The series and this christmas special certainly felt the absence of Matthew Crawley. Edith and Branson reminisce about him, and also not far from Edith’s thoughts are the daughter she had to give up. Still, there are some things that never change. Mary still snipes at Edith and it really did get incredibly boring thus. Also, Thomas is still scheming and raging against the ‘way of things’.
Lord Merton pays a call on Isobel. Rose is soon to be presented at court, and we see one of her friends, Madeleine, who is also to be presented. Madeleine and Rose meet the Prince of Wales. This episode also gives us the chance to see more of Martha Levenson, who is supposed to be Cora’s mother. She is played by Shirley McClaine, and I don’t think she is the best person for the role. I don’t know. Either it was that the hype didn’t live up to the truth or that the Botoxed look doesn’t go well with 1920s garb.
Harold’s valet, Ethan, hints to Daisy that they might need someone to fill the role of ladies maid. Harold obviously has a frock fetish that nobody knows about. It is decided that the staff should go on an outing. And of course an episode or a special cannot be what it is without someone chasing after Lady Mary. We have two of the three men still dancing in her affections.
And when there were scenes between Sarah and Tom, it looked so stupid. Its clumsy scriptwriting and if they are trying to make her be outspoken or modern or whatever, it is really not working. And using the stereotypical meeting of using the excuse of dropping books is the oldest trick in the, well, book. And we have her accusing him of avoiding her. I’d avoid her. I’d run in the opposite direction. I’d move to another country. But for some reason he invites her back to the house and she looks around despite his hesitations. When she says ‘Aren’t you allowed to bring your friends back?’ I just felt like laughing. It made it sound like he was her son, who had invited friends round to his posh house for a party but found they’d trod jelly into the carpet.
And remember that if you are appealing to any stratum of society or demographic, then remember the include the ‘easy going American’ stereotype. Nobody will be insulted or pissed off. Promise!
Also, one of the big things about this special was the introduction of Paul Giamatti playing Cora’s brother Harold. It all fell a bit flat, really and didn’t live up to hype.
Mrs Hughes finds the train ticket in Bates’ pocket which was supposed to seal his fate about his whereabouts when he was in London and when Green jumped off a bus or whatever it was. Rose is presented at court and the King says a few words to her. Mary has the train ticket that will seal the fate of Bates.
The ‘SCANDAL’ in this Special is based around yet Another Lost Letter. I mean, c’mon. There is such things as recycling old script ideas but this really takes the buiscuit. How many letters can conceivably be lost or discovered over the course of 4 series? And, as we have seen, Bates has many talents. He is not just a master boot polisher and stander-in-the-dark-menacingly-er, he is also a master forger and for some reason they need his forging skills to get a note to somebody. I can’t remember who. I’d lost interest at this point.
The audience also learn more about what happened to Gregson. He got beaten up by some brownshirts. He may be dead, or may not be. But the storyline totally sucks and it seems little more than an effort to get in mention of the rise of the Nazis. It just seems a little bit silly. And I think they screwed up Edith’s storyline. They could have followed so many plot paths but in the end it totally sucked. So long as Mary has more men falling over themselves for her hand while she lisps lessons about Life and The Estate all the while grimacing and making faces, then that’s all Fellowes cares about. Because evidently a 30-year-old heiress with a child is a fantastic catch as a wife, post-war.
Downstairs, they are still trying to find out if Bates Was In London. Mary tries dropping heavy hints, and it would have been far better with the use of a white board and thick black marker pen. Daisy receives an offer to become part of Harold Levenson’s household, and we also have Branson trying to justify himself to Thomas who discovers him and Sarah walking about near the bedroom wing. ‘She only wanted to have a look’ he said. Well, I’d bet.
There doesn’t seem to be any chemistry between Mary and her suitors. Its supposed to be a bit under a year since the end of series 4 and yet they are having the same conversations. Bates retrieves The Letter that was the cause of such a scandal and crisis is averted yet again. Mary tosses the train ticket into the fire. Rose is a success at the debutante ball, when she dances with the Prince of Wales.
And, surprise of surprise, Blake has an estate. So of course Mary is suddenly now more interested in him. Branson comforts Edith, and she decides she will go to Switzerland to retrieve her baby, who can be brought up near Downton. Daisy decides not to go to America, and Ivy goes instead. And there really isn’t an end to The Bates Story. The servants go to the beach. The end. To be honest, I think this series is slowly running out of steam. Unless they do a massive jump to 1940 or something, I really can’t bear to put up with another series of whispered conversations, tense breakfasts and dehydrated sheep.
MY RATING: 1.5 / 5.