Get right to the action

There’s a bit of a flap over Downton Abbey, the British television series now being shown on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater. It’s been reported that the version shown in the U. S. was cut from eight hours to six.

The change seems to be rooted in Americans’ short attention span and desire to get right to the action.

There’s also the problem of the entail, which Americans might not understand.

Oh, well. I could be insulted by the slander regarding the attention span. One of the people who implied that, however, is an American. Also, I’ve heard the same thing about my manuscript: Hook readers with the first sentence, and get the murder in by the end of chapter three.

But I do think most Yanks watching Masterpiece have patience enough to delay gratification, and intelligence enough to figure out the provisions of the entail.

I understood most of I, Claudius. Ancient Rome was more foreign and more complex than pre-World War I England. I understood Fawlty Towers, too–even Manuel, and he was from Barcelona.

Some say the two versions of Downton Abbey differ because PBS programming isn’t interrupted by advertising. Some have said the two are essentially the same.

Whatever. When all is said and done, I’ll watch it on Netflix and decide for myself.

Until then, I’ll be grateful for the fuss. It’s given me something to write about.

Coming soon: The Entail

Day 12: Ten more minutes

Harry Pearce is in trouble.

Big trouble.

And I’m sitting here, heart rate elevated, breath coming fast, as worried as if Harry were real.

Several months ago I discovered MI5. It’s running on the local PBS station. Programs from an early series air on Thursday nights at 9:00. Programs from a more recent series air on Friday nights at 10:00 and rerun Sundays at midnight.

I’m hooked. I watch them all.

The scripts are well-written, suspenseful, fast. They assume a modicum of intelligence on the part of the viewer.

And they’re unpredictable.

The writers kill their stars.

I’ve seen several go. One was dispatched just now.

I knew it was going to happen. A couple of months ago I read some plot summaries online.

I almost never read ahead, but in this case I’m glad I did. I was able to prepare myself. Knowing made things easier.

The thing is, I didn’t read far enough. I didn’t know Harry would be threatened.

If the writers did away with all the others, there’s no reason they should flinch at disposing of Harry.

So I don’t know what will happen.

And I care what happens.

Ten more minutes…