Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Six Word Movie Reviews

No one has time these days for anything. Craig and I understand. Haven't been caught up on the best movies over the last few years? No need to worry, here are some six-word movie reviews to help you decide which ones you really need to see.

The Departed: everyone fucking dies in the end

Brokeback Mountain: butt fucking on a mountain side

Skyfall: eventually Bond drives an Aston Martin

Lincoln: you fucking already know the plot

The Big Lebowski: rug really did tie room together

Titanic: secretly, one great dark comedy flick

Debbie Does Dallas: disappointing, she only screws a few

There Will Be Blood: eventually, there will be some blood

Shawshank Redemption: Ole Andy’s keester gets it good

Forrest Gump: stupid mother fucker defies Darwinian science

Silence of the Lambs: better put lotion in the basket

Memento: he can’t remember a fucking thing

Citizen Kane: Rosebud is just a fucking sled

Reservoir Dogs: Steelers Wheel stuck in head forever

The Neverending Story: this movie is not actually neverending

Heat: baddest ass gun battle scene ever

Django Unchained: lots and lots of N bombs

Gran Torino: get off his mother fucking lawn

Fargo: epic use of a wood chipper

The Deer Hunter: you can’t win Russian roulette forever

Sin City: just read a comic book, dorks

Toy Story 3: I dare you not to cry

Sixth Sense: he is fucking dead you idiots

Trainspotting: heroin makes you shit the bed

The Wizard of Oz: flying monkeys are scary as shit

Apollo 13: duct tape to the fucking rescue

SLC Punk: dude’s got a four foot mohawk

Kill Bill Vol. 1: Bill doesn’t die in this one

Kill Bill Vol. 2: Bill eventually dies at the end

Good Will Hunting: stupid mother fucker missed Game 6

Into the Wild: stupid hippie tries to outsmart Alaska

Hangover 2: Did you see the first Hangover?

The Zookeeper: don’t even waste your fucking time

Here Comes the Boom: more like here comes the snooze

Beauty & the Beast: Understanding Psychology Vol. 1: Stockholm Syndrome

Rain Man: wish my brother could count cards

Showgirls: not even worth the gratuitous nudity

About Schmidt: Kathy Bates is one sexy mama

Life of Pi: tiger in a fucking boat yo!

Inception: dream within dream within another dream

127 Hours: Discovering Health Science Vol. 3: Amputation

Lost in Translation: Bill Murray can’t not be funny

A Life Aquatic: there are lots of red caps

He’s Just Not Into You: he’s just not fucking into you

JFK: what really took place…on acid

A Few Good Men: you need him on that wall

The Hobbit: could have been an hour long

The Cider House Rules: quaint little flick about baby killers

Scream: there is more than one killer

Donnie Darko: the movie doesn’t answer any questions

Flight of the Navigator: The. Best. God. Damned. Movie. Ever.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Your Favorite TV Shows: Zombie Edition

Well folks, Craig and I haven’t littered the interwebs with any pop culture psychobabble in a while, so we are making an epic return, discussing some of our favorite TV shows as if they underwent the impending zombie apocalypse. After all, The Walking Dead is hell-bent on shoving ghost Lorie down our throats, so we thought instead of ripping on the flaws of The Walking Dead we would create hypothetical zombie apocalypses of our own.

Craig Scholes: UGGGHHH!!!! Why did you even have to mention Lorie? Nobody even liked that bitch when she was alive; but, yeah, I’m kind of jealous I didn't have this idea to use on my podcast. CROSS PROMOTION! If only we knew famous comedians to plug our work, then we could have a David Cross Promotion.

Stan Earnest: Yes folks, Craig has a podcast. If you want to hear about condors meeting their demise in the grates of Chevy Blazers or vehicles missing their steering wheels in Taco Bell parking lots and the such, have a listen.

CS: Hey, we also talk about dirty toilets... but anyway. To continue with our "theme" as you astutely pointed out to me via text message: a Breaking Bad Zombie Apocalypse has some amazing potential for epic badassery. Hold up, let me get the door… I ordered Chinese for supper. They told me it would take 45 minutes, and it was here in less than seven.

SE: Them Chinese work hard...or should I say wok hard? We are going to be taking bad puns to a whole new level this time around.

CS: Wok Hard: The Ming Cox Story

SE: So should we inform our audience where we have been at lately?

CS: Sure, I've been on an expedition in lower Estonia hunting Chupacabras.

SE: Ok, well then, I can’t beat that. I’ve just been trying to feed my family. Since y’all know us as the Breaking Bad guys we better touch on that show first. We do know that Walt and Jesse have plenty of gas masks, so they could survive any airborne zombie virus, although I'm not quite certain how The Walking Dead virus works. You can basically fuck a zombie without contracting anything, but if one scratches you, you're dead.

CS: Right, can you imagine Walt and Jesse navigating a post-apocalyptic world in the Crystal Ship?

SE: Oh man, Skyler would totally turn to the blue. She wouldn't be able to handle it. Speaking of which... Walt and Jesse would have a whole new clientele. Zombies are typically slow; imagine the damage they could do on meth.

CS: Would this transform, say Walking Dead "walkers”, into superfast running Zombies, say like Rage-induced-28-Days-Later mode?

SE: Flynn would have a hell of a time outrunning those monsters. So is he the first to go?

CS: Cripple McDipshit doesn't stand a chance, but he is the obvious answer. It would probably be someone like Beneke.

SE: Oh, holy shit. Zombie-Robocop-Max-Headroom Benecke. YES!

CS: If Breaking Bad follows The Walking Dead model, they take the two most annoying women and make them last seemingly forever. Is Skyler the Lorie character, or the Andrea character?

SE: Hmmm, she is kind of a mix of the both of them.

CS: Right. Heck she is even a little bit of Crazy Rick.

SE: Walt is most definitely Shane, in that he would understand the situation and immediately celebrate Darwinian science.

CS: I'd say he is a cross between Rick and Shane; or: Walt is Rick, and Heisenberg is Shane.

SE: I would love to see Saul in the zombie apocalypse. He would be hiding out in his lair, freaked to the max, and be forced to sleep with his clerks.

CS: Or Saul could wind up being very crafty in that type of situation. He is pretty sketchy at taking advantage of shitty situations Clearly Gustavo would be the Governor right?

SE: Stole the words right from my zombiefied brain. Problem is that the Governor is so careless. Gus was the antipathy of carelessness. One thing is for sure, Gus is already ready for the apocalypse. He doesn't even need any more makeup.

CS: How would Gale go about making his sweet coffee of the gods in the Zombie apocalypse?

SE: Oh man, he would have a team of zombies brewing it for him. Just like Bernard or whatever the name of that dumbfuck scientist the Governor employs is.

CS: Oh man, Tuco Salamanca... Merle! Zero common sense, kind of a bad ass, and has a hair trigger.

SE: Ok, well, my top 5 final survivors would be: Walt (he would probably offer the baby up for zombie feed before he got got), Jesse (just because we would want never ending "Yeah, bitches!"), Saul (crafty), Hank, and my one wildcard pick: Marie. Marie would be at peace with all the looting she could accomplish.

CS: Seems solid, what if we applied the Zombie Apocalypse to other shows... say Arrested Development. Could you imagine GOB trying to outrun zombies on his Segway all whilst having lighter fluid shooting out his sleeves on the way to the Aztec Tomb?

SE: He could hide for years in the Aztec Tomb. Talk about cross promotion: the Aztek! The Pontiac Aztek already is a zombie though.

CS: How long could Lucile survive in her penthouse with nothing but Vodka?

SE: A long time, that cunt is pickled, and I see the dumb brother surviving out of pure luck.

CS: Well Buster IS A MONSTER, with his hooked hand. We also would get to see Buster making good use of his Cartography skills deciphering maps and ultimately getting them in worse situations.

SE: Zombie The Fonz would be classic.

CS: You know even after becoming Zombiefied he'd still have a greased pompadour. We'd also get to see the classic scene where Zombie Fonz gets hit with a baseball bat, and he falls into a jukebox and it comes on.

SE: What about Seinfeld? Jerry would last forever on his cereal stash. And zombie Kramer would be a riot.

CS: What’s the deal with all these walkers? I mean it’s like they aren't even human!

You know Costanza would become a Zombie in the first 5 minutes of the first episode, probably from licking an envelope.

SE: I don't know, I think he would be crafty like a cockroach and survive, if only to annoy the rest of the survivors. Although they could have a recurring theme where he starts out unzombiefied every episode and then turns at some point in each one.

CS: Costanza would be the guy to get infected in the first episode, but it takes him 7 seasons to fully turn and you get to hear about him bitch about how awful it is the entire time.

SE: Full disclosure: George Costanza is on my Mount Rushmore of favorite TV characters.

CS: It doesn't really matter who is on your Rushmore of TV Characters because Ron Swanson would be the guy to carve it.

SE: Walter White, George Costanza, Al Swearengen, and Omar, carved by Swanson. I have a thing for insufferable bastards. The Wire? We shouldn't even discuss that one; they are all survivors on that show. What about Mad Men? They would have very few tokens to kill off; a main character would die weekly.

CS: All I know about Zombie Wire, is that Omar wouldn't die... ever. Mad Men, I think they are all pretty soft in reality. Roger Sterling and Don Draper are the only two with any stones at all in that show. The rest of them are just a bunch of office yuppies. Pete wouldn't last a day. Lane would have bare knuckle brawled his way through some shit though.

SE: Betsy is clearly the Lorie character and would last about 50 episodes too long.

CS: Peggy is a survivor. I just hope we at some point in Mad Men Zombie spinoff still get to see epic Alexis Bledel sideboob.

SE: Evil, droopy, zombie side boob.

CS: Seems like we would at least have to mention Zombie Full House.

SE: Cut. It. Out.

CS: Zombie John Stamos would still be a solid 8 on the man pretty scale

SE: If there is TV in the zombie apocalypse, it would be nothing but Full House reruns. I mean it is about all you need: family oriented with a little spank material and you can always bag on Bob Saget.

CS: Can you imagine how much nasty saggy titty they would show on The Walking Dead if it were on HBO? It would be a thousand times worse than all the dudity and awkward boob shots that they show in Game of Thrones.

SE: You just gave me a horrifying thought: Zombie Girls.

CS: [SHUDDER]

SE: At least they could sew Ned Stark's head back on, and he could remain in rule. I would pay pay-per-view money to see Ned Stark behead that guitarist from the band fun. that the girl from Girls is dating or whatever.

CS: The band fun. makes me want to kick puppies...shelter houses full of puppies. There actually would probably be less killing in Game of Thrones if it were a zombie show.

SE: It drives me crazy that there are no animals on The Walking Dead. I want a fucking zombie squirrel goddamnit.

CS: ZOMBIE DRAGONS! Also I can't believe The Walking Dead hasn't snuck any Cranberries into the soundtrack. Could you imagine Zombie Office? At least then we would have Andy Bernard singing some Cranberries.

SE: I think we are missing possibly the greatest crossover show ever: Zombie MacGyver!

CS: Wouldn't MacGyver be able to solve the Zombie Apocalypse problem with some toe nail clippers, a wet napkin and an empty tube of toothpaste?

SE: I'm thinking he would become the all-time zombie death total leader.

CS: But it still wouldn't be as epic as Woody from Cheers crossing paths with Woody from Zombieland.

SE: They can cure themselves from zombiefication by pickling their bodies with expired Hostess products and Old Style.

PS:
CS:  If you care to check out my podcast you can do so here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Three, Episode Seven [Christmas Special - "A Journey to the Highlands"]

This is the Christmas Special following the third season. If it were formally included in the series run, this is the ninth episode if you watched as they aired or are following along on DVD or Blu-ray. Of course, we're all seeing it seven weeks later, and many have not been so fortunate as to avoid the spoilers thanks to PBS's decision to delay airing the program stateside. As it is here at Inconsiderate Prick, Wordy Ginters and Josh "Old Man" Duggan will be your guides.

Old Man Duggan: So we jump ahead a full year. Despite the fact that this Third Series didn't advance through time quite as freely as the prior two did, we find ourselves in the ninth month of 1921, a full nine years later than where things kicked off. It seems a shame that Fellowes didn't expedite the Bates absolution a bit, especially given how much it all dragged, but maybe he'll advance things a little more rapidly this next series.

Wordy Ginters: I hope so. I assume we'll get to the ending in a minute. Despite that sour note from my vantage point, the last few episodes have salvaged the season, in large part because several monotonous plot threads were unstuck and set free, which clears space for new possibilities.

OMD: The new blonde maid checking out Branson as he passed by looked suspicious from the get-go. Moving right on past the fact that her head was shaped like an alien's head, it was clear to me that she was up to no good. Edna. Every British Edna is really a man, right? I think I learned that in school.

WG: Fellowes left his poker face in his kit bag. Too many telegraphed punches. Some of these last episode of the season moves would have detonated a bigger payoff with more set-up. You knew Mr. Edna wanted in Branson's trousers from jump street.

Chev vs. Bates: The Movie We All Want To See
OMD: Every once in a while, Bates will be doing something and the look on Brendan Coyle's face will seem so severe and dour as to make me wonder whether or not he is raging on the inside. Obviously it would appear as though that is not the case, as it does not appear to make sense when looking at Bates's nature, but when he was walking out of the kitchen after detailing how his Lordship loves going to Duneagle, that scowl that I project onto him appeared and I couldn't help but think to myself how he would make a great villainous mastermind to play foil to John McClane, John Rambo, or Chev Chelios.

WG: Coyle is one of the few members of the Downton crew I'd be drawn to see in another project. Crank 3: Port of Call Ripon.

OMD: Oh, no standard opening credits sequence this week, that means we have to wait an extra week (45 in total) before we see Isis's ass again to rev us up for new Downton Abbey. Do you think they're paying Branson to dog-sit while they're away?

WG: I was hoping we'd see Branson mincing about in one of Lady Cora's gowns, locking up Isis in a shed, or using Edith's toothbrush. Something with a little character. Some flair. Some reality. I know I'd have one of those beautiful gowns on before the last suitcase was loaded. I bet they are silky smooth.

OMD: No doubt.

Mary's pregnant. Color Colour me shocked.

WG: Too obvious, right? Perhaps this is the downside of the "one year later" gambit. When you drop theoretically big plot twists out of the sky, they ring off-key. Fellowes has been building pregnancy drama for the bulk of the season. To defuse that tension by planting a baby boy in Mary's womb in the last episode cheapened it somehow. It gave the whole thing a patina of cheese. Smoked Gouda.

OMD: More so than anything else, this episode made me yearn to go back to Scotland. Both my siblings studied outside of Edinburgh for a semester, my brother returned for a semester to work with the study abroad program, and my parents and sister were each married on the Isle of Mull. If I could move anywhere in the world, weather be damned, I do believe it'd be Scotland. For those curious, the scenes at "Duneagle" were filmed at Inveraray Castle outside of Inveraray in the county of Argyll, and sits near Loch Lyne. It's haunted by the ghost of a harpist who'd been hanged after peeping at a lady of the house. The chief of Clan Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, resides there. It's also a stone's throw from Oban which sets off a Pavlovian response in my salivary glands.

WG: Absolutely beautiful. One of my favorite scenes from Trainspotting is when they take a momentary break from the drugging grind and hike out into nature. One of the characters talks about how foolish it is that they run down Scotland and spend their days blissed out on heroin when the beautiful countryside is literally outside every window. Gorgeous country. Impressive Scottish street cred you've accumulated there. I've got a sister-in-law who works in a small village between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The best thing about her infrequent visits back to the states are the countryside photos she brings with her.

OMD: The condition to all that would be, of course, that I'd want to be as far as possible from Shrimpy and his family. The marital strife and incessant bickering would be much more than I'd care to immerse myself into, no matter the cost. Susan is positively insufferable. Every moment she was on screen was a moment in which I wanted to have someone, anyone stomp on my testes, and not in a pleasurable way. I feel bad for Shrimpy being stuck in a marriage as discordant as theirs. When he says, "We don't like each other," I understand completely. I can't fucking stand Susan.

WG: Jesus, she sucked. I thought Fellowes was paying homage to Single White Female with Susan and Cora, and the dueling haircuts. I was waiting for Susan to sneak into Lord Grantham's room and give him a blackmail beej.

OMD: If he can't summon an erection, does it still count?

If I wouldn't want to be around that familial conflict, then I really want nothing to do with the nonsense going on downstairs at Duneagle. Holy shit, those Scots are serious.

WG: Carson's counterpart was terrifying.

OMD: Every time they showed him, I shat myself.

When Isobel and Branson supped, I instantaneously cringed at the inevitability of Branson and Edna getting briefly entangled, as the transvestite alien spied a possible way to jump class strata. No me gusta. When she asked if Branson was ashamed of himself or what he was, I wanted to cut out her tongue. Do not fuck with Branson, Edna. You won't like what it gets you. Of course, her ham-handed button-pushing was instantly identified by the ever empathetic Mrs. Hughes, and the fiendish Edna was sent packing. It sure as shit looks to me that toying with Branson's emotions gets your ass fired if Mrs. Hughes picks up on it.

WG: I was disappointed he played the rube. Look, we all know Branson has had a rough couple of years. A fucking whirlwind. Can't be disputed. But where is the street tough revolutionary who fire bombed the swells mansion back in Dublin? That cat is long gone. He went from The Clash to The Alarm far too quickly.

OMD: Waking every morning to the 'pipes would be abrasive. I like the bagpipes as much as the next guy, but holy hell are they loud.

WG: I enjoyed the look on the Dowager's face immensely. Reminded me of the impromptu disgust she displayed when Shirley McClain was singing to her way back when. Does anyone register the unspoken "are you shitting me?" better than the Dowager?

Tufton, ca. 1980
OMD: Doesn't it seem like Mrs. Patmore's sleezy courtier had to have been transported forward in time from the 1920s? There's no way that guy is actually alive right now, is there? He could pass for Sloth's brother. How the hell is it that Patmore's back was turned every time he skeezed on a lady.

WG: He was a combo of Mel Sharples from The Brady Bunch and Schneider from One Day at a Time. A sweaty charmer.

OMD: Servants at the county fair. The family at the Gillies' Ball. This would appear to be the party down episode. If only Party Down were catering both of the functions [he looks longingly off into the distance]. I'd like to see how many R.D.D.s and R.D.D.s those Scottish servants would register on Ron Donald's watch. Also, I don't often agree with Carson, but when he said that "[he] would sooner chew broken glass" I laughed, but most of that comes from my similar disposition when it comes to spending time with the people. Do you think the merry-go-round was the same one used at the end of Strangers on a Train? I bet it was. It's still crazy to think that Hitchcock actually had that old man crawling under that contraption, hazarding death. Jimmy/James is quite the hustler, eh? No wonder Thomas fell hard for him. I'm glad Thomas and Jimmy made amends, if only just a bit. If you told me that I'd say anything nice about Thomas a year ago, I'd have punched you in the teeth.



WG: Exactly. Despite the fumbled footwork on some ends, Fellowes still comes through by making the unsympathetic sympathetic. I thought that merry-go-round came straight from the set of The Crush.

OMD: Fucking Lady Rose. The instant she returned to the screen there was one thing that I was certain of: she's replacing Sybil. Fuck me. The "mommy won't let me tart it up in the city" woe is me bullshit is not endearing her to me at all. Furthermore, I just don't see how Fellowes will be able to make her interesting. Surprise me, Julian. Please.

WG: Would it be possible to link her romantically with Branson? How about Carson? How about Edith?

OMD: My hope is that Carson finds love, even if it's not with Mrs. Hughes.

Clarkson and Isobel? What the fuck is going on here? Are we watching some weird, between war game show called Coupling Up? Are the hosts Ivor Novello and Lillian Gish? Clarkson gets himself a bit of the old liquid courage, musters up the gumption to ask her to think on marrying him, only to have her seemingly misunderstand what he was getting at while telling him she was afraid of change/remarriage.

WG: Did she know what was going on? I think she was completely daft. She's too busy working on the social safety net to be concerned about a crazy little thing like love.

OMD: I think she was completely oblivious.

Edith and Gregson. He loves her, obviously, but it wouldn't be an Edith love interest without an impassable hurdle. Of all of her prospective beaus, I actually like Gregson the most, but mostly because Strallan was disturbingly old. I'll never forget how Strallan had Branson's back after he was dosed, though. I love you, Sir Anthony.

WG: It will be interesting to see who Fellowes degrades more next season, Bates or Edith. With relatively bright skies shining over Bates and Anna, they would appear to be doomed. I can only assume that Gregson will be killed in a car accident.

OMD: Yeah, the family Bates is fucked.

So I happened across a headline on the front page of IMDb on what couldn't have been later than December 27th talking about what was next for Downton Abbey without Dan Stevens. I was fucking livid. This is the second time in three years that I've had a character's death spoiled in a fucking headline within a day or two of the episode airing. Have some fucking class, internet. Basically, I spent the entire episode waiting for the shoe to drop. Does he do something stupid to wrong Mary or does he just die? When does he die? How does he die? The whole fucking episode I just sat there guessing. Hunting accident? Shoe-horned affair? Hit by a stray shot as Susan attempts to kill Shrimpy? Death by food allergy while eating exotic food Scottish fare in the highlands? Turns out it was death by lorry while delivering news of a baby boy to the family at Downton. His death was presaged, of course, by two events in the first two episodes of this Third Series. The first shot of the second episode was Mary and Matthew in the death trap convertible talking about how shocked they Grantham household would be. More importantly, though, Mary sealed Matthew's fate when they were making up through the door the night before their wedding. When they kissed, she opened her eyes to look upon him. She fucking cursed their marriage and cemented Matthew's future in the form of a tombstone.

WG: I knew from the moment I (repeatedly) saw dark clouds hovering over the impossibly beautiful fields of Scottish heather that something dark was going down. When Matthew seemed so ridiculously and over the top happy and care free in his car, my suspicions were further affirmed. Reminded me of Ben Gazzarra swerving from side of the highway and nearly picking off the Swayze in Road House. Too much too soon. I like that Fellowes is shaking things up, and willing to kill off favorites. But too melodramatic. Would you be surprised if Season 4 opened and Young Mr. Sybil is 5 years old (they are naming the boy Sybil, right?), and Matthew's death was just a dream that he was having?

OMD: Yeah. Stevens has a life outside of acting. He publishes a literary journal and has been on the judge on the Man Booker Prize panel. Stevens's was apparently not going to come back for a fourth season from the onset of the series. He was out so it just was down to how he was leaving.

So Mary and Matthew had to have dabbled in F2FA, right? I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Lady Mary Crawley's anus is a deathtrap.

WG: Even light can't escape it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Three, Episode Six

Again we open with the information that this first hour would be the seventh episode if you watched the episodes as they originally aired in the UK. This week, we Americans are getting a second hour, meaning that this sixth episode is actually episodes seven and eight. As of two Mondays ago, you can buy the DVDs and Blu-rays for the third series at Amazon. For the uninitiated, your gentle guides are Josh "Old Man" Duggan and Wordy Ginters.

Old Man Duggan: Finally Bates is fucking out. For a show that plays rather freely with time, advancing as it would please, at times nearly a full year, Downton Abbey could certainly have skipped ahead for the sake of expediting this rather tedious story arc. Aside from a bit of Dark Bates, this story line was D.O.A. from the get-go.

Wordy Ginters: Agreed. But damn if he doesn't look good. It was fun watching him saunter about, limping with dignity, and relishing the idea of bumping Thomas out of a job.

OMD: Highclere Castle looked pretty idyllic as the car approached from prison. I wouldn't complain if that's where I ended up after being released from the slammer.

Not Mark Wahlberg
WG: Stunningly gorgeous. Have you seen the Secrets of Highclere Castle special on PBS? Me neither. I wonder how PBS will handle the relative popularity of Downton. I love the idea of PBS, but it could be soooo much better. It would be interesting if they had programming that appealed to anyone outside of the non-white relatively wealthy people demographic. More Austin City Limits, less Antiques Roadshow.

OMD: I feel like I watched it as a special feature on the Blu-rays. PBS could definitely work to have a wider draw, cut a broader swath through popular culture.

Does The Church of England have saints? If so, the Dowager Countess needs to be deified for getting rid of the scourge that is Ethel. Be gone with you, Ginger Witch.

WG: I didn't mind the Ethel recoups from whoring story line as much as you did. I'm not quite sure how to parse it. Is Fellowes simply reinforcing the style of the times? Is he insinuating that attitudes towards prostitution are still cocked up today? I don't know too many shows that pay as much attention to women and women's issues as Downton. I'm not altogether sure that what Fellowes is trying to say is all that positive though.

OMD: It's not the story line so much as the character that is the bane of my existence. I think for the most part Fellowes is on the right side of women's issues, but then again, I'm a dude. Female readers: Feel free to chime in on this subject; does Fellowes have your best interests in mind on the feminist front while portraying a less evolved time?

While it is certainly apropos of the nature of the show, the back and forth between Alfred and Jimmy/James does not work particularly well. Can we just agree that neither should be First Footman? The Downton Abbey Love Pentagram falls flat largely because we don't really give a shit about any of the characters involved. Love triangles, rhombi, etc. rarely work, and this is no exception. Also, we've largely glossed over all this, but O'Brien's role in the Thomas/Jimmy snafu has put her firmly in the place of most villainous character on the show--at least now that Ethel's finally gone. I am a little surprised that Thomas was so easily duped by O'Brien, but I guess perspective doesn't come into the picture when lusting after someone for as long Thomas has been hankering for a taste of Jimmy.

WG: O'Brien is an evil little knave, isn't she? Like most men, Thomas' glaring weakness is the fire in his loins. Is this O'Brien's revenge for the way Thomas fucked with Alfred earlier this season? Credit to Fellowes. He's taken the audience to hell and back with several characters. Particularly Thomas and O'Brien. I've felt empathy for and loathed them both at different points along the way. Thus far, they have the nasty habit of regressing from tolerable to shitheel. I can only assume Thomas will play some dickish angles next week that will remove all traces of sympathy.

OMD: This is definitely all recompense for Thomas fucking with O'Brien and Alfred. She told him as much and started right down that path shortly thereafter.

Perhaps the best thing about the whole Thomas/Jimmy ordeal has been that Julian Fellowes has been able to successfully humanize what had once been a rather clich├ęd character. For a long time, Thomas was little more than the duplicitous gay villain, something of an overused trope in English television and film. Now, finally, Thomas resides in a murky, gray area, which is much more interesting as a viewer.

WG: Absolutely. Who does Fellowes despise more, homosexuals or Catholics?

OMD: Definitely Catholics.

Jarvis sure was a-huffin' and a-puffin' when Matthew implied that the estate had been run less than ideally. This whole scene and really the chain of events leading to Branson running the estate was telegraphed last week, but it was still funny to see Jarvis go pouting off into the wild blue yonder.

WG: Poor Jarvis. Reduced to comparing himself to a broom. If you were a household cleaning implement, what would you be?

OMD: A shop-vac.

The Greatest McFly
Is it just me or did Branson's brother, Kieran, just look like an older, drunker version of Seamus McFly? Didn't it feel like Kieran's entire time at Downton would have led to bigger conflict? In like a lion, out like a lamb.

WG: I was thinking he looked a lot like the bastard offspring of Seamus McFly and Zach Galifianakas. I wish we could have heard the earthy Irish humor with which he was using to keep the servants in stitches. Jesus Christ, you know it was earthy. The dinner with Edith springing her journalism news, and the crazy Irish brother, certainly didn't live up to the hype. I did enjoy the Dowager getting in a Middlesbrough reference. Unfortunately, my beloved Boro haven't won a match since the start of the year. A smooth and confident ride back to the Premiership has foundered, and is in danger of dissolving. Is it possible that the glory days of Viduka and Hasselbaink will represent the pinnacle of Middlesbrough football for decades to come?

OMD: Everything past the christening was what was originally the eighth episode. So let us get into the cricket. One of my favorites part of the episode was Molesley talking up his prowess on the cricket lawn/field/whateverthefucktheycallit only to turn out to be completely inconsequential and, according to his father, not particularly good to begin with. I also really like Anna's sly little joke to Matthew when he said Bates was lucky he didn't have to play. "I think he'd like to walk normally, Sir, even if playing cricket was the price he had to pay." The thing that struck me as odd was what in God's name would make Lord Grantham want Tom to play in the Village vs. House Death Match when he's never played the game before. If you cared about winning, that is not the smart play.

WG: Roster management is apparently much more difficult than it appears. I think Grantham's hard-on for Tom joining the squad had to do with his archaic view of tradition. It's for the estate, man. Despite the faulty analysis on Grantham's part, Branson looked like the Irish Amos Otis out there.

OMD: Bates gets his valet gig back after a significant detour, and virtually instantaneously the tension between Thomas and him gets ratcheted back up. Then Jimmy turns toolbag at the drop of a hat, demanding Thomas be turned out without a reference. Thomas really starts to get it from all sides for a bit there. Thankfully for him, Mrs. Hughes swoops in. At this point, she's got to be my favorite character. Pragmatic. Sensitive. Understanding. She also plays so well against Mr. Carson while perfectly complementing him as the matronly head of the servants. Strange that it ends up being Bates who saves Thomas's hide. "Why do you have to be such a big girl's blouse about it?" Fucking brilliant, Bates.

WG: Bates is Christ.

OMD: My favorite moment of the episode, hell of the whole season, is this (and I'll let it speak for itself): Lord Grantham: "I mean if I shouted blue murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I'd have gone hoarse in a month."

WG: Too bad some of the luster from that gem was worn off a few lines later with Bates' "batting for the same team" crack. He might as well have been wearing a digital wristwatch.

OMD: Jesus Christ is Rose irritating. I could tell the instant she walked in the door that we were in for some trouble, and not in a good way. Petulant little party girl. She looked ridiculous in that get-up she left Lady Rosamund's house in. And Terence Margadale was straight out of central casting. Oh, a cheating husband? Let's get Edward Baker-Duly in here.

WG: I would have bet the mortgage that The Happy Mondays were going to be playing at the Blue Dragon, and that Rose was popping E in the cab ride over. You know you talk so hip you're twisting my melon man. Kawl the Kopss. Bez!

OMD: The Blue Dragon. For those curious, Smokey Green and the Louisiana Boys do not appear to be a real band, not one that is apparent through any cursory search of the internets. The club reeked of BBC approximation of a Jazz club, didn't it? I like that they thought it was so decadent as to liken it to the Outer Circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno.

WG: Praising with faint damnation.

OMD: I was pleased to see Bates and Anna fixing up The Bates Family Fuck Palace. Anna, the eternal optimist, and her hubby have waited a long time for it.

WG: Could have been more garish for my taste. Cheetah print. Mirrors. Red lights. Black leather. Nagel prints.

OMD: Mary's small operation. What do you have? I'm guessing Pamuk broke her with a Turkish Anal Curse and that Dr. Ryder is a witch doctor. He fixed her with a Sybian and a bath of chicken's blood.

WG: I was thinking he probably had to remove a muscle from her anus. A ride on the Sybian and a chicken blood bath seems like something Carson would prescribe for moral lapses.

Arthur Fonzarelli
OMD: Towards the end of the episode, we finally get a glimpse at why Robert is so ill-equipped to handle the estate and why he has repeatedly gotten them into dire financial straits. Charles Fucking Ponzi. 100% profit in 90 days? Good God, nothing could be amiss with that. Sign me up. Where Fellowes [apparently] failed to plug in a bit of timely Jazz at the Blue Dragon, he succeeded in inserting a bit of timely detail with the Ponzi reference. The most frustrating part of Robert's bristling at anything that smells change is that he views any disagreement with him as an attack, that everyone is against him. It is so petty, yet entirely how he deals with dissent. Everything is fine and dandy as long as everybody does exactly as he likes.

WG: The Ponzi shout out was good stuff. Grantham has a thin skin. He's petulant and prone to self-pity. However, the Dowager usually brings him around one way or another. In this case, the firebrand Branson with some Don Clifton strengths-based alchemy.

OMD: It was hard not to laugh at the soapy turn that Edith and Michael Gregson's love story took. Married to an insane woman who has been institutionalized and is therefore impossible to divorce? I bet that happened to every character on One Life to Live at least twice. Todd and Blair both should have been institutionalized.

WG: Did you know that Colm Meaney (how the fuck is he not on this show?), Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne all spent time on the One Life to Live set? The "my woman is crazy" plot twist was stale, but I'm holding out hope that Edith can score some age appropriate strange for a change.

OMD: I knew about Cranston, but not Meaney or Fishburne.

Whenever anyone walks by The Dog and Duck Pub in the village, I have a Pavlovian desire to walk to the identically named pub a few blocks away and knock down a few.

WG: Who knows what delights lie within? You must do it.

OMD: How fucking satisfying was seeing Bates lay down the law on O'Brien? "Sort it out by this evening... Or you'll find your secret's no longer safe with me." Slip on that soap, O'Brien. And Anna was joking about Bates running for Parliament, but he's got all the tools to succeed in politics now. He fucking slapped O'Brien silly just as any deft politician would. She hopped to it right quick. The thing is, I bet Anna puts two and two together and figures out what the "Her Ladyship's soap" means eventually.

WG: The pieces on the chessboard have been moved around a bit. With Thomas sticking around, the slippery soap gambit in play, and Bates possibly plumb square in the vile O'Brien crosshairs (just like old times), plenty of drama to be churned.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Three, Episode Five

Because PBS chose to air two episodes together in the first week, we get to explain once more that if you watched these episodes as they aired in the UK (or ordered the DVD or Blu-ray (Original U.K. Version)--both of which came out on Tuesday--and are watching it that way), this is the sixth episode/chapter. We two fellas, Wordy Ginters and Old Man Duggan, will be your Downton Abbey shepherds.

Old Man Duggan: Alas, this week we must boldly go forth without the lovely Sybil. One has to wonder if perhaps Fellowes forced that unfortunate haircut upon her this season to soften the blow of her eventual demise.

Wordy Ginters: A devil's haircut. Sybil's death is just what this season needed. A shake up. I'm glad Fellowes had the guts to do it.

OMD: Fucking Ethel. "When you lose your child, there's nothing worse under the sun." Well, I can think of one thing. Bringing Ethel back. Then she proffers this tragic line: "And I could cook something special." That puts an awfully horrific spin on the word "special," doesn't it?

WG: For fuck's sake, how bad can her cooking be? The faces Isobel makes when tasting Ethel's food reminds me of that Bobby Knight press conference when some poor sap asked him about "game faces"
OMD: I am completely behind Cora's decision to freeze out Robert in the sack. Get thee to a dressing room. His hard-on for nobility got them in this mess in the first place. Tapsel was a self-important wanker and a shitty doctor, shittier than Clarkson, which is quite the feat. But because he wears a dinner jacket well and looks like he hasn't passed a bowel movement in at least fifteen years he must be listened to, right Lord Grantham? Cora's tear-soaked tongue-lashing to this effect was just what I wanted to hear. Robert is generally a kind-hearted, well-intentioned chap, but whenever he is put upon to choose between the ways of old and more enlightened and modern ideas, he invariably sides with tradition and class. If there were one trait he possessed which persistently threatened the future of the Crawleys and the estate, it is this. And now it has cost them. More importantly, it has cost the audience getting to continue to look at Jessica Findlay.

WG: It is COLD in the Grantham boudoir. He's quickly becoming garbage. It was fun to see the women-folk chop the men off at the knees throughout this episode.

OMD: "My dearest boy, there is no test on Earth that is greater than the one you have been put to." Vince Young and the Wonderlic would beg to differ, Violet.

WG: I remember after a youthful misstep, my father suggested that I might not be able to match Neil Smith's Wonderlic score based upon my apparent lack of wits. Neil may have held the all-time low Wonderlic score until Vince came along. Needless to say, Neil Smith earned much more than my father, and I contribute to a blog. Who is so goddamn smart now?

OMD: This love pentagram downstairs is not working for me at all. For starters, Daisy and Thomas are the only two downstairs who are established characters. Neither of them are especially sympathetic. Then Fellowes adds three new faces to the mix, expecting us to care about them at all with very little room in the narrative to build them up with character development. This move hearkens back to Degrassi: The Next Generation--which Larry David watches, by the way--when the producers decided to cast off basically the entire original cast. I'll grant you the point that keeping them involved in the plot past high school was pretty pointless, and some of the new cast, particularly the fetching Nina Dobrev and future 90210 Brenda v.2.0 Shenae Grimes were positive additions to the show, but eventually the show had shed everyone we gave a shit about in favor of the younger siblings of the characters, none of whom were appealing from any standpoint. I was so leery of this happening again with the British version of Skins, which is also awesome, that I simply stopped watching after the second series after having my fears be validated by the opinions of a trusted bunch of friends. Screw Effy and her friends. Bring back Gwen.

WG: I can understand your beef, but I don't mind it that much. I kind of like how Fellowes has positioned Daisy all over the board from loathsome simpleton to farm overlord in waiting. Alfred is more or less likeable. He's an honest trier. I'm not sure what the hell is going on with Ivy. She obviously wants in Jimmy's trousers but Fellowes hasn't matched them up exactly. I like the current ambiguity of it all. Still, Fellowes has a lot of work to do to crank the sexual tension up to Bound levels.

OMD: The dinner with Mr. Travis is both tiresome and funny. Every time he opens his mouth out spews the same tired tradition "Our Religion is the only True Religion" nonsense. I love when Edith jumps into the fray. Of course Lord Grantham sides with Travis in the most irksome ways. When Cora chimes in with the line, "You're always flabbergasted by the unconventional," I wanted to stand up and give her a slow clap that would make the cast of Lucas blush. Just 17 minutes into the episode, Cora has wasted little time exposing Robert's weaknesses and with a healthy amount of venom to boot. For those unaware of the reference, when Cora follows that barb with the line, "Not everyone chooses their religion to satisfy Debrett's," Debrett's is a publication that serves as a genealogical guide of the British aristocracy complete with a short family history of the titleholders.

WG: Pretty progressive talk from the Debrett's crowd. I'm guessing Fellowes LOVES Bill Maher.

OMD: After a few scenes featuring the stern Mrs. Bartlett, it is not hard to see why she and Vera Bates became fast friends. She's just as insufferable and shitty as her evil dead friend.

WG: How can you not like Bates? It ain't natural. I don't get the venom. I guess the alleged bribe could have pushed Bartlett along. But she was being a shit about Bates when Anna was channeling her inner Agatha Christie. I guess if you aren't in Debrett's, your life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

OMD: Daisy at William's father's farm. Him offering her the farm to look after. Is this the means by which I'll finally be relieved of having to watch her suck the air out of every scene she's in? I'll forgive Fellowes a lot of transgressions if he jettisons her off to milking cattle on the countryside.

WG: Let's bump that up a notch and put Daisy in her father-in-law's bed. And assume that once she has been properly deflowered, her speech impediment will be cured, which is a view currently held by several members of Congress.

OMD: Nice.

It looks as if Matthew has stumbled upon a way to put Branson to work in a meaningful way at Downton. Catholic Land Manager Extraordinaire, Tom Branson.

WG: That softball is telegraphed from miles away, isn't it? Oh sure, Tom will be too proud and want to strike out on his own, not wanting to be a burden, etc. And who knows how he'll react after he reads the article in the LA Times about the Los Angeles diocese. But one thing is for certain: black faced sheep will soon be grazing on Downton lands.

OMD: Is it any surprise that Carson and Lord Grantham nearly shit their knickers at the thought of the women in the same house as Ethel? It's as if they're going to contract whoring cough. From there, there is no turning back. "Well, of course, you know these days servants are extremely hard to find." I laughed so fucking loud when the Dowager Countess dropped that line of reconciliation at the table after Robert stormed in, ever the blowhard and ever clinging to tradition. He really can be a petulant twat.

WG: Whoring cough. Another one to add to the book of old timey maladies. Ouija boards. Telephones. Toasters. Whores. Carson has a more interesting list of phobia's than Bill Murray in What About Bob?

OMD: Dark Bates! Thank fucking Christ that the dipshittery of Lord Grantham is immediately counteracted with Bates being a badass and telling Craig he'd be done for if he didn't redirect Bartlett's testimony. At least one paragon of the masculine ideal is stepping forward and exerting his will upon the world with aplomb.

WG: That shit was straight out of The Wire. I noticed when Anna pleaded with him to "not do anything foolish" he couldn't bring himself to make eye contact with her. No eye contact! I knew it was on. Was that a spoon he was threatening Craig with? Even more impressive. Any fool can threaten with a knife or a shiv. To get your message across with an implement designed to dismantle pudding takes real moxie.

OMD: I have no idea what it was. Maybe a broken tuning fork? Half of a dining fork? A jagged letter opener that had gone unused for so long while Anna's letters were being diverted?

I think the funniest part of the episode had to be Anna smirking after Mrs. Hughes said, "I see. Well, I'll tell Ethel that she has a treat in store," following Molesley's assertion that Jesus likely only let Mary Magdalene wash his feet.

WG: The women had no time for the silly men folk and their outdated thinking in this episode. Molesley, Grantham, and Carson still think its the stone age. I know the timing doesn't line up since this show had its original run in Britain last fall, but in some ways these tradition laden blowhards evoke the outmoded thinking some of the big shots in the Republican party demonstrated prior to the election. Molesley is Dick Morris. Dick Morris is Molesley.

OMD: So I suppose Dr. Clarkson's intervention had to happen for the show to move on--after all, any hope for the show going forward would be torpedoed by becoming mired in marital strife between Robert and Cora--but we did get treated to Cora taking the gloves off and doing some significant, eye-opening damage to Robert. He needed to hear that his inflexibility could very well sink the Crawleys and Downton Abbey into ruin.

WG: Over the course of the series Grantham has been a pretty likable rich guy. Not an easy feat for any show to pull off. (The most likable rich guy in a TV series ever? Ricardo Montalban, Fantasy Island). But more and more, he's the heel. I like the turn for the worse. And again, credit to Fellowes for keeping things fluid, and making his characters somewhat ambiguous. I predict the next script flipper will involve Thomas turning a new leaf and becoming kind and benevolent. He'll engage in sweet little gestures like teaching Daisy how to give handjobs.

OMD: Daisy HJs. She'd likely quiver and stammer on like a fool whilst in the throes of stroking.

For all of the tedium that has surrounded the Bates's wrongful imprisonment storyline and its apparent interminability, I still got choked up when Anna came running out onto the lawn, letter in hand. Fellowes still gives us our moments, even after some head-scratchingly bad plot points lead one to worry about the show in general, which brings me to a topical question. Which of the following storylines that stateside TV viewers are currently being subjected to is worst: (1) Bates's stretch in the joint and all of the surrounding nonsense; (2) The love pentagram downstairs in Downton; (3) Ethel; or (4) Boom Mic Brian getting all mixed up in Jim and Pam's marital strife on The Office?

WG: Answer: (5) Watching Mario Batali half-ass his way through episodes of The Chew.



OMD: And let's be serious: when Wordy dropped the devil's haircut line, you thought that this would be at the end of this week's column, didn't you?
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