I swore after the ending episode of Downton Abbey last season that I wouldn’t watch it any more. I mean, the actors are FANTASTIC. There’s barely a weak link in the ensemble (the barely refers to Elizabeth McGovern), and outside of her, no unevenness whatsoever. Plus, Maggie Smith–need I say more?
But. But, but, but. I find the lapses of creativity on the part of Julian Fellowes to be unforgivable. I mean, I get that some of there’s an exodus on the part of some of the actors playing primary characters (frankly, that’s the real drama for me, and boy would I love to hear that story) and he has to figure out how to get rid of them. But two tragic deaths immediately following births? We’ve all complained all over Facebook and Twitter. I hope he’s reading the complaints. But I don’t think so.
Mind you, Fellowes created some fantastic expectations in the first two seasons, with the vast differences between pre-war and wartime life. That allowed for tremendous creativity, for the changing of relationships, for death and sacrifice, for courage and cowardice. War broke down social barriers–so interesting. And some of the post-war plot lines were interesting as well–injuries, guilt, etc.
But now it seems he doesn’t know what to do. Rose has replaced Lady Sybil–same character. Edna has replaced O’Brien (no one could possible believe they’d hire her again), and is establishing the old alliance O’Brien had with Barrows. And everyone is cranky and seems to have forgotten the lessons they’d learned in earlier seasons (Lord Grantham thinks, suddenly, he has acquired financial sense? Really?).
Downton Abbey is a soap opera. But for a while it was a very good soap opera–intelligent and well-acted, if melodramatic. But now–I was right to want to boycott this season (much as I’d love to see Lady Mary outsmart her father in every way and win a round for women everywhere…one of the great things about Downton is how smart the women are). Unfortunately, my partner wants to watch it. And okay, the other night I was a sucker for the physical affection of being wrapped in her arms, even though I had to watch Downton Abbey to get it.
Of course, then there’s Sherlock Holmes. With Benedict Cumberbatch. Here’s another example of, need I say more? He’s rapidly become one of my top ten actors–I want to see everything he does. His acting is inspired. I’ve talked a lot about passion, commitment, character work, humanity, connection in my last several blogs–this guy has it all, and his portrayal of the modern Sherlock Holmes leaps off the small screen. Driven, brilliant, impatient, rude, always sympathetic, even when he’s truly hurting people, Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes has so much depth, is so entertaining…I don’t have enough superlatives. On top of that, the writing is brilliant–witty, suspenseful, imaginative in the modernization of the original story. I love Watson’s blog, his imaginary limp after being shot in the shoulder, the homoerotic hints the other characters throw at Holmes and Watson…it’s just so, so good. So CLEVER.
So while Downton Abbey is definitely a miss (unless you’re willing to be driven crazy by Fellowes’ lack of creativity and bad storytelling in order to get two hours of warmth and cuddling, which I apparently am), Sherlock Holmes is a CANCEL EVERYTHING AND WATCH PBS. Frankly, the show is filmed much as a movie would be–and so I nominate it for an Oscar in every category.