You don’t have to be a professional literary critic to know this: A bona fide story is driven by an author’s vision of reality. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A soap opera—on the other hand—is driven by the contract negotiations of its actors. It has a beginning, an implausible-stringing-along-until-the-ratings-give-out, and an end.
Forgive me for preferring the integrity of the former over the dishonesty of the latter and for coming to the conclusion that “Downton Abbey” has firmly ensconced itself in the latter category. I had high hopes that the elaborate drama would transcend, but the program is turning out to be nothing more than “Dallas” at tea.