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by Matt Paproth

28 Jan 2013


Wow. Well, just wow. Serious business occurs in this week’s episode, and it doesn’t involve marginal progress in one of the lame stories, or a footman spilling something at dinner. No, this is about as good as the show gets, and it really is predicated on shocking you.

Here goes. In this episode, Sybil delivers her baby against the backdrop of some doctorly disagreement, before, hours later, succumbing to eclampsia and, incredibly, dying. I must say that I found this development profoundly surprising, mostly because she seems like such an odd character to kill off and because I had no prior notion that it was going to happen. While I fear that much from this third series has been spoiled by anyone who ever reads things about TV on the internet (which, by definition, includes you), I can attest to the fact that, for an unspoiled viewer, this was a shocking and momentous episode. Honestly, this is all so dark that, like a character in Glee spontaneously breaking into song, I feel compelled to break into a list. You know, to lighten the mood a little.

by Matt Paproth

21 Jan 2013


This is not an episode of Season 3 that you will likely remember much of, particularly not with everything coming down the pike (oh, calm down, that’s not a spoiler). No, this is an episode that churns along well enough for the most part, and really marks a pivot-point in terms of the primary plot for the season.

by Matt Paproth

15 Jan 2013


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!

by Matt Paproth

8 Jan 2013


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?

by Liz Medendorp

13 Dec 2012


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.

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