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Series didn’t make him one of the ‘Downton’ faithful

Saturday, March 2, 2013 - 12:01 am

I like a lot of things from the United Kingdom.

Mary Poppins and James Bond, for instance. Separately, not together, of course — although I'm sure Q could come up with some sort of flying umbrella for 007 to stash in the glove compartment of his Aston Martin while working undercover as a chimney sweep.

And how cool would it be to have the world's favorite nanny identify herself as, “Poppins ... Mary Poppins”? Hmmm, I see an off-the-wall Tim Burton fantasy reboot somewhere down the line.

England also gave us some of the greatest music of all time way back in the mid-'60s, with acts such as the Dave Clark Five, the Searchers, Petula Clark, the Who (the what?), Gerry and the Pacemakers, and that other quartet whose name escapes me at the moment. (I believe the drummer's name was Bingo, or something like that. And he wore a lot of bling.)

And let's not forget Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips or Diana Rigg. They just don't make 'em like her in Minnesota.

One thing coming out of the British Isles I just don't get is the PBS series “Downton Abbey.” Since critics — and my wife — love it, I had to check it out to see what I am missing. As it turns out, not much.

It strikes me as just another soap opera, albeit a little more difficult to understand. It was no more intriguing than Luke and Laura 30 years ago. (Still not really sure if those two were the family pets or a pair of matching salt and pepper shakers.)

If you like the accent and want some “humour” instead of a dry, sometimes downright depressing period piece, catch some reruns of “The Vicar of Dibley.” The funny and quirky cast of characters rivals anything else on PBS — with the possible exception of “Sesame Street.”

Mike Marin is a cranky curmudgeon who, when he’s not yelling at kids to get off his lawn, likes to complain about the sad state of popular culture, especially as seen through a TV screen. His email address is This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.