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Downton Abbey and The Price of Poor Casting

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February 25, 2013

Downton Abbey and The Price of Poor Casting

By Tim Romano

Today's Fly Talk entry is a guest post from our friend Chris Santella. You might know Chris from from his "Fifty Places" series of books, his work in The New York Times, Forbes.com, The New Yorker, Golf, Travel & Leisure, …and many others.

Chris and I were chatting the other day about the portrayal fishing on TV and in advertising, which as I'm sure you know is just god awful 99 percent of the time. To make a long story short, during the course of the conversation we both admitted to watching the season finale of Downton Abbey and were aghast at the sight of such horrible spey casting. Anyway, I'll stop trying to explain and let Chris take it from here. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Barring any miraculous interventions Dame Maggie Smith might have up her billowing sleeves, Matthew Crawley, the young heir of Downton Abbey, is dead.
 
One could identify a number of plausible reasons to relish in Matthew’s demise: his perfectly combed hair (even in the foxholes), his smirk that wavers between knowingness and idiocy, his decision to pursue the deflowered Mary when the late Sybil was so much nicer and better looking.
 
But anyone who happened to watch the Season 3 finale knows the real reason Matthew has left us: his fly cast. After a promising shot of a fly box in the episode’s opening, we knew a fishing scene was coming. As it was to be set in Scotland, we knew it would involve spey rods. As it was 1922 (or somewhere thereabouts), we knew they’d be cane.
 
We just didn’t think that Matthew would slap the rod down on the water like he was engaged in a joyless bit of sadomasochism with a switch and Lady Mary. Does he lack a proper casting stroke because of his more modest uprbringing?
 
Did his ghillie refuse to give him any instruction?
 
Were his arms worn out after wresting the salmon (that we see later in the scene, borne by said ghillie) from the stream?
 
It’s unclear. But we cannot help but conclude that Matthew was written out of the script precisely because of his limp, insipid casting stroke. (It was all foretold with Matthew’s earlier bouts of impotence.) --Chris Santella

Comments (8)

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I seldom ever see an advertisement, or a segment of a show where the angler appears to be a decent fly caster. Decent flycasters must command a higher pay scale, thus they chose an uncoordinated bloke to do the casting.

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from Douglas wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I think Matthew wreaked his car while gloating over that oversize fish he caught and daydreaming about getting back to Scotland.
All in all, I am bummed that he has been killed. Is this where the expression "He bought the farm" comes from?
His hunting scenes were worse that the fly fishing.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I hope no one saw me chucking the 8wt for muskie yesterday. I'd be written out of the script for sure.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

What makes casting difficult is those Barbour coats. Classy looking, but very heavy. Hard to lift your arms up.

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from ambauen wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Tim- you bastard, now I'll never convince Jeff to join me in re-watching the entire Downton Abbey series from the beginning. I was so close...

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from timromano wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

ha ha...

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from Matthew Matzek wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I'm so relieved to see this post. My mother was watching this show, and I sat in the family room with her, though I was otherwise preoccupied with some reading. I saw this scene and thought to myself, "That doesn't look like a good cast." However, I dismissed this from my mind as I know that I am not an expert in the field. It's nice to know that I can at least tell a good cast from a bad one.

I did mention to mama that Scottish game guides are known as ghillies. This I knew for a fact

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from coosabass2012 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Now I have to go watch it in the on demand re-run section! Ugh...

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I seldom ever see an advertisement, or a segment of a show where the angler appears to be a decent fly caster. Decent flycasters must command a higher pay scale, thus they chose an uncoordinated bloke to do the casting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I think Matthew wreaked his car while gloating over that oversize fish he caught and daydreaming about getting back to Scotland.
All in all, I am bummed that he has been killed. Is this where the expression "He bought the farm" comes from?
His hunting scenes were worse that the fly fishing.

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from buckhunter wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

I hope no one saw me chucking the 8wt for muskie yesterday. I'd be written out of the script for sure.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

What makes casting difficult is those Barbour coats. Classy looking, but very heavy. Hard to lift your arms up.

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from ambauen wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Tim- you bastard, now I'll never convince Jeff to join me in re-watching the entire Downton Abbey series from the beginning. I was so close...

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from timromano wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

ha ha...

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from Matthew Matzek wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

I'm so relieved to see this post. My mother was watching this show, and I sat in the family room with her, though I was otherwise preoccupied with some reading. I saw this scene and thought to myself, "That doesn't look like a good cast." However, I dismissed this from my mind as I know that I am not an expert in the field. It's nice to know that I can at least tell a good cast from a bad one.

I did mention to mama that Scottish game guides are known as ghillies. This I knew for a fact

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coosabass2012 wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Now I have to go watch it in the on demand re-run section! Ugh...

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