P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

03 January 2016

A Final New Year's Date with Downton

“If I could stop history in its tracks, maybe I would. But I can’t, Carson, for neither you nor I can hold back time.”  Lord Grantham

 One thing a New Year always brings is change...whether we are ready for it or not. Time will move forward and try as we might to hold on to our old styles, 45 records or landlines, culture and societal change are inevitable...no matter where you reside.  There is a sense of security about staying put, standing still, holding on to our ways of living our lives.

Change,however can be good, unless you are bidding adieu to a beloved habit.  Downton Abbey was and is a good habit, one that thanks to streaming I don't really have to completely abandon, but tonight we all have to start the process of letting Downton go. There will be no more seasons, no more intrigue, drama, romance ...the pitch perfect dialogue, perfectly staged detail on every set, the costumes and the characters along with  the unforgettably glorious wit of GrandMama will not return. 

Sunday begins the final chapter in a delicious journey with the Crawleys and their "below stairs" staff that took us from the sinking of the Titanic, through the first world war, leaving behind the Edwardian era and bringing  short hemlines, loosened mores and corsets, automobiles, electric lights, phones, the wireless ,women's right to vote and a family with its collective way of life slipping away.  We, the audience, have known that the end would come for the Downton lifestyle...most of the characters that inhabit Downton never seem to see it coming.

“I love the way it’s all unraveling,” Ms. Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley) said. “There is a feeling of people moving on with their lives and the sense of the aristocracy as a kind of endangered species. But Mary is trying to keep it going; she doesn’t really like change.”

Change in fact is what this entire series has been about.  Those that pushed for it (Sybil's dramatic entrance in evening pajamas-not to mention her running away with the chauffeur) and those that clung on-Carson and Lord Grantham's disbelief and upset with every new contraption and bit of progress that arrived on the doorstep.  With meticulous detail down to the spoons at the dinner table, with every morsel of dialogue parsed for accuracy the production of Downton Abbey captured a period in history that witnessed sweeping change to fashion, class, women's roles, mores and much to the chagrin of Lord Grantham and his Mama, tradition.  

We are left with great memories of scenes and characters that kept us watching, and in my case re-watching, season after season.  Season One will always be my favorite from the opening scenes as we see Lord Grantham descend his staircase with is beloved dog Isis, as   an ironed newspaper brings the news of tragedy of the Titanic to Downton and with it the beginning of the end of their world. 

  I have so many favorite scenes, Mary and Matthew at the train station as he goes back to war and then the pair dancing in the great hall, Sybil defying convention and attending a political rally, Anna telling Mr. Bates she loves him... but if I had to select one it would be with Maggie Smith of course.  After Sybil's death, this steely grand dame, who has a liner for every occasion and to whom every member of her family relies for core strength, is seen  physically stumbling  however briefly as she walks across the entry hall dressed in black with a an expression that reveals the woman , the Matriarch, the mother and the grandmother in grief.

So many questions to be answered before we depart....Will Carson and Mrs. Hughes actually marry?  Will Lady Edith finally be happy?  Will Tom return?  What about Daisy...shouldn't she open her own restaurant??  and poor Anna and Mr. Bates-haven't they been through enough-they deserve a happy ending, but...no doubt not everyone at Downton will have that happy ending.

  Then there is the appearance at the end of Season 5 of the wonderful Matthew Goode---perfect for Lady Mary?? How can she resist! but we will see...

 I agree with Mr. Fellowes decision to pull the curtain on the drawing room, much like Matthew Weiner did with Mad Men...sadly it is time. The series, again much like Mad Men shined a light on an extraordinary time, a time that saw women's lives and opportunities, along with their fashion, be un-corseted.   I will miss the Crawleys and every member of their staff but it is time for the doors to this great house to close.  I want to cherish the time I have spent at Downton.   For now, as Lady Mary would do, I will "go upstairs and remove my hat" then snuggle in to savor the last episodes at Downton Abbey. 

“You want to go at a high point,” he said. “You don’t want to go when everyone is relieved to see the back of you. It’s like a woman with a successful frock. There is a moment when you’ve worn it enough.” Julian Fellowes

images via PBS