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October 30

Downton Julie Brown


How can I convey the virtues of Downton Abbey, the 1920s melodrama, to a jaded 21st Century Nielsen family? I've tried comparing it to Melrose Place. I've tried pointing out the heat-index of the Crawley daughters (Edith, A.K.A. Jan Brady, notwithstanding). I may have even compared Molesley, the sheepish butler, to Boba Fett. But I can't seem to knock sense (and sensibility as the case may be) into them. The stench of Pride and Prejudice is just too strong.

The scene depicted in this comic is at least partially true. Crippled Mr. Bates hobbles into the house and the other servants act as if he's contagious (although I wonder if this is some kind of Polio concern... could look it up... nah). They wonder, can he perform the duties of a valet? Bear in mind, a valet in 1912 doesn't park cars. Bates is primarily responsible for brushing the Earl of Grantham's jackets. Brush them ragged. He also needs to select the appropriate cuff links for the occasion at hand. This is not physical work. He doesn't really even have to come into the office. He could do this job from home.

They fire Bates in the first episode because a cripple couldn't possibly be up to the task of folding laundry.

But they hire him back. Then his crazy wife makes him quit. But they hire him back. Then he goes to jail for killing his wife. But they hire him back.

So it goes in the palatial estate (not unlike Castle Grayskull) that is Downton Abbey.