Giving Up on Downton Abbey

I've always been an Anglophile, reading heavily in English literature, history and culture even before I became an English major in college.

At that point, my New Zealand-born girlfriend turned me on to Monty Python and Masterpiece Theater and I was a total Upstairs, Downstairs junkie. If only we'd had DVRs and binge watching!

So I was predictably intrigued with Downton Abbey when it debuted. Beautiful noble house, fascinating family turmoil, class conflict, lovely setting, well-drawn characters. It was Gosford Park writ large, of course because Julian Fellowes is behind both.

I started to lose interest in drab Season Three when bringing on Shirley MacLaine to mutter her torpid lines seemed a ploy to build an American audience. She didn't have much to do, and none of it was interesting.

This season's finished me off. The two-hour opening was a snooze fest, with no compelling drama. And last night's crime felt like being hit by a two by four totally out of the blue, quite unbelievable, and an obvious sensationalistic stab at creating drama where there isn't any.

Afterwards, I did something I've never done with a TV show: I found a spoiler site and read about the season ahead. Despite people who'd already seen the series in England telling me it gets better, based on what I've read, nothing really happens. The show is on auto pilot. Just consider how lackluster the whole "death duties" plot line is and extrapolate from that.

I suppose at this point, Downton Abbey might make for a good drinking game: down a shot every time Lord Grantham blusters or Carson frowns, but that's about it. Downton Abbey is a real downer now, bland, a bit desperate, repeating itself--basically a bauble that's lost its gleam.