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Posts tagged ‘Lady Mary Crawley’

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…

 

“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 Abbey” Ep.4 ~ A Masterpiece of Shock and Awe

Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert!

If you haven’t seen Ep.4 of Season 3 of “Downton Abbey”, the season that is blowing minds right now, don’t read any further.

It’s a masterpiece, I feel, of dramatic series television. I’m in shock at what happened and in awe of the stupendous, brilliant performances of the entire cast, in this, what had to be their most challenging episode. Fresh off their SAG award win on Sunday for Best Drama Series, Downton Abbey in this horrifying episode more than lived up to its’ accolades.

What happens in Episode 4 that is so shattering, so shocking, I feel like I can only talk about it in a whisper as if I were one of Downton Abbey’s loyal but distraught servants…

Lady Sybil Crawley dies in childbirth.

Yes. They’ve killed off one of the hit series major characters, the youngest and most beautiful of the three Crawley sisters, who are at the center of Downton’s great story.

SUCH a shock. I couldn’t believe I was seeing it happen, but it was.

Lady Sybil was giving birth at home, Downton, of course, even though she’s the one who had run off with the studly chauffeur, Irish rebel Tom Branson(the excellent Allen Leech)and there are TWO doctors attending her. One the local doc,Played by David Robb, who’s been on the show since the beginning, and one, a knight, played by Tim Piggott who Lord Grantham has brought in from London.

They fight, as Sybil is struggling in birth bangs and their heated dialogue is a summation of sorts of the thoughts about birth-ing in the days before modern medicine. The family doctor diagnoses eclampsia(sp?) and possibly fatal situation that requires Sybil to be taken immediately to a hospital and a Caesarian section be performed and Sir Whatever is saying “It’s all right. It’s perfectly normal.”

And unfortunately the family doctor is right. And the beautiful 24-year-old comely heroine passes away in scene after horrifying scene where the actress Jessica Brown Findlay gives the best performance she’s ever given thus far.

I kept thinking of my red-headed Scottish great-grandmother, whom I never knew, of course, who also died in childbirth, leaving her surviving daughter, my beloved grandmother traumatized forever.Women often died in childbirth in those days and writer Fellowes obviously wanted to depict this tragic situation, and he did so in a profoundly compelling way. The horror of Sybil’s death seems worse than the horrors we saw in Season 2 of World War I.

In Downton’s stellar cast of twenty+plus leads, I always felt she was the weakest link, acting-wise. She was merely pretty and not up to the nuance of “Downton”s complex, brilliant script by Jullian Fellowes, just barely skating through on her sensational dark good looks and voluptuous figure.

I hope they didn’t kill her off for bad acting. But possibly they did. In any case, she, young, beautiful, rebellious, is dead, and looking realistically like hell in the process. Poor thing.Death did not become her.

But this really shocked me. To kill off a leading character in a sensationally successful hit series is just never done. And one didn’t expect this to happen to arguably the most beautiful young woman on the show. One didn’t see this coming. And the impact on the remaining two Crawley sisters, the superb Lady Mary(Michelle Dockery) and the marvelous Lady Edith(Laura Carmichael), their parents Lord and Lady Grantham(Hugh Bonneville and Maureen McGovern) is shattering. And of course, affords Dame Maggie Smith as the grieving grandmother a chance to show off her legendary dramatic chops as her heart breaks with the rest of her family’s at the grim injustice of this tragedy. As we see her walk away from the strong-arm of the butler, leaning on her cane for strength, she seems barely able to make it to the doorway.

And of course the emotion and drama run high throughout this entire episode the most powerful of the entire series. So far. Most moving of all I found was the surviving husband’s, Irish Tom Branson’s, helpless grief. His baby girl survives, but he has lost his beautiful, young wife, whom he desperately loved.

I was devastated. Truly. As if someone I had known had died. I feel like I’ve been mourning poor Lady Sybil
all week. I’ve watched Ep.4 three times already as it kept coming up on different PBS stations.

For those of you who MUST know, after its initial airing on Sunday night at 9pm EST on Ch.13 here in New York and rebroadcast on WLIW at 8pm on Monday night and then again at 1AM Monday night.

It’s probably coming on again right now somewhere, and of course, you can watch it IMMEDIATELY online at pbs.org.

The last image is of the sobbing father, Tom, holding his new-born baby daughter in his arms, staring out an upstairs window of the vast estate, almost as if he and his little child are prisoners there now.

I wasn’t expecting this. There are three more episodes to go, and they’ve GOT to top this one. It was a killer. I can’t imagine how.But I can’t wait to tune in again.

“Downton Abbey” is back and better than ever!

Whatever was “Downton Abbey” going to do?

What do you do to follow-up World War I as a plot point and setting? Well, you just continue with the high level of scintillating scripting by series creator and sole writer Julian Fellowes and the superb acting of the outstanding British cast that the public has come to know and to love, upstairs and below-stairs. And yes, the great “Downton Abbey” is more than back and, I’m happy to say, is better than ever.

I’m glad I waited to sing its’ praises until now, un petit en retard, the airing of the new Season 3, Episode 3 is tonight at 9pm EST.

SPOILER ALERTS!!!!!!

Because in Ep. 2, the subplot of what happens to middle sister, the less good-looking of the three glamorous Crawley sisters, Lady Edith, just lands on one like an unexpected ton of proverbial bricks,just as it does poor Edith. She is shockingly abandoned at the altar by her groom, the older, and partially wounded in the War, Lord Anthony Strellin.Bastard!

It is heartbreaking and beautifully under-played by Laura Carmichael, as the luckless Lady Edith, and her mother the Countess of Grantham, Elizabeth McGovern. Lady Edith’s two grandmothers are no slouches in the sympathy department either as the magnificent Dame Maggie Smith and the dazzling Shirley MacLaine, offer their support to the sobbing Lady Edith, too, in wrenching scene after scene that tears your heart out and throws it on the grounds of the sumptuously manicured estate.

I was not expecting to be so impacted by this storyline of the less lovely, but utterly sympathetic, sister’s May-December hook-up with much older Lord Stallin. But yet I was. And better yet, it was an utter surprise.

You just don’t see the stupendously well-mannered and stiff-upper-lipped Lord Strallin doing something so cowardly and dastardly as this. But he does. And now the series has a new villain! Although we may never see him again. The least he could do is pop off due to stress and leave poor Edith all his money, house, grounds, the lot!

Humiliating poor Edith in front of an entire church-full of the assembled landed gentry of The County AND their horrified servants! It’s a trauma that you know is going to echo down this season, and the next and the next. Will Edith ever be lucky in love? All signs now point to “No.”

And this unbelievable, shocking debasement comes in Episode Two, right after her older sister, the beautiful, but difficult and opinionated Lady Mary (the superb Golden Globe nominee Michelle Dockery) has married so well and so grandly to the series dashing and desirable heart-throb, Matthew Crawley(Dan Stevens).Lady Mary and Matthew got married in grand style in Episode One, only to witness Lady Edith’s disgrace in Ep.2 Never a dull moment at Downton!

And Downstairs, the plot thickens and sickens, too. Mrs. Hughes(Phyllis Logan) the saintly housekeeper may have cancer. The abandoned and disgraced former housemaid Ethel(Amy Nuttall), has become a prostitute. AND former partners-in-crime,the villainous, but handsome gay valet Thomas(Rob James-Collier) and the equally witch-y Ladies’ Maid to Lady Grantham, Mrs. O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran)are now at each others throats,threatening each other, forecasting all kinds of skullduggery to come.

Worrisome and interesting, also, is the contrast of continuing downstairs problems of dutiful Anna,(Joanna Froggatt) head house maid, who married and fell in love with the valet Bates(Brendan Coyle), who is now in jail for the murder of his ex-wife, the no-good blackmailer Vera.

This May-December love story, with Holloway prison thrown in, has proven tremendously popular as “Free Bates” T-shirts being sold on the PBS website abound.

The intrepid Anna takes it into her hands to go out into the world beyond Downton, in this case, London, and try to find out just what happened to the loathsome Vera Bates. Was it murder? And if not her beloved husband, then who? Or was it suicide? She tracks down a neighbor of Vera’s in the East End and bribes her to talk about Vera’s last day. I think gets some clues, even though she doesn’t know it yet.

One) that Vera was scrubbing her nails quite violently the last time her friend saw her and
Two)that she was surrounded by rain-drops that made her look like she had a halo, according to the aggrieved friend.

Mark my words, Agatha Christie fans, those tiny details mean SOMEthing!

And one never tires of the endless interior and exterior shots of Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey itself. It’s presence (it IS one of England’s stately homes after all) continues to overwhelm its’ inhabitants, and it is itself the series focal point and most awe-inspiring character.

Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) looks like he’s losing all his and his rich American wife’s money, too,in Episode One. And her mother, the uber-rich American, Mrs. Martha Levinson (a perfectly brassy Shirley MacLaine)though in residence for Mary’s wedding, won’t give them a red cent.

The worry about just what is going to happen to Downton, and therefore the entire series, was just enough to start “Downton Abbey”s Season 3 off with a bang and I know if they can manage to pull us all back in WITHOUT the backdrop and drama of World War I, well, then we’re well and hooked all over again, and in for a full season of Downton drama and delight.

However, I do have to point out that Season 3, like many “seasons” of British television is only 7 episodes long! And so, you better make your date with Downtown tonight at 9pm.

And if you’re out and can’t be in to catch it, PBS.org is playing all the episodes online starting the next day, Monday. For a limited time. So one way or the other you can’t miss the magical magnificence of “Downton Abbey.”

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