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.
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