Tag Archives: TV Reviews

TV Review: The Morning Show

(Before I commence passing my review, I would like to inform the readers of the future that the show is judged after watching the first two seasons. To date, the third season has been announced.)

After fifteen years of television dominance and winning eight Emmies, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) is fired by the UBA Network when the news breaks of his being responsible for multiple incidents in sexual misconduct. His on-air partner for fifteen years, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) faces difficult challenges to maintain her professional stature as the show struggles to retain its domination on the American viewers. And during all this, the network hires a shocking replacement of Mitch in Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), an outspoken field reporter whose creative ideas do not match with Alex. Thus, starts a very interesting phase of the news network.

Apple TV+‘s The Morning Show is the epitome of excellent writing about corporate corruption, abuse of power, sexual misconduct, and the struggle of women empowerment. This phenomenal piece of writing reminds me of Aaron Sorkin‘s, the audience is fully sold to watch the sensationalism of the making of news programs. The functioning of the news network is detailed with meticulous care.

One of the highlights where the show surpasses the quality of presentation is giving a proper dramatization of female employees working under the same roof after one major controversy bombs the reputation. TMS is picturized in the time period of America’s socially most critical period that is the rise of the MeToo wave in the first season followed by the global pandemic in the second season. Therefore, the show heavily focuses on the impact of the MeToo movement on this news network and the mental challenge the employees have to face after Mitch is fired.

In the same given period, TMS successfully decorates the professional rivalries in both upper and lower levels and daily political games between the network biggies. The parties, the glamour, the pride, the ego, the insecurities, etc. are all crafted with command. Employee love affairs, professional secrecies, work ethics, and heated arguments are credibly natural.

I think the recently concluded second season, despite superb writing and direction, is drier than the first season to some percentage due to lack of potential continuity. Mitch/Stella and Bradley/Laura takes a lot of minutes and are not even the core concerns of the main subject. The only plus about the writing of the second season is the build-up of the global horror that knocked the American life – the coronavirus. All the related content writing about the upcoming pandemic really breaks the buzz.

If the audience observes at dramatizing of employee relationships and scuffles, this will remind you of USA Network‘s Suits. Another excellence is handling the tragic events of the California Wildfire and the Global Pandemic magnificently. The productional dynamics and dramatic changes in the continuity are so compelling that the viewers can easily go into the heart of the show and grow in it.

The Green sisters of Friends, Rachel and Jill, reunited in The Morning Show.

And why not? The show is blessed with a potentially favorable cast of Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon in the lead, with the splendid support of Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, and Karen Pittman, giving powerful performances. The Green sisters of Friends, Jennifer and Reese, were not only reunited but also became the first actors to be paid $2 million per episode.

There are numerous intense and brilliant argument and speech scenes. And this is what the audience wants, make a show blended with a favorable cast, fabulous writing, hot topics, hard-hitting dialogues, all orchestrated under a supervision of a thoughtful team of directors.

TMS has an interesting plotline, an exciting setup of aesthetics, a wise application of dark comedy, a very sound direction to build our enthusiasm for the show. And holds a lot of promises for the next season; and like me, I am certain that all the TMS fans are wishing that the new season happens this year instead of another two-year gap.

TV Review: The Golden Girls

Four old women, Dorothy (Beatrice Arthur), her 80yo mother Sophia (Estelle Getty), Rose (Betty White), and Blanche (Rue McClanahan) live together in Miami and become fast friends for years. During this time, these girls come across many incidents, relationships, women issues, and funny events. It is an unbreakable bond that keeps you entertain.

The Golden Girls was one of the earliest sitcoms that was majorly or fully based on women. A show that was run by an all-female lead cast back in the 1980s was a bold move for any producer in those times. We as the audience hardly remember such sitcoms where the female lead ran the business in the right direction. A few ‘female’ sitcoms that I remember to be released before The Golden Girls were Maude, The Facts of Life, The Mary Tyle Moore Show, and Laverne & Shirley. But the distinction The Golden Girls had was that the show was genuinely run by the four leading women. None of the male cast of the show had any capacity of a potential supporting character. Besides a few, mostly showed up in special appearances in one or a couple of episodes.

THE GOLDEN GIRLS — “One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest: Part 1 & 2” Episode 05/09/1992 — Pictured: (l-r) Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo; Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak; Betty White as Rose Nylund; Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux– Photo by: Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank

And the four golden girls were all talented artists. Rue had Maude and Mama’s Family in her credits and Estelle made her name in the theaters and got recognition from this show. Betty White was already a tv legend and Beatrice Arthur was an immensely popular feminist actress in theater and television. It was magic when they appeared together. The formula of their presence and collective comic timing worked thanks to solid writing throughout seven seasons and 180 episodes. It was not only a sitcom as a source of guffaws but also an opportunity to raise any concerns that women felt an obstacle in their walks of life like the elders facing the upstart generation, the status of a homosexual in the society, being overweight, choosing a career at an old age and facing the challenges, and many more.

The writing and performances in The Golden Girls are the heart and soul. The writers had so much to talk about and would construct a well-timed comic line. Each of the four leading characters carried weight and were tough on each other. You cannot say that Sophia was the show stealer for her being a tough Sicilian mother and getting the best jokes from the others. The others played prominent roles as well. Sophia’s daughter Dorothy, a school teacher, had the command in the house. Horny Blanche was obsessed with men and slept with many dozens of them. Swedish immigrant Rose was the group’s dumbest individual who just couldn’t get the point in the conversation and believe anything she is told.

I must mention how strange the chemistry of the Petrillo mother and daughter was. Estelle Getty who played mother Sophia was actually a year younger than Dorothy actress Beatrice Arthur. It was such an impressive make-up that used to take three hours to shape her into the character. But what an enjoyable character that turned out to be.

The Golden Girls has a loyal following within the LGBTQ community. That is because of the story arcs that brought gay characters to highlight their distinction. The sitcom was one of the first to tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS. All four leading actresses were gay supporters.

Legendary celebrities like Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Julio Iglesias, Sonny Bono, and Burt Reynolds appeared as guests in the sitcom that guaranteed the audience sticking to their television.

Here is one shocking FUN FACT! The-then unknown extra Quentin Tarantino impersonated Elvis Presley in one of the episodes, Sophia’s Wedding. That episode was so popular that the residual checks that Tarantino earned by its repeated airing helped him in the making of his debut film, Reservoir Dogs.

Not to forget, George Clooney showed up in one episode for a small role. He wanted a part in the show so he can qualify for his union medical insurance.

It has been almost three decades to this sitcom and as much as the voice of feminism has met its global recognition now, The Golden Girls represents the true nature of liberty and advocates the rights of women and their rank in society. This sitcom with four old ladies met huge success in the decade that was dominated by The Cosby Show, Married With Children, and Cheers. The popularity of the sitcom can be judged this way that the final episode of the show in 1992 was watched by 27.2 million people. The show is recommended to those who are willing to watch a comedy with a different plot and content.

My favorite episodes of The Golden Girls:
S01 – E02 – Guess Who’s Coming to the Wedding?
S01 – E03 – Rose The Prude
S01 – E04 – Transplant
S01 – E20 – Adult Education
S01 – E23 – Blind Ambitions
S02 – E01 – End of the Curse
S02 – E02 – Ladies of the Evening
S02 – E06 – Big Daddy’s Little Lady
S02 – E09 – Joust Between Friends
S02 – E23 – Son-In-law Dearest
S03 – E01 – Old Friends
S03 – E10 – The Audit
S03 – E14 – Blanche’s Little Girl
S03 – E23 – Mixed Belonging
S04 – E06 – Sophia’s Wedding (1)
S04 – E07 – Sophia’s Wedding (2)
S04 – E10 – Stan Takes a Wife
S04 – E17 – You Gotta Have Hope
S04 – E19 – Till Death Do We Volley
S04 – E21 – Little Sister
S05 – E03 – The Accurate Conception
S05 – E04 – Rose Fights Back
S05 – E11 – Edd Tide
S05 – E16 – Clinton Avenue Memoirs
S05 – E18 – An Illegitimate Concern
S06 – E06 – Wham, Bam, Thank You, Mammy
S06 – E09 – Mrs. George Devereaux
S06 – E12 – Ebbtide’s Revenge
S06 – E14 – Sisters of the Bride
S06 – E19 – Melodrama
S06 – E23 – Love for Sale
S07 – E03 – Beauty and the Beast
S07 – E04 – That’s For Me to Know
S07 – E11 – Room 7
S07 – E15 – Goodbye Mr. Gordon
S07 – E16 – The Commitments
S07 – E19 – Journey to the Center of Attention
S07 – E22 – Rose: Portrait of a Woman
S07 – E23 – Home Again, Rose (1)
S07 – E24 – Home Again, Rose (2)
S07 – E25 – One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest (1)
S07 – E26 – One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest (2)

TV Review: Good Times

Good Times was a very popular African-American sitcom of CBS in the 1970s that carried the torch of the Black American television entertainment legacy from Sanford And Son and passed it to The Jeffersons.

Good Times, Maude‘s official spin-off, existed in the All In The Family comedy universe released and aired as the third major sitcom. It was also developed by Norman Lear and created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans (who played George Jefferson‘s son Lionel in All In The Family and The Jeffersons).

And this sitcom was the need of the hour because All In The Family focused on a white working-class family on the Bunkers and Maude focused on a white rich family of the Findlays centering around a woman who believed in feminism and liberalism. So, developing a black American story became mandatory and this happened through the creation of Florida Evan‘s character who became the maid at the Findlays in Maude.

In Maude, Florida’s husband gets a job in Chicago and moves to the new locality, a ghetto, a poor neighborhood in the city where the African-Americans reside in the majority and the crime rate along with the police brutality is high.

Good Times focuses on the poor black family of the Evans comprised of husband James (John Amos), wife Florida (Esther Rolle), and their teenage kids J.J. (Jimmie Walker), Thelma (BernNadette Stanis), and Michael (Ralph Carter). The episodes develop their characters based on social and economic issues of the family along with age growth and family bonding.

John Amos and Esther Rolle as Mr. and Mrs. Evans were like a universal binding; they were so fitting together and the onscreen chemistry and their collective performances really helped make this show better and better.

But then there was their eldest son, J.J. who was the real deal of humor and the main soul of a terrific comedy that balanced humor with strong issues. And when I say ‘real deal’, Jimmie Walker as J.J. was the real deal. Every sitcom has a character who keeps the sitcom wild and exciting like Edith Bunker in All In The Family, Dr. Arthur in Maude, and Florence in The Jeffersons; J.J., was that product of comic relief.

It will be a surprise if I tell you that from AITFverse and between four major successful sitcoms of the 1970s, Good Times was the weakest. And by weakest, I mean the bar the standard this comedy-verse has is very high enough to consider Good Times amongst the greats.

The reason I call this show the weakest of all four is that the makers of the show, after a very promising start, began to give J.J.’s character the center stage more often. As much as Good Times could have raised much severe social and economic issues and challenges a poor Black family was suffering, this consideration became secondary to J.J.’s buffoonish acts getting more time than usual and shouting his catchphrase ‘Dy-No-Mite’ almost every episode. Sometimes, I felt his being too silly became more important than his family always being on the brink of getting evicted.

Esther Rolle and John Amos both passed their public opinions about such dislikeness where the sitcom was going and that became quite visible when J.J.’s catchphrase was used pretty less straight from the fourth season. But with sharp criticism came consequences. John Amos was infamously fired and his character was killed from the fourth season after his creativity conflicts with the writers.

And as expected, firing John Amos turned out to be the worst decision, and his character was badly missed in the remaining half of the show. Although, the writers killed the character very smartly but the show never looked the same. One positivity from killing the character helped in maturing J.J.’s character as becoming the man of the family. But the writing was more centralized towards family matters that were not really something of significance the audience was waiting to watch like Wilona and Thelma’s everchanging boyfriends, Florida dating Carl from nowhere, etc.

From left, American actors Ralph Carter, Esther Rolle (1920 – 1998), John Amos, Jimmie Walker, and BernNadette Stanis gather in the kitchen in a scene from the television show ‘Good Times,’ Los Angeles, California, 1975. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

Another minus was Michael Evans’ disappointing character development who was called the militant midget for his black activism in the first half of the show when he was hardly 12 or 13 but that passion met cold and Michael was more of a lover boy later. Even his screen minutes drastically got less with time. Season 5 was easily the worst of all the seasons with no Florida Evans.

Yes, there were many plusses as mentioned above and the one I must not forget to write is Janet Jackson‘s character of a teenage girl who suffered child abuse from her mentally unstable mother. It was one of the critical issues that were highlighted in the show and the character gets justice when Wilona became her guardian.

Besides all the issues Good Times gets messed up with, the show is still unforgettable with its comic writing and content. For those, who are willing to watch a black sitcom or a family sitcom, Good Times is the one that will give you more joy and excitement.

Here are my favorite episodes from the show:
Episodes:
01. S01E03 – Getting Up The Rent
02. S01E06 – Sex And The Evans Family
03. S01E12 – The Check Up
04. So2E01 – Florida Flips
05. S02E06 – Thelma’s Young Man
06. S02E12 – The Windfall
07. S02E15 – Florida Goes To School
08. S02E16 – The Nude
09. S02E19 – The Dinner Party
10. S03E01 – A Real Cool Job
11. S03E02 – The Family Gun
12. S03E08 – Michael’s Big Fall
13. S03E14 – Cousin Cleatus
14. S03E15 – The Family Tree
15. S03E16 – A Place To Die
16. S04E02 – The Big Move (2)
17. S04E08 – J.J.’s New Career (2)
18. S04E09 – Grandpa’s Visit
19. S04E17 – Willona’s Surprise
20. S04E19 – A Stormy Relationship
21. S04E24 – Love Has A Spot On His Lung (2)
22. S05E01 – The Evans Get Involved (1)
23. S05E02 – The Evans Get Involved (2)
24. S05E03 – The Evans Get Involved (3)
25. S05E04 – The Evans Get Involved (4)
26. S05E20 – Willona, The Other Woman
27. S05E22 – Willona’s New Job
28. S06E06 – Stomach Mumps
29. S06E07 – J.J. The Teacher
30. S06E13 – House Hunting
31. S06E15 – Florida’s Favorite Passenger (2)
32. S06E17 – Where Have All The Doctors Gone?
33. S06E20 – A Matter Of Mothers
34. S06E21 – The End Of The Rainbow
35. S06E22 – The Evans’ Dilemma

TV Review: The Jeffersons

The story of CBSThe Jeffersons came into existence from the other CBS show All In The Family which focused on the lives of the Bunkers in the working-class area of Queens. A few characters of the Jeffersons family were playing supporting roles and extended cameos as Bunker’s neighbors.

The Jeffersons was the third and last most significant spin-off of All In The Family. Maude and Maude’s own spin-off Good Times were already airing before.

Norman Lear, the creator and developer of this comedy universe, had no such plans to have a separate sitcom for Bunker’s neighbors. It was the members of the Black Panther Party who met Norman Lear in his office and raised the topic of black portrayals in these existing sitcoms that gave birth to the idea of separating the Jeffersons from the Bunkers and give a try. The outcome was groundbreaking and culturally significant in US television history.

All In The Family ran for 9 seasons but The Jeffersons ran for 11 seasons and became one of the longest-running American sitcoms ever. The decade of 70s was also a milestone for black television entertainment with The Jeffersons being one of the pillars of the black sitcom cementing the trend for many dozens of Black sitcoms to lead in the following decades; the others being Sanford And Son (1972) and Good Times (1974). Soul Train in music and Roots in history were the other accomplishments on television for Black entertainment that decade.

Coming back to the review of this sitcom, the Jeffersons move from Queens to Manhattan after the patriarch George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) meets initial success in the dry-cleaning business.

Moving to a new lavish apartment, new characters in the neighborhood makes this sitcom even more special. The most prominent was the Willises (Tom and Helen), an interracial couple who became friends of George’s wife Louise (Isabel Sanford) and headache for George; their daughter Jenny (Berlinda Tolbert) who becomes Lionel‘s (Mike Evans) girlfriend and later his wife, Harry Bentley (Paul Benedict) the British neighbor who works for the UN, and Florence (Marla Gibbs) the talkative house-maid who is always on George’s nerve.

George is fond of no one in the new neighborhood and is greedy about generating more money all the time. His verbal one-on-one with Florence in every episode is the highest point of any rib-tickling humor in the show and worth enjoying.

Actress Marla Gibbs (as maid Florence Johnston) and actor Sherman Hemsley (as her boss, George Jefferson), appear together in the “Mr. Piano Man” episode of The Jeffersons.

The Jeffersons was communally significant for the black Americans to present a portrayal of a struggler who gives a shot into making money and becomes a successful entrepreneur. There was no such story centering around a black American who is rich and successful on which a comedy can really stretch to many seasons, this sitcom achieved it.

With 253 episodes, The Jeffersons held the record for most episodes in any black sitcom for around 25 years until House Of Payne broke in its 8th season.

In my observation, I believe the humor of the sitcom began to decline from its 8th season. I felt Norman Lear was stretching to create new tv records. The new arcs in the story, by that time, were not really that interesting. But the biggest disappointment about the show was CBS canceling the show, not bothering to inform the lead actors about the news, and not giving the show its proper and deserving finale. It was an insult after 11 years of the legacy of the sitcom and the hard work of the actors, writers, and directors.

Lastly, The Jeffersons will always be remembered for being the greatest black sitcom any American network has ever produced. I want to personally thank Norman Lear for creating this entire universe and to the Black Panther Party. Had they not stepped into his office, The Jeffersons would have never happened.

TV Review – Parks and Recreation

PARKS AND RECREATION — “One Last Ride” Episode 712/713 — Pictured: (l-r) Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer, Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Retta as Donna Meagle, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Jim O’Heir as Garry Gergich — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

If a sitcom happens to be created, produced, or written by Greg Daniels, enter the name in your watchlist because there is a chance that you develop fondness towards his show. Personally, I had watched his American adaptation of The Office, Space Force, and then Upload before Parks and Recreation, and none of these disappointed me. In fact, The Office is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms.

Parks And Recreation give you the same vibes as The Office. Why not? After all, both the sitcoms have been set up in the office. If The Office was based on a fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton where that crazy Michael Scott was the Branch Manager then ‘Parks And Recreation’ is based on a fictional Pawnee City Hall where Leslie Knope is the deputy director in Parks and Recreation department.

Amy Poehler‘s Leslie character went through changes with time. Leslie was a bit silly in the first season and then the attitude towards her responsibilities changed especially when she involved herself in politics when her progress began to grab attraction and got offers to run the campaign. The PR to politics journey of Leslie was excellent.

Besides Leslie, my favorite character was Nick Offerman‘s Ron Swanson, the department director. He was socially detached who had parted ways with his wife, Tammy played by Offerman’s real-wife, Megan Mullaly. His dialogues were sparingly thoughtful and sometimes a soft curmudgeon’s bible.

The writing of the show gave a lot of breathing to the supporting characters and made the Pawnee diary exciting. Correlated themes like media and journalism portrayals also helped in the plot continuity. Pawnee crackdown through the failing budget was also an interesting move.

Without a doubt, Chris Pratt‘s Andy Dwyer had the best character development in the show. From being a lazy ass to becoming a television celebrity, Andy’s journey was fun to watch.

At some point in the middle, I had a feeling that the show was possessing time and wasn’t continuing well. The comic timing of the characters was getting a little flat. Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford was an average beginning in a couple of seasons but then I began to ask myself what significance of the character really was. Tom was getting ridiculous minutes. Especially his comic partnership with Ben Schwartz‘s Jean-Ralphio in the show was extremely boring and annoying. If the latter’s contribution to the show was a question mark, the character’s sister Mona-Lisa raised the alarm about the decline of comic quality. Thank God, Jean and Mona were not promoted as regulars.

I will surely have one deep irritation about lacking the idea of not creating its own universe of department sitcoms. PR started after three or four seasons of The Office. The same team created both the shows, Greg Daniels and Michael Schur (yep, Dwight’s Amish brother, Mose Schrute). Both shows mostly ran together and that too on the same network, NBC. How could the producers not consider possible connectivity? Imagine Scranton-Pawnee crossovers! Michael Scott and Leslie Knope on the same stage!

Without a doubt, The Office was a way better sitcom than PR but the former should vanish from the mind in order to watch the fun of PR because, in all honesty, PR is really an exciting sitcom. I very much enjoyed it and will remember it for a long long time. The Office fans are definitely recommended to watch Parks And Recreation.

TV Review – Steptoe and Son

The poor father-son duo of Albert Steptoe and Harold Steptoe run a rag-and-bone business while living in Shepherd’s Bush, London. With time, Harold’s desires and aspirations meet Albert’s rigid tendency of accepting change. His naivety irritates Harold and pretends to be ill if the son leaves to live some portion of his life on his own. Dirty ol’ man Albert lies to unsuccessfully avoid the blame of his mischievous blunders. Albert jeopardizes wherever Harold takes him, say cinema, restaurant, party. The best writing lies in the generational conflict of these two characters for eight seasons and they never disappoint at all.

The old BBC classic sitcoms were always known for their rich content especially a thoughtful theme on which the quality of humor was so delicate and rib-tickling. Steptoe and Son (1962-1974) is an influential and groundbreaking sitcom that made its rounds in British households in the early 1960s, right on time. Because around three million people in Britain were living on the poverty line. So this sitcom was a fit to their sentiments, especially for the Cockneys.

I will not skip mentioning both the leading actors, Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett. I mean what better father-son chemistry you will ask for. The generational conflict and comic timing between them were so striking and growing their partnership with the viewers for years being the only two major characters of the show is extremely difficult. Even Sandford and Son needed the assistance of the supporting characters especially Aunt Esther but the original show remained constrained.

Another significance of this sitcom is its cult status in Britain. Steptoe and Son was easily the first well-known British sitcom about a working-class, describing poor working men living without women in different setups. You can take an example of Ronnie Barker‘s Porridge and Open All Hours in the 1970s or most specifically the greatest British sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. The sitcom’s international influence can be measured by the fact that American tv producer and developer Norman Lear adapted the show and created Red Foxx starred Sanford And Son for NBC. 16 of Steptoe and Son episodes were recreated in the American adaptation. Steptoe & Son helped Norman Lear build his legacy in the 1970s when his developed sitcoms on NBC and CBS dominated the decade.

Had Steptoe & Son never happened, I wonder what the state of comedy would be in both regions. This is easily one of the best British sitcoms I have ever watched.

My favorite Steptoe and Son episodes:
01 – Season.1 – Episode.1 – The Offer
02 – Season.1 – Episode.2 – The Bird
03 – Season.1 – Episode.3 – The Piano
04 – Season.1 – Episode.4 – The Economist
05 – Season.2 – Episode.2 – The Bath
06 – Season.2 – Episode.4 – Sixty-Five Today
07 – Season.2 – Episode.6 – Full House
08 – Season.2 – Episode.7 – Is That Your Horse Outside?
09 – Season.3 – Episode.1 – Homes Fit For Heroes
10 – Season.3 – Episode.2 – The Wooden Overcoats
11 – Season.3 – Episode.4 – Steptoe à la Cart
12 – Season.3 – Episode.5 – Sunday for Seven Days
13 – Season.4 – Episode.2 – Crossed Swords
14 – Season.5 – Episode.1 – A Death in the Family
15 – Season.6 – Episode.1 – Robbery with Violence
16 – Season.6 – Episode.2 – Come Dancing
17 – Season.6 – Episode.3 – Two’s Company
18 – Season.6 – Episode.5 – Without Prejudice
19 – Season.6 – Episode.6 – Pot Black
20 – Season.7 – Episode.3 – Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning
21 – Season.7 – Episode.4 – Live Now, P.A.Y.E. Later
22 – Season.7 – Episode.6 – Divided We Stand
23 – Season.8 – Episode.2 – And So To Bed
24 – Season.8 – Episode.3 – Porn Yesterday
25 – Season.8 – Episode.4 – The Seven Steptoerai
26 – Season.8 – Episode.5 – Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs
27 – Season.8 – Episode.6 – Seance in a Wet Rag and Bone Yard

TV Review – Downton Abbey

I am not sure from where to start because writing a mere formal review of a period costume-drama like Downton Abbey is unjustly and undeservingly shorter to write. I have a staunch interest in classic period dramas and that is why shows like Cranford and Poldark hit my list of the shows that I like the most under this classic genre. Downton Abbey is something else.

Created and written by Oscar and Emmy-winning writer and novelist Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is about the Crawley family who exists in the early 20th century when the world is shaping towards a difficult period in the European regions. In between 1912 and 1926, the Crawleys led by the patriarch Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, and his wife Cora, the American heiress, struggles to tackle many domestic conflicts running in the family and the business affairs that occur in the different phases.

The plotting of the show is divided into two different classes. One is the rich Crawleys and the other is their working staff. Their stories and characters play on parallel notes and are given equal importance that successfully shows that Downton Abbey is not only about the sophisticated luxury but the human value where the rich and the working class coordinate in harmony and build strong mutual respect. Internal conflicts and characterizations are dealt with with meticulous care. I liked how the three Crawley sisters were distinguished in characterization and their sisterhood was tested with time.

The presentation of their aristocracy and costume designing is the zenith of the show that never disappoints. Screenwriting and dialogues are powerful, less pragmatic but also less dramatic. There is a tremendous balance of dramatizing humor to the seriousness of the subject. When it comes to dialogues, the unanimous winner amongst all the characters is matriarch Violet Crawley played by the legendary Maggie Smith. Your ears won’t fall deaf when Violet begins to speak.

Speaking of pragmatism, I was a bit skeptical about the respect the writer builds between the Crawleys and their staff; because I felt the writer was being too humble to let the Crawleys go soft on their staff that doesn’t look realistic. But see, I am a history digger but I need to be convinced with the detailing. Does the history really make the viewers believe that the daughters of the estate would show fondness in driving the tractor or work her kitchen in the maid’s quarter or allow one of the staff to leave unpunished when the voice is to be raised? Lord Grantham letting his daughter marry a man, not from their ranks is also debatable. Being so merciful, generous, and treating so well to their servants is pretty doubtful. There was a scene where the ball was organized where each of the Crawleys dance with each of the servants. In another scene, Lord Grantham himself serves with a tray for a drink when working staff member Anna gives birth. Really don’t know if such things actually existed in the past and with such a level of delicacy.

Yes, Mr. Fellowes didn’t exaggerate glamorizing the royalness of the Crawleys but rather focused on the changing times where the family took time to accept change and this is where characterizing in the plot plays a major part. One impressive aspect that the show enlightened was the ladies of the estate supporting liberalism. All the three sisters Mary, Edith, and Sybil believed and advocated for the education and employment of women.

The most shocking moment of the show was the sudden death of Matthew Crawley, out of nowhere. Good to know that the character was deliberately killed because actor Dan Stevens decided to leave. Otherwise, there was no reason to kill the character that soon. My favorite character was definitely Violet Crawley, her presence was the minty alfresco. The other characters I very much liked were Mr. Carson, Mr. Molesley, and Lord Grantham. The best character development definitely was Thomas Barrow, he was someone to whom the viewers hated and loved equally.

Downton Abbey is a cult phenomenon and one of the masterpieces works on British television. One significant point about the show’s remarkable legacy is that the show comes into existence in the newest times as most of the classical masterpieces in British television history are from the previous century. After my Sons Of Anarchy addiction, if there is another show that hooked me and bought my time, it is Downton Abbey.