Downton Abbey returned to our screens this weekend with its lowest ever audience for an opening episode, yet it still managed 7.6 million. Among the deluge of staff redundancy, blackmail, and the onset of hospital closure, the episode was a cosy, cheerful watch. I couldn’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia for the days when Downton used to tell the Crawley family’s fortunes with panache, freshness and biting put-downs from Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith).
As a viewer I was left feeling neither underwhelmed nor overwhelmed. That said, the reason why I failed to be underwhelmed is because, alas, I lowered my expectations of Downton approximately three seasons ago. The show doesn’t have the melodrama or the sentimentality that it once did, and ironically this has caused it to lose bite. The acting is on-point, as always. It has to be. It’s the only thing keeping us 7.6 million on board.