Friday, February 28, 2014

Man on Film: Live Action Oscar Shorts

Since this is an atypical subject here, I'll just do a quick breakdown on each of the nominees.

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)

Far and away the worst of the nominees. Obvious.

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)

A little slow to get moving, but ultimately engaging. Ratchets up the tension well. Effective glimpse into a terrible episode of family drama.


It was a little schmaltzy, but I'll be damned if I didn't tear up. The zeppelin effects were a little weak (an understandable byproduct of a limited budget), but the performances of the three principle cast members, especially Casper Crump, were very strong. A cute, emotionally involving story set against a depressing situation.

Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)

Very Scandinavian. Very funny. Sure, it was lighter than the rest of these entrants, but it was definitely the most fun.

The Voorman Problem

Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander get to chew on some great dialogue. Clever. Wickedly funny. It's available here. In my mind, this one is the class of the category.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Man on Film: Nebraska

Alexander Payne's follow-up to The Descendants is another film about family, this time returning to his Midwestern roots. An interstate road movie about a senile-leaning father and his reluctant chauffeur son, Nebraska springs forth from the fertile ground of a son trying to do right by his father despite a strained relationship.

It is fantastic.

Perhaps my feelings on the film are too heavily informed by my roots, but Nebraska magnificently captured every nuance of small-town Midwestern life. The stoicism of the pre-Baby Boom male. The tried and true topics of conversation of the peoples of largely agrarian, shrinking small towns of the plains. The simple pleasures. The age old grudges. The general kindness and interest in personal minutiae. Bob Nelson's screenplay felt as though it could have been written directly from afternoons in my childhood. It was equal parts knowingly detached and lovingly attached, dancing brilliantly between the two, striking a wonderful balance.

And Alexander Payne pressed all the right buttons. The tone--from the performances to the black-and-white stock--is pitch perfect. Bob Odenkirk and the sublime June Squibb hit every note, but Will Forte and Bruce Dern play the parts of beleaguered but faithful son and father teetering on the edge of senility with perfection. The support, particularly the cast employed in Hawthorne, is also spot on, with the football watching scene being one of the highlights of the last year in cinema.

Seemingly every decision Payne makes works out wonderfully. The dynamic between Forte and Dern is particularly fruitful, but the casting of the relatively little-known character actress June Squibb really sets the movie apart. Nebraska is wildly funny but retains a poignancy and heart that endear it so much more than nearly every other film of the past year. On the heels of The Descendants, it was hard to imagine Alexander Payne making a film as outstanding as it, but in Nebraska he exceeds expectations.

Man on Film: American Hustle

Coming after The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook in David O. Russell's body of work, it was hard to not have high expectations for American Hustle. As a result (and the subsequent innumerable accolades and nominations heaped upon it cannot help for those who have yet to see American Hustle), American Hustle was at least a little disappointing.

That isn't to say American Hustle wasn't good. It is just a victim of its high expectations.

In essence, American Hustle is an acting showcase. From the principal cast to supporting cast members like Robert DeNiro, Elisabeth Rohm, Michael Pena, Louis C.K., and the Boardwalk Empire cameo crew (Jack Huston and the inimitable Shea Whigham), this was an opportunity for actors to shine, regardless of their line count. And as Russell's films virtually guarantee, shine they do.

And while the supporting cast is rock solid, the principle cast is outstanding. Jeremy Renner gets to shine as a faithful family man and politician who actually wants to provide for his constituents. Bradley Cooper turns in a wonderfully complex role, imbuing Richie DiMaso with every bit of obsessiveness, self-pity, egotism, and volatility that it required. Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are both fantastic and get to make themselves comfortable in these wildly unpredictable and wholly colorful roles. And Christian Bale? Holy shit. Once again, Bale shows that he belongs in that very short list of actors who turn in must-watch performances every damn time. He is brilliant once again, and his brilliance goes far past his physical commitment to the role. Bale disappears into the role of Irving Rosenfeld. He was given a role wrought with pathos, a duality of supreme confidence and insecurity that is thrilling to behold.

After all of this discussion of the stellar acting, it would be a disservice to those working behind the scenes to fail to talk about the production design, wardrobe, and art direction. The painstaking attention to detail that went into realizing the world of this film was obvious in every frame of the film. The uniformity in style and full realization of late-'70s New York/New Jersey is special.

As usual, David O. Russell has crafted a well-directed film. It is hard to argue with the performances or the mise-en-scene. The narrative, however, was just a little lacking in the oomph that his recent films have had. The story in American Hustle was fun but ultimately insubstantial. The richness of characters goes a long way towards helping to remedy this shortcoming, but American Hustle is not a movie that stays with you for more than an hour or so after you walk out of the theater. With a David O. Russell film, this is sort of something that I had come to expect.

Man on Film: 12 Years A Slave

Once again, we republish this as the Oscars draw nearer.

Before you read any further, see 12 Years A Slave. Drop what you're doing. Cancel your plans. Oh, you're supposed to fly home for Christmas, but haven't seen it? Reschedule your flight.

12 Years A Slave is fucking phenomenal.

This is the time of year that theaters are flooded with Oscar trash. The important film: the stodgy period piece, usually adapted from a classic novel; the adaptation of a heavy-handed, award-winning contemporary novel [preferably the Pulitzer] usually neatly packaged with some larger message about sexual repression or religion, with a careful eye toward production design; or the biopic of someone who overcame some personal struggle to achieve something or lead a people. If the film can prey on liberal white guilt, all the better.

12 Years A Slave is definitely a biopic about someone overcoming a struggle, and any white person who doesn't feel horrible about what happened to Solomon Northup is at least 99% likely to be a horrible racist, but holy shit is it amazing. It is brutal--visually and emotionally. The situation Solomon finds himself in is so awful that it is impossible not to feel his pain. And there is a lot of pain. He is stripped of his dignity, his hope, and his humanity and is powerless to do anything about it.

What makes the film is director Steve McQueen's unwavering dedication to his vision. There are so many bold choices, so many shots that linger for far longer than one would expect, so many that drive key turning points. In a less confident hand, these scenes would feel heavy handed. In 12 Years A Slave, the decisions take your feet out from under you.

Of course, all would be for naught were it not for sterling performances, first and foremost being that of Chiwetel Ejiofor. There are other strong performances--Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt are all good, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o particularly are great--but Ejoifor's is the performance of a lifetime. Ejiofor is always a captivating performer, but McQueen uses Ejiofor's face as a canvas, his eyes as a channel to the film's emotive center. There is no better example of this than the scene in which they bury Uncle Abram (pretty sure that's the character). While the slaves sing "Roll Jordan Roll" around the fresh grave, McQueen holds a tight shot on Ejiofor's face, as at first he stands there, numb, any hope that this cruel twist of fate will be miraculously reversed draining from his face, the last shred of belief that he was a free man fading. Then he starts in with his brethren. A slave, but hope of a different sort taking root within him. The scene tears at you, and McQueen's choice to hold on Ejiofor's face and let all these emotions play out over the almost uncomfortably long shot proves to be inspired.

In short, 12 Years A Slave is brilliant, bold, soul-crushing, brutal, and vital. It must be seen.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Man on Film: Blue Jasmine

Here is another old entry with Oscar implications.

To say I've been very bad at keeping up with these entries would be a vast understatement. To put it into perspective, I am twenty-three--yes, two-three--entries behind, most of them being Man on Film entries. I hope to catch up on them in the coming weeks, so while there may not seem to be a rhyme or reason to why I choose what I choose, I can tell you right now that I'm choosing Blue Jasmine because it might just be the best film I've seen this year. And yes, I did see Gravity.

To say Blue Jasmine is good Woody Allen would be a gross understatement. Even when he's been great over the past 20 years or so, it hasn't always felt that Allen was working outside of himself very much. Midnight in Paris and Sweet and Lowdown were great films, but they definitely shared quite a few commonalities with his pre-existing body of work. For the first time in decades, Woody Allen has made a film that doesn't feel like a Woody Allen film.

Yes, the dialogue is still strong and snappy, but this isn't the signature--or in worse cases (I'm looking at you, To Rome with Love), self-parodying--dialogue to which we have become accustomed. The narrative is psychologically complex, structurally nimble, and most importantly breaks from the handful of boilerplate stories Allen routinely falls back upon. Quite frankly, Blue Jasmine is far from what we expect to see from a Woody Allen film, and it's shockingly refreshing.

Much has been made of the performances in the film, and that hubbub is largely justified. Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins are particularly great with Blanchett's performance being enough to carry the film regardless of what the other actors did, but with the rest of the cast being superlative, Blue Jasmine is simply stunning. Even in light of the recent big hit Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine wastes little time distinguishing itself from the rest of Allen's curriculum vitae as a standout achievement, and by the time it gets to its conclusion you're shocked that he was even its auteur.

That's a good thing.

Man on Film: Gravity

With the Oscars coming up this weekend, I'll be putting up the Man on Film entries (both old and new) for this year's big nominees. Here goes.

If there is one thing that Alfonso Cuarón is inarguably capable of doing, it is making a film that must be seen on the big screen. In the case of Gravity, that means IMAX and 3D because no one maximizes the medium of film like Cuarón does. Unlike any film that's come before it, Gravity manages to use the scope and technology at today's filmmaker's disposal to its fullest potential. While I would still posit--even after having seen Gravity--that 3D simply doesn't add enough to the experience, Gravity is definitely worth the price of admission if only for the spectacle of the IMAX presentation.

Yes, Gravity is worth every penny paid to see it. The film is an event that warrants seeing it on the big screen. Unfortunately, the simplicity of the narrative finds a way to wither in the majesty of the presentation. That isn't to say that the film isn't emotionally affective. It is. Over the course of the movie, it is nearly impossible not to feel for Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) as they are left adrift in space without contact to the outside world. Cuarón masterfully builds the characters and the suspense to keep you engaged. Both of the film's stars are everything you would want them to be.

It is just strange that the film's story is so intimate when cast against the magnitude of the film itself. It's a brilliantly conceived vision; it's just that the contrast in scopes of narrative and mise-en-scène is so drastic as to almost be distracting. Obviously, this was Cuarón's intent, and really, who am I to question a man as brilliant as he? It just seems that this film was all about the spectacle, emotional as it may have been, while failing to stay with you once you left the theater.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Four, Episode Nine

We come to the conclusion of the fourth series of Downton Abbey with the 90-minute Christmas Special, and Wordy Ginters and myself will once again be your guides. Lady Rose is presented and we get our first proper glimpse at "the season." The Crawley family becomes entangled with Mr. Sampson again, as a damning letter penned by the Prince of Wales gets lifted from his mistress's possession. Bates's criminal ways show their value, though not before it is deemed likely that he did avenge Anna's rape. Cora's mother and brother, Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) and Harold Levinson (Paul Giamatti), come to London for Rose's debutante ball. The Fourth Series is available for the low, low rate of $24.96 on Blu-ray and $21.96 on DVD.

Old Man Duggan: Perhaps it was that history was playing much more centrally in the goings on or that there seemed to be larger problems facing the Crawleys, but this was far and away the best episode of the season. It made me remember the best of Seasons One and Two.

Wordy Ginters: Downton definitely closed strong. The last two episodes were solid.

OMD: Maybe it's just that Julian Fellowes finally had the budget to show a "season" in London, but I will say it was nice to finally see what the hubbub has been about. The troika of Crawley girls and now Rose have had so much relying upon their being matched that it was refreshing to see the presentation of a debutante to the King and Queen.

WG: It makes for some pretty television, the pomp, the circumstance, the handsome visage of Giamatti at a picnic.

OMD: Miss Sarah Bunting, aside from being no taller than five-foot-one, is sort of pulling the same bullshit that Edna Braithwaite was on Branson. This whole uppity-broads-guilting-Branson-for-marrying-up thing can go away any time, Fellowes. I'm sure it was and probably still is a thing, but I think we've gotten the point. Can we move along please?

WG: Is Branson hot for teacher or still wrestling with the do I or don't I belong class consciousness thing? If I had my druthers, Branson would be dealing with a troika of suitors, not Lady Mary. And fucking-A, how about cuffing Thomas around for that impertinent tone? I know the fog of grief, the responsibilities of running a pig farm, and dreams of a different future are clouding his vision, but Jesus H. Christ, if Thomas being a major league prick can't bring the clarity of brutal violence, what can? Thomas deserved a punch in his cigarette hole on several occasions. But whats new, eh?

OMD: Yeah, fuck Thomas. He was such a conniving shit this episode.

So it would appear that Brownshirts did Gregson in. Or at least waylaid him. For over a year. Goddamn proto-Nazis. Let's hope they didn't detain and brainwash him only to release him back into the UK a spy.

WG: I'm holding out hope for The Manchurian Candidate scenario. Once the proto-Nazis beat you, you stay beaten. Forays into the US and the Rhineland are a nice way for Fellowes to keep things fresh next season.

OMD: Much of the episode centered around a purloined love letter written by the Prince of Wales--and future King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson as seen in The King's Speech--to the married but dallying Freda Dudley Ward. Of course, the shitty Mr. Sampson played an integral role in the misdeeds. It seems shocking to me that Sampson hasn't been thrown out of high society on his ear. It's too bad Gregson wasn't there to school him, but I suppose if ever there weren't a need for Mr. Gregson it would be when there is an ex-con capable of murder in the fold waiting to ply his skill set.

WG: I dug the development of Bates over the course of this season. From ardent lover of Anna to shadowy master of the criminal arts. Forgery. Pick pocketin'. Perfect murders. Penny Licks. The man is like a proto-James Bond. I was the opposite of chuffed when Lady Mary was thinking about dropping a dime on him. Is Hughes the only one on that damn show with a lick of sense? Thankfully, the purloined letter evidently tipped the scales enough for Mary to torch the York to London train ticket in the fireplace. That was some satisfying TV. Burn ticket burn.

OMD: Mos def. Hughes is always right. They may as well change the name of the show to Mrs. Hughes and All of the Wrong People Around Her.

The scheming to get the letter was quite a bit of fun in a Downton Abbey kind of way. Ultimately though, the crafty Mr. Bates pulled a couple of metaphorical rabbits out of his hat of underhanded tricks and put off dishonor to the Crown for another day. I liked that his learned skills in forgery first saved Molesley and now the monarchy, but no one knows that it was Bates himself who penned the letter granting them access to Sampson's quarters.

WG: Bates was the inspiration for the Digable Planets song "Rebirth of Slick."

OMD: And we have our exit music.

Mary and Rose's gasps of shock when Robert showed them the letter was really fucking funny.

WG: I laughed out loud.

OMD: While I wasn't entirely sold of the fact that Madeleine Allsop would seem to fall for Harold Levinson, the fact that he still wanted her to write to him was sweet. Fellowes does a good job of injecting the show with these nuanced minor characters who provide the audience with an anecdotal glimpse at a type of person a la mode. I, for one, hope we get to see more of Madeleine, even if Paul Giamatti--who I liked here--doesn't make a return appearance.

WG: You've doped out the heart of it. Fellowes elevates Downton above trifling replacement-level soap opera entertainment precisely because of these types of characters and nuance. He's got a knack for developing characters that are relatable, regardless of their station. When they choose the righteous path, it's damn satisfying. On the other hand, I never quite bought into Lady Allsop being truly rehabilitated. I'm still smelling scheme. The guy who plays her old man was equally crooked in Sexy Beast.

OMD: Ivy looks to be headed stateside. I've got nothing to say about that. Didn't ever give a shit about her.

WG: If she thinks she can escape first date finger-blasting by fleeing across the Atlantic, she's tragically mistaken.

OMD: Mary and Hughes knowing but ultimately being all right with the fact that Bates murdered the odious Mr. Green is kind of awesome. It took Mary a bit longer to come around to Mrs. Hughes's line of thinking, but Bates is invaluable to the family and the damning evidence is commingling with the burnt cinders in Mary's fireplace at Crawley House.

WG: Damn right it took Mary a bit longer. I'll be generous and posit that she's been preoccupied with matters porcine.

OMD: Given the fact that so many characters have perished in the past two seasons, I was damn near certain that the Dowager Countess was going to die in her sleep after she and Martha's tête-à-tête in the hall after the party. "Violet, I don't mind looking in the mirror because what I see is a woman who's not afraid of the future. My world is coming nearer, and your world? It's slipping further and further away. Good night." That seemed to me to be a farewell speech to Violet.

WG: I haven't followed the trades like I should. Has Maggie Smith already indicated she isn't coming back? That last scene is a fitting coda, but I hate to see her go off into that dark night without getting the last word.

OMD: Thus far there's not been any announcement. If I remember correctly, Siobhan Finneran's departure wasn't announced until early spring of last year, well after Downton Abbey had aired in the UK.

There was a lot of talk about the past and future going on in this episode. This is clearly a time of transition for the UK, and Fellowes wanted to be sure to drive that point home. Between the old guard scrambling desperately to find themselves new revenue streams to recover the fortunes that they were unsuited to hold onto in the changing times and the old guard being informed that they must be adaptable to survive, this more than any other episode really tried to advance the cast of characters into the 1920s. Even Carson cut loose on the beach, with Hughes holding his hand as they waded into the sea of change.

WG: Without Carson and Hughes holding things together, Downton's pants would fall down around its ankles inside of two weeks. It was a cool moment seeing them with clasped hands in the ocean. I would have definitely lost the "will we see Carson's bare feet" prop bet for sure. The show has leaned on change as a back drop pretty frequently. The war. The depression. Post war. I'm eager to see how far Fellowes will advance the calendar for the next season.

OMD: Still no sign of Gregson. Mary still bats around a couple of gents. What direction do you think Fellowes will take us on those two fronts? There has been a fair amount of talk about this fourth season being a virtual recap of Season One. Do we get the Great War and William dying from war wounds in Season Five? Where, oh where are you Mr. Gregson?

WG: I'm guessing Fellowes wrings some good mileage out of Germany and Gregson. Too many rich writing opportunities to let that thread wither on the vine. I'm less interested in Lady Mary's "plight". How about a wild-card suitor? Jack Ross? Or maybe a new character altogether. Regardless, by finishing up with a solid run of ep's at the end of the season, at least I'm looking forward to next season.

OMD: Yeah, after Matthew's untimely (and widely spoiled) death, it was hard to get it up for this season. With the rape happening early on, I was very worried. Hopefully the ship has been righted.

True Detective Season One, Episode Six "Haunted Houses"

This week's installment of True Detective brings us a showdown between Marty and Cohle. Marty slips into some more infidelity. Cohle slips into Marty's wife. Epic blood bath thus ensues in the police department parking lot.

Hey Marty, this is how many inches I gave your wife.
Stan Earnest: Talk about the massive heartbreak episode. Why didn't they run this on Valentine's weekend?

Craig Scholes: Valentine’s Weekend is going to be my sappy love song parody band of Vampire Weekend.

SE: That clashes more than HBO following True Detective with Girls.


SE: Girls: naked, boring Seinfeld.

CS: I’m totally on board, except the boring part. Anyway, shit got real this episode.

SE: How bad was Woody in the sack at home that a five second blast from Cohle from behind was the best she has had in years?

CS: How dare you, McConaughey easily gave her a good 20-second rogering.

SE: Nothing says sexy like some of the ole in-out, in-out amidst crime scene photos of rape/murder victims.

CS: Really sets the mood. I’ve clearly found out what I've been doing wrong all these years.

SE: I knew this episode was going to get steamy when basically every warning HBO has flashed before the opening credits.

CS: Started a bit slow though. When Woody whipped those two youts' asses, I pictured a scene in Coneheads. I hope when one of those guys goes to pick up Wood's daughter for a date they say the line, "I hope you didn't hurt your hand fucking up my face."

SE: Marty's character may be the most flawed mess of a man since George Costanza. Beats a couple kids up, pukes, fucks the girl prostitute he tried to save years ago, and sits around in his undies eating noodles in front of his family. I hope Larry David is doing a golf clap somewhere.

CS: And he's kind of an idiot.

SE: HOW DARE YOU! George Costanza was not an idiot. I would go with genius savant.

CS: No, I mean Woody's character is kind of an idiot.

SE: But even by association that makes Woody a genius.

CS: Except, he's an idiot.

SE: An idiot genius.

CS: I don't think you know what the word genius means.

SE: I'm putting the number of times our editor and captain of this mess, OMD, rolls his eyes/shakes his head during the last five sentences at ten, and I'm taking the over.

CS: Was it you or I that predicted that Woody's ol' lady was going to participate in acts of blanket hornpipe with McConaughey?

Complete with Woody Harrelson chin.
SE: Props to both of us. We both nailed that one, literally.

CS: It was pretty cold-blooded how Mrs. Harrelson broke the news to him though.

SE: He totally had that coming, but that was rather abrupt. She didn't just throw Cohle under the bus; she also drove it over him.

CS: By far my favorite part of the episode was the Wrath of Khan like "COHLE!"

SE: Marty tackled Cohle like he was Lawrence Taylor trying to end Joe Theismann’s career.

CS: And when Woody said "I'll follow you," I immediately thought that he was going to pull him over for never fixing that broken taillight.

So give me your best #TrueDetectiveSeason2

SE: I feel this is like when we are making Super Bowl odds for the next season immediately after the season is over. I don't really know how this all plays out yet, but I would stand to reason that another comedian-esque actor could play the Woody role, like Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, or Bill Murray, and a well-known, passionate actor could play the McConaughey role, like say Daniel Day Lewis or Michael Shannon. Although, I wouldn't mind seeing Michael Douglas and Matt Damon reprise their exact roles from Behind the Candelabra for #TrueDetectiveSeason2

CS: Isn't Boardwalk Empire ending? Which means Michael Shannon is definitely in play, Buscemi too. HBO has a tendency to recycle their guys. Which is why the police major actor played the exact role he played in Entourage. And if I get an Adrian Grenier #TrueDetectiveSeason2 I’m gonna be pissed.

SE: So who do you think the Yellow King is?

Jason Alexander has Woody's rug man's number.
CS: I’m sticking with Jackie Chan.

SE: My guess of the tent revival reverend fell flat. This show definitely has this eerie tone, like they are going to catch the killers with Woody's daughter like you called it. It is probably going to get extremely intense. It reminds of this movie I took a gamble on Netflix watching called The Kill List. Starts slow and boring with family stuff, explodes into crazy cult shit in the woods, and then ends with a gut punch, making me sick to my stomach.

CS: I've exhausted everything I had.

SE: Say something funny.

CS: I’m disappointed we didn't touch on Segways or anal sex.

SE: Well it looks like we just did.


Follow Craig @anaveragegatsby and Stan @StanEarnest

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Four, Episode Eight

This week's installment is the final regular episode of the fourth season/series of Downton Abbey. While Robert and Thomas are away in America, tending to Teapot Dome, the rest of the Crawleys get the grounds ready for the church bazaar. Lady Rosamund and Edith come up with a plan. Anna confides in Lady Mary. Alfred comes back to Downton one last time. Bates slips away to "York." When he returns, Mr. Green has run into the business end of a Mack truck. Next week, we get the Christmas Special.

Old Man Duggan: Baxter and Molesley. Some sweet moments between the two of them in this one. "It's just coffee. You wouldn't have to surrender any of your independence." Good move, Molesley, you sly sonuvabitch. I like where that could go. My interest is definitely piqued as to what her backstory is. When they walked off arm in muscular arm after Molesley succinctly told Thomas to piss off, I wanted to shout from the rooftops.

Wordy Ginters: I loved the look Baxter gave Thomas as she walked away draped on Moseley's bulging arm. Delivered over the shoulder for throwing shade bonus points.

OMD: I feel like this isn't the first time the show has mentioned Swindon, but every time I hear it mentioned, I think of how evil the Swindon Branch is. Goddamn Neil and his goddamn ballroom dancing.

WG: I'm still thinking about Moseley's deceptively powerful arms.

OMD: I'm so glad that Anna finally told Lady Mary about Mr. Green. I do worry that this will be Bates's undoing, of course--assuming we don't get thrown a curveball and Green ended up dying without Bates's help.

WG: Bates is guilty, right? Fellowes might as well had him compulsively washing his hands from the moment he got back from "York." Out damned spot.

OMD: I'd be shocked if he wasn't.

I sure as hell hope that Alfred's letter and its fallout means that the nonsensical love quadrangle is over and done with. I think if Ivy was even remotely fetching the tiresome entanglement might make a bit of sense, but Fellowes has wasted a season-and-a-half on a storyline that would have been better left dead on arrival. At least Daisy got Mr. Mason's basket to Alfred. It was a pretty bow on a shitty package, but a pretty bow all the same.

WG: Don't be too hasty regarding the relative merits of the package. Sounded like a decent haul for a road trip. Sausage. Cheese. Bread. Cider. I guess it depends on the cheese. Mason has always been a decent motherfucker. Whenever any of the characters on Downton end up playing the humane angle, I get aroused. I was glad to see Mason provide some wise counsel to Daisy.

OMD: Sorry I was talking about how it was a nice moment to end the horseshit downstairs menage. I'd never shit on Mr. Mason's care package.

Speaking of Daisy, that hat she wore at the picnic with William's dad made her look like she was going through chemo, right?

WG: Pasty. Hairless. Nauseous. Scared shitless. That's Daisy.

OMD: Miss Sarah Bunting. Surely she's Ned Yost's maternal grandmother. That would certainly go towards explaining his proclivity towards a strategy with such a dismal upside. I liked Branson's assertion that he believes in people rather than types after fixing up Miss Bunting's car.

WG: Well played. I hate bunts. That scene reminded me of those Cialis commercials where fading stud middle age man handles all crisis with a bemused shrug and a shadow of a hard-on. Car repairs in the desert. Fixing sails with a surcingle belt. Coming down out of the office to fix the printing press. Regardless, I want Branson to run for office. Curious what his campaign commercials will look like. How hard will he work to stop Obamacare? Speaking of which, in the Athens of the Plains, we're already getting some real knee-slappers in the way of political commercials.

I don't know if I care to get in a pissing contest along these lines with someone from Texas, but how dumb do you think voters are to assume some shit like that is appealing on any level. The incontinent grandpa seals it for me.

OMD: That's some terrible shit there.

Isobel's connection with Lord Merton was nice, even if he was that shitheel Larry's father. Larry, if you have forgotten, was the fucker who drugged Branson at that dinner only to have Lord Anthony Strallan save the day. His admission that his was a marriage without much love was a nice touch, and once again we get a moment showing us just how lucky Isobel was. I will feel bad for Clarkson if Isobel gets with Lord Merton.

WG: Ah, yes. The fucker who slipped a mickey to my political hero. Agreed. I've got Isobel pegged for Clarkson too. If there is any justice, we'll eventually see them post-coital, lighting each other's cigarettes while wearing glistening rubber gloves, sly looks of pure carnal contentment on their glowing faces.

OMD: Hooray for Jack Ross ending things with Lady Rose. When she threw her little tantrum, insisting that she'd marry Jack just to spite her mother, it was pretty clear what her motivation was. Didn't seem to be love, did it? I liked when Mary went to visit him. It was a nice little subversion of what one would assume social conventions of the time would typically have dictated that meeting go down like. I do think that she was actually looking out for him at least as much as she was her spoiled little cousin. The best thing about all of it, though, will be that we don't ever have to hear Jack Ross sing again.

WG: I can't imagine Lady Rose loving anything for very long. It was a nice scene. Very prudent and polite. I wouldn't mind the chaos of Jack showing up outside Downton (or wherever Lady Rose is calling home), with a boombox blaring some Pete Gabriel.

OMD: Robert's dig on Thomas saying that he missed Bates's presence as his valet was priceless.

WG: Maybe some more backstory to come in that area? Hopefully the only references to Grantham's big trip aren't about prohibition or Thomas being a douche.

OMD: So if Downton Abbey has rebranded "going Greek" as "going Turkish," I think it's safe to say that it now owns "learning French in Switzerland" as the new "running away to have a bastard child in hiding." I will say that the shot of Rosamund rushing to Edith's side asking if she should exert herself that much seems odd considering that this would almost always be foreshadowing for a miscarriage, but there is virtually no way that a miscarriage happens on-screen given the time jump next week (more on that at the end).

WG: Perhaps pro-life fanatics would be better off setting up four months in Switzerland and adoption services instead of picketing Planned Parenthood? The way Edith was hauling heavy stuff like a UPS freight loader during the pre-bazaar set-up, I wouldn't be surprised if she "accidentally" falls down the stairs.

OMD: I'm pretty surprised Fellowes has spent this much time sequestering Gregson in his remote and disconnected German digs. It must be hard to help start up the Nazi Party, but it is still surprising that he's still missing as the official fourth series comes to an end with just the Christmas special yet to air. I thought for sure that he'd pop up at the bazaar looking haggard and missing an ear.

WG: One-eared Gregson. Edith seemed sweet on Pig Farmer guy, but maybe that was just pretext for the ill-conceived hidden bastard ploy that the Dowager snuffed out. She does have a history of slumming with the great unwashed though. Didn't she molest some poor farmer or mechanic back in Season 1 or 2? Of is that my fantasy?

OMD: She and that farmer fooled around in the hay.

I'd talk about Lady Mary's menage, but I don't really have much to say on the subject. You?

WG: It irritates me a little. All this fuss over Mary. Makes me feel bad for Edith. But what's new. Edith has been shat upon from the beginning.

OMD: Bates's swagger as he "headed off to York" was pretty awesome. He sure as hell looked like he was about to exact revenge on his wife's attacker. I'm pretty sure that expression on his face could be qualified as 'determined.' Bates wrapped his cane around Green's ankle and shouldered him into the road, right? Hopefully he lopped off his balls first, but beggars cannot be choosers. Anna's reaction ("That's a relief.") to the street having been crowded when Green died seemed a bit odd. I guess it's just that if someone knew Green had been murdered someone would have been arrested then and there.

WG: Same read here. The crowded street provided comfort to Anna, and an alibi of sorts for Bates. But it can't be that simple, can it? I'm sure there will be more twists and turns along the way. Who dies in the last episode? I keep thinking I see hints and foreshadowing of the Dowager's death. I suppose if Maggie Smith was off the show, we would have heard about it by now.

OMD: I could see Branson leaving (not by death). Maggie Smith probably wants out by now, too, but maybe she makes the big British TV bucks. Oh, who am I kidding? To be fair, I'd hardly say they foreshadowed Matthew's death last season, though

The next episode is the Christmas special. It jumps ahead almost a full year to the summer of 1923. I think it's safe to say that Edith's pregnancy will have run its course alongside Lake Geneva. I've read nothing about the episode, but I can't imagine there isn't at least a little bit of resolution to the Bates/Green and Gregson storylines. Can we assume that with the benefit of another year in the rearview that Lady Mary will be landing on a suitor next week? If so, it seems likely to me that it will be Blake, which will unintentionally put Bates in the crosshairs when Gillingham decides to look for answers as to what went down with Mr. Green.

WG: The Gillingham/Blake/Mary triangle, the fallout, and how that may or may not impact Bates Death Wish move will be a lot to wrap-up in one episode. Thomas will undoubtedly have a hand in the proceedings as well. I suspect Branson will get under Bunting's hood again. Big shirtless Moseley and the grim Baxter will surely be cavorting. I'm guessing Patmore and Daisy hook up in a May-December lesbo affair that makes Mary long for the simple problems of potential mixed-race marriages. I've enjoyed this season far more than the last one, despite the odious rape storyline. I'm eager to see how Fellowes plays the ninth inning.

OMD: The narrative has worked a bit better, but without Matthew and Sybil the show is definitely missing something that they've yet to been able to replace by another means.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

True Detective Season One, Episode Five "The Secret Fate of All Life"

This installment of True Detective brings us the most intense fake shootout ever, as Cohle and Marty traverse the backwoods of Louisiana and brain the culprits. The interrogators believe Cohle is a suspect as new information about the Yelllow King surfaces.

No, you can't have my vintage Pink Floyd T.
Stan Earnest: I know who the Yellow King is: Jesse Plemmons, a.k.a. Landry, a.k.a. Meth Damon.

Craig Scholes: I was hoping it was Jackie Chan.

SE: Anyone that thinks the killer is really Cohle probably still thinks Gus Fring is alive.


SE: This show has turned into a macabre, hypnotizing experience. It is truly on another level. Boardwalk Empire dances around some existential themes, but Mac is still putting his spell on us. Is this what it is like believing in Scientology?

CS: Tom Cruise has forbid me from commenting on that.

SE: I bet he secretly offed Phil Hoffman for his performance in The Master.

CS: I don't have a response that won't piss off the editor. [OMD: As long as you're not using chat-speak, I'll be fine.]

SE: So did you ever think that the killer was really going to be the meth cook, Reggie LeDoux?

CS: With very few episodes left, no way that small-time inbred Heisenberg-wannabe was gonna be the killer.

SE: I love that Mac and Woody are wasting the lives of many people (including themselves) to catch a killer that offed a meth head prostitute. That speaks volumes to how life really works, and Mac is echoing that in his half-drunken ramblings of living painful experiences over and over again. The tagline for the show really says it all: “Man is the cruelest animal.”

CS: That was some impressive lying to back up that story to save their asses. I’m really curious to see what caused the falling out because they really made a good team.

SE: As a poker player, anytime someone says something like, "I'm going to tell the truth here..." it is normally followed by a lie.

CS: I really hope we get to see a slide show of them vacationing together wearing tacky fanny packs and Tommy Bahama shirts with their special lady friends.

SE: Mac and Woody Vacation in Zihuatanejo coming up next on the Travel Channel.

CS: When Woody and Mac were traversing the land of that LeDoux cat, I was expecting a giant Indiana Jones boulder to come rolling at them, that really would have pushed this episode over the top.

SE: However, we did get a John Rambo-style machine gun firing sequence. Cohle saying, "What is that, Nietzsche," got a jolly laugh out of me.

CS: That one character really had your typical hillbilly white-trash canvas of hate tattoos.

SE: Making fake tattoos for actors has to be an interesting job. MacConaughey is so hard for this role that I wouldn't be surprised if his are real.

CS: Goat head pentagram, noose around the neck, multiple swastikas, 3rd Reich Eagle, and a 666 for good measure.

SE: The Woody gunshot blast to the head was a really easy way for that cat to go. What do we have, like three episodes left? I'm baffled as to where this is going.

CS: I've got my money on McConaughey shaving, getting a haircut, and returning to being a kick ass cop again, then he and Woody find the real killer. The montage of McConaughey getting his shit together is going to be amazing.

SE: I like how Mac has clearly warped Woody's mind because Woody starts preaching some wild shit there for a moment when we get the saddest time jump in film history: innocent child to downhill skiing two dudes in a pickup on a Louisiana back road.

CS: Oh man, that was crazy, show really took an unexpected turn there.

SE: She clearly was taking after her daddy, which makes it consistent with Woody blasting other people for his own problems when he slaps her.

CS: She's clearly going to be the next victim right? And then Woody gets to go complete full circle when he realizes his decisions in life led to his daughter getting killed.

SE: That's twisted.

CS: She's gonna be in her mid-to-late 20's. Would fit the profile of the other victims.

SE: There are literally three episodes left. This is going to end like The Killing, isn't it?

CS: No way. Can't leave any loose ends with this since each season will have entirely different casts.

SE: I heard something about entirely different casts, but I don't see how this doesn't end in some sort of a cliffhanger. Ball is in your court True Detective.

CS: No way this show ends in cliffhanger. It may leave you with the option to decide how you think it ended, but they can't leave a real cliffhanger because they won't be able to answer them the next season. [OMD: I'm with Craig on this one.]

SE: Well praise the Church of Cohle for that.

CS: Do you think Woody and he have matching "All Around Cowboy" belt buckles, or is that just something Woody got to steal from the set of The Cowboy Way?

SE: I think we are on to Woody as a set thief. First the White Men Can't Jump shirt and now this The Cowboy Way belt buckle. I can't wait until they go bowling and he has a clear ball with a rose in it.

CS: Not only that, but he practically stole a line from the movie Kingpin. "YOU DON'T MOW ANOTHER MAN'S LAWN!"

Follow Stan Earnest @StanEarnest and Craig Scholes @AnAverageGatsby.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Four, Episode Seven

As always, Wordy Ginters and I walk you through this week's episode of Downton Abbey. This week's installment was the seventh episode that aired in the UK. You can buy the entire season in its full, unedited form here on DVD and Blu-ray. This week, Robert and Thomas heading to America to try to bail out Cora's brother who seems to be rather embroiled in the Teapot Dome Scandal. Edith heads to London again, with Rose in tow. Mary and Mr. Blake muck it up. Gillingham returns, which means so does his valet.

Old Man Duggan: "You do know the Americans have a correct uniform for practically every activity known to man." Oh, how the Americans have fallen. Lord Grantham would roll over in his goddamn grave if he saw all the rubes in their sandals and shorts. The sheer volume of male toes and knees that Robert Crawley would see in a mere hour in public in the modern United States would probably send him to an early grave.

Wordy Ginters: The sandals would most definitely cut him to the quick, and rightfully so. Lord Grantham might be able to roll with it, but Carson wouldn't last 20 seconds in the U.S. Death by lack of decorum. I'd love to see Carson watching an episode of Duck Dynasty. Glad to see a sojourn to the States finally come into play. I hope we get some scenes from Florida, or a dusty oil field. Maybe Daniel Plainview giving Crawley's cousin the hard-sell.

OMD: Semi-glad Bates stayed back for support. I say semi-glad, of course, because in light of the latter developments in this episode it is hard to imagine there not being a bit of resolution on the Mr. Green/"Gillingham" front. More on that later though, for the time being I'll just say that I'm hoping this little arc gets closed out this season.

WG: I thought the arc might end with a fork in Green/Gillingham's throat at the end of this episode. Kind of fun to watch the tumblers fall into place on the actor's faces in that last scene. And Bates' death glare. Icy. Clean. Pure.

OMD: With Robert and Thomas gone, some of the seasons more tiresome or uninteresting story lines get put on the backburner this week. Well, the more I think of it, there aren't many compelling things going on right now. Edith/Gregson and who eventually kills that rapist shitheel. Anything else for you?

WG: Abortion. Fellowes is playing all the tough notes this season. Downton Abbey serves as one tiny counterweight to a dick-centric entertainment industry. The shit women have to deal with is insane.

OMD: Indeed. Downton and Masters of Sex.

This Blake nonsense is entirely rehashed on two fronts. Mary initially is bothered by him. They clash. They slowly realize they are more alike than they'd care to admit. Sound familiar? Then, of course, there is the Evelyn Napier brings another man to Downton while half-courting Mary, the other man gets muddy with Lady Mary, and anal sex ensues. I mean that's what eating eggs in the kitchen in the middle of the night is code for, right? Eating eggs with red wine is surely the equivalent of going Turkish.

WG: Eggs and wine telegraphs anal sex as surely as a thunderstorm portends trouble a brewing. I hope she ends up with Blake. Napier and Dame Lady Gray's plaything rub me the wrong way. Too obvious. Too beholden too soon. Mary wants to dominate, but she needs the whip hand turned on her now and again. Blake has the inside track, right? You don't just forget slopping pigs all night long. That means something for fuck's sake. It has to.

The object of Blake's affection
OMD: Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the episode was Mr. Blake's unbridled passion for piggery. Pig walks, pig men, pig watering. All of it was of deep concern for Blake. Let's hope the Muppets don't pop up. Blake and Miss Piggy's affair would be so torrid as to envelop every other story line in its intensity.

WG: Fellowes was trying hard to let us know that Blake comes from coarse country. And fuck the Muppets. Except for Animal. And Janet.

OMD: I knew a crazy homeless chick who was this pathological liar that sweet-talked her way into a job with a ginned up (quite possibly literally in this case) résumé. She had an Animal tattoo.

I liked Isobel the Diligent sticking by Violet's bedside for two sleepless days and nights. It wasn't a thrill a minute, but there were some sweet moments bringing the two of them together, at least a bit. Violet's begrudging respect and affection for Isobel is one of my favorite aspects of her character. Greenies must have been propping her up, right?

WG: Isobel is rapidly moving up my Billboard's Hot 100 chart. She's almost too damn cherubic. The Dowager has been eminently likable the last few episodes as well. Maybe the political card will end up stirring up some shit between the two. That would be fun. The begrudging respect and camaraderie is nice and all, but I like Maggie Smith when she is more of a sharp-tongued shit.

OMD: I, for one, was hoping that Lady Edith would terminate the pregnancy, if only for the historical perspective on abortion in 1920s England. I suppose it could still happen, but I suspect that Gregson turns up at the end of the next episode to take Edith as his wife. Of course, something will be amiss with Gregson because of whatever terrible thing befell him.

WG: He'll come back like Sinatra in The Manchurian Candidate. Someone will flash a Ginger Queen and all hell will break loose. He's definitely coming back though. With a whole bunch of National Socialist German pamphlets that he's really eager to talk about with anyone who slows down long enough to listen. His first move back at the paper will be to hire a young Cal Thomas to the opinion page.

OMD: When Blake flung the mud at Mary, the mud absolutely left a Hitler 'stache on her for just a second. Are we to take meaning from that?

WG: It means Gregson is being indoctrinated as we speak.

OMD: How much do you think it pained Carson to have a drink (regardless of Alfred's company) at the Grantham Arms? I get the sense that Carson loathes to step outside the doors of Downton Abbey but for the occasional jaunt to and from the railway station.

WG: Definitely beneath a Butler to be stepping out in the village. I think the night's lodging--and the cash outlay--hurt him the most. Do you think he asked Alfred if he's getting any snatch in London?

OMD: In precisely those terms. Alfred's return after Hughes and Carson's careful plotting and scheming was pretty funny. The instant he popped his head in the door, Daisy went a-snippin', and Ivy started saying she missed him--pretty much exactly what Hughes and Patmore said would happen. My favorite part was that Carson lamented the fact that he cost them a night at the pub, but the very thing they were trying to prevent still happened.

WG: I'm pulling for Alfred. I hope Ivy heating up doesn't bring the big lumbering oaf back into the fold. Don't hang up your chef's apron just yet Alfie. Ivy will crush your heart in the end. I got a big kick out of Patmore and Hughes feigning the flu.

OMD: Yeah, go Alfred.

Man, when Green was going off at the table, I thought Mrs. Hughes was going to blow her fucking top. When she dressed him down in the shoe room, I thought she was going to kill the fucker herself. It will be intensely disappointing if that motherfucker doesn't greet the next day with his tongue pulled out through a freshly gashed throat and his severed balls stuffed in his dumb fucking mouth.

WG: He's an evil motherfucker. It crossed my mind that he might get physical with Hughes. It would be seriously gratifying to see Bates methodically disassemble his leering ass. I suspect things won't work out so nicely though.

OMD: Does Green make it through next week's installment with a still-beating heart? If not, who offs the prick? Bates knows, but I hope to hell he's cagier than that. Maybe Bates can convince Molesley to take the grinning raper out.

WG: Molesley. With a cricket bat. In the Conservatory. It would be good for his self-worth. Maybe Carson would quit being such a condescending prick to him if he kilt a man dead.

OMD: It would probably make up for him not getting to go to war, too. I have no idea who takes him out. I guess I'll go with Mary, but in a backroom career murdering kind of way.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

True Detective Season One, Episode Four "Who Goes There?"

True Detective wasn't messing around this week. Woody's affair destroys his marriage. Mac makes the wise decision to steal some coke from the evidence room, snort it, and go AWOL. On top of it all, the Sons of Anarchy knock down Marlo Stanfield's door.

Craig Scholes: I don't know what just happened.

Stan Earnest: That was like Boyz n the Hood meets Sons of Anarchy.

CS: Yeah, I'm still not sure how everything went to hell in a hand basket there at the end.

You ready to reenact the movie Commando yet?
SE: My guess is that most everyone in the hood knew that house had the stash, and they all went to protect it.

CS: But why did the Po-Po show up? I can't imagine the police just show up anytime a gun goes off in the projects.

SE: The police are always rummaging through the projects. Of course we are in where? Texas in that scene? Oh, the cops are definitely showing up in Texas.

CS: So are we gonna Memento this episode and work backwards?

SE: Shit, I guess. I know it started with Woody just laying the acting law down. Then all of a sudden Mac took back over.

CS: I'm not entirely clear who was getting the interrogation in the beginning.

SE: Wow. Craig Scholes everyone! It is the ex-husband of the girl that was killed. McConaughey thought the "cheesecake pictures" caused his old cell mate to look up his ol' lady.

CS: I'll be honest, I wasn't paying much attention until Marty's epic sweater meat girl had the drama in the hallway.

SE: Speaking of what people were wearing, Woody was in full-on early-90s-grunge-hasn't-hit-yet attire. Was that a Pink Floyd Division Bell shirt? Are we sure he didn't pull that out of his closet from his White Men Can't Jump collection? And nothing dates a time period like someone selling a microwave for drugs.

Well, I'll be damned.
CS: Does that mean we are gonna get Rosie Perez talking about quiche?

SE: What the hell happened to Rosie Perez anyhow? I figured she would have popped up on an ABC sitcom by now. "You are like the Michael Jordan of being a son of a bitch." Great line.

CS: It most certainly was, and I had every intention of dropping that line. I even had it written in my notes.

SE: All I know is that I wish I had McConaughey in my corner anytime I screw up. The dude is uncanny. Woody's wife accuses him of "ducking under rationalization." Yes, sign me up for the logic train.

CS: Woody is such a fucking child, blaming everyone else for him fucking around on his wife, then blaming his wife for breaking up his family.

SE: I can't believe after Mac told him about the duck-tape-chair face lift that he still went trudging into that bar.

CS: I can't believe how Woody didn't even flinch when Mac brought out an Avtomat Kalashnikova.

SE: Praise to the writers [OMD: Nic Pizzolatto] for putting Woody in his down-and-out situation in which we can slightly believe he would go for this. The first sign I knew that the job was going to go way south: fully bearded men were going to dress up in cop outfits. No force allows that much facial hair.

CS: No fucking way I trust a cop with a ZZ Top beard.

SE: It is because it is so out of place (because it isn't allowed) that one automatically understands something is wrong.

CS: Some Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart looking mother fucker in a cop uniform ain't getting the drop on me.

SE: This episode really got the ol' ticker a pounding. This reminded of that Breaking Bad ep where they make the trip to Mexico and ends with madness by the poolside. And if I reference Breaking Bad, you know that is high praise.

CS: A little bit of everything: a gorgeous woman going into full blown homewrecker mode, drug use, sketchy motorcycle bars, a Training Day projects shoot out.

SE: So we have Training Day meets Justified meets Breaking Bad meets Sons of the hood.

CS: That about sums it up. Don't forget the dance club/spark factory. This episode had everything.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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

Old Man Duggan: I can say without hesitation that it's hard to make myself work up this week's entry. I'm pretty fucking bummed by Philip Seymour Hoffman's death (and I'm still working through another one that I'll not delve into), and this relatively nondescript episode hardly inspires a pouring forth of words. But here I am.

Beware the Scotch mist
Sounds like Cousin Harold got himself wrapped up in Teapot Dome. If we ever choose to do another show together, I'm sure Teapot Dome will loom over it like the Scotch mist rolling in from the moors in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.

Wordy Ginters: 'Tis the tie that binds.

OMD: How many things can randomly disappear from the Dowager Countess's bureau? What the fuck? Both, of course, were simply mistaken for having been stolen by the simple gardener, Pegg, but what a perfect storm of misplaced curios. I did like the way the whole letter knife fiasco played out. Cousin Isobel did her best private dick work, found and passive-aggressively presented the letter knife, and came back later with Doctor Clarkson in tow only to have Violet completely turn the tables on her. I'll be honest. I was surprised when it was revealed that Pegg had returned to his post at the Dower House per Violet's request. It's nice when Fellowes can surprise me like that. The boots-less Pegg was a nice touch.

WG: For being a witless garden hand, it appears that Pegg has some upscale tastes. Did you see those magnificent, thick, woolen, socks? I got the feeling the Dowager beat Isobel to the punch just to frustrate Isobel’s expectations more so than out of any sense of justice. I want to know what the good Doctor and Isobel were doing BEFORE that scene. All curled up in a lovers' knot, that’s what.

OMD: Bye-bye Alfred. It's too bad. I mean good for the character and all, but I'm not excited about how the servants' interpersonal relations are going to play out. Especially since I'm sure they'll find a way to turn the downstairs part of the show into Saved By The Bell: The College Years. At least we're probably at least a few years away from Saved By The Bell: The New Class. Need we worry about everyone wanting to jump Molesley's bones, now that he's new Alfred? I bet Daisy yearns for Molesley's manmeat by season's end.

WG: That would be a novel twist. You see Molesley as a Slater type? He’s obviously a jock, or have you forgotten how he commandeered the cricket field? You know he can dance too. He moves like a panther.

OMD: "Only stupid people are foolhardy." That fucking look Carson shot Jimmy was priceless.

Speaking of Jimmy (and apologies to those who have no idea where my train of thought is taking this week's entry), getting fresh with Ivy on the bench was far from smooth. He was quite the heel this episode. That said, Daisy, ever the simpleton, was pretty irritating in her blaming Alfred's departure on Ivy.

WG: Jimmy going for the park bench finger blast was seriously out of bounds. Without the bland but virtuous Alfred to play against, what is Fellowes going to do with Jimmy? You’ve already got one insufferable shit in the basement in Thomas. Can the show contain two basement shits? Jimmy made some feeble attempts to reconcile at the end of the episode, but it might be more interesting to have him play full cad.

OMD: "Oooo, I like that Rudolph Valentino. Ooo, he makes me shiver all over." Patmore, you randy old bat. I have to concur with Carson. Disturbing.

WG: Hey, Patmore has needs too.

OMD: Honestly, between the Jimmy takedown, the Patmore disturbance, and the Molesley reluctance, it was a great Carson episode. Even his awkward conversation with Jack Ross was pretty great.

WG: I especially enjoyed how Carson almost wilted and fell upon first laying eyes on Jack Ross. That is exactly how I imagine someone reacts when stricken by the vapors. There was a bit of tension in that conversation, you didn’t know if he was going to give in to his inner Sean Hannity, or if decorum would rule the day. In the end, I suppose decorum won, but only by a nose.

OMD: Fucking Gregson. I guess those two words paired together have a loaded meaning now. Methinks Lady Edith be screwed. Figuratively. Maybe not literally from this point in the series forward. That letter, by the way, said Edith was in the first trimester of pregnancy for those of you without DVR. I really have no idea what's happened to him. I'm guessing dead because those Crowley girls kill the men who sex them up.

WG: A nice little mystery, eh? So many possibilities. Germany. Another woman. Pre-Nazis. I hope Fellowes has some fun with this one. Surprise us.

OMD: I loved how Cora took the piss out of the snobbish maître d'Netherby when he wanted to screw the family Bates out of their reserved table. What a dunce. Skittering about like a nervous little twit with a mound of shit in his throat.

WG: I love the snobby maître d’ gambit. Best one? Blues Brothers or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

OMD: Ferris by a mile.

I wonder how long it is before Baxter feeds Thomas a line of bull to screw him over. It'll have to come, right? I, for one, think I like Baxter. Maybe some terrible, slimy underside with show itself, but right now she seems pretty sympathetic. I am curious to see what Thomas does with the information that Anna was raped, which we can assume he finds out soon. I think Robert could come into play here, too, but I'd guess it's actually Thomas who gets the benefit of that rare, human act.

WG: I think Baxter might be smarter than Thomas. Thomas makes up for his sub-par intelligence by being a plus schemer. I’m hoping that Baxter puts him into some kind of box. I’m curious about the goods he has on her though. Has to be pretty fucking drastic.

OMD: The scene with Branson, Mary, and Isobel in the nursery worked exceptionally well. I don't know how well the show has moved on in the absence of Matthew and Sybil, but Isobel's summary, "Well, aren't we the lucky ones," was quite the bow on that scene.

WG: A great sentiment by Isobel. I’m a big fan of recognizing all the good around you as a defense against self-pity. Isobel is the tits.

OMD: So I guess Charles Blake is supposed to be Matthew 2.0? Icy relations with Mary at first give way to unbridled passion or some such jibber-jabber. I think we've seen this before, and Matthew was more magnetic. At least we'll get the first few episodes of Mary being hilariously catty towards him. The shitty thing, of course, is that Evelyn Napier seems like an entirely likable chap, but every time he brings another man to Downton, Mary ends up getting entangled with the other guy, not Evelyn.

WG: I was thinking the same thing. Obviously the fire behind the mutual initial dislike between Chuck Blake and Lady Mary is only fuel for future F2FA. God be with you Chuck.

As a proud Lee Greenwood supporting ‘Murrican, I was a little put off by the way Fellowes showed the Downton Abbey crew reacting to a black man in the house. Are we to believe that in England, people were simply too classy to react badly? They were too damn sophisticated to be racist? Compare that with Boardwalk Empire. Chalky and Nucky are practically best buds, but do you doubt for a second that Nucky has some seriously contemptuous ideas about race lurking half a centimeter below the surface? I’ve seen Premiere League football games on TV where the fans start making monkey noises anytime a black player possess the ball. Don’t give me that shit Fellowes. You think you are better than us? More ridiculously racist characters please. Otherwise, you are just lending credence to the comfortable tweed PBS demographic who think racism doesn’t exist anymore.

OMD: Note to everyone: I assure you Wordy was joking about the Lee Greenwood fandom. I think there is an element of class that plays into this segment of society that sort of negates any reactions that would be too broadly racist. Especially amongst the gentry. Theirs is a prejudice that would be kept under lock and key. To show outward racism at a dinner party is surely gauche in high society. You've got to also remember that slavery was abolished in the British in 1833, and that was over sixty years after the Mansfield case that Carson mentioned in which any black man who stepped on British soil was a free man. They were a lot further down the line past slavery than the U.S. was at the same time in Boardwalk.

The Dowager Countess had to leave the dance floor. Should we be worried?

WG: God, I hope so.
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