abbey.” We like to be surprised, to be delighted, shocked and fully immersed each Sunday night.
And OK, fine, when I say “we” I mean “me.” So far, I’m the only member of the Downton Abbey Appreciation Society, but I know it’s only because my fellow obsessives have had to be so vigilant about spoiler avoidance.
I sense you’re out there, though: 5.4 million of you tuned in to the Season 2 finale on PBS, a number not matched since “Ken Burns National Parks” in 2009.
I issue this call, then, to join me in the Society. Let’s talk Downton! In fact, I’ve written a script for our first meeting; all we’ll have to do is read it.*
Member 1: Poor Mr. Bates! So decent! So wronged! He is a Stoic sufferer.
Member 2: Maybe too Stoic? He’s got to stop telling Anna he doesn’t deserve her. He does, though she is a saucy little bundle of moxie and determination.
Member 3: Love her!
Member 4: And that Vera! What a piece of work. What on Earth did Bates see in her to marry her in the first place? Granted, he was probably seeing her through the bottom of a bottle, poor lamb with a troubled past. I know he didn’t poison her, but he should have.
Member 5: Why do I suspect O’Brien of being involved?
Member 6: Because she’s mean?
2: So mean! But very, very fleetingly cool, enough so that I’m confused. Just like with Thomas.
4: *sigh* Thomas: I keep wanting to feel sorry for him, because his life hasn’t been easy and all he wants is to better his lot and his schemes are so pathetic, but must he always be such a jerk? I mean, who kidnaps a man’s dog? Poor Lord Grantham.
1: But he kissed the maid (I mean Lord Grantham, not Thomas; Thomas tried to kiss that Turkish guy and it was so awkward and sad)! When his wife was practically dead from Spanish influenza!
5: He’s human. And otherwise so morally upright. When he gave his blessing to Sybil?
6: That was lovely. But he and Cora should have gone to the wedding in Dublin.
3: Yes! Granted, we must accept that these are people of their times and places, but come on, Robert. She’s your kid. I don’t care if she’s marrying the chauffeur. Which brings me to a point of contention with the “Downton Abbey” writers: Stop denying us the salacious explanations! When Sybil told her family — including grandma, the Dowager Countess! — that she and Branson were getting married, that’s an explanation I want to see, not just the aftermath! Same goes for when Cora told her husband that oldest daughter Mary had slept with the Turkish emissary and he’d died in her bed (and she, Mary and Anna had moved the body).
4: Is it wrong I thought that scene was hilarious?
1: Clandestine corpse movings often are.
6: Speaking of hilarious: that allegedly amnesiac Canadian burn victim?
2: Man, did he ever disappear without a trace. I’m willing to swallow a lot of contrived suds in my favorite classy soap opera, but that?
3: Good riddance, Mr. Bandages.
1: Can we talk Poor Edith Who Looks Like Big Bird?
6: So much nicer in Season 2! Sybil even commented on it! It’s because she had a purpose. War is hell, but it did OK by her.
5: But not Daisy. Poor William. And (kind of) poor her. Though, how grateful am I that she FINALLY came to terms with her 11th hour marriage to sad, dying William and established a relationship with his dad, thus enabling her to stop whining, “Boo ah dune lohv eem! Noh een tha weh.”
4: And so saucy of her to ask for a promotion!
1: Apropos of nothing, Carson for president! In fact, let’s have a Carson/Hughes ticket in 2016.
3: I would have paid $500 to see him perform with the Cheerful Charlies. He’s my secret boyfriend. And he and Mrs. Hughes: so “Remains of the Day.” I love them.
2: Why have we not yet discussed the Dowager Countess? Why?? SHE IS THE GREATEST! Where to even begin with her? “Don’t be defeatist, dear; it’s terribly middle class.” Or: “One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.” So unapologetic! So snobbish! I adore her.
6: What think we of Matthew, heir to Downton Abbey?
1: He’s growing on me. Like a fungus, perhaps, and he responded to his wheelchair like a 14-year-old girl…
5: Excuse me. Can we agree that Dr. Clarkson needs to go back to medical school? “Your spine is severed, Matthew, and you’re paralyzed for life. Oh, wait, no. Oops, ha ha. It was bruised and you’re walking again. My bad.”
1: Agreed. Anyway, he’s smart and handsome and Mary loves him. Loved his proposal in the snow!
2: And Mary. Such a snob. So cynical. Best wardrobe ever. Obviously, we’re all crazy about her.
4: So, prognostications or wishes for Season 3?
6: Well, Wedding of the Century, Precursor to William and Kate for the nuptials of Matthew and Mary, of course. Plus, Sybil’s pregnant! Loving the anticipation of a wee Irish baby. More dark secrets are necessary, I think. Also, this show finally has conditioned me to full-body cringe every time two people are alone in a room discussing anything — it’s like, stop! Somebody’s probably listening at the door or will walk in unexpectedly. So, more of that, too. I want Mrs. Patmore to take up with the grocer, obviously, and Isobel should take up with the doctor (his medical abilities notwithstanding). And Mr. Bates must get out of prison! Immediately!
1: Cora’s mom is coming from America, apparently. Please let her be Molly Brown rather than Edith Wharton.
5: And let the Downton fabulosity continue!
*I have written this script for six, but could easily expand it to accommodate 20 or 50 or however many members join. Email me and we’ll discuss a) the Society possibilities, b) tragic housemaid Gwen and her illegitimate baby and c) dead, milquetoast Lavinia.