Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

Carpe Diem: 2016.03.29

Downton Abby

Wherever there are three Englishmen two will establish a club so they can exclude the third.

Thank Gawd (and Queen, and country), but not PBS, which will be milking the teats off this series for pledge breaks into the 22nd century.   The Downton Abby finale has played and those insufferable English “classholes” (mostly, but not exclusively, “upstairs”—yes, I mean you, Carson) can drift off into the BBC afterlife where I hope they will have to change clothes for every meal—sans valets and ladies maids—for eternity.

I am already on record in these pages with my opinions on British obsessions with social class and the sappy dramatization of upper-class “ass-kisser” Julian Fellowes author of this series. Wouldn’t you just know that he would conclude this soaper that had already lapsed into self-parody (enough already with dowager Maggie Smith snapping off elitist-isms, and somebody please remove that broomstick from Carson’s rectum) such that class divisions remain just lovely as everybody is happily married—within their station—at the end, and Thomas achieves butlerhood, something that was telegraphed with Carson’s first tremor. I know that contrast makes for drama, but this nostalgia-driven drivel for when Britannia ruled the waves, and kept those the class structure intact wherever the Brutish Empire reached its grasping mitts.

I am reminded of the little shudder of satisfaction I get very time I watch The Bridge on the River Quai. I admit to loving the scene when Col. Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) yanks the baton of command out of the hand of the insufferable POW Col. Nicholson (Alec Guinness) who refuses to work like the men under his command because he is an officer. Saito bends the baton and flings it in the dust, and makes Nicholson and his officers bake in the Malaysian sun. Guinness plays it so well; the perfect English classhole. Lord Crawley, Earl of Grantham and scion of Downton Abby would have approved.