IT’S DOWNTON ABBEY, BABY! Episode One

willywonk

Hurrah, it’s back, baby! The theme of the final series was that the times they are a changin’, and it was hammered home at every possible opportunity. We kicked off with a glorious hunting scene. It is Downton Abbey, winter, 1925. How to establish this firmly in the minds of the viewers? “Do you think it’s a bit much in 1925?”  If you like exposition, then this is the period drama for you. “You’re riding sidesaddle?” enquired Lord Grantham of his daughter Mary, inexplicably styled as Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp version).  “Is that entirely appropriate?”

But I carp.  I adore Downton and everyone in it, even bit players like the sassy Scouser who attempted to blackmail Lady Mary about her dirty weekend in the Grand Hotel with Viscount Gillingham, and who was sent packing with fifty quid rather than the grand she was after.  But not before she managed to snipe about toffs and workers and the Granthams should watch out because things were CHANGING.

This season’s Plot-That-Nobody-Cares-About was the Royal County hospital in York announcing plans to take over the village hospital.  Dame Maggie Smith, playing the Dowager Countess, was having none of it.“We would become the tools of a faceless committee!” Cousin Isobel, however, was all for it and having morphed into a platitude-spouting civil servant was thus more than capable of boring the opposition into submission. “Our patients would have access to more modern equipment… our fundraising would be more efficient.”  Changing times, innit. Everybody got that?

At dinner, both Edith and Mary went for jewelled headbands, Edith rather more successfully than Mary,

edith.

who looked as though she was a Dr Who cyborg, circa 1982

mary

Mrs Hughes was due to marry Carson at some unspecified time in the future. “Have you set a date?” “Not yet, but it’s likely to be Christmas Day in order to bump up the ratings for the final episode.”  She confided in Mrs Patmore that she was worried about Carson wanting sex, referred to rather more delicately as a “full marriage”.  Mrs Patmore was sent to enquire as to whether or not Carson wanted to make the beast with two backs with Mrs Hughes. “Damn straight,” Carson said (I paraphrase). Mrs Hughes was thrilled. “Well then, Mr Carson, if you want me, you can have me – to quote Oliver Cromwell – warts and all.”  Hopefully she wasn’t being literal.

Meanwhile downstairs the Bates discussed the most drawn out plotline ever: the murder of Green the valet. How is this still going on? Bates did it! No he didn’t! Mrs Bates did it! No, somebody else did it!  Right up there with the final scene of every episode of Scooby Doo, it turned out that a random with a grudge was responsible. Whatever, Lord Grantham declared the news to be worthy of popping the Veuve Clicquot and master and servant partied the night away, ending with Lord and Lady Grantham snarfing leftovers from the newfangled refrigerator which featured prominently throughout in order to demonstrate that times were… you get the picture.

Next week, the Downton children receive Raleigh Choppers as presents and Daisy makes the staff breakfast with a George Foreman Lean, Mean Grilling Machine. Can’t wait.

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