Sarah Wrote That

Downton Galactica

  • Adama = Lord Grantham
  • Roslin = Cora
  • Tigh = Dowager Countess
  • Apollo = Matthew
  • Starbuck = Mary
  • Dualla (or Zac) = Lavinia
  • Baltar = Edith (?) Thomas
  • Sharon = Sybil
  • Helo = Tom (Branson)
  • Gaeta = Carson
  •   ?   = Mrs. Hughes
  • Tory = O’Brien
  • Tyrol = Bates
  • Cally = Anna
  • Cottle = Clarkson
  • Galactica = The Abbey
  • CIC/Colonial One = upstairs
  • Flight deck/pilots’ areas = downstairs
  • Fleet = Village
  • Preserve the fleet/human race = preserve the family/aristocracy

Adama and Starbuck, Lord Grantham and Lady Mary; Mary and Matthew, Starbuck and Apollo—individual personalities (and general competence) differ, but their relative positions in social hierarchies, and the resulting tensions and affinities, peel away the surface of Rolls and Vipers to very similar narrative engines: caution vs. audaciousness, directness vs. subterfuge, desire for preservation vs. change.

But while Galactica’s full-length seasons accommodate bottle episodes and outright stinkers, Downton’s mini-seasons, plus the number of subplots Julian Fellowes sets simmering, and his apparently increasing concern that we note prevailing social currents, leave little space for extraneous dialogue. Characters are always talking about what the episode is About. The Dowager Countess gets her zingers, but they are now so expected that however well they’re set up and delivered—like the brilliance of her telling her son she’d thought he was a waiter—they, or the anticipation of them, are the stuff of a different kind of show than the music under the credits suggests. I kept hoping for digressions through the metronome-paced dinner scenes in the season 3 premiere, but dialogue remained doggedly on. The. Nose. In Galactica, Lee and Starbuck’s tension and chemistry, uncertainty about what it would come to, the pleasure of it moment by moment, remains a rich vein right up until she vanishes into thin air throughout. Very few episodes concern it per se, but we can forecast exactly what a lifelong disaster it would be. In Downton, Matthew has finally told Mary that he couldn’t be happy with anyone else as long as he knows she is in the world, but, at least in the American edit, their honeymoon is elided. Fittingly—what do they talk or care about except the A Plot?

Downton’s best episodes—the Christmas special, the premiere—are stunningly orchestrated, in event, in scene changes and the flickering from one plot line to another, but even there, I now can’t help tracing J.J. Abrams-like tendencies: keep so many things in doubt that the audience is more committed to what hasn’t happened than to what’s on screen. But it becomes difficult to feel one way or another about what happens to characters whom you begin to suspect exist only to get you to their final scenes. In Galactica, though Starbuck was a natural pilot, Adama a seasoned commander, the war—their work—resonates because it yanks them from lives that continue to torment them. With all the disastrous events that befall the Crawleys, they never quite seem interrupted or unprepared. They’ve been talking about the plot all along.

  1. shana-rosee reblogged this from sarahwrotethat and added:
    Other than the idea of Sybil at one point having a sexual relationship with Bates I’m totally loving this!
  2. curiositycabint reblogged this from alexanderchee and added:
    This is so great.
  3. alexanderchee reblogged this from sarahwrotethat and added:
    I would say Baltar is more Thomas. And Hughes is Caprica 6.
  4. kaash said: wow, I really have to get on Downton Abbey to be able to enjoy this properly!
  5. sarahwrotethat posted this