It will be interesting to see how US audiences react to this season of Downton Abbey. The generally snarky tone of the internet and the slight downtick in UK ratings suggest that its moment of cultural dominance is waning; however, US ratings have never been higher, so it has mainstream momentum going for it. Also, every one of my friend’s moms is proudly announcing on Facebook that she “is finally checking out this Downton Abbey show” and “loves it!
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I am one of those people who have seen all of Downton Abbey’s third season, including the much-ballyhooed Christmas special. Can I even use the phrase “Downton Abbey Christmas special” without putting in a spoiler alert? Now, before you throw yourself out of your chair or throw your phone out the window, you can relax. You’re safe here. You don’t need a spoiler alert for this, or for future columns from me throughout this season; in fact, you won’t even need to read them with your hand half-covering the lower part of your screen. Let me just assure you that you will enjoy the season. If you find out, or think you found out, what happens during it or in its final episode, you probably don’t know as much as you think you do. This is a clever, well-written season with plenty of surprises for you. I mean, also, #firstworldproblems, you know?
Shows with the same formula every week tend to get boring, yet there are a few that somehow manage to keep the audience interested. An excellent example of this is The X-Files, a show that adapted this predictability of the procedural into stories that maintain mystery. However, I must admit that even I, with my deep love for The X-Files and my usual unending loyalty to shows, lost interest part-way into the seventh season and stopped watching entirely during the eighth. The reason? You can’t have The X-Files without Mulder and Scully.
This is something that all procedurals should take note of: it isn’t the new medical mystery or supernatural event or bizarre murder every week that keeps bringing us back, it’s the characters.
Well, I seem to be late to the party in weighing in on Homeland’s most recent jawdroppers, unleashed in the hilariously titled “Broken Hearts” episode. With the week nearly over and episode 2.11 days away from hitting our screens, I am compelled to take a minute and see where we are and how we got here.
The backlash has been fervent this week, responding to the improbable events surrounding (OK, seriously, SPOILERS) the death of the Vice President. Other backlash topics include the frenzied over-emoting of Damian Lewis as Nick Brody, the bad-season-of-24-style-terrorism of Abu Nazir, the sudden and ridiculous surveillance-fails of the government, and the Lifetime-movie behavior of Carrie Matheson. The backlash-to-the-backlash articles have followed suit, reminding readers that this is indeed a television show, one that has always been more interested in maintaining suspense and surprising viewers than in subtlety or in portraying the business of fighting terrorism with any degree of realism.
“When I look at my day, I realize that most of it is spent cleaning up the damage of the day before… all I have is distraction. And remorse.” Jax Teller’s moody voiceovers and Emma Goldmanesque sentiments have become an anchor for Sons of Anarchy. The fifth season of the popular biker drama has been heavy with the gloominess that Jax voices as episode five, “Orca Shrugged”, kicks off.
Despite heady promises to boycott the drama after the graphic death of fan favorite Opie in episode three, the show’s viewership jumped by roughly half-a-million households for episodes four and five. No doubt this is thanks to the irresistible pull of romantic criminal extraordinaire Jax Teller and his gang of lovable—if not always ethical—biker brothers.