Monday, March 05, 2012

How To Appropriately Recycle Ideas

As I mentioned recently, I just finished watching the second season of Downton Abbey in a feverish marathon. I like that period and enjoyed the show, though not as much as many of my Facebook Friends did. What happened was that in the third episode of season one I realized I'd seen a scene in a car between the chaffeur and one of the fancy daughters before. A very similar scene appears in the Upstairs, Downstairs sequel. Because it's set pre-WWII instead of pre-WWI, the UD chauffeur and fancy sister (instead of daughter) were either Communist or Nazi sympathizers while the DA chauffeur and daughter were an Irish revolutionary and...I never figured out what Sybil was doing there, actually.

From that point, I realized that I'd seen a lot of Downton Abbey before. It's very similar to the original Upstairs, Downstairs, which was wildly popular and which I saw in reruns, maybe in the early '80s. Yes, people, I am older than dirt, but my mind hasn't quite failed me yet. I remember the butler, the chunky, bossy cook, the poor kitchen maid, the younger upstairs woman who gets involved with politics, someone going down on the Titanic, someone dying during the Spanish Influenza epidemic. I don't remember if there were any WWI battle scenes, as there were in Downton, but I recall a heart-breaking one in a train station as Johnnie went off to war.

Okay, both series deal with that society's experience of its era and so how different should anyone expect them to be? But, still, seriously, there is a lot of overlap.

I thought it was odd that no one else seemed to notice. But in spite of our culture's love for nostalgia, it doesn't seem to have a lot of real memory. So I started wondering if maybe if every generation or two...or every's acceptable and interesting to do an update of some popular work. Clearly this is something I've thought about before, because a couple of years ago I tried to do a twenty-first century version of Nan Gilbert's 365 Bedtime Stories, but the effort evolved into something else.

After this past weekend's viewing, I wondered if I should try again. Not necessarily with 365 Bedtime Stories, but with something.

1 comment:

Katy said...

I haven't been able to watch "Downton Abbey" yet, though my friends also love it. I read and loved several Upstairs Downstairs novels as a teen. But I think that both of them were inspired by a real maid's memoir, which I have gotten some requests for at my library.