We interrupt stories about grandkids to bring you this message about my current favorite show, Downton Abbey. If you haven't seen it yet, go watch it. Watch it now. Then come back.
Okay. Now, I happen to love the entire genre of "crunchy gravel," so called because there are lots of driveways with carriages that drive up and make lots of noise on that wonderful gravel. It usually means it's a costume drama, set at least 100 years back, but I believe there should be a few more qualifications to be called fully crunchy gravel. Here they are:
1. Horse-drawn carriages must be the primary mode of transportation. Downton Abbey has horses, and carriages, but it's now 1916 on the show, and there are a number of "horseless carriages." Horses being an important part of crunchy gravel for fans, this is a drawback to Downton Abbey. We crunchy lovers also love horses, so more carriages and fewer cars, please.
2. String quartets supply the primary background music to a proper crunchy gravel. There can be occasional simple piano accompaniment, with singing by a slightly off-key secondary character, but string quartets are essential. They provide the appropriate quiet pace that we love so much. Once again, Downton Abbey doesn't quite match up here, as they have an appalling attachment to full symphonic scores. A little enthusiastic, Downton.
3. The main character's making a good marriage should be the absolute basis to the show's plot. Other subplots are allowed, but marital status is of upmost importance to the character. Wars are ever so slightly interesting, in that they might separate our character from her intended, but, mostly, we want marriages, or at least engagements. Downton's given us a couple of engagements so far, but we really need more to keep our interest.
4. Colin Firth should be the leading man. We don't care how old he is, we'll take him. Downton Abbey: no Colin Firth. There's definitely a lack there.
All in all, I'd have to say that Downton Abbey needs to work a bit harder if it wants to call itself a true crunchy gravel. Not to say it's not the best TV you'll see all year. If only Colin Firth were in it.