This post contains Spoilers regarding the Season Three final episode of "Downton Abbey". So, if you still haven't watched that recording of this episode you made almost two weeks ago, stop right here. But come on back once you have seen it.
Almost two weeks have passed since the final episode of Season Three was broadcast on PBS, and fans of the series are still reeling from the events of the season. Early on, we had to deal with the death of Lady Sybil, and in the final ten minutes of the last show, we saw Matthew Crawley meet his maker. Who saw THAT coming?
Of course, we must never forget that "Downton Abbey" is a soap opera. A well-made and high quality one, to be sure, but still, a soap opera, and so once the initial shock of these two deaths passed, we really shouldn't be surprised that these events took place. In reading about these episodes AFTER they were telecast, you learn that these characters were killed off for one of the oldest reasons in television: the actors - Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens - wanted out, had contractual difficulties, and/or, and here's the best part, wanted to "pursue other opportunities".
Now, where have we heard that one before? Are you like me, and did the name Maclean Stevenson spring to mind? Stevenson, for all you youngsters out there, was one of the co-stars of the hit TV series M*A*S*H back from 1972-83. However, that wasn't enough for Stevenson. He wanted more. He wanted to be a star in his own series. So he left M*A*S*H after three seasons, and was pretty much never heard from again, and M*A*S*H ran for another eight years. David Caruso thought he'd be a movie star so he bagged "NYPD Blue", and pretty much dissed series television as the minor leagues, until, of course, he bombed in movies and came running back to series TV (CSI:Miami) with his tail between his legs. Katherine Heigl won an Emmy in Grey's Anatomy, but, again, contractual differences and the need to be a movie star called her away from that gravy train. She has since been featured in any number of bomb romantic comedies. She's probably crying all the way to the bank, but still.
I am sure if I thought hard enough, I could come up with more such examples, but you get the idea. In the meantime, let's just add the names of Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens as the early nominees for the 2013 "Maclean Stevenson Award - British Division".
Another thought on "Downton Abbey", this one courtesy of friend Dave Jones (The Official Fantasy Sports Kommissioner to The Grandstander). If you are a fan of both "Downton Abbey" and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire", have you realized that both of these shows are taking place in approximately the same time period? Think about it, while the Grantham's are dealing with the rigors and strains of life in the fading days of the British Aristocracy following World War I, across the pond, Nucky Thompson and his guys are trying to control the flow of booze and all organized crime in Atlantic City. What a contrast of life styles!
The producers missed a great opportunity for a crossover, when Nucky went to Ireland in Season Two to meet with IRA rebels to corner the American market for Irish whiskey. Wouldn't it have been a hoot if he had met with Thomas Branson while there? As for me, I'd love to see a "sit-down" involving Nucky Thompson and the Dowager Countess. That would be Must See TV!