Catching up with Downton Abbey .. season five makes you realize the beauty of Michelle Dockery

Jan 6th, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief

Michelle Dockery, aka Lady Mary on Downton Abbey.

This past Sunday evening I and my regular TV watching partner, along with millions of other viewers in North America, took in the fifth season premiere of “‘Downton Abbey’ … the PBS hit about dressing for dinner” (Melinda Henneberger).

At the end of the episode my TV partner and I exchanged some casual repartee on what had transpired. And in checking out a few related books in my basement library, I found a folded-paper reference to a too-long posting I put on this site early in February 2013 : “Is popularity of ‘Downton Abbey’ right, left, or something completely different?

It is a sign of advancing age, and other things too no doubt, that I had completely forgotten about this posting not quite two years later.  As I re-read the thing, however, back in my second floor office, with a view of the yard, I could see my side of the earlier casual repartee.

In my current mood I don’t want to go over any of this earlier ground. Anyone who wants such a thing can just consult the February 2013 piece (above, or CLICK HERE). What I want to do now is quickly explain why and how season five, episode one, finally made me realize the beauty of the English actress Michelle Dockery — who plays Lady Mary on “Downton Abbey,” famed for “fabulously arched brows … porcelain features and breathtaking snobbishness.”

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Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary ... wild currents lurk beneath her porcelain surface?

Louis Bayard in the New York Times has already complained about Lady Mary’s particular contribution to this past Sunday : “One of my favorite memories of Season 4 was seeing mud-spattered Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) cackling with merriment and recognizing that her face actually has some bend in it. More of that Mary, please! And less of the gloomy, graven drudge who strings along Tony G (Tom Cullen) and receives his offer of premarital sex as if it were a revisionist theory on crop rotation.”

But I suppose there is no accounting for taste. This same Lady Mary of the revisionist theory on crop rotation somehow turned me on. She has always seemed to me just too austere and porcelain for serious human consumption. But what I suddenly realized this past Sunday is that, whatever and wherever the mythical Lady Mary may go or be, the real-life actress Michelle Dockery is hot!

Michelle Dockery (l) and Girls creator Lena Dunham (r), at Paris Fashion Week, October 2013.

In some similar spirit I did try to explain to my regular TV watching partner just what I take season five of Downton Abbey to be all about. It is, in my view, a quite superior, high-class version of “The Young and the Restless” (or as some in the urban jungle to the north of us say, The Young and the Restaurant) on US daytime TV.

There was a lot of hand wringing in episode one of season five about the brief advent of  the first  Labour Party Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Ramsay MacDonald, in 1924. The times they were a changin in the 1920s, even for the old landed Tory aristocracy in the United Kingdom. But as any kind of real history it all seemed somehow contrived and unconvincing. For me at any rate (if not for my regular TV watching partner?) Louis Bayard in the New York Times finally summed everything up best :

Michelle Dockery, interviewed by the Daily Mail in September 2011.

The “most entertaining ‘Downton Abbey’ installment of the holiday season was not Episode 1 but the show’s nine-minute-plus fund-raising video, an alternative universe in which Lord Grantham is replaced by Lord Hollywood (George Clooney, looking like a California Sun King). New worlds of Eros erupt in this funny and knowing send-up, which reminds us that every cast member in ‘Downton Abbey’ is already a wink or two away from camp.”

And that’s what — or who — I think the real “Downton Abbey” needs nowadays too : George Clooney, as some new rich American, keen to possess something of Merrie Old England, to relieve the Babbittry of Anytown, USA. (A kind of Jay Gatsby meets Bertie Wooster narrative?) Mr. Clooney would finally give Lady Mary a worthy object for her affections. And the side of the real-life actress Michelle Dockery that really is hot would suddenly blossom, and attract several million more viewers on this side of the pond.
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