In Which mrpeene Catches up With the Rest of TV Land


It’s true, I have avoided the siren lure of Downton Abbey.  It premiered right in the middle of the very dark days of R Man’s death and, oddly, I was not up to the thrills of Edwardian Yorkshire society.  Of course that couldn’t last; how could a man who’s read and re-read all of E.F. Benson resist the Dowager Countess?

Over the last couple of nights I have given myself over to a marathon of all 16 episodes, sort of an orgy of tea and turbans.  I love it, just like everyone said, but I think that may have been part of my reluctance to dive in after missing it originally.  Could it really be as archly amusing as reports had it?  Turns out, it is.

Even before watching it, I had a clear image of the whole thing being a sort of mash-up between Upstairs, Downstairs and Gosford Park, especially since Maggie Smith is pretty much the same character in both the Park and the Abbey.  And aren’t we all glad of it?  I know she can border on scenery chewing, but also, when she decides to crank up her guns, the old girl can be astonishingly devastating and effective.  It was the upcoming cage match between her and Shirley MacLaine that finally convinced me to get on board the Abbey train.

My only complaint: the luscious, luscious Theo James (who played the luscious, luscious Turkish attache) was killed off less than a whole episode into the madness.  That left the show with some pretty fine eye candy, but nothing of the stellar quality of Theo. 

Theo James was also the only good bit in some dreadful BBC sci-fi gibberish called Bedlam.

Still, come January when it returns, I’ll be there.  I already am sort of jonesing for that beautiful red velvet couch in the library.

About mrpeenee

A former bon vivant and terror of a number of New Orleans bars in the mad, gay 1980s, I'm now quietly retired and widowed in San Francisco. I have a crooked nose due to an unfortunate Frisbee accident.

14 responses »

  1. At the risk of sounding like a total philistine, I simply could not love Downton Abbey. DID love Maggie. DID love the sets and costumes. But the plots and dialogue? Not so much. The true nadir was when Matthew tells Mary that she is his stick. Oy vey. I much prefer the Red Nose Day send up on You Tube, Uptown/Downstairs Abbey. Too funny.

    I am a real Alan Bennett fan and for me about the best thing I have ever seen Maggie Smith do was Bed Among the Lentils. It's brilliant. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. It is on YouTube also, chopped into 8 – 10 minute increments, but still worth watching. I think I will go watch it again now!


  2. marie, you are right. “lentils” was and is amazing.

    marie, you are wrong, downton is divine.

    dearest mr. peenee, don't hate me for telling you this, but a genius that i live with managed to download the new episodes, THE NEW FUCKING EPISODES(!) and we have watched them. i haven't ceased swooning. i will give nothing away only to say that shirley does a great job and everything is as you'd hope it would be. AND a bit of gay intrigue has reared it's head.

    not that you asked, but we just finished “the forsyte saga” and saga it was. long and pretty good. it stars damien lewis.


  3. So glad you like it – we've held off so far, mostly for lack of time and attention, but plan to catch up over the winter if possible. Your finding it wonderful makes me more hopeful that I will, as I have had pretty much exactly your reservations.


  4. I'm wild for all of Bennett's Talking Heads' series, but I think my favorite, next to “Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet” is “Bed Among the Lentils.”

    I'm off for the Red Nose parody, thanks.


  5. “Autumn Murmurs”! lol Bennett is a genius, to have us laughing…and then she falls and breaks our hearts.

    Miss Fozzard is also wonderful.

    Have you seen Stephen Fry's spoof of Alan Bennett? Classic!


  6. norma, being wrong is a way of life for me. lol However, if the man I was dancing with told me I was his stick, he'd be getting a stick himself.

    I was rolling my eyes so much watching Season 2 I was afraid they were going to roll out of my head and across the floor. But when they weren't rolling I was enjoying the look of it all. Simply gorgeous.


  7. I love the camp extravaganza that is Downton Abbey – although we have yet to catch up with the current series and the Shirley vs Maggie slapfest (I foresee “an orgy of tea and turbans” here at Dolores Delargo Towers very soon!) – and I do agree the swift killing-off of Mr James (née Taptiklis) deprived us posh-totty-spotters of some fun. However, Mr Stevens and Mr James-Collier do make up for that somewhat… Yes, the stories are a bit daft, but the escapism into a glittering world of gowns and cake is always welcome. Jx


  8. Love Downton. Love, love love it. Even cried through the Christmas Episode finale. I want these people to be real and be around me. Although I am getting very tired of the new Mrs. Bates who keeps reminding everyone that her husband is in prison. We know that. They know that. He'll get out soon.

    Now, Peenee, you must see Call the Midwife – stunningly brilliant.


  9. I adored it and am feeling the need to watch it again before January. AtCC, I almost *missed* the finale, because I thought it was just an extra as it wasn't a numbered episode. Oh, the horror that could have been!


  10. I had been resisting Call the Midwife. As an L & D nurse, childbirth educator and someone who had her babies at home, I am sent right up the wall by inaccurate portrayals of birth. Lo and behold, this one is right on the money! It IS brilliant! I love it! It is all wonderful, but Judy Parfitt is just a joy to watch. I should have known anything recommended by the Cool Cookie would be so.


  11. Looking forward to the two hour special on Christmas day. That with the Queens speech(ER II) and a bottle of Bombay should see the day in nicely


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