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Posts tagged ‘Downton Abbey’

“Downton Abbey” Ends With Everyone in Tears

Maggie Smith“Downton Abbey”s over. It’s official. It ended in Grand Style tonight with everyone in tears. In the audience I mean. The larger than life cast of characters all had miraculously and ridiculously happy endings. Not the least of  them the lovelorn Lady Edith(Laura Carmichael) FINALLY heading down the grand Downton staircase as a bride, with a super-long silken train. Lovely. And of course, it reminds you of when she did this same thing a few seasons back and got jilted at the altar by Sir Anthony Stralen.(Boo! Hiss!)

Presided over by the great legend herself Dame Maggie Smith, as Violet, the peppery Dowager Countess of Grantham, “Downton Abbey” is simply one of the greatest TV series of all time.

Rob James-Collier1

And of course, you ask what was my favorite moment? Well, when Thomas Barrow, the perpetually lonely gay under-butler, was finally made butler! Well, I was just wiped out! Last episode, he tried to slash his wrists in a bathtub, and nearly died.

Rob James-Collier was the superb young actor who took us on Thomas’ long journey from a wine thief in Episode One, to WWI, where he shot himself in the hand to get out of military service, to kissing another valet and getting himself in trouble with the police for it.

Yes. You could just kiss a man in those days and it could have been the end of your career. Whatever career it was, it was ruined by something so innocent. Chilling. Frightening.

So when Thomas finally triumphed, it felt like a personal triumph, too.

As all the heterosexuals were pairing off at a dizzying pace, it was almost ridiculous. Lady Edith and the Earl of Hexham. Daisy and the new(ish)valet, who can’t read, Andy. Even Mrs. Patmore and Daisy’s benefactor/farmer Mr. Mason, and Cousin Isobel and Lord Merton. You could also see Moseley and Baxter eyeing each other as did Tom Branson and the new editor of Edith’s now successful magazine.

Lady Mary, of course had been married in the last episode  to her dashing racing car driver beau Henry Talbot, played to perfection by Matthew Goode, who has had quite a vigorous career in British films, and will go on to many more I predict.

Lady Mary 1That’s a lot of loose ends to tie up, but tie them up author Julian Fellowes did. It’s his great achievement in the end. He wrote every word and conceived all these great characters so vividly, so memorably, it’s hard to think that any of these talented actors are ever going to be able to top “Downton Abbey.”

Oh, and Anna and Bates had a baby. Her water broke in Lady Mary’s bedroom no less, so that’s where she had her little baby son.

The symbolism is getting a little heavy around here.

I’m so upset that it’s over. But there’s still more “Downton” to come. I think a movie is in the offing. Wouldn’t that be grand?

Lady Edith 1

In any case, “Downton Abbey” will simply never end. Not in our minds and hearts, anyway. It’s sooooo rare that television can touch us this way, and we’re so happy it did. And Bravos and Bravas to all concerned! May their futures be as bright and happy as this last episode!

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Oscars 2016 ~ Is Cate Blanchett Turning Into Meryl Streep?

Stepmother 1At first when I saw “Cinderella,” which I just loved, btw, I wondered whether the superb performances by the two leading ladies, Lily James(“Downton Abbey”s Rose) and Cate Blanchett as the not-so-Wicked-but-merely-troubled-and-lonely Stepmother, would even be considered for this year’s Oscar race. I now think that two-time Oscar Winner Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress is definitely a possibilty for a nomination. I think she’s becoming the New Meryl Streep, and will get nominated for her usually outstanding work in almost anything she does, even Disney fairy tale extravaganzas. So the precedent has been set. At least in the Supporting Actress category.

I mean, look, if Meryl Streep can get nominated for playing a Witch in “Into the Woods”, her astounding 19th nomination! Then Blanchett certainly could for another fairy tale character.

Sasha Stone of http://www.awardsdaily.com says her most-looked-forward-to film of 2016 is the upcoming Todd Haynes “Carol” which is the lesbian love drama based on Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt.” And yes, Blanchett is the lead in “Carol.” So theoretically, she could get TWO nominations this year. Bringing her net total so far to six, with two wins.

And considering, as Sasha points out, this is another bleak year ahead for roles for actresses, Cate Blanchett very well pull off this double-nominated hat-trick.

And on the male side, I personally think it’s Eddie Redmayne by a mile for Tom Hopper’s “The Danish Girl” opening now Nov.26, right in the heat and heart of the Oscar season.

Eddie LiliCould Eddie Redmayne do a Tom Hanks(as they say) and pull off two Best Actor wins in a row? He sure could.

Could he beat out Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”? And get two Oscars while Leo wasn’t won one yet? Yup.

As Oscar Grand-daddy Tom O’Neil is always pointing out in his Slugfests “They sometimes like to give you two.” O’Neill, of course, is at http://www.goldderby.com

Witness Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Olivia de Havilland, Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Sally Fields…and more. Streep has three. Jack Nicholson has three…

Sometimes what is going to happen at the Oscars is SOOO clear. Even at this distance…

 

Is “Downton Abbey” Winding Down? Say It Isn’t So!

Downtown 1Oh no! Say it isn’t so! But could “Downton Abbey” one of the most beloved television series of all time be running out of…..steam? Time is marching on, all over the Crawley family, and well, when I saw that penultimate scene of SPOILER ALERT!!!!!

Carson proposing marriage to Mrs. Hughes, and her accepting! Oh no! I knew the end must be drawing nigh.

As we head into 1925, I just saw so many storylines being wrapped up by screenwriter/genius Julien Fellowes that…well, it was all just too much, and too obvious. Lord Grantham and his Lady wife, Cora, have accepted poor sorrowful Edith(whose always been crying heretofore)’s love child, Marigold, as one of their own. Tom, the Irish chaffeuur-turned-son-in-law is heading off to America with his daughter Sybbie. Rose has gotten married, to a Jew, who doesn’t look Jewish at all, and THEY are also headed off to the US.

Mrs. Patmore has bought her own Bed and Breakfast. And Lady Grantham has also accepted her new ladies’ maid, Baxter’s criminal past.

The Dowager (Dame Maggie Smith), grander and wittier than ever, spurned her Russian suitor’s request that they run away together. And Dear Cousin Isabel(Penelope Wilton) was also proposed to by Lord Merton, and she ALSO turned him down. And that as they say is that.

Beautiful executed costumed and performed by all concerned. Don’t get me wrong. And with a terrific gay story line this year for the loveless Thomas(the excellent Rob James-Collier) exposing even further the gay ills of his time, there WERE high-points and I enjoyed every gloriously gowned minute of it.

But then there was the perplexing situation that arose around last year’s rape victim, the stalwart Anna(Joanne Frogatt won a much deserved Golden Globe for it). It seems now SHE was suspected of killing her predator Green, throwing him under a bus in Piccadilly Circus. And in a mirror image of her equally stalwart husband Mr. Bates’s jail term in Season 3, the saintly Anna is now imprisoned(falsely we all know) and I just said “HOLT ON A MINUTE!”

Fellowes was needlessly re-cycling plots for his marvelous characters, and tarnishing them in the process. To have Anna dragged to jail. And then TWO marriage proposals for the two older ladies on the show, it was just too much of a red flag, saying that he’s winding everything up at Downton and/or running out of ideas.

And letting us all down lightly.

All good things must come to an end, and it is said that Fellowes has been offered a lucrative television deal here in the States for a series about the rich in  America at the turn of the last century called “The Gilded Age.” And he like the characters of Tom and Rose all have their sites set on America. Say it isn’t so!

“Downton Abbey” really raised the level of Series Television to new heights of excellence in every single category, but now it, like the British way of life and class system it portrays, is beginning to fall apart. Or at least getting slightly frayed around the edges.

I hope this isn’t true, but…

 

It’s Snowing in NYC

I love snow. I love to LOOK at snow. Going out it in is another thing entirely, but today I must. I could’ve cancelled everything as many in the city do on a day like this. But I’m going out in it. And tonight I’ve got “Machinal” on Broadway. I’m seeing it with one of my theater-going friends who also just confirmed, so I AM going. And the press agent just sent me an email, confirming my presence again. So I’m doubly committed.

I do have a new winter coat now, but the secret, I think, really, is layering. Which I am doing as we speak.

Subway or bus? I’m leaving super-early because the buses may be running slowly, of course. But the subway steps are treacherous in this weather. So I guess I’m opting for the bus.

Looking outside my window this morning was a total shock! Snow everywhere! Was this predicted? Too busy reading and writing my blog last night to notice the weather reports and catching up with Downton Abbey, natch.

More on that soon. HUGE event happened in Episode 2, but I’m STILL staying away from spoilers at the moment, but BOY is Mrs. Hughes having one challenging season!

“Downton” goes dark. As in Serious.

Dear Cineastes, dear readers,and fans of great television everywhere, I must put up a sort of spoiler warning in that Episode 2 of Season 4 is going to take the whole series in a serious direction and that none of you will have seen coming.

Episode One is all tea cakes and roses compared to what’s happened now that we’ve seen Episode Two.

If you thought the sadness of Lady Mary and her mother-in-law Isobel Crawley and sad-sack Mosely’s reactions to their grief over Matthew’s death was tough stuff, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, folks.

Ladies and gents my hat is once again off to the great writer Julian Fellowes for throwing us a curve ball of well, WRECKING ball proportions.

I’m not going to say what happened tonight. It spoils it if you know it’s coming. I knew SOMEthing was coming and it was soooo big and sooo bad that no one who’s seen the show (in England) would reveal it. So I will continue on in that silence.

But let me just say it was ANOTHER masterfully written scene, or series of scenes, where there is a great house-party, the likes and size of which we’ve not yet seen on “Downton.” Sumptuous. And it’s because Dame Nellie Melba has come to Downton Abbey to give a recital. I’m not quite sure why she came, but embodied beautifully by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, it’s an episode that will never be forgotten.
Because, well, it’s not Dame Kiri’s fault…but no. I’ll say no more.

However EW did let something slip in its Downton Abbey Special Issue, about Episode 2, so I knew SOMEthing BIG was about to explode. And they let slip WHO it was happening to. But I won’t even go that far. You’ll just have to watch it online or on your PBS local station that may not yet have aired it.

Like for instance, in NYC, WLIW is not airing til tomorrow night. And I won’t be home in time to watch it AGAIN.

It’s something abrupt and unexpected. Coming completely out of the blue. And well, it’s shattering and VERY disturbing and beautifully played by all involved.

I guess you COULD say if you think that the excellent actress who plays Mrs. Hughes has not been sufficiently challenged so far, trust me, from now on, SHE IS. Oh god! What is her name???

Holt on a minute! I’ll go look it up!

Phyllis Logan! It’s PHYLLIS LOGAN! And it doesn’t happen to HER, but she becomes dreadfully involved in the event, and this is going to play out FOR THE WHOLE REST OF THE SEASON. Mark my words. THIS is now the main story line. It will overwhelm everything else.

Until of course, the wild mind of Julian Fellowes comes up with something equally amazing. Which I’m sure he will.

Well, done! Kudos to all! And it just means you CAN’T MISS AN EPISODE!!!

Downton’s Back! And as charming/involving as ever!

Yes! We can all relax! They are all back!

And how we’ve missed them! “Downton Abbey” England’s answer to “Breaking Bad” is just as addictive, and could be called “Breaking Good.” Everyone’s best foot is forward in a two-hour whopper of a Season premiere.

No spoilers here, so feel free to read on. The joys of Downton are what they ever were ~ Delightful, nonpariel, and utterly charming,  AND involving! I found myself moved to tears at least twice.

How could it not be so? We’ve spent three years getting to know and love these characters, suffering their highs AND lows. I felt like a much-beloved friend died when Lady Sybil passed so unexpectedly in child birth last year. I was sent reeling. For days!

Knowing that the highly popular romantic hero Matthew Crawley, played so well by the dashing Dan Stevens, had decided not to renew his contract, and that he would be written out. RE: He would have to die some horrible death, which he did. I knew he was going so I wasn’t AS effected as I was by Lady Sybil’s equally abrupt passing.

I think it’s not a spoiler to say that his absence is deeply felt by one and all. And it’s six months later, and grief is hanging heavy in the air. Downton does grief well. But I can’t go further than that right now. I have to assume that this first gigantic come-back episode is still playing for some in different time zones, and I said no spoilers.

But I will continue. I think it’s OK to say you’re going to see A LOT of Carson, the head butler, in this episode. And that in the first minute, the hated ladies maid O’Brien departs with Lady Rose’s family. Her mother Susan was very taken with O’Brien in the last episode when they were in Scotland, and she hires her away from the distraught Lady Grantham and whisks her away to India.

And from that, much plot ensues. I miss her already. I wonder if Siobhan Finneran, who played bad so magnificently just decided to not renew her contract, too, and that she got tired of being so thoroughly despised by millions of viewers,and that she just wanted OUT. And will pop up in some sunshiny comedy, being maternal with many children. Or that writer Julian Fellowes just decided he had gone so dark with her, that there was nowhere else to go with so dastardly a villain. But I missed her, too. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I did.

Like Lord Grantham, (the great Hugh Bonneville continues his benevolent reign) We can all identify with his “I don’t want things to change” attitude. That everything should stay “as they were”. But ah, life, is not like that! And Downton Abbey is subjected to many,many changes as the Roaring ’20’s begin to ROAR and the household both upstairs and downstairs is not immune to sands of time drip, drip, dripping through the hourglass. It’s not the chaos of WWI, but let’s say turmoil, if not chaos, ensues.

But they’ll always be an England.

I wondered what would happen to the excellent Penelope Wilton, Matthew’s well-meaning, socially conscious mother, now that she’s a widow, but author Fellowes does not neglect her character at all. She’s not shunted to the side, and is given A LOT to do. And I was very, very glad to see this. Wilton was able to show considerable range, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that. Her cousin Isobel is an essential character now more than ever. This is where the British really do excel. The 60-ish Wilton would’ve been written out in an American drama. The British revere and respect their character actresses of une age certaine.

And of course Dame Maggie Smith is Dame Maggie Smith, dominating all she surveys and every scene she’s in. And of course, the entire Abbey and the series itself. What WOULD they do without her? She lifts the level. She raises all boats.

And I have a warm spot in my heart for the lovelorn second sister, Lady Edith, played to perfection by the lovelier than ever Lucy Carmichael. I’ll just leave it at that.

Bravo! And I can’t wait til NEXT week! This mammoth two-hour season starter was setting up a lot and introducing new characters, and I liked all of it.

There were a few minor quibbles. But as Noel Coward once wrote “Don’t quibble, Sybil.” And quibbles are spoilers, so just  stay tuned!

“Downton Abbey” Ends and Begins to Shoot Season 4

Well, that was a BANG-up finale to perhaps the strongest season yet, Season 3, of “Downton Abbey,” a few weeks back now. It’s taken me this long to come to terms with its’ being over soooo quickly, and also so tragically…

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!SPOILER ALERT!

I knew Dan Stevens, who played the handsome, perfect Matthew Crawley, was leaving at the end of this season. There had been MUCHO publicity about it. How could this be? No Matthew! Oh Nooooo! You can’t DO that, Author Julian Fellowes! Noooo! How will we, nevermind Lady Mary, his pregnant wife, do without him?????

But Stevens’ three year contract was up, and I personally feel he’ll rue the day. I don’t think his fans will ever forgive him for leaving. And he’ll never live up to the career high of “Downton” and the classic, unforgettable heart-throb he created in Matthew Crawley.

So, we knew his character’s end was nigh. But it was the really harsh and violent CHOICE of how they choose to write him out, erase him completely, that was startling. Yes, Matthew Crawley is dead. Really dead. Dead as a Dickensian door-nail.

And the sight of the intense close-up of his handsome corpse with the blood running in a rivulet down his beautiful, dead blonde face was really something that stuck in my mind. I wish I could get it OUT of my mind! It’s haunting! That’s the word!That someone so young and so dashing and so rich, someone who had survived the trenches of WWI, only to die, like James Dean, too soon, too soon…WELL!

And as I watch that episode over and over and over again.
(What ELSE is there to watch on TV that’s THAT good? I mean, really!)

Well, that shot and the scenes of marital bliss leading up to it with his address to his newborn baby son, “My dear little chap.” Well, it began to get to me more and more the more I re-watched it. And of course, the tragedy of Lady Mary, the ever more and more magnificent Michelle Dockery’s fate, as a newly widowed single mother, is even more magnified the more that I see it. The happiest of images of her in that sun-filled room and her little baby grabbing at her finger…*sob*

But not to worry, dear fellow, Downtonians. They are already shooting Season 4. And we know Shirley MacLaine will be back for a least one more go ’round with the legend herself Dame Maggie Smith…The way the show keeps moving forward in time, the Dowager Countess must be now circling 100!

Another departure I saw coming in Ep.7 was the exit of Downton’s own Wicked Witch of the West, O’Brien. Author Fellowes had pretty much written himself and O’Brien’s character, into a corner with the utter blackness of O’Brian’s hideous, irredeemable soul, so she had to go.

And at the end that episode, we see her cozying up to Lady Susan, who is not at all happy with HER Lady’s maid, and is about to be posted to Bombay with her husband Cousin Shrimpy. Et voila! There goes O’Brien off to deepest, darkest India.

And I imagine Siobhan Finneran, the excellent Irish actress who has had the difficult job of making us love to hate O’Brien, for three seasons now, may have just had enough of this unrelenting, no-where-to-go-but-down character.

That brief scene in the happy, new love nest of the ideal working class couple Anna and Bates, where Bates whispers the words “Her Ladyship’s Soap” into O’Brian’s shocked ear. Well! It sends a chill down O’Brian’s spine that I felt, too, and sends her packing from the Bates’ house without her even having had her tea!

“Get Back in the Knife Box, Miss Sharp!” Indeed.

What will Season 4 bring? Well, STAYED TUNED! I know I will be!

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