|photo by Andrew Davidson at http://www.undr.com|
(Jumping the Shark = the episode after which a series spirals downhill)
I have been a huge fan of Downton Abbey since my wife and I started watching it. It was a fascinating look into the lives of the English aristocracy and those who serve them. I liked that you came to care about the problems of the Grantham dynasty as much as poor valet Mr. Bates.
They have just begun their fourth season and I think the show has now Jumped the Shark.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW. SERIOUSLY, DO NOT CONTINUE THIS ARTICLE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE SEASON 3 CHRISTMAS SPECIAL AND THE FIRST 3 EPISODES OF SEASON 4.
OKAY, YOU WERE WARNED.
A lot of people like myself have been concerned since they killed off a major character at the end of the Christmas Special last year. And it wasn't even that they killed him off so much as it was that the death had little to do with the overall story. It seemed tacked on and ham-fisted.
However, my wife and I stayed on and the season was not too bad. Mosley is out of work. Mary is in a depression. Tom feels out of place. And there is drama about a will, yadda-yadda-yadda.
As I wrote earlier, one of the things that the show does well is make you care as much about the precarious social lives of the rich as you do the gritty struggles of the servants. But the third episode pushed it way too far. AGAIN SPOILERS AHEAD.
In this episode, everyone, including the staff are watching an opera singer in the main hall. One of the servants goes down to the kitchens where she gets raped. But because everyone is in the hall at the concert, no one hears.
In and of itself, this is not the big issue. But after the concert is over, the show follows the other dangling threads of the episode like Edith's boyfriend trying to ingratiate himself with Lord Grantham and Thomas feeling like he doesn't belong with the aristocracy and on an on before we find out what happened to the servant downstairs. I remember watching these other story arcs and thinking: "I don't care!" And that is the problem.
The magic spell of the show is getting you to care about everyone's problems. At that point I could care less about anyone except the poor servant down in the kitchens. With this episode, the spell was broken.
Part of me has no desire to continue on. It left a sick feeling in my stomach not just because of the horrible crime, but it felt minimized. It seemed like just another bit of drama that goes on at the Abbey. But doing that only highlights how petty much of the other problems seem.