Downton Abbey has jumped the shark, over and over and over again. Either writer Julian Fellowes is toying with viewers by presenting an undercover farce, or “Julian Fellowes” is really a 15-year-old girl using devices common to her age, such as sudden plot lurches, melodrama, tortured simplicity, and outlandish improbability. What started in Season One as a measured, engrossing, and beautiful series has become a weekly, preposterous chore.
Is Laura Linney in on the gag? Has she seen the episodes she is introducing?
Fonzie only jumped the shark once. Here are seven times Downtown Abbey has jumped the shark.
1. Downton Becomes a Hospital
Downtown’s grandest shark jump took place when the estate was turned into a hospital for World War I wounded in Season Two, Episode 3. The subtleties and grandeur of the drama were replaced by noise, racket, bandages, beds, and scores of visitors. To believe this disruption, one must believe that the village is an efficient destination for the war wounded. One must also assume there aren’t other barns, churches, banquet halls, or any other building closer to a railhead capable of handling the casualties. The Downton-becomes-a-hospital frolic and detour sucked the life out of the series and led to even more absurd, improbable plot twists such as the return of Thomas to Downton, the liaison of the maid Ethel and Major Bryant under Lord Grantham’s roof, and the patently impossible return of the terminal William to both die and marry Daisy. Downton as hospital also produced a plot twist so ridiculous it deserves its own shark-jumping moment.