Two seasons on (Kathy and I have now watched five seasons), I am prepared to declare Julian Fellowes’ British saga the best pure soap opera in the history of television (and I don’t use the words ‘soap opera’ in a derogatory way; I have always liked good soap operas). Note: When I say ‘pure’ soap opera, I disqualify superior shows like Six Feet Under.
The ensemble cast is superb, the writing is almost flawless (despite being written by a Conservative Lord, no less) and the production values are as good as any in TV. Best of all, Downton Abbey is, overall, about humanization and the struggle to become a better person. Wonderful television that should not be missed (unlike a host of others I could name). **** all the way. My mug is held high.
Three seasons later (we are now halfway through season seven), my opinion of Doctor Who has changed. While there are some major problems with the morality of the eleventh doctor (played by Matt Smith), I was surprised to find him utterly irresistible. And the writing around him is, in my opinion, much funnier and smarter than the writing in the previous four seasons (though there are still far too many episodes that don’t withstand close scrutiny, in terms of making logical sense). Blink (from the fourth season) remains my favourite episode, but, in general, I have enjoyed the Matt Smith episodes much more than those which preceded him. I quite enjoy the entire River Song storyline and, for reasons I can’t describe, like Amy Pond and Rory Williams more than the doctor’s previous companions. As a result, Doctor Who is now firmly in ***+ territory and all those who had been encouraging me, for years, to watch this show can now consider me a fan. My mug is up.