ORLY, ‘Downtown Abbey’? A Newbie Dives Into Season Six, Episode One

I had some difficulty jumping right into 'Downton Abbey.' But jump I did!

Oh, really? (photo: PBS)

Editor’s note: Orly Greenberg is tvDownload’s occasionally-employed intern. Since the rest of the week we treat her like Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada (Vinnie’s favorite movie), we allow her one day to recap an episode of a show she’s never seen before. This week, Orly has taken it upon herself to understand Downtown Abbey by only watching the sixth and final season’s premiere episode. 

My parents are huge Downton Abbey fans. And I don’t blame them. I completely see the appeal. There are beautiful landscapes, friendly horses, and unfriendly British people—it’s the makings of a perfect show. However, I’ve never actually seen any episodes of Downton. At least I hadn’t, before I decided to review the sixth and final season premiere.

After watching the episode, I have to admit, I completely understand the appeal. British shows are fantastic, not only for their high quality production and top–notch acting. There’s a sense of mystery to every British program. Not only do you have a difficult time understanding what a person is saying, but the actors exchange lines so quickly that it’s almost hard to tell who’s talking. As you can imagine, I had some difficulty jumping right into Downton. But jump I did! Here’s my stream of consciousness review of Downton Abbey. I apologize in advance for how much subtext I surely missed.

  • I have a question, right before we jump in. If the show is already finished in the UK, then why didn’t anyone just google spoilers? Or like, just google the episodes. On that note, why didn’t they just air the episodes on the same dates? Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense? If I was a committed Downton fan, I would just move to England for a month and a half.
  • Oh man, I’m going to love this show. There are horses surrounded by puppies. I mean, there is a swarm of puppies.
  • Who even needs that many puppies! Wants, perhaps. But needs? What a luxury.
  • Sidenote: I am watching this episode with my parents and dog. Dog looks intrigued by the swarm of puppies. Perhaps she picks up on high class dog barks, and feels inferior.
  • Everyone is in matching hats, and I’m finding it difficult to verbalize how much I love it.
  • Apparently it’s 1925, which I know, because it says so on the screen. You’d think after six seasons the viewers would know what year it is, but that’s okay too.
  • Wait, no, I just thought about it, and that’s a fair warning. I apologize, Downton.
  • Now there’s a curious stranger, who seems to be obsessed with this nice woman in a blue hat. What a lovely hat. What a curious stranger.
  • There’s two small children in the kitchen, and I’m suddenly getting flashbacks of The Others. Is the maid dead? Are the kids dead? Is everyone dead? Did Nicole Kidman just put on a fancy hat and smother them? More details to follow.
  • I’m convinced that no one is actually speaking English in this.
  • Oh, but there’s going to be a wedding! I wonder what terrible British pastries they’ll serve!
  • However, the betrothed doesn’t seem too excited about her engagement. She’s nervous about…oh.
  • The Brits on this show can’t even say sex, they just say “oh dear,” and simper their lips.
  • However, the fiancée coerces her maid friend to talk to her fiancé about consummating their marriage. Which seems a little intrusive to me, but what do I know about high class British culture.
  • This is an hour?
  • When I started grumbling about the length, my dad responded by pointing out that Maggie Smith is in Harry Potter, and who am I to complain in front of such talent. Point taken.
  • How many people live in this house? Is this one property? What’s the overhead?
  • This old chambermaid has crazy eyes. Absolutely crazy eyes. Why does everyone want to blackmail the blue hat lady?
  • They have a bell system. I would like that as well, please.
  • What I’ve gathered is that the staff needs to be cut down considerably. I guess the overheads were higher than I thought.
  • I really, really can’t tell who is help, and who is the head of the household, because everyone is dressed so so so nicely.
  • Oh no wait this is so sad, a nice maid has had three This is not the light hearted British romp I was expecting. Where’s Bridget Jones when you need her?
  • Everyone has convened for dinner, and it seems that everyone does indeed live there.
  • The music kind of sounds like Great British Bake Off. I wish this show was Great British Bakeoff.
  • This show just seems like a giant cycle of people asking each other, “well, what’s the matter?”
  • Why is there a policeman there? Everyone seems very calm and nice and non–criminal.
  • Maggie Smith specifically told her maid not to tell the staff that there are going to be layoffs, and then the maid just gone and told everyone. How dare you disappoint Maggie.
  • I keep waiting for a commercial break to get snacks. Starting to lose faith in the idea of any commercials appearing. Desperate for snacks.
  • The maid sent by the fiancée (wow, this is complicated) is now talking to her friend’s fiancée. As it turns out, he has great eyebrows, and is a total gentleman. He apologizes for wanting to consummate the marriage. He apologizes. You sir, are a gem.
  • The blackmailing chambermaid eventually gets paid off. That’s good. I wouldn’t put murder past her, with those crazy eyes.
  • Maggie Smith threatens to hire her horrible, super mean mad. I don’t know you, Danka, but you seem like the worst. I’m happy your job is in danger. Well, not really. She’s kind of old. I don’t know what kind of pension you get for being a maid. I’m sorry, Danka.
  • How do the actresses fit all of their hair underneath those tiny 1920s wigs? Is that why they’re always in hats? To hide the bumps?
  • Seems as though England is changing. Everyone seems pretty pissed.
  • My dad filled me in, and apparently the police came by because the blonde servant and her husband were criminal suspects in a murder case, and they were just cleared. Once they’re declared innocent, everyone starts drinking and celebrating. Even the policeman. I mean, there’s still a dead guy, but that’s okay too. No, seriously. Keep playing your records. It’s fine.
ORLY, ‘Downtown Abbey’? A Newbie Dives Into Season Six, Episode One