Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Return of Downton Abbey

One of the good things about the new year is the return of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Classic starting tomorrow, January 8th. on PBS.   It was one of my favorite shows last year and I'm glad to see it is back for a second season and glad to hear it's been signed on for a third.

Between all the big budget movies with their 3D and their "superheroes, " extraterrestrials,  zombies and vampires and reality TV,  the world is ready for some more some adult drama and the backstairs intrigue between the classes of the venerable Masterpiece upstairs-downstairs variety.   Although this has been a good year for films in terms of their quality scattered among the more silly fare like Transformers and Green Lanterns that appeal to the younger male audience, it is still nice to welcome back the well made and well acted stalwarts that make one look forward to watching the tube again.

Julian Fellowes has done a crackerjack job as writer and creator of Downton Abbey.  It still amazes me that the charming actor who played the often pompous, but unintentionally humorous and kind hearted Kilwillie,  best friend and neighbor of Hector McDonald, Laird of Glenbogle on Monarch of the Glen, is the same fellow who has written so many period favorites such as Gosford Park and Young Vicitoria, as well as the screenplays for Vanity Fair and The Tourist.

Last year I watched all six seasons of Monarch of the Glen in the evenings while I did my treadmill.   It become something I looked forward to every night, as I grew more fond of the quirky inhabitants of the fictitious Glenbogle Estate in the Scottish Highlands and some nights would find me sitting through two episodes, eagerly awaiting my next netflix envelope every few days to retreat to another world and spend time with what seemed like some old friends.

Our friends across the pond have a knack for writing intelligent and entertaining drama and they are not afraid of dialogue and don't pander to the lowest common denominator as some moviemakers in the states sometimes do.

I recently had a "professional" critique a script.   I actually paid someone to  tell me it was good and then proceed to tear into it in the most brutal way, even telling me I should change my villain in the piece.  One of my favorite critiques though was him saying that I needed to "dumb" it down for American audiences and asking me if I thought I was writing for Masterpiece Theater because I dared to use the word "supplant" in the context of "supplanting someone in a person's affections."   The character who spoke the words was an artist and an educated and literate person so why would he not use such a word?

Needless to say, I found this one critique a  huge compliment rather than a put down of my skills.

So Sunday night will find me tuning in to Downton Abbey.

Even though I have a very eclectic taste in films, if you took a peek at my Netflix queue  you would find a lot of old Masterpiece Theater and BBC dramas scattered throughout.  I find myself looking forward to those particular ones and lately find they are the only ones that rarely disappoint.

And nary a car chase or demolition derby in the bunch!  Hallelujah!

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

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