10 Differences if “Downton Abbey” had been made for American television
I know I am several years late to this party, but I’ve only recently discovered Downton Abbey. I had no idea of its power, otherwise I never would have approached the event horizon of its attention-absorbing black hole. As it is, my wife and I are irreversibly sucked in. We shall be spat out only when we run out of episodes on Amazon Prime or the brilliant BBC wonks stop producing it. Curse those amazing Brits and their fantastic casting, self-loathing rapier wit, and unimpeachable writing!
But it got me wondering: what would Downton Abbey have been like if it had been produced by Americans, for American TV? I’m pretty sure the following list sums it up.
10. Bates murders Thomas in the first season, accompanied by a pithy one-liner (“somebody’s going DOWN in Downton…”). He then develops a taste for vigilantism and goes to London in search of Jack the Ripper.
“… and after that, it’s that Carmen San Diego broad…”
9. Lady Edith is slowly transformed into the unpredictable Kramer-esque breakout character with an over-used, buzz-worthy catchphrase: “Mary! Kiss my kippers!” [laugh track]
“I received a letter today from cousin Urkel…”
8. Sarah O’Brien is revealed to be distantly related to Nelly Olsen from “Little House on the Prairie”. There is a crossover episode.
7. Dabney Coleman plays “OverLord Grantham”, a vicious, abusive industrialist making gilded-age wealth on the backs of child labor and gleeful pollution. His nemesis is an inexplicable environmental rights solicitor played by Kate Winslet.
“Carson, when will the orphans be served? For dinner?” [evil cackle]
6. They have a torrid love/hate affair in the third season.
“Slightly better than floating on a headboard in the Atlantic.”
5. Matthew Crawley uses the family fortune to build “Titanic Too, the Sequel”. He accompanies it on its maiden voyage and is shipwrecked on an Island. There, he builds a weird hatch and a button with a timer attached to it. He has a polar bear for some reason.
[sniff] “Smells like new money.”
4. Carson the Butler spends his free time solving murders in nearby villages with the help of his sidekick, a cockney street urchin played by Jaden Smith. During season four, they briefly leave Downton Abbey to attempt their own spin-off series called “Carson and the Kid”.
“Pray, inform the constable that we have located Lord Mustard’s candlestick. It was in the Library.”
3. The entirety of season five is a self-contained story arc in which aliens invade Downton intent on abducting Lady Mary as their queen. Her parents are ecstatic about this plan, but Mary screws it up somehow by being horrible. Aunt Rosamund is revealed to be a giant praying mantis wearing a human suit. The aliens wipe everyone’s memories and leave, thus nullifying the entire season.
“Those aren’t feathers. They’re my antennae.”
2. In season six, Daisy the scullery maid witnesses the Dowager Countess using a magic wand to turn a teacup into a frog. She doesn’t tell anyone, but suddenly starts wearing a burgundy-and-gold knitted scarf and calling the family “My Muggle Lord and lady”. The Countess pays for Daisy’s silence with Leprechaun gold.
“Have the chauffeur drop her off in Knockturn Alley.”
1. In the final season, the entire family moves to Dallas, Texas and gets into the oil business. Cora miraculously gets pregnant with a son, whom they name “John Ross”. Downstairs, everyone starts calling him “J. R.”.
[sniff] “Smells like old money.”