Monday, January 28, 2013


A birth and a death. A former prostitute. Kitchen and estate conflicts. The continuing saga of Mr. Bates’ murder conviction. The old guard represented by Grandmamma; the new by Mathew’s mother, Mrs. Crowley. These themes and more were all layered deliciously in the fourth segment of Downton Abbey.
            But two doctors arguing vehemently and loudly about life and death treatment for a woman in labor? In front of the family yet? Please. Now I know Downton Abbey is a fairy tale!
            But what a fairy tale. And how interesting and surprising as each doctor proves to be right-- and then wrong-- about their diagnosis of Lady Sybil, leading to her death. The baby survives, as everyone upstairs and downstairs in Downton Abbey mourns Lady Sybil— no doubt among millions of viewers all over the world.
            Meanwhile there is a conflict about running the estate—with more foreshadowed to come—between young Mathew, whose money saved Downton Abbey, and Lord Crowley, the head honcho-- also illustrating the generational conflict between the status-quo and moderninity.
            Here’s what I especially like about Downtown Abbey:
            * It’s gentleness amidst all the violence in television and movies-- and in life.      
            *The classically trained actors.
            *The depiction of a unique time and place that is gone forever, never to return.
            *It’s awareness of the changes in society and the world.
            *The beauty of the production.
            * The pleasure of living vicariously with dozens of servants (cooks, drivers, footmen. Ladies maids! Valets! Who dress you!)
            *I love stories and this is a good one!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Downtown Abbey: Season 3, Episode 2

Confronted by a letter Lavinia sent from her deathbed endowing her wealth to Mathew, he finally relented and used his inheritance to save Downton Abbey. (Surprise surprise)

After keeping us—and the Abbey staff --in suspense about whether Mrs. Hughes is sick we learn with relief before the hour is up that she doesn’t have cancer.

Anna, in her search for information that can prove her husband’s innocence and obtain his release from a lifetime in prison, learns that the woman he is convicted of killing was afraid of him! Could our nice Mr. Bates really be a murderer? If so, I think it could put some interesting teeth into the story.

And poor Lady Edith! As if being outshone by her prettier sisters for her entire life wasn’t enough of a humiliation, she is jilted publicly by the groom as she stands at the alter in her wedding gown. Only a total jerk would do something that horrible to a woman so maybe she is well rid of him.

My favorite character in Downton Abbey is Mathew’s mother, Mrs. Crawley. Unlike her fellow aristocrats she believes that the privileged have responsibilities to the less fortunate. In this episode she is helping prostitutes and reaching out to a particular young woman who, viewers of previous episodes will recognize as having been formerly involved with the Crawley family.

When someone is the family wonders how to help Lady Edith, who is so devastated she can’t eat or sleep, Mrs. Crawly, always a voice of reason, replies, “Get her some work to do!”

I love the hats...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DOWNTON ABBEY, Season 3, Episode 1

Last night money reared its vulgar head among the gentle aristocrats of Downton Abbey’s third season. It almost wrecked the marriage of Mathew and Lady Mary when he refused to use his inherited windfall to save Downton Abbey, suddenly on the brink of bankruptcy. Cora’s wealthy American mother, Martha, arriving for Mary’s and Mathew’s wedding, also refused to help. Daisy downstairs hasn't received her promotion from kitchen maid to kitchen assistant. The place is understaffed. The formidable Lord Crawley of Downton Abbey is brought down to tears. No one has the faintest idea how to survive without valets, ladies’ maids, footmen, butlers, cooks, chauffeurs. Who knows what pitfalls remain as the Crawlely’s are brought kicking and screaming into the real world? And who cares?
            I do! And according to the New York Times I am not alone. More than 120 million viewers in Sweden, Russia, South Korea, the Middle East and dozens of other locales are also addicted.
            We wait to see what happens to Mr. Bates in prison for murdering his wife; Mrs. Hughes’ cancer; Tom’s dirty tricks; Martha’s American maid’s kisses. But unlike in real life, the plotting is too deliciously predictable to have to really worry about the Crawleys’ fate. All we have to do is relax in vicarious luxury and watch.