Most folks are catching ‘Downtown Abbey” on PBS. No, it’s no ‘American Idol,’ ‘Bachelor,’ or ‘Housewives of New Jersey.’ Theists and Atheists alike can thank god…! This BBC classic features great roles, great scripts, great dialog. And in recent polling a great surprise.
Among the fan favorites is the downstairs headmaster Mr Carson. What? Chunky, staid, stuffed-shirt Mr Carson who seems to be all rules and no heart? That’s right. And I have a theory why.
This very proper Edwardian English servant is the quiet but steady personification of all that is right and proper and neatly-in-place about our lives. He may not display much vision for the new, but he surely understands and protects the finest of the old.
Yes, old! Which is what makes his popularity among young viewers so surprising. Could it be that youth harbors little quiet yearnings for lost form & formality? Long-gone rules of dress and etiquette and respect that they somehow miss even without ever actually having lived it? It’s something like watching the young cool Hollywood hunks and starlets ooh and awe whenever some well-bred, Oxford-speaking film winner comes to the stage with a quiet flourish of rare style and polish.
The aristocratic Oscar Wilde comes once more to mind: “America is the only country that has gone from primitivism to barbarism without ever going through civilization…”
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