Sunday, April 14, 2013

Old-Fashioned TV

"Might I have a word?"
 - any character on Downton Abbey to another

Last year, tired of all the talk I was hearing about it and against advice from avid fans who implored me to begin with the first two seasons, I plunged into Season Three of Downton Abbey, the smash hit series on PBS. That decision cost me.

It cost me the price of Seasons One and Two on I threw in Season Three to watch again after backfilling all the story lines. I haven't stopped watching since that little cardboard box arrived at my doorstep.

Downton is such a rarity in today's crass and witless world of reality TV. It's as different from standard fare as any show can be, a quality production filmed on lavishly decorated sets with dozens of vivid characters who speak intelligent dialogue. And it actually has--wait for it--a plot!

The intertwining stories of the Earl of Grantham, his American wife, their three daughters, and a houseful of servants good and evil begin to unfold with the sinking of the Titanic on into the 1920s, with all forms of drama from ill-fated love affairs to trench warfare. Toss Maggie Smith into the mix as the acerbic Violet Grantham and you've got, to borrow a phrase from the show, "a cracking good" television experience.

To hear TV characters speaking in full, literate sentences is such a treat these days. Like the show itself, hearing "the king's English" is a throwback to another time. It's like television drama used to be in its glory days. Might I have a word? What about "excellent"?