Downton Days are Here Again…

Cammy:  Please raise your hands if you held out this teeny-weeny-miniscule-scrap of hope (carefully nurtured by a studious avoidance of all things spoiler) that Sunday’s Downton return would wipe away the tragedy that last season ended with in a completely cheeze-tastic and deus ex machina “Surprise!  It was all a dream!”

Anybody?  No one?  Really?  I’m all alone here?

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Delaying Downton Gratification

Owing to company in town over the weekend, I skipped the broadcast of the season finale of Downton Abbey (in case some of you were wondering at the lack of commentary–because even when my weeks are insane, I can generally rise to the occasion of Downton-Squee-age).

You would think this would have meant that the first thing I’d have done after work Monday is whip out my DVDs and catch up with the gangs above and below stairs….

But I didn’t.

Work interfered and I got home so late and was so grumpy, I didn’t even want to ponder spoiling my experience.

So, surely, Tuesday is here, I rushed home to watch tonight?


Sure, I got home late again (not as late as Monday), but as I looked at those DVDs I realized that once I watch this thing, I have to wait all those months for the next season.  Months and months of no Granthams, no housemaids, no footmen….

And I put the box down.

I know I won’t hold out much longer.  The itch to know what happens and the reality that I could be spoiled any minute are going to win out soon, but for right now, the longer I wait, the shorter the void of no-Downton on the other side.  Sure, it’s not much of a trade for the delayed gratification, but it’s all I’ve got.

Random Abbey Ramblings

So I had quite forgotten it was my day or I would have been writing this while watching (which it’s very important I do, because I’m a Nielsen viewer again!) But here is your semi-regular, stream of consciousness Downton related rambling:

Aw. I actually remember why I like Anna and Bates! (I’m not going to lie, this prison storyline had dragged on a bit too long for me, and I was kind of ready for it to end by any means necessary.)

I like that Matthew and Branson are still friends. I like them as bros. I sort of need them to play laser tag together sometime, but if I can’t have that, I suppose cricket will have to substitute.

Oh Ethel. I wish you the best, but I’m not sad that “the best” is likely to take place off our screens.

I’m really glad that the show finally decided to address Thomas’s sexuality, but I’m not sure I care for how it’s been done. For one thing, why is Thomas suddenly stupid enough to believe O’Brien. Dude, you know her! She used to be your wingman. And you know she’s more evil than you—worst you ever did was temporarily kidnap a dog. She kills babies! Still, I said a couple weeks ago that Thomas crying is an emotional trauma I just can’t handle, so they clearly needed to subject me to it over and over. I like that even though Bates helped Thomas, things are not friendly between them and don’t look like they will ever be. Bates is all, “I’m glad you aren’t ruined forever, but can’t you go be ‘not ruined forever’ somewhere else? Maybe Ethel can help you out?”

I did like how everyone but the footmen and kitchen maids and Carson were all, “Um… yeah… Thomas is gay. What else is new?”

Not sure what the point of problem flapper child is.

I repeat—I need this show to stop kicking Edith in the shins. Now please.

Since they’re never going to tell us, I’ve decided Mary’s little “problem” was PCOS related. We now know that her intermittent bitchiness was caused by cysts and having been there and done that and not bought the t-shirt because I was completely immobilized, I rule it totally justified.

I hate babies, but little Sybie is pretty cute. And Branson with her is adorable. As is Mary with her. Srsly. Lady Mary Crawley, adorable?

I heart Mrs. Hughes. So much.

Dowager Countesses never admit they are wrong. Because Dowager Countesses are never wrong. If the Dowager Countess is wrong, please refer to the previous sentence.

You know who is wrong? Cammy. Because there’s Old Mr. Mosely! (I’d crow more, but I didn’t argue with her to begin with.)

Lord Grantham’s been working my nerves as much as everyone else’s with the whole, “No, I want you to get involved, so long as you only do the things I want you to do. And I want to hear your opinions as long as they are identical to mine.” But he redeems himself by being a cricket geek.

Downton In Review

First off, I would like to solicit some applause for myself:  despite having received the Downton DVDs in the mail (I had completely forgotten that I’d pre-ordered this season for myself for Christmas…So, I check the mail this week and: best.surprise.ever.), I am NOT cheating and watching ahead.

So, I watched tonight’s along with everyone else (and by everyone else I mean everyone else who normally watches and whose priorities were not screwed up by the Stupor Bowl….Today is one of those days when I am actually so incredibly glad to be single–no pretending to want to watch pro football).

That said, I don’t have much to say about this week.  After last week, it was rather low-key, which was good.  I needed that.

-Still feeling terrible for Branson, but, oddly, I feel worse for Cora (which is weird because normally I find Lady Grantham just, “meh”)

-I’m pissed at Carson this week, but I’m pretty sure anyone with a vagina and/or some human decency is ready to smack him.

-I’d like to say I’m absorbed in the f’d up love quadrangle happening below stairs with the garden girls (really, is there some rule that the kitchen maids at Downton have plant names?) and the footmen, but I find myself wishing this were something they would hurry up and resolve (like some things that happen on this show), instead of something they drag out (which sadly, it’s looking like this one is going to keep going for a bit).

-Love seeing William’s Dad.  He’s adorable and sane and everyone on this show should be visiting him for regular therapy.  The only other person that speaks half as much sense as him is the Dowager Countess (but she’s a lot more acerbic about it, generally).

-Yes, she is generally acerbic, but the Dowager Countess kicked me in the shins with her turn to the nice and tender side when talking with her son about his loss.  Every week, I go in not needing anyone to tell me she’s awesome, and every week, she decides to prove it again anyhow.

-Am I the only one who felt more rallying around Ethel’s situation than around Ethel herself?    I just can’t muster the give-a-damn about Ethel, but at least this week, the whole feminist rumbling offered something that piqued my interest.

-Lord Grantham needs his ass kicked.  I’m sorry he’s being forced to face the fact that he’s not all that and a bag of chips, but he’s mostly coming off like a petulant child.  Honestly, I think I’m still bitter over that damn situation with the maid.  If he hadn’t f’d up there, maybe I’d be able to pity him having to face the reality that his son-in-law is way smarter at business than he is.

-Anna and Bates….FINALLY.  Let’s get this guy out of the clink.  I want them to be sickeningly happy for the remainder of this season and into the next.  I want sacchrine cuteness out of these two, and I’m not apologizing for that.

All in all, it may not have had quite the impact of last week, but it beats the hell out of watching pro-football and pretending to be entertained by advertisements.


Obligatory Downton Gushing

It being Sunday night, aka Downton Abbey Night, and me having resisted this temptation in previous weeks, I’m going to take the easy road and devote a post to Downton Squeeing.

Big developments this week?  I found myself, for the very first time, actually kinda liking Branson.  Granted, he’s still a dolt who makes some really poor choices, but his admission to feeling bad watching that family’s house burn made me think more of him than ever before.  Of course, he undoes a lot of this by, y’know, running off ahead of his pregnant wife and not having told her about attending meetings where violence was planned (not to say I’m not sympathetic with the Irish cause, just sayin’ that not letting your wife in on the details is not cool).

I’m also strangely not annoyed with Isobel these days, which is a welcome change from last season.  I greatly appreciate her holding her tongue regarding Ethel’s choice (thinly veiled though that cover was).

Then there’s Ethel herself.  It’s not that I don’t feel bad for her situation, but I’d feel it more keenly if I’d liked her more to start with, which I didn’t.  So.  That said, her kid is going to be in for a world of therapy unless his fabulous Grandpapa succumbs to heart disease and leaves him with only the influence of his wimpy Grandmama.

I’m still basking in relief about Mrs. Hughes’s all-clear on that cancer scare.  Last season I was complaining about her not getting screen time, and I think that cancer thing was aimed at me to stop complaining.  Needless to say, I’m more than happy to have that woman in her room futzing with a toaster.

Not liking the new footman.  He’s smiley and carved outta cream cheese.  However, even with that, I don’t wish him the evil about to befall him being the object of Thomas’s attention.

That leads to my comments on Mr. Carson:  he should have sold the steady-capable guy a little better.  His giving in to every whim of Lady Mary is what brings us Smiley who will only bring chaos downstairs and we all know it.  And this after I thought he had it all together doing that remedial spoon training session.

Daisy needs to look outside the estate for a date.  Really, why feel bad? It’s not that she isn’t getting attention from a footman, she’s just avoiding getting Miss O’Brien as an in-law.  Doesn’t Mrs. Pattmore have some eligible nephews lying around somewhere?

Of course, back above stairs, I’m kind of waiting for Edith to just start, I dunno, shooting things?  Building bombs?  Something crazy.

Mary’s a bit on the dull side this week, as is her mother.

Matthew?  Well, when has someone performing an audit ever been that interesting.  The place is run inefficiently?  NO!  REALLY?!?!?  He shouldn’t have had to sift through the books to find that one out.

Lord Grantham was also not super exciting this week, but, let’s face it, when he is super exciting, it’s usually a bad deal for others (affairs with maids, losing the family fortune….).  Maybe he can get a toaster like Mrs. Hughes.

Of course, The Dowager Countess was in her characteristic fine form.  I had my phone out to tweet some her zingers, but when I had about three in a row from her and couldn’t choose one (though her telling Edith “Stop whining!” was probably the best as far as I’m concerned), I gave up.  The woman makes a great show to a fantastic show.  When are they going to sell What Would The Dowager Countess Do? T-shirts?

And that leave me with Anna and Bates.  Of course, they have never really stopped being my favorite couple, but they returned to the top of the melty-adorable-squee pile with their letter reading this evening.  So many things happen within just an ep or two in this series (Edith’s engaged, Edith’s at the alter-oh-wait-she’s-jilted; The Crowley’s are losing Downton, oh-wait, now there’s Reggie Swires dinero to bail them out…), how the hell come is it taking so long to FREE BATES?!?!?!?!?


A Family Should Never Be the Topic of Conversation

It’s about bloody time. Season (Series, if you must) of Downton Abbey is finally premiering on PBS. And despite our erratic posting of late, you didn’t think I’d let this pass without posting.

I know I could have gone online and watched it illegally months ago, but I resisted. I’ve done everything I can to avoid spoilers. I know something happens a few weeks in that had my facebook feed all in a tizzy, but I’m going in mostly blind.

Has Sibyl gotten collagen injections? I know she’s knocked up, but she looks more different than she ought to. I guess it’s to let us know how much her life has changed.

Branson is still so delightfully petulant.

Are we going to get a Matthew-Branson bromance? I really hope so.

Lord and Lady Grantham are back to having such a wonderfully supportive, loving relationship. We’re just going to pretend like season 2 and what’s her name never happened.

Cocktails! I want to drink cocktails with the Granthams!

Edith has jolly hair!

I didn’t love Sir Anthony before. But I’m starting to. I do not, however, love Edith’s dress.

Dress up time with the Dowager Countess! I want to join! They can make me wear whatever uniform of oppression they want.

Are we sure Matthew isn’t Catholic? He’s got that guilt thing down pretty well.

Oh Edith! Why can’t they make you a dress out of decent fabric?

Lady Violet is a woman of many powers. She helped save Hogwarts.

Daisy… I go back and forth on you. But right now, I kinda want to push you down some stairs.

Oooohhh! The TALK!

I want Mary’s hairstyle.

Aw! I heart Carson and Lady Mary.

Mrs. Levinson’s wedding outfit is fabulous. Like drag queen fabulous! I love it.

I honestly expected them to drag on the wedding longer. It will be interesting to see where they go from there.

Cousin Isobel has circles on her boobs. And we’re talking about taste. Interesting.

Oh Ethel. Why do I have this terrible feeling her secret and Branson’s are the same?  Oh Downton, don’t do this to me!

Downton Fail!

If you were waiting last night for our weekly Downton Redux, you were disappointed. I doubt this actually happened to anyone seeing as I don’t think we have many readers who don’t follow me on twitter, and I spent a good chunk of time whining about this on twitter. My DVR has been acting squirrely for weeks. I knew it was going to need to be replaced. When it crashed on Thursday night, deleting all my recordings for the second time in two weeks, I knew it needed to be replaced soon. But I was leaving town Friday morning and I was able to get it back online, so I figured I’d deal with it another time. When I got back on Saturday night it needed to be reset twice, but each time came online without deleting anything. And I was tired, so I did nothing about it. I had to reset it again on Sunday, but I was still tired and my vertigo had returned. And once again, I was able to get it working again. I was even able to watch things I had recorded on it. I decided to call AT&T on Monday.

About 6:00pm it started making a funny noise (I wasn’t watching TV at the moment) and I realized it needed to be reset again. Only this time restarting it didn’t work. I tried resetting the gateway it connects to and that didn’t help. Then I tried unplugging it and resetting everything. Usually that wipes my DVR but gets it going again. Not this time. I went to online customer service (AT&T has recently made the phone number for customer service nearly impossible to find). The man on the other end of our chat talked me through restoring my DVR to factory settings. This still did nothing. He informed me that he would send someone out to repair/replace it and the earliest time slot available was 8:00am on Monday morning (due to my work schedule we had to schedule a much later one, but that’s not relevant to the story.)

And that’s when the nagging fear I’d had since Saturday night became a reality. I would not get to watch the Downton Abbey Christmas special when it came on at 9:00pm. Yes, it would later be available online. Yes, my friend J who lives across town and currently owes me some serious karma already has the DVDs and I could borrow it from him. Yes, my mother bought me the DVDs as a thank you for introducing her to the series and for paying off my car early and will probably get them to me by this weekend. No, it was not the end of the world in any way.

But I still sat down and sobbed. Then I realized it was stupid to cry over such a trivial thing when there are so many worse things going on in the world. Heck, there are many worse things going on in my life. This only made me cry harder.

You have to understand I am having the semester from hell. In the past couple weeks I have been reminded/realized 1) that I am a tiny insignificant cog in an overworked system 2) my staff sucks and I have to do all of their jobs 3) I have been screwed over by my committee 4) I will probably not get to take my qualifying exams this semester as planned 5) I am really not all that smart, and that might be an impediment in my chosen career path.  Add to that a severe case of vertigo.

In the midst of all that, the one bright spot has been Downton Abbey. It’s the only show on television I look forward to watching. It’s also the only time in the week I stop multitasking. Any other television I watch while grading papers, sending emails, cooking/eating meals, working out, etc. But for the past several weeks on Sunday night I take my shower early, fix myself a cup of tea or a glass of wine or both, and sit on my couch in my jammies with my kitty on my lap and lose myself in a delicious bit of fluff.

Last night that opportunity was taken away from me. And, naturally, I did the neurotic grad student thing of telling myself it was because I don’t deserve to relax like that. I have too much work to do to spend two hours watching television unless I’m also doing something productive. This was probably the judgment of the universe punishing me for being a slacker. I hadn’t been as productive Sunday morning as I could have—this was my punishment. Hell, if I had just had the initiative to contact AT&T in the morning I might have been able to get it fixed earlier. I had only myself to blame.

In the end it’s still not the end of the world. Some very sweet stranger on Twitter let me know I could watch on YouTube, quickly adding a note that he would ordinarily not endorse such a thing, but he recognized it was a major emergency. It was bizarrely touching. And since I knew I was useless for grading papers (I would have failed everyone) I decided to indulge a little bit. Not trusting the image quality on YouTube I decided to rewatch last week’s episode on I didn’t relax the whole time—I was periodically minimizing it so I could print today’s attendance sheets, packing everything I would need for today at work, and organizing the papers I was not going to grade until today. But I also relaxed some. I drank a cup of tea and a glass of wine. I ate a Reese’s peanut butter egg that’s been in my freezer since last Easter. I looked though my cookbooks for my next ice cream recipe.

And the upshot is that next Sunday, when I otherwise would have had to deal with the reality of no Downton till next year, I can lounge on my couch and relax one last time.

Weekly Downton Reaction

I thought about coming up with something creative to post about, but I have a migraine that I’ve had on and off since Friday. So we’re just going to stick with reactions to our British import obsession.

I just really don’t know what to think about Isobel this season. Last season I really liked her. This season I really don’t. I’m thrilled she’s going to help the refugees though I worry every time she leaves she’s going to croak and everyone will have to feel guilty. Not to mention it will screw with our survival odds.

I’m not sure how I felt about the Patrick thing. I know, as a soap fan I should be behind any plot that involves amnesia and people coming back from the dead. But… I’m not sure I am.

I kinda need them to stop kicking Edith in the shins. I don’t love her, but seriously? Is this necessary?

I know I’m probably the only one, but I kinda want more Sibyl and Branson.

I’m kind of sad we aren’t seeing as much of the sweetness in Robert and Cora’s marriage as we saw last season.

I feel genuinely bad for Daisy. They spent a season teaching the poor girl about honesty and integrity and then told her it only mattered some of the time. You can’t do that to a girl. Especially one as simple as Daisy.

Oh Matthew… I simultaneously want to hug him and push his chair into something hard.

Lady Violet is totally who I want to be when I grow up.

I knew Vera was going to be dead. I knew it! Who killed Vera? Cammy did, obviously.

Coffee with a Grande Dame

Would we drink coffee with Maggie Smith?

Kristy: My first instinct was, “Holy crap, of course!” But then I thought about it and I’m not sure. I mean, I love this woman’s work. In everything I’ve ever seen her in she has this magical way of standing out without making the whole thing all about her. She steals scenes while still being a giving actress and that’s a rare talent. And yes, she keeps getting cast as the same character over and over again, I don’t care. She does it better than anyone else. And I love that even though she sometimes plays a raging bitch, she often plays strong characters. So on the one hand, I would totally buy her coffee. On the other hand, I’d be a little intimidated to sit down with her. Also, I have a hard time picturing her drinking coffee–if she drinks a hot beverage it’s hard to imagine it being anything other than tea. But if she does drink coffee, I suppose I’ll screw my courage up because I don’t think I could live with knowing I’d turned down such an opportunity.

Cammy:  For bringing life to a long list of awesome characters, I feel I owe her whatever the hell beverage she wants.  I mean, she is the screen embodiment of Professor McGonagall!  And need we even discuss the awesomeness of Lady Violet?  But, like Kristy, the intimidation factor is up there, not the least because most of what I know of her is the characters–and that’s not who we’re drinking with.  Being the more chicken-shit of the two of us, I’ll let Kristy be the brave one who actually sits down.  Me?  I’ll just help make sure they’re at the best table in the house and that the tab is open for whatever beverages are required.