Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Leave a Tender Moment Alone

from pbs.org/masterpiece

Can we talk about Downton Abbey's season premiere?


I'll start.

I made a celebratory dip to mark the occasion and settled in to watch.  I think Carson would approve of my sense of decorum and style as I watched the proceedings. Couch, robe, tortillas chips on a plastic plate.

Some recaps I've read dismayed over the lack of "a bang" for the anticipated episode. 

I really enjoyed it. The show is what it is: dignified soap. It has crazy twists: Mathew's miraculous "I can walk!" moment as he rises from his chair like the Phoenix comes to mind. Sudden endings, like Sybil's death, moments after giving birth and Mathew's own departure in a wreck after just seeing his newborn son. Edith's being jilted at the alter. And the always precarious financial state of the Crawley family fortunes.

But what keeps millions coming back, like me, are the touches of authentic emotions--those tender moments.

To wit:

When Mathew's mother, Isobel, obviously devastated, tells Lady Edith, "When you lose your only child, you're not a mother anymore...You're not really anything." Heartbreaking.  And later, to Carson upon helping a sick man getting back on his feet, "You see, I didn't know I had any kindness or energy left. And that's something, isn't it?"  Isobel has always seemed capable and well-meaning, but a bit annoying in her good deed doing.  The small smile she gives Carson after having found some way to be useful-- masterful. True.

The father-daughter dynamic between Carson and Lady Mary:

Both Lord Grantham and his butler are stanch traditionalists and don't intend on changing.  However, Carson can change.  After all, he was Charlie the Entertainer once.  Carson is able to comfort Mary, whereas her father, while obviously loving her, maintains his position as Lord of the Castle, keeping Mary carefully  cocooned from any thing could upset her--having a say in Downton's running, thus upsetting him.

My favorite line, Carson holding Mary: "You cry, milady... You have a good cry.  That's what's needed now. And when you're ready, we can get to work.  Because you are strong enough.  You are strong enough for the task."

Men and fathers, take note.  Charlie Carson's got "How to Comfort and Encourage Your Emotionally Fragile Wife/Daughter" mastered.  I'd copy that verbatim and hand it to my son on his wedding day. That was worth the price of admission here.

I could go on with Edith's transformation into glamour girl (kissing a man in public! So wild!)  But this keyboard keeps erasing my text and it's almost time to resume mom duty.

If I've convinced you, watch the episode here.  If you already watched it, what did you think? 

I may give DA recaps a go, so I'll try to see you back here next week.  I think my diction will be increasingly formal for these!

Pip pip, Cheerio, TTFN.

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