Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Ten, The Christmas Special

Rich people shoot grouse at Hogwarts. A butler is a dick to Branson. Lord Grantham has chest pains. Rose saves the day. One couple calls it a day while another gets serious. Bates tries to take the heat for Anna. The house says goodbye to Branson.

Old Man Duggan: As Lady Mary stepped through the doors of the ladies' prison to visit Anna, do you think the pondered what would have happened if the world found out about her criminally inclined anus?

Wordy Ginters: I believe exactly that pondering accounted for her face, drained of color yet flush with trepidation. That heiny is like an atomic bomb in a suitcase. No wonder she's so damn cocky.

OMD: When Molesley made hilariously anachronistic mention of tea gowns when detailing how the rigors of being a Lady's maid for three Ladies would overwhelm him, I immediately thought of him becoming Mary and Edith's confidant and then jumped to wishing that was the show we were watching. This has increasingly become a problem for me watching this show. My mind wanders more and more as I long for it to be something it's not. This was not a problem in the first two seasons.

WG: It's a shame, isn't it? It would be pretty easy to shift the characters on the show like moving around a Rubik's Cube and come up with more favorable scenarios. Pratt running a Pub. The Dowager and Kuragin on the run like Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in The Getaway. Daisy reprising Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Stevie Hawking in a made for TV 1920's British take on The Theory of Everything.

OMD: All of those would be beautiful. I, for one, am glad Susan MacClare was not invited to Brancaster. I need not look at her puckered mug again.

WG: Screw her.

OMD: It is amusing that Mary is the only one that hasn't figured out Marigold's origins, as she's the only one so self-obsessed to have paid the whole situation no attention whatsoever. Is it just me, or would Mary not look upon Edith much more sympathetically if she were to divulge the bastardly origins of Marigold to her? Nevertheless, here we find ourselves in this labyrinth of barely interesting familial intrigue.

WG: I don't know if there is anything Edith can do to wring compassion out of Mary. She is capable of compassion, but you are right, she's too self-absorbed to notice much of what happens with her sister. And, she's still pissed at Edith for dropping a dime about Mary's fatal F2FA murder of Kamal way back in Season One. Season One! Let that shit go Mary. More jarring: Seeing Edith with her golden ringlets unfurled prior to her genuinely feel-good I know what's up chat with Grantham, or seeing Kermit ride a back in The Muppet Movie?

OMD: Kermit, because that shit ain't supposed to happen.

Mr. Stowell makes Carson look downright jolly. What a stodgy piece of shit. You're still The Help, douchebag, serve, and that means Tom.

WG: Downton Abbey Clan ain't nothing to fuck with. It was fun to see Thomas, with the help from those who previously would have preferred to gouge his eyes out with salad forks, completely wreck those fools in Brancaster, from Sinderby all the way down to the comically loutish Stowell. Is there any sweetness sweeter than comeuppance?

OMD: Probably not.

Little sidenote, Brancaster Castle is actually Alnwick Castle, which serves as a primary location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. I thought it looked familiar, and it does for a reason. As Jack and I like to jokingly call out during movies when we've either visited a place--say, Independence Hall in National Treasure or Duart Castle in Entrapment--or obviously not ever been within thousands of miles of the place--Phuket in The Beach or Istanbul doubling as Tehran in Argo--"Been there."

WG: Awesome. Odd variation on that theme specific to this Christmas Special, Mrs Wordy Ginters kept hollering out "BATES!" during the last 20 minutes of the show, presciently expecting his triumphant return. We debated whether or not he'd reappear in a Santa costume, perhaps drunk and disorderly style like Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places, or just springing from the shadows with standard issue black stocking cap, black turtleneck, Hogan's Heroes type gear. I was secretly relieved he showed up as regular old Bates.

OMD: Any mode of return was possible given Fellowes's recent history.

The firing back and forth of pot shots and minor acts of sabotage between Denker and Spratt couldn't go away fast enough. Both share a fundamental lack of redeeming or humanizing traits, but Fellowes chose to spend unreasonably large segments of this season's run focusing on one, the other, or both, leading me to wonder if he holds his audience in contempt.

WG: Would it be too simplistic to suggest Fellowes finds petty squabbles and disputes a defining feature of the lower classes? They're dumb and mean like ill-tempered livestock.

OMD: It's certainly possible, though the most grounded, wholesome people in the show tend to hail from those lower ranks.

Apparently retroactive injury had to be added to insult and injury paid unto Anna. Of course, he had to have been molested as a child. Clearly the only way people will keep watching is if Anna and Bates are stabbed with pen knives every few episodes. Nothing fatal, of course, but flesh wounds must be inflicted for fear of loss of audience interest.

WG: That story line is the one that wears me out. Ridiculous. That shit is so sadly common in real life, and also sadly ignored, that it's shitty to use it like Fellowes has, without being able to treat the subject matter sensitively or in a way that helps anyone anywhere.

OMD: The shot of Stowell underneath the snarling mounted lion head on the is a comically obvious metaphorical juxtaposition.

WG: I noticed that too. Pretty sure that head belonged to Scar from The Lion King.

OMD: Jesus, Princess Kuragin is one dour old bitch. Violet is a cockeyed optimist and blinding ray of sunshine by comparison.

WG: I still dig that guy. He brings a wholly different vibe to the proceedings than any character before him. I don't know if it's the acting or the character, but he's sprung from something more tangibly believable than the soap opera he's been stuck into.

OMD: True dat. Robert's late night conversation with Edith was an oasis in the midst of the barren desert of niceties that is Edith's life. She doesn't get many bright spots, but his overwhelming acceptance of his granddaughter was heartwarming.

WG: Agreed. Grantham was obviously more concerned about his chest pains than he let on. He was in non-oaf mode. Which is nice.

OMD: Lady Mary siccing Thomas on Stowell is the aristocratic equivalent of using a Panzerzug to get rid of a zit. Stowell certainly had to pay Branson more respect, but an entire family was almost done on account of Thomas's handiwork. Talk about invoking the nuclear option.

WG: It was a thing of beauty. Just when you think those at Downton are sheltered or soft, they turn loose Thomas and he sets the place on fire inside of 48 hours.

OMD: "We can't all be as unselfish as you, Mary. (beat) Just joking." I laughed so hard at Allen Leach's delivery of that line.

WG: I hope they still make room for Branson next season. I suspect it's the last of him, but maybe it's better for him to get written of the show before he was completely emasculated. Who the fuck am I kidding? He was neutered long ago.

OMD: It seems odd to introduce Henry Talbot as what superficially amounts to a suitor for Lady Mary, but it would be surprising for Matthew Goode to actually join the cast as a regular, as he surely can't fit Downton into his schedule while he's a primary cast member on The Good Wife. As far as Henry being into racing, that's probably a harbinger of what's to come in the Season Six premiere. Mary and Talbot will have had an off-screen affair, only for him to run into the business end of a lorry.

WG: After the Bates/Anna/Bates murder plot twists, two car crashes isn't out of the question. Just what Downton needs, more hot car action.

OMD: Molesley & Baxter, Private Dicks. Another show I'd rather watch.

WG: Absolutely.

OMD: Violet's admission to having run away with Kuragin only to be stopped by the Princess was something everyone had expected since he first popped up in Yorkshire, but her failing to eliminate other instances in which she may have strayed may mean that we will be so lucky as to have a different septua-/octogenarian suitor risen from the dead each subsequent season. I hope next season's vier for Violet is played by Sean Connery.

WG: Was that Fellowes underlying theme this season? Old people can still live life? I'd love to see a shirtless Sean Connery in the cast. Michael Caine? How about Roger Daltrey? Is Tom Courtenay still alive? Benny Hill? This is starting to become a lot like what I imagine The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is like.

OMD: Have we come to that? Wishcasting a version of Downton Abbey that more closely mirrors The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Jesus.

Branson running interference on Robert's drunken attempt at speech delivery was a fun bit of business. If this was a true farewell (and with Branson not actually dying, perhaps he'll make occasional appearances), the show has had worse. Lord Grantham's fond farewell showed how far the two have come. His speech to the house got me a bit choked up, but who knows how much of that is related to Branson's departure leaving little to root for in the house.

WG: At that point, I would have enjoyed it more if Branson would have been forced to continue finding ways to cock-block Grantham from getting off his speech. "And now, Mr. Moseley will entertain us with a version of Silver Bells in the style of STOMP!"

OMD: I'm glad Carson was able to put aside the airs they'd been putting on and just propose. Mrs. Hughes's sister sapping her of her money need not be a hindrance for Carson's happiness. The upright proposal was the nicest moment of the Christmas Special. The most tear-inducing moment of the finale.

WG: Hughes is a mensch. Another spin-off I'd rather watch. Carson and Hughes with an unending river of entertaining characters coming and going from the B&B.

OMD: And we end on Bates returning to presumably impregnate Anna only to have Fellowes fuck with the pair once again. It seems like the show is heading irreversibly down the path toward irrelevance, especially given Fellowes's inability to restock the show with rich, new characters who are able to draw the concern and affection of the audience. What spin-off would you rather watch than another season of this dreck?

WG: Fellowes and Mary on Naked and Afraid. What are you going with?

OMD: I'd have to say I want Molesley: Once, Twice, Three Times a Ladies' Maid to happen most. Well, if this is the last time we venture down this road, it's been my pleasure.

WG: The feeling is mutual.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Eight

Rose and Atticus are wed. Anna gets taken away. Daisy gets drunk on London. Denker gets drunk.

Old Man Duggan: Well at least some stuff happened this week. Sure, one of the things was the most predictable and tedious development of the season, but the pre-Christmas Special [for those of you not privy to Downton Abbey's airing schedule on ITV in the UK, this was the season finale that aired in the fall, and then next week's installment will be the special that aired on Christmas Day] season finale wrapped up things and kept an eye toward the future on the cast members who may or may not be moving on to greener/different pastures. I will say that Julian Fellowes did a better job dealing with the possible departures of actors this season than he did in the past. He threw out some red herrings and built both Daisy and Branson up for possible exits. Better than Matthew's absurd run-in with the lorry.

Wordy Ginters: As Downton finales go, this was definitely one of the better versions. Which is odd, because as a whole, this may be the weakest season ever.

OMD: Agreed on both counts.

"Don't call me 'Donk.'" Pretty sure that one's set in stone there, Robbie boy.

WG: Donk, forevermore. It fits so nicely.

OMD: I haven't seen the Christmas Special yet, but it does seem that Fellowes has left the door open to possibly having Branson stay because the dynamic of his relationship with Mary could suddenly change. I doubt it does, but it wouldn't surprise me if it happened, as they've quietly become partners in crime/confidants. If for no other reason, she may attempt to reel him in to avoid the eventual sororicide charge that she'll face when she murders Edith.

WG: Mary and Tom, eh? I'd be surprised if Mary could do that to Sybbie, but we've already established she doesn't respect the sacred bonds of sisterhood like most human females. I'm glad to see her lonely at the end of the season. I'm petty like that. Just a few episodes ago she was gallivanting around the beautiful English countryside, riding sidesaddle like a boss, with a devil's haircut, leaving a trail of boners in her wake. Sweet comeuppance!

OMD: Is it just me or did young George look like they were grooming him to be the model for Cracker Jack? Clearly his wardrobe was inspired by Sailor Jack's. Now all they need is a dog named Bingo. Oddly, the real-life Bingo, a stray named Russell--who the hell names their dog Russell?--outlived Robert Rueckheim, the boy who Sailor Jack was modeled after. Little Robert died from pneumonia at the age of eight shortly after he became the face of Cracker Jack in 1921. Russell lived until 1930, twelve years after being introduced to the world as Bingo.

WG: A spittin' image. It's weird to see Fellowes throw the kids in the random scene from time to time. Speaking of which, what the hell happened to Isis?? I could hardly sleep all week, laying awake at night wondering what happened to that damn dog, and Fellowes leaves me hanging.

OMD: I think we're to assume that when Robert said it would be Isis's last night, it was her last night. Or at least that's what the pet memorial stonemason would have me believe.

Molesley, the appreciator of the arts. Loves all small museums. Especially if he's not been to them. Or even to the country in which they reside. Still, you can't help but root for the dope to find happiness with Baxter.

WG: Molesley waxing poetic about museums he'd never been to was hilarious. There's a true renaissance man buried somewhere inside that guy. He just needs some guidance to bust him out.

OMD: Prince Kuragin yearns to be inside the Dowager Countess with such boldness that it is nearly impossible to not admire the fortitude behind his courtship. At this point, I think he would batter down my defenses and leave me helpless against his advances.

WG: I would have curled up with Kuragin about four episodes ago. And I'd still be there to this very day. It's been a cold winter where I'm living. Dude's got bad-ass hair for an old man.

OMD: While Denker is a shifty old bat who I wouldn't trust to polish the hood ornament on my Rolls-Royce, I like that she and Violet ferreted out Spratt's sabotage in a mere moment. I like when Thomas can show a bit of humanity and compassion, and Denker provided that opportunity in this chapter. His complete screw job on Denker at the casino was delightful.

WG: I'm resentful that Denker ends up making Pratt look sympathetic. I was hoping Thomas had found true love. That he recouped some cash and dignity from small-time grifters was almost as satisfying.

OMD: What wasn't delightful was any moment that poisonous bitch Susan MacClare. Lady Flincher is wholly repulsive. The tart set-up. The divorce announcement. One almost wishes for Shrimpy to have her offed rather than suffer the ignominy of divorce. "Do you have any English blood?" What a shrew.

WG: She's what my Grandmother used to call "the shits." Alienating her daughter might be the most appropriate punishment though. How do you come back from that one?

OMD: I like that Violet has become more supportive of Isobel and Lord Merton's relationship. Obviously her hesitancy arises from her fear of losing her closest friend, but the public show of support is nice. Strangely, I find myself much more drawn to the romances surrounding the septuagenarians than I do any of the young ones--with the exception of Branson, of course, who seems nowhere near embarking upon a second whirlwind romance. Maybe Fellowes should dump the rest of the cast and just focus on the olds.

WG: I would be wholly in favor of more olds and less everything else. Seeing the possibility of autumn romance between Isobel and Merton has surely pushed Violet into "why not me?" territory. Plus, Kuragin has the look of a man who can light a match in anyone's crotch.

OMD: Daisy's turn to being amongst the enlightened continues down its improbably--nay, illogical path. It was touching when Patmore was crying by herself for the loss she was expecting to endure. Of course, dim Daisy failed to pick up on why Patmore was going to miss her. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially in the head of a dullard like Daisy.

WG: I was thinking back to your comments from a few weeks ago, incredulous at Daisy's turn from simpering, drooling, dolt to budding socialist philosopher. It is a radical whipsaw turn for her character that borders on the hilarious. I've heard that she unveils her new invention, the Microwave Oven, during the Christmas Special.

OMD: Atticus's stag party was a bit disappointing. Where was the donkey (and I don't mean Robert)? That originated in London, not Tijuana, right? How the hell did Atticus not pick up on the fact that there were people taking photos of the plant and himself in vaguely compromising positions? It's not like they were taking them through peep holes or anything.

WG: The idea of stag parties has always seemed like meathead juvenalia to me, from the same place that generates "man caves" and other misguided efforts at extended adolescence. But fuck yeah, if you're going to do it, do it with the proper debauchery and danger. Atticus is a swell guy, but with his brow-beating old man hammering his self-worth all these years, I don't blame him for being a beat slow on the drop.

OMD: The disapproving parents angle was predictably tedious. Making a true villain of Susan wasn't objectionable, but the high society prejudice gets a bit dull, even if it surely exists/existed. Susan reminds me of Bebe Glazer, Frasier Crane's dubious agent, but only if Bebe were slightly more depressive. They're certainly equals when it comes to connivery and scheming.

WG: I felt silly that I instinctively went for Atticus's old man as the likely blackmailer. Rose's character arc has generally been confined to exploring choices that pissed off her elders. Early on she was caught smoking behind the convenience store in Ripon. There were several episodes where she debated getting a tattoo. She's still breaking all the rules. I've never seen one episode of Frasier, but I have enjoyed a YouTube clip of Kelsey Grammer falling off a stage dozens of times.

OMD: I shit you not, Frasier's really good. People like to conflate the status of its lead character and his brother with a wholesale endorsement of rich dipshittery. It's not that at all. And it's really funny. I swear.

When Denker was singing and dancing in the servants' dining quarters, I thought for sure she was going to break into "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll." Just once, I want Fellowes to throw us an anachronistic curveball with a knowing wink.

WG: Hilarious. Maybe the only move that could bring back the show from the brink. How about a little Andrew WK? Bringing up The Stooges tender paen to love and devotion, "I Wanna Be Your Dog," underneath Gillingham's shameful pleading with Mary a few weeks ago would have been a nice jolt. Give things a different hue.

OMD: Lady Sinderby laid down the law with an emphatic stomp of the foot and clenching of balls in fist. Sit down and shut up, Lord Sinderby, your wife is running the show and knows what's good for you.

WG: The men on Downton are more or less buffoons. Tom gets a pass. Bates, of course. Other than that, the buffoon vibe is strong.

OMD: Anna gets arrested. Of course. Is this the biggest fucking eye-roll of the series's five-year run? There have been many, but this may be the worst. It's probably even more insulting than her being raped last season, and that was almost unanimously considered Fellowes's biggest misstep thus far. It's like he has no idea what to do if he's not fingering Bates and Anna's wounds. How fucking boring will it be to watch Bates visit Anna in the clink? Will she also have to walk in circles in a 12-by-12 "courtyard" for her daily constitutional?

WG: It's ridiculous. I want to view it as bad ass pro-Fem Death Wish-type justice. The whole Scotland Yard noodling around thread has been a yawner. Fellowes didn't even give the detectives oversized magnifying glasses.

OMD: Big misstep on the lack of magnifying glasses. Ya dun fucked up, Fellowes.

I loved Cora putting that old racist broad in her place by reminding her that her father was Jewish.

WG: The post-bon mot chuckle she shared with Donk was even better.

OMD: When Carson tells Lady Mary that Tony wasn't good enough for her, one cannot help but wonder what he'd think of a Branson/Mary pairing. The obvious match-up is between her and Blake when he returns from Poland, but the hints have certainly been there, and Mary seemed awfully distraught at the notion of Tom's departure.

WG: Tom and Mary would put Carson in a tough spot. Can Carson overlook Tom's humble origins as a grease monkey? Or, furthermore, as an Irishman?

OMD: Robert's memorial to Archie was a nice if obvious touch. The show is at its best when it gives the proles a little ray of sunshine in their otherwise limited lives.

WG: Fellowes gets a tingle in his thighs when he showcases the benevolence of the swells.

OMD: Marigold looks more like the alien in Mac and Me than Gregson. Wouldn't that make for a better show, anyway?

WG: Holy shit. That is spot on. I was thinking the little Gregson was a bit off physically. Perhaps like the baby picture that elicited a shriek of agony from Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice. But the alien in Mac and Me is obviously the same actor playing Marigold. Put that alien in a pub, knocking back pints as fast as Spratt can set em up, is a show I'd look forward to seeing.

OMD: That shriek would have been perfect.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Seven

Edith is found in London. Lord Merton's sons are dickholes. Other stuff happens.

Old Man Duggan: "He's a man. Men don't have rights." Or Robert would totally overreact to the news of Edith having let a man's penis penetrate her out of wedlock. He'd certainly be institutionalized or worse if he knew that Mary's bloodthirsty rectum killed Pamuk. It's entirely possible that the news of a bastard grandchild would send him running into the nearest brick wall at full steam.

Wordy Ginters: Just hearing the word "bastard" at the dinner table gave Grantham the vapors. I assume death by brick wall running is not outside the realm of possibility. Being fragile is one of Grantham's most irritating faults. Doesn't take much to knock him off balance. Sex seems to elicit shame beyond reason in most societies, I can only imagine how acute that shame must have been in early 20th Century London amongst the swells.

OMD: I liked it when shortly thereafter Violet put her son in his place. "When I say we need some air, we need some air." Sails, say "au revoir" to that wind. Followed shortly by a swift rebuke of her own son's offer to take her for a walk when Mrs. Drewe arrived, Robert must have longed for the love of a mother who had no concern for him. Fellowes certainly likes to paint Robert as a blustery buffoon once every few episodes, but I like it more when he renders him impotent and inconsequential as he's done in this week's episode. Go worry about the dog, Robert, let the women run things.

WG: Excellent point. I also prefer castrated Robert to to bumbling Robert. The many faces of Robert remind me of the various Rob Lowe characters in those DirecTV commercials. Blowhard Robert. Dressed in War Red Robert. Soft Paunch Robert. Pouting Robert. Self-satisfied Robert. Genius Investor Robert. Carrying a dog corpse in a tasteful throw Robert.

OMD: Tony Gillingham's game is woeful. Blake is running circles around him, patching things up for Tony with the admittedly comely Mabel Lane Fox, and laying the groundwork with Lady Mary while making it seem like he doesn't really give a shit if they end up together. He clearly reads her much better than the one wearing the dunce cap.

WG: Another bumbling buffoon, Gillingham is the perfect dunce in waiting at Downton. Does he really think he can't abandon Mary because he porked her? How quaint. Mary might as well be walking around with toilet paper on her shoe.

OMD: I guess it's sort of endearing that Daisy cares about something more than intrastaff longing, but her turn from scullery maid to Labour champion is beyond absurd. Her starting point was waking up to a note card stapled to her hand reminding her to breathe. Worrying (correctly) about Labour's short run in power is a step too far.

WG: Typical Fellowes, the dolts and the blowhards are the Labour supporters. Daisy reminds me of that loveable stoner high school buddy everyone has, who reads Noam Chomsky for the first time, trades his hacky sack for a subscription to Z Magazine, and then traps you for hours at parties talking about manufacturing consent.

OMD: She's pretty much exactly that.

Rose: "Of course! How clever you are." Atticus: "Heh. Seems rather obvious to me." Get used to that Atticus. That no one sussed that out before is a bit absurd, where the hell else is Edith going to land? It's not like she has businesses the world over where she could make ends meet comfortably.

WG: I liked the Detroit option.

OMD: So Tony can't leave Mary because the stank she left on him hasn't worn off? I'm sure Mabel would be able to detect Mary's scent once Tony's drawers his the floor.

WG: He's been marked.

OMD: Everyone is buying houses.

WG: House Hunters, Downton Abbey Edition.

OMD: Mary tells Robert that Tony isn't the one and promptly avoids any instance in which Robert can dole out advice. He is pretty much entirely neutered in this episode.

WG: Is Fellowes suggesting this is a good thing or a bad thing? The growing emergence of feminism, and recognizing women as equals? Or does he have Mommy issues?

OMD: I'm pretty sure he thinks this is a good thing. So much of the early goings of the show centered around the inability of Lady Mary to inherit the estate that it's nearly impossible to think that he'd think otherwise.

Branson is tentatively planning to go the way of Miles Standish and plant his flag--albeit an Irish one--at Plymouth Rock. If he goes, what the hell will be left to keep me watching? Of course, his conversation with Li'l Syb at the creek laid just enough foundation for a decision to stay.

WG: Not many reasons to watch, other than to see Mary get some kind of horrible comeuppance, or the Dowager between the sheets with Kuragin. I wouldn't mind seeing Branson go Bronson on Merton's shitheel son.

OMD: That Mary doesn't understand the relationship dynamic between Isobel and Violet is a little dumbfounding. What a self-obsessed dolt. Violet's confession of what Isobel means to her, even if only to Mary, was touching. She needed someone to challenge her while being her friend.

WG: Mary is pretty hard to take these days. Villainously self-absorbed.

OMD: Baxter is content to play the martyr. So tiresome.

WG: Baxter and Edith are kind of bound by their own shame. Break the shackles ladies.

OMD: For people who go to church like twice a year, they all seem inordinately preoccupied with interfaith marriage.

That Mary doesn't think Larry Grey was going to be a prick again speaks once again to how dim she is. The Downton Abbey wiki page gives the following background for Larry Grey: "The Honourable Laurence "Larry" Grey is the elder son of Lord Merton and is a dickhead." Spot on. Dickhead. Twat. Shitbird. Fuckmook. If that's how their mother was, then that's as big a statement against arranged marriage as Fellowes has ever made, and that is with full knowledge of how terrible Lady Rose's mother is.

WG: On the Downton Abbey list of those who deserve a punch in the mouth, Larry occupies the top spot.

OMD: The ol' Let Them Catch Us Necking gambit worked like a charm. Now that Blake is heading off to Poland, I'm sure that he'll learn tons under the wise advice of Wladyslaw Grabski, whose introduction of the zloty as a single common currency in 1924 helped curb hyperinflation without foreign aid making Poland the only such country to do so.

WG: Fellowes is setting up another death by Hitler. Blake just needs to get out of there by the Fall of 1939. The non-aggression pact is meaningless, Blake. Don't let it lull you into a false sense of security, and for the love of Mary, don't retreat to Belgium or France.

OMD: The Too Poor To Care For The Orphan gambit, however, is sure to blow up in their faces. Robert's complete indifference to the whole situation because DOG is kind of hilarious.

WG: Isis means far more to Grantham than Edith. Fellowes hits us over the head with that one on a regular basis.

OMD: Isis has cancer. I'll cop to getting a bit misty when Robert laid Isis down in the bed, despite my not really caring about animals. He did look absurd with Isis blanketed in his arms, though. Hopefully they get a Siberian tiger to be called Zeke to replace Isis.

WG: A dead dog in the bed is pretty symbolic. I look forward to meeting Zeke.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Six

Gregson's death is official. Edith copes by absconding with Marigold. Rich people race horses. Bates confirms our worst nightmare--that he didn't avenge Anna's rape by murdering the odious Green. Molesley gives Daisy a book.

Old Man Duggan: We kick off the episode with bad news, and it's not just that Robert and Cora are separate-bedding it. Of course, Mary shows that she hasn't changed much when it comes to her sister. Unsympathetic even when it comes to official news Gregson's death in the fracas of the Beer Hall Putsch. If there's one thing that Lady Mary and Hitler have in common, it's that they give zero shits how their actions affect Lady Edith. What dicks.

Wordy Ginters: Other commonalities between Hitler and Lady Mary: stylish haircuts, a passion for sketching, and underestimating Russian winters. The hysteria over Mary's devil's haircut cracked me up. Her pernicious need to needle Gillingham by attempting to be more desirable was nefarious. She's definitely a closet Dom.

OMD: When Robert tried to cheer everyone up at brunch with drawings, my mind immediately leapt not to work-ups for the new Downton development but to untoward drawings of Isis pissing on the Brownshirts.

WG: Isis got some serious screen time this episode. I kept thinking they'd find her dead. I still maintain there is a grand thread and meaning signified by Isis appearing on the screen, I just haven't figured it out yet. I do hope they find her dead and not merely listless sooner rather than later. I like dogs, but Isis seems too cocky for her own good. The attention lavished on Isis dwarfed the concern for Edith, which is entertaining.

OMD: Of course, the finality of the news just has to send Edith off the deep end. She'll use that sweet money from The Sketch to finance the homeschooling of the sure-to-be-loneliest girl in England Marigold Cumberbatch. That will surely be the pseudonymous surname upon which Edith will land, right? Edith and Marigold's landing spot is pretty sparse. I'd imagine it's what Mitt Romney felt like when he lived in that one little basement studio apartment that one time in college.

WG: She's gotta have a decent nest egg coming her way though, right? Much like Mittens, she'll forever have a twisted ideal of what "roughing" it is really like and won't understand how those without Lords or Governors for daddies can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps like they did. Fuck Jeb Bush too. On the other hand, glad to see Edith go Amber Alert and take her baby. Good for her. Marigold Cumberbatch rolls off the tongue rather nicely.

"Please, do me a favor. Don't use that word. You may not use that word. It's off-limits to you. Only those in this house who understand it might use it. And don't use any part of it either. Don't use 'nest,' don't use 'egg.' You’re out in the forest you can point, 'The bird lives in a round stick.' And and and you have 'things' over easy with toast!"
OMD: Now that there's a trace of Gregson's body that came up found, I somehow feel like Fellowes is more likely to narratively exhume his corpse, having him turn up after being held captive for a decade by Hitler's henchmen.

WG: So eventually they find Gregson's corpse in the Fuhrerbunker as a Hitler body double? Leaving Hitler free to escape by submarine to Argentina? Where he still lives today, as a humble trainer for the River Plate football club? Plausible. Now we know how Greg McDonald came up with the plot for Fletch.

OMD: God I love Fletch. The book is better than the film, of course, though no one reads anymore. Fletch Won is also awesome. I hope they go with the more adult tone of the novels and less with the tone struck in the Chevy Chase vehicle, which I loved but is not as engaging as the book.

I'm shocked that Mrs. Denker and Spratt don't get along. Spratt not coexisting with the fellow help? Does not computer. I love that Isobel enjoyed the staff in-fighting at the Dower House, which reassured her of her choice to live a middle-class lifestyle.

WG: The spin-off series I'd love to see the most involves Spratt running a pub.

OMD: At least Bates stumbling across Anna's Interwar contraception that she was holding freed the cat from the bag on the Green front. It took, what, a year and a half? I knew the Brits kept their feelings close to the chest, but Jesus, talk a bit. It also means that the door for the second wrongful prosecution of John Bates is wide open, though I think it'll be Anna who falls if anyone does.

WG: Reviving the who killed Green story line is still goofy. The more ridiculous the perpetrator the better. I'm sticking with the adorable Marigold Cumberbatch as the most likely culprit. The Bad Seed.

OMD: Fellowes is really stepping up his septuagenarian courtship game this season. Kuragin and Violet reconnecting is nice in that it gives Maggie Smith something to do other than slinging quips and handing out her weekly morsel of sage advice. It's nice that Violet is actually going to miss her luncheon companion, Isobel.

WG: Great scene. Actually some heartfelt heat. I completely agree, it's refreshing to see the Dowager do things other than throw shade. Kuragin was making me tingle with all of his honest talk and naked longing.

OMD: I guess that's bound to happen when we're subjected to five seasons and more than a decade of repression.

I'm glad Cora laid down the law with the "out of hand" flirtation line. Eat a buffet of dicks, Robert. Stop acting like a petulant child. Sleep with your wife.

WG: No doubt. Jesus, Chubs, no one likes a whiner. The power move would have been to kick Cora out of the bedroom if you were going to make that kind of play. Slinking off to one of the guest rooms was petty. Did Cora ever know about Grantham's almost persuaded moment? I seem to recall him smooching a servant a few seasons back. Was Cora giving him the those without sin cast the firs stone ultimatum with that in mind?

OMD: I think there was a growing divide between Robert and Cora while he was lusting after the war widow, Jane, but I think she never knew fully what he'd done.

Isis seems to be ill. Isis is well over twelve years old. Somehow I doubt she pulls through. Into what kind of terrible downward spiral will Isis's death send Robert? He'll surely mourn the loss of Isis more seriously than the departure of his sad-sack daughter.

WG: The contrast between the Isis scenes and the Edith scenes is no accident. For whatever reason, they literally treat Edith worse than a dog. Is it because of her nose?

OMD: At least Mary's hair was better than that tragic do that Sybil wore in her last days. It would have looked better had she chosen to ride her steed astride rather than sidesaddle. When her horse leapt over the hedge, I assumed she was a goner, sure to fly forty yards from her untrustworthy steed.

WG: The racing scenes had me anticipating a spill as well. Riding side saddle over jumps seems batshit crazy, but we know Mary has some skills in the saddle. I loves me some female jockeys, especially in route races. Rosie Napravnik, Greta Kuntzweiler, Rose Homeister, Julie Krone. Mary would be at home in that group.

OMD: It's shitty to think that Molesley had to leave school at 12. Makes sense that he cares about Daisy's matriculation. What might Molesley have been with the benefit of a full education? Surely, man would have traveled to space decades earlier.

WG: Probably breaking codes with Alan Turing.

OMD: I love that Blake has sicced Mabel Lane Fox on Tony Gillingham's dull dick. A dog with a tired old bone if you will. That Gillingham called Mabel a "positive centaur" infers that he, not unlike Alex Rodriguez or the Priest in The Life and Times of Tim, fantasizes about being a centaur and likely has commissioned artwork to have himself depicted as one. I guess Mary has found her Matthew 2.0, though only in the sense that he challenges her.
WG: Gillingham's centaur fixation is all over the series. It's one of the great things about Downton Abbey, the inexplicable surreal/fantasy flourishes that Fellowes drops in from time to time.

OMD: Edith's parting words to Tom echo the recurrent through-line this season wherein ladies ask Branson to be true to himself. Are they calling him a sellout? They better watch out, or he'll stand by and watch the proles throw them from their castle in the uprising.

WG: "Don't let them FLATTEN you, Tom."  Ominous.

OMD: The churlish Mrs. Drewe got her comeuppance. Don't fuck with the gentry, farm lady, or they'll come back and take their dumbly named bastard children.

WG: She went from "Ah Hell No" to resigned acceptance pretty quick. Other than that, the main thing I took from that scene was admiration for Mr. Drewe's fabulous vest. Again.

OMD: "There's always something, isn't there?" Violet, Violet, Violet. I'd say join the 20th Century, but there was the whole Holocaust thing. And there's a spike in anti-Semitic attacks in France of late. Is it weird that I just do not understand anti-Semitism at all? It's just so bizarre to me for a group that's basically been shit upon for centuries to have so much hate thrust upon it still to this day. Then again, I don't really get why anyone buys into organized religion other than to try to deal with the looming specter of death, so what do I know? Back to Violet's comment, Isobel's dumbfounded glare was priceless. It was that "get with the fucking times" look that so many shoot her, but from Isobel there's the understanding that we're from the same time and still you utter such nonsense.

WG: I don't get it either. My wife and I are dabbling with the lengthy WWII documentary World at War. Excellent series. Narrated by Larry Olivier so that's a bonus. The inhumanity aimed at Jews is hard to fathom. A shitty coda new to me was that even after concentration camps were liberated, many people were still stuck there for years because other countries were not willing to allow them entry, including the U.S. Brutal.

OMD: I'm glad Fellowes saved a nice moment for the end of the show. Carson's overture to Mrs. Hughes to spend their retirement years together was nice and precisely what one would expect of him. It wasn't exactly romantic, but it spoke to the platonic love they have for one another in a touching way.

WG: A companion elderly hook-up to mirror the Dowager/Isobel flings upstairs. Good for Fellowes. Old people need to fuck just like everybody else. Shout it from the mountain tops.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Five

Lady Rose meets a suitor in the rain. Branson says goodbye to one in the rain. It rains.

Old Man Duggan: In the opening scene we have two references specific to the time. The first is in reference to the Moonella Group, the first nudist colony in England started to home the English Gymnosophy Society, gymnosophy apparently a name for nude philosophers. The second reference is to Ellen Terry, the acclaimed Shakespearean and comic actress who at the time was very similar in stature to a present-day Maggie Smith, so it's fitting that she's making the reference.

Wordy Ginters: I'm as baffled about a nudist colony located in soggy climes as much as the Dowager. Actually, nudists colonies baffle me in general. What is Fellowes trying to accomplish by bringing it up? Largest penis on the show? The Dowager?

OMD: It seems weird to just throw it out there without any cause. Mrs. Patmore asks Mr. Carson for investment advice, which makes no sense until she reveals her rationale for asking his help: that he's a man. Ugh. I was curious as to whether Carson's advice was going to get Patmore nicked for insider trading. I guess her plans to be a slumlord nix that.

WG: Carson, even moreso than Lord Grantham, is Downton's prized old-fashioned buffoon. Nice how he blithely passes off such solid "advice," you know, the kind gleaned from hearing 20 seconds about a topic you know nothing about. How very kind to pass forward such sterling wisdom. The areas of Carson's expertise are dwindling.

OMD: Jesus Christ, this Edith / Marigold / Mrs. Drewe subplot is terrible. It seems every season has at least one subplot that is drives me to question whether I should keep watching this show. This season seems to be teeming with them. The Marigold Conundrum might just be the most awful of the lot. If only Lady Edith had let some young, handsome Turk charm her knickers off, we might never have had to deal with this horseshit. Instead the supremely British Mr. Gregson liked his sex acts to not fall under the category of acts subject to prosecution under sodomy statutes, and we're left to deal with the fallout. "I gave up ten months of my life to make sure she came safely into this world." I feel like I gave up ten years of my life watching Edith lurk in the background scaring the shit out of Mrs. Drewe.

WG: Agreed. This shit be getting stale. I'd favor Edith actually getting more brazen, showing up at the Drewe's frequently and without warning. Cape Fear type shenanigans. Smoking a cigar out by the clothesline and laughing maniacally. What irritates me most is how Edith is always the victim. Grow a pair of ovaries Edith. Yes, life has dealt you a brutal hand. Show us some of that classic Brit stiff upper lip and whatnot and seize what's yours.

OMD: The Branson / Bunting love story had me scared for a moment. When he said he was contemplating a change, I was damn close to throwing in the towel. Thank the gods he elected to stay, at least for the time being. She needed to go and go fast.

WG: Next up? Tom flees to the States and begins working with Fighting Bob La Follette?

OMD: He'd only have about a year to learn how to coiffure his hair just so. I like that Branson's got the onions to walk around without an umbrella. Sack for days.

WG: Umbrellas only serve the interests of capitalism.

OMD: Speaking of irritating storylines, when the fuck will this investigation into the righteous death of Mr. Green be done with so that we can move on with our lives? It's like Fellowes knew Anna and Mr. Bates needed to be together, but once he got them to that point he decided he needed to find a new way to bungle the handling of their relationship each season. Kudos, Mr. Fellowes, you've succeeded once again.

WG: The series, like most series who make it this far, is having a tough time keeping it interesting. Reheating old storylines leaves me cold. Bates talked dreamily of a household with Anna and children around a fireplace. Yes! Give me that Fellowes. Don't just wedge that BS in there as an obvious fulcrum to turn the Bates household on its ear.

OMD: The pogrom in which Atticus's grandparents were driven from Odessa was apparently (according to Wikipedia) spearheaded by the Greek sailors on the ships in the harbor and then the local Greeks happily joined them. The next one in 1871 saw the Russians join with the Greeks in trying to drive. This was the first one (of the three at that point) that saw the Russians and Greeks join together in the massacre of Russian Jews and was sort of the turning point for the Jewish community in Russia, as integration into the culture became increasingly unimaginable.

So Nikolai is a racist. Glad Kuragin has his manners. Lady Rose, of course, has no such racial hang-ups.

WG: Fellowes did much better with the Russian angle than he did with Edith and the Anna/Bates/Green murder triangle. Lady Rose, however, is among the least interesting characters on the show. Another courtship. Yay.

OMD: With the increased moments in which Lady Mary and Tom play confidante to one another, one can't help but wonder if groundwork isn't being lain. It's probably nothing, but it does seem a bit odd to have them understanding each other so well. Obviously, Mary's got a suitor at hand that can match her wits and challenge her in the form of Mr. Blake, but it wouldn't shock me if Fellowes took the show down that path.

WG: I'd welcome that development. Let's spitball a list of suitors, in order of preference, that we'd like to see Lady Mary matched with: Italian train timer Benito Mussolini, Washington Senators right-hander Walter Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Molesley, Patmore, Tom, George Bernard Shaw, Manchester City centre forward Frank Roberts, an imaginary pony named Horace, Gillingham, and leastly, the over-confident little terrier Blake.

OMD: I'm not necessarily anti-Blake, but either Mussolini or Walter Johnson would be great. I think a letter-writing campaign needs to be started posthaste.

"I'm afraid you've read somewhere that rudeness in old age is amusing, which is quite wrong, you know." Rosamund, you're winning me over this week.

WG: Not very often that someone gets over on the Dowager. Retribution will be had.

OMD: Fucking Bricker. What a dink. I'm so bored by his attempt to woo Cora that I don't really want to commit too much time to it. The bedroom brawl was pretty lame. In his uniform, it looked like Robert the bellhop was taking it to Bricker.

WG: Typical Fellowes. Makes Grantham a heel one week, and then damn near makes him likeable the next. You are the MMA expert, but it looked to me like Grantham had side control and was set to choke him out with a triangle, until Edith happened. What must have been going through her mind? Dad is really giving Mom the what-for tonight? I better check? That outfit was hilarious. The only thing missing was the matching red ball for his snozz.

OMD: I think he was going to get Bricker into a mounted crucifix from side control and pummel him into next week with some medieval ground-and-pound. This surely isn't the first time he's practiced his MMA moves in the bedroom. Edith probably just wanted to make sure that

While Branson's non-umbrella-using onions are cause to give an appreciative nod, the brass balls on Blake to try to get Mabel Lane Fox to jump back onto the Gillingham wagon was something to which one needs to stand up and give applause. Fortune favors the bold, Blake. "But what should we do with your food?" That scene made sitting through the mind-numbing first fifteen minutes of this week's episode worth it. The shit-eating grin he's wearing as she recounts his proposal is outstanding.

WG: He's ornery. Personally, I'd like to see more of Mabel Lane Fox.

OMD: I'm sure Violet and Rosamund's plan to get Marigold out of the picture will go off without a hitch.

WG: Spoiler: Marigold killed Green.

OMD: Good call.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure how Fellowes is going to be salvage something good out of this season. It's been rough and just seems to be getting rougher. How feel ye?

WG: Downton is headed to suck town. It's a great challenge for shows to stay fresh and to sustain viewer interests in characters. A whole lot of flailing going on.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Four

In this week's episode of Downton Abbey, Robert pitches fits while ignoring the value of the women around him. Sarah Bunting enrages Lord Grantham with her thorny persistence toward forwarding her agenda. Lady Mary rather unsuccessfully tries to refuse Lord Gillingham's proposal. Lord Merton asks for Isobel's hand in marriage. Shrimpy and Bricker play the part of house guests of the week. News of Gregson's presumed demise draws near.

Old Man Duggan: So Thomas looks like shit. That no one--other than Carson, whose wide-eyed silent registration of horrified indignation at Thomas's appearance undermining the decorum of lunch spoke volumes--was shocked at the ghastly pallor of his skin and the fiery bags 'neath his eyes speaks volumes to the degree to which everyone else in the house is indifferent at best to Barrow's well-being. There is of one thing that we can be sure: Thomas's attempts to rid himself of the burden of homosexuality through tinctures and elixirs will be about as successful as praying the gay away.

Wordy Ginters: Those colors don't run.

OMD: It's a damn shame that Thomas wasn't just a bit more sympathetic, so that this story line could resonate a bit more deeply. As it is, we feel bad for Thomas, but he's such a conniving prick 80% of the time that the modest steps made toward his redemption that Fellowes has taken from time to time probably won't be enough to draw the emotional blood from the viewer that it would have if, say, William or Alfred were the one who was gay in a time in which that was not an option. I guess Thomas would be little more than an evil caricature without the homosexuality as a partial explanation for his devious nature, and concocting a suitable alternative explanation that would conjure feelings of sympathy for such a bastard would be difficult, but still, it's a shame that the horrors of being gay in the early 20th Century couldn't have been explored with a character who doesn't simultaneously fit the bill of the classic heel.

WG: It's shitty that Fellowes makes Thomas the gay character. Look at The Wire. David Simon made the most interesting character (Omar) gay. Fellowes on the other hand, makes the gay guy a sneaky cheating back-stabber. The progressive female teacher is a thorny blowhard. He's working from his 1920s stereotype handbook. It's a dusty fucking tome. His politics suck. To be fair, he's been more enlightened with other choices, but he fumbles badly with Bunting and Thomas.

OMD: It seems like the theme of this episode lies in the evolving notion of the non-permanent nature of marriage in 20th Century society. Shrimpy wanting a divorce from his insufferable shrew of a wife, Susan. Widower Lord Merton proposing to widow Isobel. Mary thinking better of being wed to Lord Gillingham after having been dissatisfied with how they fit together (please, read that however you'd like). The traveling salesman trying to worm his way into Cora's heart/pants with adulation over her appreciation for art. The revelation that Kuragin begged Violet to abscond to some upper crust love nest on the shores of the Black Sea. Is Julian Fellowes having some marital woes?

WG: Apparently so. I need more Kuragin. I'd pay to hear that guy read the Austin phone book. Speaking of pro-fem pop culture, did you realize that Hall and Oates sizzling chart topper, "Adult Education," is written from a female point of view? I knew Daryl Hall had more facets than you'd guess from his choice in music, from his smash home renovation show Daryl's House, and from his bold hair style, but I didn't know he had more nuance than Julian Fellowes. Don't actually read the lyrics to that song.

OMD: I had no idea, but between the gender-bent perspective on "Adult Education" and the anti-anal dance anthem "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," Hall and Oates are nothing if not ready to venture into challenging territory for a songwriting team.

Violet's recounting of Kuragin's attempt to lure her away from the deceased Lord Grantham was quite nice. "Like all Englishmen of his type, he hid his qualities beneath a thick blanket of convention, so I didn't see who he really was at first."

WG: An elegant way to get that sentiment across. Fellowes, you complicated fucker.

OMD: I wanted to make a joke about how nothing gets me randier than [near] septuagenarian widow/widower courtship, but Lord Merton's proposal sincerely brought a tear to my eye. Damn you, Fellowes.

WG: I'm looking forward to the honeymoon montage, a la Bates and Anna. Tangled sheets. Tasteful cleavage. Meaty thighs. Merton cross-eyed. I was hoping when he left, his heart and head buzzing, that he would have put on Isobel's gardening hat.

Gregson's killers
OMD: Would've been perfect.

It surely looks like Gregson was killed in the Beer Hall Putsch of November of 1923 that landed Hitler in jail for treason after the Brown Shirts failed in their march to set up an oppositional government to the Weimar Republic in Munich. The ensuing trial of Hitler gave way to the rise to prominence of the Nazi Party as he was given a public platform from which to espouse the tenets of National Socialism, so Fellowes has done a fine job of incorporating the Crawleys into the periphery of the fabric of world history once again.

WG: I've got a twenty against your ten that Carson spouts some shit that shows him sympathetic to Hitler at some point.

OMD: As long as he can find a way to qualify Hitler's changes to Europe as attempting to honor the tired old class system, that could happen.

Robert's continued marginalization of his wife and her opinions cannot possibly be to his long-term benefit. His childish petulance in this episode is dialed up to eleven until the closing seconds of the installment. It does at times become tedious, though his protestations at Bricker's transparent attempts to sweet-talk Cora's Interwar undergarments to the floorboards are not without their merits.

WG: I laughed when he blew out dinner. I'd rather see him in pissing contest with Bricker than Bunting. What was with the public show of interrogating Daisy and Patmore? That was horseshit. He should have just asked them to flash their tits. Or maybe asked Daisy if she knew what 2+3 was.

OMD: To be fair, Daisy may not know the answer to that question, and I don't think it has any relation to Lord Grantham trying to keep the serfs in their place.

Lady Rose's assertion that she'll only marry a man to whom she's enamored can only be followed by one thing: enter Suitor Number One. At least her unhappily married father will not be the one to block her from a union borne of happiness.

WG: She's been significantly less horny and more prone to social services this season, she's do for a romp. I say pair her up with Tom.

OMD: Tony[!], Toni[!], Tone[!], whenever will you learn that women don't like being told that they love you and will come to their senses while disabusing them of the notion that they get to choose such feelings after having been jabbed about Liverpool by your dick? I just re-watched the episode of Black Mirror featuring Tom Cullen, and I'll admit to having had a bit of a hard time divorcing Tony Gillingham from the shitbird ("Jonas") he played in that episode. Perhaps there was a statue better suited to dumping? Could he have really challenged her assertion at Trafalgar Square in front of the raised, majestic visage of the virile Lord Nelson atop a phallic Corinthian column?

WG: How emasculating to flunk your fuck test with a potential fiance, get dumped in a garden. I think Gillingham's secret is that he's loud in bed. Lots of high-pitched squealing and wheezing. I've only seen one episode of Black Mirror, and it was sadly Cullen-less. Does he have a spit curl?

OMD: "Here, look at these plants growing in the fertile soil. You certainly won't be planting your seeds in mine." Keep going on Black Mirror. It's good shit.

Anna done gummed up the works with that trip to Piccadilly. Bad Mrs. Bates!

WG: So she is a suspect now? That would be hilarious and potentially interesting to me. And hot.

OMD: Some Caged Heat circa 1924 action would be cool and fitting. Of course, they'll probably just be walking in circles in the prison yard, doing calisthenics, and getting their letters withheld by the guards.

On a separate but related note, the green screen/soundstage work on a few of the London scenes looked pretty bad this week, though I understand that it's be damn near impossible to shoot at Piccadilly on a British TV budget and have everything look like it was March of 1924--Hitler's trial transpired between February 26th and April 1st of 1924.

Sarah Bunting strikes again, this time leading to Robert storming out and Branson looking the part of someone who sharted thrice in quick succession at the dinner table. Holy shit is she unable to bite down upon her tongue at opportune times. It must be exceedingly tedious to be her co-worker, as every sentence she utters is in the service of a cause.

WG: She's brutal.

OMD: Someone with more fine art chops than I possess could surely assign an importance to the shot framing of the painted maiden in the stairs outlined by the Jacobethan balusters of Highclere Castle as Mary ascends the stairs to console Tom before heading off to bed.

WG: Nice catch. Tis not I. I'm more at home with Rance Mulliniks.

OMD: Less than a month of proper book learnin' can't possibly make Daisy's letter on behalf of dear Archie a readable one. I'd be terrified to read it.

WG: Cuz fore he got his head rattled on a count of the horors of warz.

OMD: The Dowager Countess owes Princess Kuragin the debt of reuniting wife with husband? Do spill the lurid beans, Violet.

WG: Anything is possible. Speaking of historical guide posts, is the whole Russian/Kuragin story somehow related to the Anastasia story?

OMD: And the episode closes with Robert pledging to build his field of dreams. Or tasteful housing developments. Perhaps there will be a home for the fallen Shoeless Joe amongst the homes. He would surely be a fine ringer for the village cricket squad.

WG: Now there's a proper ending to Eight Men Out. Shoeless Joe smacking belters all over the pitch in Ripon. Molesley polishing silver in the stands, leaning over in a knowing whisper to the guy in front of him, that guy used to play for the White Sox.

Monday, January 19, 2015

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

[This week's delay was the direct result of Comcast blowing goats and the abysmal internet connectivity at OMD's parents' home. Wordy Ginters took the reins this week, thankfully, and the delay, while painful, should not repeat itself this season.]

Lady Mary works on her post-coital glow, Spratt drops a dime on her sex filled romp in Liverpool to the Dowager, Bates looks to get measured for pinstripes, again, Edith wears out her welcome with the Drewes, Baxter gets an ultimatum, Thomas is lying about something, Cora considers the art consultation business, Bunting shits in the punch bowl, Daisy does her maths.

Wordy Ginters: I've never been to England, but I imagine it doesn't get more romantic than Liverpool. Did you see the abs on Gillingham? I'm guessing those abs aren't historically correct. Regardless of his marbled midsection and impossibly full-bodied hair, he's already coming on a little needy, with the creepy "I notice everything you do" shtick and the unannounced arrival at the Russian Tea Party. I don't blame Mary for having second thoughts, but the self-absorbed "who will she end up with?" cliffhanger BS left me cold the first time around, as will its redux.

Screw these dinks.
Old Man Duggan: One of the worst days of my life had Liverpool as its lowlight. Travel nightmare on the day they arrested the terrorists in London who had been planning hijackings leading to heading deaf, dumb, and blind to Liverpool in the hopes of catching a ferry to Dublin to be able to eventually catch our flight from Ireland back to the States. Screw Liverpool and all its 'pudlians who couldn't tell me where the goddamn ferry line was.

As for good ol' Gill's abs, put your goddamn shirt on, you're making me randy with your abs and your lats, Tony Hunkingham. The Ham's got a 21st Century bod in the Roaring 20s. Good on him. You'd think with that package he'd be a little less desperate for the cavalier and anemic Mary Crowley. I'm not looking forward to getting to suffer through Lady Mary's hemming and hawing betwixt two suitors who frankly lack the charisma and draw of Matthew.

WG: I don't know what was more humorous: the idea that Carson could be wheedled into allowing a soldier shot for cowardice to have his name on the Downton War Memorial, or how PUT OUT he was when Thomas asked to use the demon telephone?

OMD: The incredulity in his eyes at Thomas possibly needing to use that infernal contraption when writing a letter would surely have done the glacially paced trick was a look of which only Jim Carter may be capable. His look upon having his office door shut behind him was priceless.

Just Falking around
WG: I thoroughly enjoyed the Dowager's stone cold lady balls when she effortlessly deflated Spratt's potentially embarrassing news with an extemporaneous cover story. It's those grace under pressure moments that make her coming undone at memories of Prince Kuragin more meaningful. The only thing that seems to rattle her is naughty sexy dirty blood sugar sex magik. And hey, I just watched Maggie Smith as a younger women in Neil Simon's barely watchable Murder by Death a few weeks ago, she was a total dish. Speaking of movies, isn't the dude who plays Prince Kuragin the same guy who rented Cruise his costume in Eyes Wide Shut? Those scenes at the costume shop were fantastically creepy.

OMD: Yes, Rade Serbedzija, who was also in Snatch. As for the young Miss Smith, I've seen none of her earlier work, much to my own chagrin. There's not a good reason for not having seen The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The old dame was quick on the draw with the fabricated reason for Mary's having been seen red-assed and sexually exhausted on the curb in Liverpool with her illicit lover. Spratt's inability to spew out his gossip in a way other than stilted was tiresome. Is he supposed to be affecting a Liverpudlian accent?

WG: I always dig it when Fellowes takes the production off Downton and films in London or other locales. Bricker humping Cora's leg up and down the museum corridors and the twilight sidewalks of London was visually striking. Despite the hash, rehashing, and re-purposing of many plot threads, the visuals have always been top notch on Downton Abbey.

OMD: The show is definitely at its best when mixing up the locations and showing that they're not just beneficiaries of preying on a flagging real-life manor. I simply cannot divorce Richard E. Grant from his role in Hudson Hawk. It makes it really hard to watch his neutered faux courtship of the married Cora Crowley. Grant was born in Mbabane, Swaziland.

WG: Spotted dick reference? Fellowes throwing a bone to the millions of middle school Downton devotees. The tragedy is that it's a damn fine dessert.

OMD: Good old Jules. Never above dipping his pen in the gutter inkwell and dropping a cheeky lewd reference.

WG: Sympathy butters no parsnips.

OMD: Nor is it reserved solely for the holy. But Carson could stop being a dick and just put dear cowardly Archie's name on the memorial.

WG: As much as I'm not looking forward to the Battle Royale among Lady Mary's suitors, I'm even more not looking forward to the idea that Bates is going to end up back on the hook. It's like peeling off a scab. I know you have a hard-on for shot framing, did you notice as he walked forlornly down the hallway after speaking with Anna about their predicament towards episode's end that he was tightly framed in by woodwork and windows with lattices and such? I get the jailhouse blues just remembering on it.

OMD: If Bates ends up back in the clink, that may be the nail in the show's coffin. Good catch on the filmic representation of Bates's looming imprisonment.

WG: What jumped out at you?

OMD: Cora's fitting with Molyneux was with Edward Molyneux, whose last name was apparently pronounced much more similarly to Rance Mulliniks, not in the fashion that Cora employed while namedropping her hoity-toity French pronunciation. Despite blindness in one eye on account of a war wound, he ran the go-to fashion salon in Paris and later Monte Carlo, Cannes, and London for the upper crust women who wanted to look unpredictably fashionable, at least according to the internet and historian Caroline Milbank.

WG: Thank your for conjuring visions of Rance Mulliniks and fine French fashion in the same paragraph. Have they ever been in such proximity before? Doubtful.

OMD: I like that free will as applicable to the boudoir escapades of the rich, famous, and gentrified is nonexistent in the eyes of the Dowager Countess. No, Mary, you were seduced. There is no other explanation. Of course Violet doesn't know that her granddaughter is the possessor of a mercilessly bloodthirsty anus, a fact that would certainly color her beliefs on aristocractic sexual determinism.

WG: For being relatively pragmatic, the old old old fashioned views on sex from the Dowager are a tad surprising. The only way to know about the fatal anus is to cross the rubicon. To experience it is to perish. Gillingham used up 8 of his 9 lives and half a spit curl surviving that weekend. Little known fact: locking pliers, AKA "vice grips," were invented in 1924. This is obviously related to Mary's anus, I just don't know how to connect the dots properly.

OMD: You are definitely onto something here. Is Tony Gillingham the man to invent them? Guessing so.

Mrs. Drewe's freak out was dumb. Of course Edith got the old heave-ho. It didn't take long for the helicoptering fairy godmother to get the heave-ho.

WG: Speaking of fashion, I kind of dig Mr. Drewe's threads. The man knows his vests. What he doesn't have is any idea how to execute a plan to get Edith reunited with her daughter. Whatever "plan" he had going, which was essentially visit us into submission, gives half-baked a bad name.

OMD: Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man. Hell, I'm crazy about him. But mastermind schemer? That's not Mr. Drewe.

I really loved Tom and Mary's fireside confidante scene. "Are we talking about your so-called sketching trip? Because I never believed in that for a moment." It was nice that the two of them could speak freely with one another. Perhaps Branson's lower breeding makes for easier to cut to the chase rather than dance around whilst employing tedious high society conversational conventions that endlessly skirt saying what is actually happening.

WG: If history has taught us anything, it's that Irish firebrands know all about fucking.

OMD: That cannot be argued. It is historical fact.

How is it that dipshit Miss Bunting can never bite her tongue and always ends up offending company? Let these Russian dopes mourn their dear dead Tsar without bringing up the policies of the forcibly and violently dethroned.

WG: Fellowes portrays Bunting like a hysterically right-wing over-the-top version of Hillary Clinton.\

OMD: I was driven by her residence just yesterday.

Baxter's bad influence was Mr. Coyle. I wonder what this says about Brendan Coyle's relationship with Julian Fellowes. I'm assuming this is a tongue-in-cheek nod to back-scenes shenanigans. Brendan Coyle, ever the bad influence on set, mucking up the works with his pranks and smoking of cigarettes.

WG: Excellent catch. No doubt a reference to the seductive ornery manliness of the powerhouse behind Bates.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Two

Lord Grantham and Carson differ on where to place the war memorial. Violet and Isobel visit Lord Merton. Molesley is given details on Baxter's past. Mary makes Anna take a trip to the prophylactic dispensary. Edith becomes her bastard child's godmother. Murder police come to the Abbey.

Old Man Duggan: I'll be honest. Jimmy's farewell to Thomas got me a little choked up. You have to give Fellowes due credit for being able to gain audience sympathy for a character who should by all means be entirely unlikable. Of course it takes five minutes for him to turn heel again and poison Molesley's relationship with Baxter--at least temporarily.

Wordy Ginters: Fellowes is adroit with the emotional manipulation, making it easy to flip-flop from disgust to delight on characters. He's done that before with Thomas. I remember thinking he was almost human for a few scant seconds when he was slinking around the battlefields during WWI. In fact, Fellowes has complicated most of the cast. It's what makes Downton worthwhile. That scene revealed some pro acting chops from Rob James-Collier.

OMD: This whole war memorial subplot is thoroughly uninteresting this week. Shall we skip the nonsense?

WG: Death to the Cricket pitch.

OMD: Molesley is all the footmen.

WG: When Carson wants to bust balls, best keep your head down. Poor Molesley just asks for it time and again. Walking around with his dunce hat, his hair dye, and his heart on his sleeve. Footmens beats the shit out of asphalt tamper.

OMD: Back to uninteresting subplots, Robert's bristling at the concept of having a radio in the house despite Rose's protestations was pretty dull. The only good part of the whole sequence was Robert's assertion that the hadn't previously ruled on the matter. I suppose the reflexivity of people sitting around a box getting dumber is amusing, too.

WG: Fear and disdain for new technology is a go to knee-slapper for Downton Abbey. Carson confronting a toaster for the first time a few seasons back reminded me of the "dawn of man" scene from 2001.

OMD: Anna fetching the contraception for Lady Mary was awkward. Obviously, it serves a greater purpose--not unlike the wireless subplot which was helping to show the days of great change--as why should anyone get to judge another for what they do in their private sexy lives. That old bat in the apothecary--or wherever she went--can shove her abstinence up her prude ass.

WG: If abstinence is the answer, I don't want to know the question. And yes, fuck that nonsense. The old bat surely sees a river of dripping, oozing, pus-filled, and morally obtuse maladies every day. No sense in getting all churchy about contraception. Jesus Christ, she wasn't working at a pharma in Ireland.

OMD: Miss Bunting won't go away, will she? I suppose it's best to have Tom rediscover the revolutionary within, but Bunting is a bit tedious.

WG: Fellowes can't help himself, can he? The "progressives" have to be irritating shits in some way. At least she has the social skills to steer clear of Rose's ham-fisted dinner invite. Kind of looking forward to Tom and Grantham crossing swords. Sure seems like they're setting up a politically based fall-out.

OMD: Simon Bricker seemed inordinately interested in Cora. Will this be a mini-trial on their union, much like Robert's with the war widow maid, Jane? More importantly, how will Bricker's possible affection toward Cora affect his attempt to piece together da Vinci's machine making alchemy possible and his plan for world domination. But in the meantime, I guess he needs to stop flirting with Isis. What a dunce Robert is.

WG: Bricker is definitely running game on Cora. And why not? You remember Elizabeth McGovern from the Penn/Cage WWII nostalgia piece Racing With The Moon? She is still wholesome and fine. Robert is a dunce. His comfortable fat ass deserves a kick. Everyone got all horny about James Gandolfini parlaying his girth into a character trait for Tony Soprano; same props to Hugh Bonneville for his aristocratic flab.

OMD: I've not seen Racing With The Moon. I'm ashamed of myself. Hugh's aristoflab is spot on.

Baxter refusing to give anyone the whole story regarding her history in thievery is getting a bit ridiculous. Spill, woman.

WG: Care to speculate? I'll go first: she needed the jewels to pay for labiaplasty.

OMD: Maybe vaginal enlargement surgery? Too tight. Or she needed the dough for contact lenses that gave her cat eyes.

Fellowes does deserve credit for generating two suitors for Mary who seem genuinely interesting. Blake is an able foil for Mary, which she probably needs.

WG: That stuck me as presumptuous on Mary's part. I wish Blake would have shut her down. What happens if Gillingham perishes from F2FA? Best to keep a second teamer warmed up on the sidelines.

OMD: Anyone who watches the show must know that the chances of Gillingham dying after a few rounds of premarital sodomy are alarmingly high.

And in comes Sergeant Willis. The death of Mr. Green won't go away, and now there's a witness. I guess this plot line will never be over.

WG: I don't know if I want to go back there either. Two episodes in and the Bateses are apparently getting the Job treatment again.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

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

Robert and Cora celebrate their anniversary. Carson is selected to chair the War Memorial Committee over Lord Grantham. Baxter's past comes to the fore. Molesley tries out a magical hair treatment. James's former employer comes clawing back into his life. Tony Gillingham makes advances in the umpteenth courtship of Lady Mary. Violet runs interference on Lord Merton and Isobel's burgeoning friendship. Edith carelessly disposes of a book in a tiff.

Old Man Duggan: So we pick up now in February of 1924. Six months have passed since last we glimpsed a new installment of Downton, and last year's Christmas Special marked a jump ahead of a year from where the proper fourth season left off. I'm no baby expert, but Marigold--bringing the percentage of female characters named after flowers to what seems like 75%--seems bigger than a child who should be around one year of age.

Wordy Ginters: Farm living will do that to a toddler. The chores. Fresh air.

OMD: Ramsay MacDonald's reign as Prime Minister does not last long, as I'd imagine we'll find out this season. While Lord Grantham is right to be concerned about the place of the title-holding elite in 20th Century England, MacDonald's Labour Party is ousted after a scant nine months, so his concerns about MacDonald will largely have to wait until the General Election of 1929. Given how eager Fellowes is to advance the time-line of the show--bearing in mind that we're now twelve years down the road from where the series started--that will probably be sooner than one would normally expect.

WG: A raging hard-on for class structure and libertarianism is certainly Fellowes milieu. Not surprising he's eager to flash forward to the uncertain upper crust terrain of pre-WWII.

OMD: Good ol' Donk. An apropos sobriquet given the not infrequent occasions in which he makes an ass of himself, though little Sybil could hardly know of his repeated bunglings of the fortunes of the estate or how much he drags his feet in childlike protestations against progress.

WG: I didn't know a nick-name could be big enough to expertly sum up Lord Grantham and Mike Moustakas at the same time.

OMD: Yet here we are.

How dense is Mrs. Drewe? Given the fact that Lady Edith visits with alarming frequency, it had to have occurred to her that the child is Edith's. I mean I'd let Mr. Drewe throw on his fire brigade gear and chase me around a burning barn, but I'm not gentryfolk. "Don't be daft" indeed.

WG: You raise an excellent point. Where the hell do they get that awesome fire brigade gear? You don't go running around trailing sand from your bucket unless those helmets are shined and the brigade jacket buttons are gleaming. Can't go putting out fires looking like a ruffian.

OMD: You need to impress the fire with your flashy attire. That's Fire Brigading 101.

"He just wants what all men want." "Oh, don't be ridiculous." The subtext there is F2FA, right? Given Fellowes's predilection for getting his characters' asses in trouble--non-figuratively speaking--I think Isobel's reading of the lay of the land is spot on. Lord Merton wants a "companion," and in Fellowes's world, we can only assume that going Turkish would be in Isobel's future, at least if Violet were not so meddlesome.

WG: Delicious. I sensed F2FA would be on the menu.

OMD: I have to say, I don't like the cut of Mrs. Wigan's jib. While I have no issue with the selection of Carson to chair the War Memorial Committee, she sure dealt with Carson in a less than desirable manner, as she was rather demanding, wasting nary a breath between committee business and instructing her hopeful committee chairman how to best prepare her tea.

WG: The commoners be getting uppity. We get it Fellowes.

OMD: Must Lord Grantham make so much of each incremental neutering? He gets butthurt over every perceived slight, as if not being the first choice for the chair of every committee is something at which to take umbrage. Has there ever been a character in anything so beset upon by the simple passing of time?

WG: He does seem spectacularly unable to exist outside of that world. Just when I feel the bitter bile towards Grantham rise in my throat, that bastard Fellowes will go and make him do something valorous, or failing that, decent. Watch. He'll go from pompous ass to sensible sympathetic like a boomerang.

OMD: Viscountess Gillingham. Stateside, we'd have no reason to know this, but Viscount is a step down from an Earl, which is obviously what Matthew was in line to be before his run-in with a lorry. He seems to be a fine chap, but it's probably safe to assume he's got a nasty secret. My guess is that he's a foot fetishist. Maybe he can only get off if balloons are popping.

WG: You're voting looner? I'll go with crushing. Hear me now, Mary will take him on top of a tamworth piglet before the curtain closes on the Christmas special.

OMD: Bold and precise, like everything nice.

Daisy can't do her maths. What with her fear of electricity, it's hard to imagine why she can't get a grasp on elementary mathematics. At least the dimness of Daisy gave Carson yet another reason to champion his classist beliefs in trying to keep the proles in their place.

WG: "Math is hard." - Barbie

OMD: When Molesley was applying that horrifying amalgamation of tar, caviar, and black oil from The X-Files and looked in the mirror, he was the spitting image of my archenemy Ray Milland.

WG: Why don't they just have poor old Molesley wander around in a dunce hat? Fuck Ray Milland.

OMD: Fuck Ray Milland, indeed. There was a freshfaced kid sitting at the servants' table beside Molesley. I'm assuming his position is errand boy. Maybe Thomas's errand boy.

WG: I've got big hopes for that kid.

OMD: Maybe he'll take on the role of Peanut in The Wire.

Mr. Spratt really is a piece of work. Shitbird won't serve a doctor and a Major?

WG: Spratt might be my favorite character. Doesn't say a word. Looks like he's got a plum in his mouth.

OMD: It can hardly be classified as surprising that Mary wants to buck tradition and get to know her suitor biblically. Hopefully for Gillingham's sake he's not so well endowed as to scare her off. It's also in his best interest that he doesn't have an urgent need to encroach upon Lady Mary's alternate entrance, as we all know how that ends up for the too adventurous. Where do you think they'll head on the illicit sexcapade? My guess is Germany, where they see Gregson's head on a pike.

WG: Gregson can't be dead. I fully expect to see him wearing a brownshirt and intimidating slavs and unionists, or perhaps submitting scripts to Leni Riefenstahl. I'd like to see Mary and Gillingham fucking the days away on a beach in Jamaica.

OMD: Baxter the jail bird. I'm surprised that she served time, though for the poor such property crimes as theft were enough to get them thrown in the clink. I'm curious as to what the circumstances behind Baxter's thieving were. Surely Fellowes will shine a light upon it in the next few episodes.

WG: Seemed like a pretty harsh penalty. Baxter ain't all bad.

OMD: That's how the poors got done, though. Thankfully Thomas is no longer able to lord the bit of her backstory over her, though he surely has another object upon whom to heap his scorn. I loved Thomas getting caught in his bullshit. What a dickhole.

WG: Still hoping that a blue-haired Molesley touches him up with a cricket bat. Of course he saved his crooked ass by hoisting Edith out of the flames. Like the fabled phoenix. Thomas is back in Lady Grantham's good graces.

OMD: Bates's inquisition on the subject of Tony's valet seems like he might have been opening himself up to a bit too much exposure. Obviously Tony knows, though I don't think Bates knows this.

WG: What the hell is he trying to accomplish? Asking questions seems reckless. When Bates threw that leg brace into the bog a few seasons back, he gave away a core part of himself. The part that smelled like beef jerky and authenticity and manliness. And common sense and wits. He ain't the same.

OMD: Let's pour one out for John Bates.

So Lady Anstruther is a randy bird. Glad to be rid of her dead husband, so as to give her cause to travel the countryside preying on the presumed slew of pretty-boy footmen that have dispersed amongst the servants' quarters of many a country estate. I'm sure this was not the first occasion in which she has been thrown to a state of coitus interruptus by the hands of a house fire. The pheromones that pour out of her surely turn everyone on their heads. Maybe James can screw his way out of a sacking.

WG: I'm certain that her ravenous red hot vagina had a significant role in the fire that took place at episode's end. The book carelessly tossed by a grieving Edith was merely tinder.

OMD: I'm glad Tom got to tell Robert that he'd not shtupped Miss Bunting. That bit of business between them passed for far too much time without clarification, at least for Branson's sake.

WG: Bunting was not shtuppped. Full stop. I never understood Branson's reluctance to reveal that fact to Grantham either. It bothers me that Fellowes has made Bunting more irritating than plucky.

OMD: Such is his want as his sympathies lie a bit to heavily in the camp of the aristocracy.

Jesus Christ, Edith. Get your shit pulled together. I know the lack of closure on Gregson has to be eating at you, but arson by way of carelessness is no good for anyone. To his Lordship's dressing room with you.

WG: Report to Dad's closet and think about what you've done.

OMD: Tom and Robert channeling their inner Backdraft was nice, but I'll be damned if that wasn't a weak-ass hose.

WG: I found the idea that there were only TWO loaded sand buckets equally galling.

OMD: The depression and social upheaval of the 20th Century didn't sap the gentry of their power. It was their poor preparation for fire prevention/fighting.

So this is a bit ridiculous, but I was wondering how everyone seemed to be walking around as though the weather were totally pleasant in February in the UK. My suspicion was validated when I decided to look up the weather across the UK in February of 1924. Aside from a warm first week--and this episode is meant to take place in the second week of February--it would have been on the cold side of things, despite the fact that no one was dressed for it. The weather on the night of the fire would have presumably been in the teens, as overnight lows on the 15th and 17th in Wales, southwest of Yorkshire, reached single-digits, Fahrenheit. No one looked nearly cold enough when Edith's dumb ass tried to burn down the Abbey.

WG: Awesome. Cue "Stone Cold" by Rainbow or "She's So Cold" by the Stones.

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