Folks who normally wouldn’t be caught dead setting their DVRs to PBS on a Sunday night are suddenly ravenous for the dirty details of Lady Mary’s sex life (hint: she has one), Lady Edith’s love life (not so much), and Lady Sybil’s unaccountable need to wander into the garage approximately seventy skillion times a week (funny how that happens).
And don’t even get me started on the Dowager Countess. I’d be willing to accelerate the aging process and wear grapes on my hat if it meant that I could be even a little bit like her.
And so would you. Be honest.
So based on the search traffic that has lead people to my blog over the last few months, I can see that Downton Abbey has still left at least a few burning questions unanswered. And because I have absolutely no claims to special knowledge here at all, I thought I’d take a moment to answer them.
Because the internet, that’s why.
Here are the top four or five questions Google tells me are still keeping you up at night. Feel free to send me more! I live to serve! Okay not really!
Where are the Downton Abbey deleted scenes?
Okay, so this is one I actually know. The sad truth is that most Americans have been woefully deprived of at least 10 to 15 minutes worth of Edwardian angst every episode. This is apparently because Americans are dumb, and we need to have smart, entertaining television whittled down to suit our pathetic, underfed minds.
No, seriously. PBS shortens most BBC and iTV programs that they get from the UK, and I’m not entirely sure why. Sometimes we lose entire subplots, although this doesn’t seem to have happened (so far) in Downton Abbey. But you will miss the occasional scene, like Branson adorably twiddling with the white chicken feather he was given in series two. It was a nice little moment, added some context to the whole situation, and gave some extra depth to the guy’s somewhat underexplored characterization.
But hey, that’s okay. We understand. Our fragile little American minds can’t handle entire episodes of British TV. Why, we might start demanding excellence everywhere in our broadcast TV! And then where would we be? Honestly now.
Bottom line: If you want to see the complete, unadulterated episodes, buy the DVDs. Or better still, move to the UK. The tea’s much better there, anyway.
How many seasons of Downton Abbey will there be?
As many as Julian Fellowes can crank out, for as long as we remain interested. Or until he gets bored.
I’ll admit, I was surprised to see the entire Great War get wrapped up within the tidy confines of just one season. They could’ve mined that vein for years! But no, here we are at the beginning of Season Three, hurtling our way into the roaring twenties, wondering what fresh hell history will have to plunge us into next.
Bottom line: There will be more Downton Abbey to come. We’ve already been promised a season 3, due to release in the UK in September 2012. Fellowes has already said there will be a storyline involving Catholicism, which leads one to hope that we will follow more closely the adventures of Lady Sybil and Branson in Dublin. For a little preview of what they might be in for, you might want to brush up on your history of what’s generally known as The Troubles.
Spoiler alert: Things go badly for Ireland. Again.
Of course every series needs an endgame, some sort of compelling narrative arc that doesn’t get resolved until the Amazing And Shocking Final Episode. And since Matthew and Mary have been left happily embracing in the gently falling snow, it doesn’t look like we’ll be spending quite as much time watching them angstily repressing their feelings for each other as we have in the first two seasons.
Which leaves Bates and Anna, I think, as the main storyline for season three. And I have my own theories about that little nugget, let me tell you.
Predictions for Season 3
Okay, okay, okay. You want my theories? Really? After what I said after Season One? Hope springs eternal, I guess. As does, in my case at least, the never ending desire to be able to say I called it.
You want theories? Here’s mine:
- Bates is saved by a mysterious reprieve that nobody can trace with any real accuracy, but seems to come from somewhere high up in government circles. Why? Because he didn’t kill Vera, silly old bear, the freaking Turkish embassy did. Honestly. Do I have to do all the heavy lifting around here? What was the last thing Vera did before she died? Threatened to sell Mary’s story to the odious Sir Richard Carlisle. Who, still fooling himself that he was about to marry into the family, paid her off and threatened her with ruin if she tried to sell it elsewhere. Well, as we all know, threats are like oxygen to Vera Bates. If she’s not being threatened, she figures she’s doing something wrong. So I imagine she went off next to the Turks to see if they happened to have any money burning a hole in their pockets. And the Turkish embassy turns out to be, if anything, even more averse to scandal than the House of Crawley. So they off her. Hey presto, no more problems for the friends of Mr. Pamuk. Big problems for Mr. Bates, but who really cares about him. I figure this comes out, in part or in whole, and is related to the family by none other than the altogether delightful and sorely missed
- Evelyn Napier. God, I love that guy. He’s really just too good a character to give up, so I’m holding out hope that we’ll see him again. There’s a sizable contingent of the DA fandom online that wants to see an Edith/Napier pairing, but I’m as yet unconvinced of the desirability of that one. Convince me, Fellowes. I dare you. Meanwhile, I predict that
- Branson becomes a hero in the Troubles, which launches his brilliant political career. Either that, or he dies a tragic martyr’s death, sending Lady Sybil and her baby back to Downton Abbey, where she launches her brilliant political career. Either way, I only see exciting things ahead for this dashing young couple. And by exciting I mean utterly tragic and heartbreaking.
What novel is Downton Abbey based on?
This one is closely related to a similar query, which goes something like:
Is there a Downton Abbey book?
The short answer is no — Downton Abbey is an original drama that is being written as we go along. Julian Fellowes is no fool, and I imagine he has had his endgame in mind all along, but the temptation to spool this out as long as humanly possible has got to be a powerful one. Nevertheless, I don’t think he is any kind of writerly whore, so he will probably tidy up this series long before we tire of it, which means that yes, there will be an endless succession of Downton-Abbey-esque books to fill the gaping maw of need. They just won’t be by him.
Bottom line: No, there isn’t an actual Downton Abbey novel that you can buy. But there will be lots of spin-offs and variations on the theme in the months to come. And I for one welcome our new Edwardian overlords. How could I not? With any luck at all, cravats will come back into fashion. And then I will become a public menace. True story.
Those are the big ones. Let’s round this post up with a few of the less frequently asked questions, which are no less hilarious for their infrequency:
Who thinks John Bates is sexy?
Me. I happen to be among the legions of women who find decency and honor attractive in the extreme, which is, I suppose, one reason why I’ve also got the hots for Napier.
Do Mary and Matthew end up together?
Yep. Absolutely. Hopefully we’ll get a tearjerker of a wedding one of these days. Presumably, this is why Cora’s mother (to be played by the excellently cast Shirley MacLaine) is coming over from America in Season 3. Also to give Cousin Violet a run for her money in the Chilling Bon Mot department, no doubt. This might — might — result in an unholy alliance of Cousin Isobel and Cousin Violet, but I wouldn’t count your chickens.
When will Edith get some?
Honest to god, this is an actual, verbatim question that people are asking Google. It gives me such delight to know that folks care so much about Lady Edith’s love life, and that this combination of words somehow leads them to my site. I must be doing something right. Well, I certainly hope she gets some soon. As I’ve said before, I’m not fully signed on with the whole Edith/Napier thing, but I suppose I could be convinced. On the other hand, plenty of women went unmarried in the years after the Great War, as it managed to kill off practically an entire generation of young men. It wouldn’t be unrealistic at all for her to remain a single lady. Perhaps she’ll take up writing. She seems the type.
So what other Downton Abbey questions are still burning a hole in your soul with their desperate state of unansweredness? I am always happy to dispense with the answers, as long as you understand that I don’t actually know a damn thing about a damn thing.