Sunday, February 7, 2016

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

Work delayed this entry a full week, but it will be followed quickly with this week's entry. The episode starts with more of the same--Daisy whining about Mr. Mason (despite a favorable resolution to his situation), forboding about Donk's demise, and hospital politic tedium--but at least there's the promise of Minister of Health and future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain coming for a visit.

Old Man Duggan: Dinner at Casa de Carson went well. Undercooked lamb and bubble and squeak--which is a shallow fried dish of leftovers from a roast consisting primarily of potatoes and cabbage that can also have carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, and other leftover vegetables tossed in--somehow doesn't seem like a dish the stodgy and particular Mr. Carson would like too much. The tamped down tension and resentment from Elsie's side of the table was a delight. Something tells me a tumble twixt the sheets is not in Carson's immediate future.

Pre-Mickey slipping
Wordy Ginters: Poor Carson. Looks like he'll be learning the hard way. From the altar to sleeping on the couch in record time. Oddly, I was a fan of his boorish stodginess. It rings true. To see Carson and Hughes glide into a Cliff and Clair Huxtable simpatico vibe would be discordant. You know Carson has to be a throbbing pain in the ass to deal with. Hughes, as per usual, is a goddamn saint.

OMD: There seems to be a lot of build-up with Patmore feeling at least a little envious of Mrs. Hughes becoming Mrs. Hughes-Carson. Something tells me that the continued presence of Sergeant Willis may be Fellowes's attempt to make a love connection for another potential old maid. I'm sure Patmore would go wild for a distinguished gentleman in uniform.

WG: Like a redheaded moth inexplicably drawn to flaming dogshit. Patmore is one of the few decent characters on the show, and apparently she's never been carnal. She deserves a good old fashioned steamrolling. I think Fellowes can really cover some new ground with the last few episodes, featuring lots and lots of lusty action between 50- and 60-year-olds. How about a sexy montage of Carson and Hughes, Patmore and Sergeant Schultz, Bates and Anna, and maybe a splash of sappho with Isobel and the Dowager all tangled up in a love knot? Underline the scene with "Every 1's A Winner" by Hot Chocolate.

OMD: I liked Branson's explanation for how the balanced personalities of Sybil and himself made for a blissful (albeit brief) union. Clearly this is laying the groundwork for Mary to evaluate Talbot with a fresh set of eyes. Let's just hope she doesn't sic her murderous asshole on poor old Hank. It's claimed one and likely two men's lives. Let us all hope the killing has stopped.

WG: That thirsty asshole isn't done yet. I fear more men will be dispatched into the yawning void via its erotic clench. Branson's ode to relationships was surprisingly solid insight. That guy should shitcan his wrenches and his car fetish and think about setting up shop as a marriage counselor or a therapist.

OMD: Why can't Fellowes just let a cancerous devil like Denker shuffle off into Interwar poverty? I was so happy when I thought she was gone. If only it wasn't for Septimus's shitbag nephew dropping by unannounced and on the lam. Would anyone have blamed Clarkson if he produced a scalpel from his bag and cut her to bits? I suspect he'd have gotten a slow-clap from the townsfolk to rival the letter jacket scene in Lucas.

WG: Corey Haim, where are you now when we need you the most? Septimus Spratt sounds like a Harry Potter character. To cute by half Fellowes.

OMD: "Shall I go back in an ask him to plead not guilty after all?" Molesley bringing the quick quips. What doesn't he bring to the show now? I can't wait to watch the Molesley and Baxter spin-off in which they start a bicycle rental business on Crete to get away from the hustle and bustle of service.

WG: The rebirth of cool for my main man Molesley continues to shock. Just like the anxiousness I feel at the inevitable doom awaiting Anna and Bates, I keep wondering when Fellowes is going to drop the hammer on Molesley. He spent too many episodes and too many scenes making him look like a dope to let him off the hook this gallantly in the final season. He'll spend the next episode with 12 yards of toilet paper trailing off his shoe, and no one will have the guts to tell him except Thomas.

OMD: And in a decidedly derisive way, I'm sure.

Branson's cutting through the veiled courtship bullshit was hilarious. "Why can't you just say, 'I'd love to spend more time with you. When can we do it?'" Mary's not getting any younger and if the battlefield's worth of down men behind her is any indication, there can't be many eligible bachelors left who've not been felled by her sword.

WG: "These dumb proles have some good qualities, although they are coarse as hell." Julian Fellowes, apparently.

OMD: Speaking of courtship, it sure looks as though Lady Edith will finally find happiness. The Beer Hall Putsch already happened, so Bertie can't be killed there. What horrible fate could befall him to rob Edith of another man?

WG: Death by a hail storm of toads a la Magnolia. Or is it a la mode? Frog a la mode.

OMD: If I had the photoshop skills and this weren't a full week late, I guarandamntee you that this would be highlighted with a picture of frog and ice cream.

So it appears as though Barrow's redemptive arc this season is in serving as Andy's tutor.

WG: I want Thomas to be the bad guy. Please Fellowes please, keep the black hat firmly on his head. Is there anything more darkly evil than a mediocre tutor?

OMD: The anti-Molesley.

So the buildup of Robert's failing health paid off big time. Even if this doesn't spell his complete demise, blood spewing volcanically from his mouth across the white linens on the table was quite the dramatic visual. I wonder how much of Donk's stomach they removed? I'm glad Molesley got one light-hearted jab in when Thomas revealed that despite his assumption that he wouldn't care, he was relieved to hear that Robert's surgery seemed a success. "Don't let the other animals find out, or they'll pounce."

WG: An impressive bit of bloodshed for Downton. Were you thinking Alien or Hateful Eight?

OMD: Oh, Alien for sure.

I really hope Mary piecing together Marigold's origins doesn't go the way that the score over that last scene indicated it would. I would suspect that her evolution as a person would have softened her feelings toward her last living sibling, but who knows with her? She certainly could backslide into her old ways, though I suspect the music and Mary's expression at episode's end were a misdirect by Fellowes, and he'll use this opportunity to show how Mary's grown.

WG: I think you've got it pegged. Unfortunately. You can't have every character work their way to some nice and tidy resolution. Thomas is humanized. Mary has grown. Edith finds success. That means there has to be some ballast on the other side of the ledger, right? Granthan dies? Anna and Bates get thrown back in the mud? Regardless, I admit I'm a sucker because the blood bath at the end of this episode has me eager to see the next episode. Something I haven't felt for awhile.

OMD: Indeed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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

While the Carson's away, the Thomas will play butler. An old maid comes to dinner. Anna and Lady Mary run off in the dark of night to try to save the baby Bates.

Old Man Duggan: Can I just say what a delight it was to have Branson back for a full episode? It is almost as though an amputee suddenly got its leg back and started walking about normally again. Was this a vintage-quality episode? Probably not, but having Allen Leech back on the show cut the second-guessing why I was still devoting energy to this show evaporate into the ether.

Wordy Ginters: I'm still second guessing. But good to see a chubbier Branson back in the mix regardless of my Downton doubt. The burgeoning race car fixation is fun. You see Josh, he used to be the lowly car guy at Downton way back in the early days when the show was engaging rather than just a habit.

OMD: So it took five minutes for Sergeant Willis to make an appearance. The busiest cop in Yorkshire. The only cop in Yorkshire. This shitbird who screwed Baxter over must possess a silver tongue and a golden rod what with his ability to get women to do his dirty work . As his name was Mr. Coyle, we have to assume that Julian Fellowes is giving a sly nod to Brendan Coyle, don't we? What does this say about our dear Mr. Bates in real life?

WG: You know all you need to know about Brendan Coyle by the way he makes your thighs tingle when he prowls through a scene. The man exudes a powerful sexual magnetism. Fellowes saddled him with a leg brace and then a cane in a futile attempt to dampen Coyle's natural sex powers lest they distract viewers from the finer subtleties of the plot. Now in the final season, Fellowes is throwing a Hail Mary via a thinly veiled name-check. It's like trying to put a spigot on Niagara Falls.

OMD: "'All that's needed for evil men to triumph is that good men do nothing.'" Molesley's roughly quoting Irish philosopher and father of modern conservatism Edmund Burke there. It's funny that Fellowes has one of the middle-aged folks living quaintly in servant's quarters quoting a man whose ideology would want to protect the institution that has largely kept poor Molesley down.

WG: Nice legwork. I've heard that quote many times but always assumed it was a post-WWII response to Hitler, or maybe Don Wakamatsu and Pedro Grifol discussing Ned Yost's proclivity to bat Alcides Escobar in the lead-off spot. More astonishing to me is the continued hot streak that Moseley is rolling on. He hasn't fumbled anything in several episodes. Carson hasn't shamed him for months. He's tutoring Daisy and even acting as Baxter's consigliere in her dealings with the buffoon Sergeant Willis. By season's end, he'll be shirtless on horseback.

OMD: In one of the most unexpected developments ever, Molesley has become the heart of the show at this juncture.

Seriously fuck Daisy. How badly did you want her to get sacked this episode? I was hoping her head would be on a pike the next morning. A little bit of knowledge in dimwitted hands is a dangerous thing.

WG: That would have been pleasurable.

OMD: Patmore was straight bringing it this episode. "You couldn't be harder on those potatoes if you wanted them to confess to spying." "She knows the mystery of life by now. Which is more than I do." "I wonder if Karl Marx might finish the liver pate?"

WG: One of the rare times that Patmore removes her head gear too. Release the ginger Patmore. Release it!

Phone sex may have been foisted upon a minor during the making of this film
OMD: I have to say I'm looking forward to Branson being the pit crew leader to Henry Talbot. He'll be the Diane Lane to Henry's Kenny Rogers. Maybe love can turn all of them around. Of course, I can't imagine Mary will be jonesing to get in bed with a race car driver after Matthew's run-in with a lorry. Hopefully Tom and Henry's love bug will keep their fuel pumping.

WG: Downton as Kenny Rogers vanity movie project Six Pack? I love it. Jesus H. Christ I love that song. I love that movie. I love Erin Gray. I'll look forward to seeing Lil' Georgie Crawley working his magic with a wrench and a socket.

OMD: Can you imagine how great it will be when Leech's hands are at Matthew Goode's ankles ensuring the quality of his sit-ups?

How much do you think Thomas's balls shriveled when he saw Branson and Gwen supping with the aristocrats?

WG: Shriveling so severe it made an audible noise. Like when Mario dies in Donkey Kong. Why must Daisy be so damn dumb? Why must Thomas be so damn unlikable? Once upon a time, Fellowes would go out of his way to make Thomas almost sympathetic, or Daisy almost honorable. I assume he's still got those moves in his playbook, but at this point, it seems stale and steamless and all too predictable.

OMD: Gwen coming back into the picture was nice. Showing the entire family not knowing who Gwen was made me chuckle at their classist tunnel vision. Her story of Lady Sybil changing her life made me long for the days before preeclampsia (and three-year contracts) robbed us of much of the show's heart. If this reminder makes Mary look beyond herself a bit more, it can't have been a bad thing. Edith lamenting the family's not having spoken to someone who'd been in their employ for so long speaks to her own growth by leaps and bounds.

WG: The best scene of the episode. It had some emotional heft.

OMD: With as many times as Robert and Anna were doubled over with abdominal pain, I'm shocked they both made it out of the episode alive. One of them dies this season, right? With lip service being paid this episode to George being heir to Lord Grantham's title and Lady Rosamund joking about Violet being at Robert's funeral not vice versa, his number seems all but punched. Does Ryder's stitch keep Anna with child, or does another key female character die while trying to bring life into the world?

WG: I think Anna is doomed, as she has been from Isis's first ass shot. If the show had any guts, they'd all die in some wonderfully boring way.

OMD: Dysentery hits the Abbey.

Robert wondering what time Mary would get to London was hilarious in its complete missing of the point.

I wonder what sort of train station grab-and-go sandwich Branson ate. I'm sure it was as delightful as Robert suspected.

WG: A hilariously odd detail. As long as you are putting it in there, why leave the audience hanging on the exact nature of the sandwich? Melted Cheese on Toast? Ox Tongue? Sardine? Egg Salad? I want to know what the sandwich choices were in mid '20s England.

OMD: It would be considerably nicer if Mr. Mason's good fortune didn't owe at all to Daisy. Her dumbfuckery should have been his undoing.

WG: How about blithely overlooking the misfortune of the poor fucking Drewe family in the equation?

OMD: Isobel asking Violet if she had her passport to visit the kitchen was possibly the highlight of the episode.

WG: It's always jarring to see the swells hanging around the servants quarters. Just as unusual to see Isobel land a crisp jab like that. She usually works in more civil territory than the Dowager.

OMD: There was something a bit sad about Carson taking one last look at the meager accommodations in which he'd lived for somewhere north of four decades. It was sad more for his not having experienced than it was that he'd be leaving that tiny-ass room.

WG: And sad that he was going to miss it.

OMD: I do have to say this was another relatively strong episode that has me hoping that the show ends its run on a high note after a few rough seasons. What your guess on when Robert croaks? Next episode?

WG: Not soon enough. A little death is just the tonic this show needs.

Monday, January 18, 2016

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

The denizens of the Abbey prepare for the wedding of the century while Lady Edith is away becoming an editor.

Old Man Duggan: After a particularly dismal second episode to the sixth run of Downton Abbey, at least this one was better.

Wordy Ginters: This season has been across the map. A strong opener. A dud. Tonight's episode somewhere between. At this point, Downton Abbey is a yappy dinner guest who catches second wind and obliviously sails into an anecdote they have already shared twice. Are you overstaying your welcome? Hahahaha. Don't be silly Downton. I'm riveted. Still, Fellowes can occasionally bring the tingles. In his hammy hands, issues of class have the not so faint whiff of aristocratic dick waving. It was nice to peer through the fog and see the proles win a battle or two, namely Hughes at the helm of her own wedding.

OMD: Indeed. He still does succeed when it comes to delivering a small, meaningful moment for a character whose life isn't otherwise filled with meaning.

I still can't believe Fellowes wants the audience to care about this fight over the control of the hospital. Maybe there's some historical context that I'm completely missing here that makes this more meaningful, but I did cursory searches to see if there was some larger development in the practice of medicine in the UK in the mid-to-late 1920s, and there didn't seem to be. The NHS didn't launch until 1948, so it's not tying into that at all. In other words, it's just another way for Fellowes to show the tired, aged hand of privilege trying to cling to something, only here it seems only so negligibly relevant as to render the whole to-do pointless.

WG: The hospital kerfuffle is a flaccid attempt to wire up some tension for Isobel and the Dowager. They need some reason to trade bon mots. It serves the dual purpose of further emasculating Sir Dick Grey and Doc Clarkson, a trick Fellowes uses as a shield so that he doesn't end up looking like Archie Bunker. I wish they'd all just end up in the sack together already. Regardless, the faux hospital angst can't be as portentous as Lord Grantham's scene stealing indigestion?

OMD: There are at least two moments every season where Robert expresses discomfort and I become certain that he's going to croak in the next episode.

So fuck it, I don't want to wait for it. At least the Ghost of Branson looming over the first three episodes emerged from the shadows.

WG: That was fast, eh? Do you think he caught wind of the Catholic priest abuse scandal and moved back to England for Sybbie's protection? If Spotlight teaches us anything, it's that nowhere is safe from the pervy hand of the Catholic Church. Welcome back to Downton, Branson, but you can't hide. The sun never sets on the Papal empire.

OMD: If Fellowes is using this pregnancy as yet another way to pull the rug out from under Anna and Bates, I'm going to flip my shit.

WG: Prepare accordingly.

OMD: This Daisy bullshit with the farms has got to stop. Take her out back and put us out of our misery, Fellowes.

WG: Another empty-headed Fellowes prole. No amount of tutoring from Professor Molesley can compensate for that unfortunate breeding. Lack of social grace allows her to cause problems, and she doubles down on the error by wishcasting a solution that may or may not exist. Will the benevolent aristocracy bail her out?

OMD: That the goings-on downstairs at Downton have rendered the ground for story so fallow that we have to suffer through these little exchanges between Denker and Spratt speaks to the depths to which the show has fallen. Holy shit, it's like I'm having to sit through Seasons Two and Three of Game of Thrones all over again. Every moment they're on screen I keep wishing that there was something going on that I cared about at all.

WG: I bristle at all attempts to humanize Denker or Spratt. I prefer viewing them as a physical manifestation of the tradition-laden, shitty, snide, snobbish aspects of the upper class.

OMD: It is becoming abundantly clear that Thomas's skillset is one that will have been learned just a bit too late. These job interviews are not going so well for Mr. Barrow. If he wasn't such a shitheel, I'd feel bad for him.

WG: That formerly grand house was jarring. Bear skins and animal heads. I thought Downton was heading into some exciting territory. A little Killer Bob action might liven things up.

OMD: If only.

Thank Jesus Edith fired that toolbag Skinner. I couldn't tell if he was sweating out his liquid lunch or in dire need of air-conditioning. Still, while this development could have happened last episode and made me happy, at least Edith is finally getting to realize her potential outside of the stricter bounds of what's expected of women in polite society circa 1925 to make no mention of the fact that she's clearly got a mate lined up now, though I doubt she knows this quite yet.

WG: It made me nostalgic for my high school yearbook days. Who knew putting magazine layouts together would make such great TV? Like watching a documentary about Ken Burns making a documentary.

OMD: Is it just me, or is it insane that Sergeant Willis is the officer dealing with every police inquiry in the show? Is he the only cop in Yorkshire? Wasn't he also dealing with the death of the odious Mr. Green which happened in London? What the hell is his jurisdiction? Is he the only cop in the UK from 1924 on?

WG: The show badly needs a laugh track. Every time Sergeant Schultz/Willis enters a scene, he should look at the camera palms up, shrug his shoulders, cue laugh track.

OMD: Has there ever been a scene less in character in the show's run than when Cora flipped on Anna, Patmore, and Hughes? Honestly, I can't remember a single situation in which Cora reacted to anything anywhere close to that angrily and I don't recall when it was ever misdirected like that. It was so uncharacteristic that when she proffered the overcoat as a gift the gesture was lost in the ham-handed manipulation that showed a complete deafness to character.

WG: Right? Everything seems compressed. They aren't creating enough space between some events and reactions to make them seem remotely believable. Anachronistic soundtrack suggestion for the unauthorized dress up with Cora's overcoats: "Fashion" by David Bowie.

OMD: The wedding was nice. I'm sure the wedding night was debauched. I hated seeing that old shit Reverend Travis. Screw that guy.

WG: I had a bet with my wife that Hughes would utter the line "we've waited long enough Carson, get your cock out." I think you can plausibly infer that it happened off screen.

OMD: Molesley's lamentation that he'd "missed everything" was probably the saddest moment in the show's recent memory. Why he wants to help that simple fool Daisy is beyond me, but Molesley's quietly the show's hero.

WG: He's filled the yawning void left by whatever happened to the husk of Bates's character. From class clown to hero. Anachronistic soundtrack suggestion #2: "Heroes" by David Bowie, played over montage of Moseley alternately tamping tar into potholes, dropping tea service, smashing rounders on the cricket pitch, and learning Daisy her comparative history.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

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

This week, the denizens of Downton Abbey do little of interest while dealing with wedding plans, hospitals, and bastard children of nobles.

Old Man Duggan: Maybe the passability of the first episode this season did too much to cleanse my palate, but this week's episode really made me question playing out the string with this season. We're too close to the end to hang it up, though. I can say I'm looking forward to this being done, so we can hopefully tackle what we talked about via text earlier this week--a Deadwood rewatch.

The show we wish we were watching
Wordy Ginters: Contemplating the deep and abiding love between Dan Dority and Al Swearengen, the best small screen power couple since Mary Tyler Moore and Lou Grant, will be a welcome respite.

OMD: How many storylines this episode did you like?

WG: One. The storyline that involved Carson caking his pants at the thought of uttering the word "no" to Grantham.

OMD: I liked Carson and Hughes wedding location back and forth. That might have been it.

The first words uttered were at the dinner table about cast members who have moved on. Mentioning Tom--one of the last characters worth caring about on this show--so early really draws attention to what elements the series is missing in its sixth time out. It sort of felt like a "we're going to trick you into remembering how you used to like this show so you'll be more forgiving of the dreck that's about to come" moment.

WG: Good point. Reminiscing in a television series is probably a sign that shit has gone south in the writers room. Did you notice that Mary and Anna also tripped the wax nostalgic, callously laughing at the time they carried poor Pamuk's lifeless husk down the stairs? Cause of death? F2FA.

OMD: I guess there was also the element of Mary taking ownership of her role as agent of the estate. Full-circle feminist progress, small though it may have been.

WG: As far as Fellowes is concerned, apparently, you put a few assertive lines of dialogue in Mary's mouth, dress her in Diane Keaton's clothes from Manhattan, and you are practically setting fire to the patriarchy.

OMD: I liked Hughes giving Carson a friendly little jab about not being able to say no to Lady Mary. I do tend to think that Carson's desire to have the wedding at someplace that matters to them carries more water than Hughes having it at the schoolhouse because it's not Downton, though I understand her desire not to feel like a servant.

WG: Carson being a man who badly needs jabbing. He's honorable in a devout, straightforward, trying his best sort of stilted way. But Jesus H. Christ he needs to loosen up.

OMD: Does Lady Edith not realize that she owns the fucking magazine? Skinner's a shit? Fire his dumb ass. I get that she needs to grow into her role at the magazine, but she's the owner, and there's no reason she would put up with this piece of shit hollering at her and forcing her to make the trek into London only to get yelled at more.

WG: Is it possible she hasn't seen The Devil Loves Prada? The template for how a woman runs a magazine has been established. Alas, Lady Mary is the sister with the undeserved self-confidence.

OMD: Anna went from being this quiet but confident badass to someone who's a nervous wreck over everything. In the continuous wringer that Fellowes has put Anna and Bates through, he's basically ruined her. And her belief that despite Bates's assertions to the contrary she must provide him with a child of his own is so irritating. The shittier thing is that the way Fellowes shits on this duo--presumably because they represent the hope of the proletariat--you know that Anna's stitch will go horribly wrong, she won't tell Bates, he won't know why she's sick from infection, and she'll probably die from sepsis. I'm half kidding there, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if that happened, would it?

WG: Drastic misfortune is most certainly on the horizon for Bates and Anna. A stitch in the neck of the womb? Don't even need to come down to the doctor's office, we'll just do it in the comfort of your own room? Nah, nothing could possibly go wrong. Fellowes pissing misery on the proles is spot on. He's like Jim Nantz.

OMD: What about anything that Bates has ever done supports Anna's assertion that Bates is tribal? It's like everything that's happened before this doesn't matter.

WG: I didn't understand that shit at all. Is it related to his exploits in the Second Boer War somehow? Perhaps the gnarly jailhouse tribal tatt he scored in Season 3?

OMD: This hospital nonsense makes me wish I was watching The Force Awakens again, which I didn't even really like that much. Hell, it makes me want to watch The English Patient, which I tried to watch somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 times (no joke) and have never finished.

WG: My thoughts drifted to Chi-raq. The best political movie I've seen in a long time. Just your standard issue reboot of a Greek drama, complete with rhyming couplets, that takes dead aim on the gun culture in this country, and Chicago in particular. That old threadbare genre. Includes a heaping dose of humor, education, sex, guns, Wesley Snipes for fuck's sake, John Cusack, and Nick Cannon, and the whole glorious mess is bracketed, quite literally, as an emergency notice and a wake-up call.

OMD: The instant the shit with Mrs. Drewe came bubbling back up, it was pretty obvious that the Mr. Mason would be getting their tenancy. Still, having Margie's dumbfuckery taking up screen time was the apex of mindnumbingly melodramatic tedium.

WG: Worst telegraph since Isiah Thomas threw that inbounds pass to Larry Bird in the 1987 NBA Playoffs. Will Mason keep the pigs, or do they exit with Drewes? I've often felt the one thing Downton Abbey lacked was pig related storylines. So, understandably, I was heartened by this week's episode. I hope we see Mason researching boar bloodlines, with Daisy's new found academic prowess at his disposal, spending hour upon hour at a tastefully distressed cottage table pouring over reams of piglet birth weights, weaning weights, loin eye and back fat data, hoping to identify just the right sire. Perhaps he'll purchase a large quantity of semen straws, and they'll get mixed up with Patmore's grocery order. The possibilities are very exciting.

OMD: Or maybe the Crawleys will dispose of a slew of corpses with these pigs now being cared for by a trusted friend who owes them. First corpse? Margie.

Thomas's interview with Mr. Moore was about what you'd expect at this point. Too many responsibilities for one person? Check. Thinly veiled homophobia? Check.

WG: Who does Fellowes despise more, the proles or the gays?

OMD: Alternate answer to that question to follow shortly.

When Lady Mary told Anna that she wanted to help Anna, tell me you didn't immediately assume that she wanted to bone Mr. Bates and be their surrogate. Anna surely would have turned down the offer, but only because she knows that having sex with Mary is as likely a cause of death as simply being a tree on Long Island waiting for Billy Joel to take you out with his car. Also, they shared a hearty laugh at carry the corpse of the buttsexer Mr. Pamuk down the hall to his room. Oh, how we honor the dead!

Lady Mary as The Visitor
WG: The only way to save this season would be to turn this into a British version of Teorema with Lady Mary in the Terrence Stamp role, where she systematically seduces and screws every member of the cast. Final shot: a naked Hugh Bonneville walking a peat bog screaming primal.

OMD: I'd be much more excited to see that.

The kidnapping of Marigold was like the exact opposite of Raising Arizona. Not fun, lacking in Cage, incredibly tedious, and lacking in a cute kid who someone would miss. Apologies if I've said this before, but is it just me or does Marigold look like the titular alien in Mac and Me? Also, did Margie summon superhuman stealth and speed to abscond with Edith's hideous baby? She made off with the child in less time than it takes to slap cream cheese on a bagel. I would have given anything for Mr. Drewe to take a hammer to her head at that moment.

WG: Reversing Arizona. I thought Drewes might take a hammer to his own head. As a parent, there is nothing more irritating than when some relative gloms onto your infant/child and won't give him/her back.

OMD: One last thing before hanging it up for this week: does Fellowes insist that every single character that is going to irritate the audience endlessly be cast a redhead? It's a near certainty that every time you see a new redhead in the cast they will be the most tedious character that you could ever imagine within three episodes. If you didn't have anything against gingers before Downton Abbey, Fellowes is making damn sure you develop a Pavlovian desire to gouge your eyes out every time you see one.

WG: Cue Read Head Walking, by Beat Happening.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

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

As Downton Abbey kicks off its final season, the first episode finds Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes fretting over their approaching nuptials with Mrs. Patmore as their go-between while Lady Mary faces a ghost from her sexual past. The family Bates awaits their fate regarding the untimely but deserved demise of the odious Mr. Green. The fate of the noble class appears to be endangered as a neighboring estate is being sold to a moneyed commoner and its belongings are auctioned. 

Old Man Duggan: It's 1925, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. We open on a fox hunt, and in a sly nod to the past Lady Mary gets all muddied up whilst jumping the brook, no doubt an Interwar euphemism of some sort. Where first it both shrewdly and lewdly portended an escapade of the anal variety with the Kemal Pamuk, the circle is closed with her forays into the arena of premarital sex coming back to potentially bite her in that murderous ass. Of course, now Lady Mary can not only ride her horse astride--the sexual undertones not lost on this dirty mind--but she can vote and perform the job previously reserved for a man. While the riding astride query from Lord Grantham serves as the quick feminism status check for the show, true to form it doesn't take Robert long to move beyond his regressive inclinations and embrace the fact that his daughter is not entirely encumbered on account of her inward-oriented genitalia.

Can we presume that George begging to lick the bowl is a harbinger of what's to come for the moneyed nobility? The next generation of gentryfolk will be reduced to begging for uncooked table scraps before mistaking the devious underbutler for a horse. Of course this all occurs while the old proles slave away, still chained to the ten-square-foot patch of tiled floor in the bowels of a building from whence they're allowed to leave only long enough to get them enough vitamin D to ward off the rickets.

Wordy Ginters: I'm more comfortable with Li'l Georgie's bowl licking foreshadowing a crumbling class structure than I am in reading into what his incessant horsey back riding on Thomas might mean in Fellowes's ghoulish hands.

OMD: There's little chance Thomas isn't implicated in something untoward with those children. It's not like Fellowes hasn't taken a mostly Old World route in making the only gay character in the principle cast the underhanded villain. Fellowes surely sets head to pillow every night and with the last pre-slumber, quasi-subconscious thought slipping through being, "But Thomas is a gay. I can't let him be too human."

Where Lady Mary's concerns are turned to sex of the premarital variety, Mrs. Hughes's are turned to the marital. So late to get on the horse that she entrusts Mrs. Patmore to serve as her sexual consigliere in a sitdown with Mr. Carson. My first thought was that there may not be a person less suited for such a task amongst the servants, but the pickings are so slim as to have only Anna as a more desirable prenuptial dotter of 'i's and crosser of 't's than Patmore, and she's got her B-story plate full with the still quite dead Mr. Green and the prospect of an uncooperative womb. Clearly the poor dolt Daisy cannot be trusted to handle any situation that doesn't arise within the confines of a kitchen. That leaves Baxter, who is simply too busy planning the next time in which her foot will furtively brush against Molesley's under the table. Patmore it is.

WG: If Patmore is the right answer, what the fuck is the question?

OMD: Who best to fashion a dildo from a gourd?

WG: Both Carson and Hughes are so sexually cloistered, you know regressive kink is on the horizon once they become the least bit comfortable with the missionary position. How many episodes until Hughes is asking Patmore to ask Carson if he wants to wear a diaper and a bonnet and to drink from a bottle? I was glad Carson committed to a full red-blooded marriage and all of the carnal goodness that implies. On the same hand, exploring the sexual tension of two repressed 60-year-olds did strike me as perfect fodder for the PBS crowd.

OMD: The tote holders clutch their Mr. Selfridge bags close to their chest, upper lips trembling and dowsed with sweat.

I, for one, am shocked that Patmore's first conversation with Carson wasn't completely disastrous. Sure, it was as awkward a conversation--what the hell does "Do you expect to share your way of life?" even mean?--but there were so many different ways in which this conversation could have been singly responsible for the fall of the British Empire, that it was a relief to have come out on the other side without shrapnel embedded in every person from Ripon to Thirsk. Patmore downs Carson's proffered port and retreats with no one maimed.

WG: The idea of Patmore and Carson talking sex was so batshit crazy it made for a strangely tense scene. It wasn't Christoph Waltz turning the crank in a Tarantino movie, but I quivered like a bunny just the same. It was sweet release when the convoluted three-cushion bank shot that Patmore set up finally hit the pocket, and that flicker of understanding dawned across Carson's face.

OMD: The sheer prospect of having been indelicate would surely result in soiled drawers for our dear Mr. Carson.

"I'm completely whacked. Don't tell your mother." Can this mean Robert is unwell, or is this just an existential malaise set upon all of the marginal Lords of the Interwar Period?

WG: I think it means he's just finished masturbating.

OMD: Is Rita Bevan the most Fellowesian of all of the wretched rogues who have slithered through the halls of Downton? He barging through the halls with little concern for manners makes me long for a different time. The time I'm wishing for, of course, would have seen Bevan's head on a pike.

WG: Reminded me of a shittier Sarah Bunting. I kind of admired her ballsy contempt for normal boundaries.

OMD: That was the single quality of Miss Bevan's that was anything less than loathsome. And Mary still told her that just because the worker bees would have their day, didn't mean that she would.

With news of the killer of The Rapey Mister Green coming forward, Officer Krupke--er, Sergeant Willis stated that "she saw(r) him standing there," which hilariously repainted Tiffany's gender-reversed Beatles cover "I Saw Him Standing There" in my head. I thought of young Tiffany pushing rapists into oncoming traffic and a smile swept across my face. Of course, that led me down the path to tracking down the song, listening to something that I had remembered rather differently, vomiting, reading the lyrics to find that the link between Willis's description and the Tiffany tune ended at its title, and regretting that the connection was ever made. Then I came back to a time-traveling Tiffany shoving rapists under the wheels of trolleys and lorries across Interwar Britain and reconciled the conflicting emotions with a smile. I will not listen to that song again, though. Never again.

WG: Christ. That sounds like some kind of hellish Lakota vision quest. Or maybe the time Erlich went off to the desert with a bag of mushrooms trying to come up with a better name than Pied Piper on Silicon Valley. What other gender-reversed song covers would you like to see? How about Joanna Newsom covering the Rupert Holmes classic "Him," or more precisely "Her" for our purposes?

OMD: Maybe Linda Ronstadt doing Nick Cave's incarnation of "Stagger Lee."

While I'd be more than happy to see Hughes and Carson marry, a big part of me wants him to only call her Mrs. Hughes while engaging in sexagenarian humping. It'd be a shame for him to lose his grip on tradition while in the throes of passion.

WG: Mrs. Hughes, beg your pardon, I'm going to cum.

OMD: Carson and Patmore's second conversation was sweet. While Carson's love for Elsie--start swishing it around in your mouth for taste, Carson--was touching, the real person to feel for here was Patmore, whose closest brush with love was with that boorish milkman (or whatever the fuck he was) who was groping everyone in sight at the fair when Mrs. Patmore's attentions were turned elsewhere. To be closing in on present-day retirement age without being able to say you've loved another while giving your life to the service of a family who knows little about you past your surname and your dead nephew Archie is really quite sad.

WG: I had the same feeling. Patmore recognizing the loneliness inside herself, perhaps highlighted and revealed by Carson's earnest love for Hughes, made for a sweet and sour scene.

OMD: Since it happened, we probably have to talk about Denker's shit-stirring amongst the servant-class at Grantham House and Downton Abbey, but this should not take precedent over the fact that I just learned that Joel Murray long-lost once-identical cousin Mr. Spratt possesses the most excellent first name of all time: Septimus. Septimus Spratt. Holy shit. Judging by his name, he'd be just as likely to be a stodgy, British Transformer hellbent on invading Hogwarts to dispatch of Slytherin House.

WG: The new Defence against the Dark Arts professor is Freddy Rumsen.

OMD: As for Denker, while I expect the show's final scene to be something with Bates and Anna finally finding happiness after more than a dozen years of false hope and interminable misery because Julian Fellowes is a sadist, I'd be just as happy if it was the Dowager Countess hitting Denker over the head with a fucking shovel and gesturing to Spratt--positively beaming with a shit-eating grin--to tend to the mess. Violet turning the table on the conniving Denker was delightful. That Denker is so foul as to make one root for Spratt in every situation speaks to the malodorous air left in her wake in each scene.

WG: Denker and Spratt perfectly represent the dark side of the Dowager's remorselessly privileged soul. Spratt's lips should have their own show. I'd watch 30 minutes of him purring and saying words and phrases like "plum" and "plume" and "droll poltroon."

OMD: If the Bateses cannot, in fact, conceive, there have to be even odds that one of the Crawley girls' predilection toward sexual impropriety will yield another child, right? If not that, then surely Anna will stumble across a child in a basket floating down the very brook through which Lady Mary's sexual dalliances come to bear in a cyclical fashion. Then after raising the child as their own for years, John and Anna Bates will be charged with kidnapping, and their lives will be torn apart once more by a crime that they didn't commit because Fellowes hates when the proles get even a morsel of happiness.

WG: The celebratory champagne flowed. As soon as the needle dropped on that gramophone (admit it, just like me, you were expecting to hear "Close your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)" by Run the Jewels come blasting out of that tin ear horn), I knew that Bates and Anna would be back in the shit soon enough.

OMD: I think everyone assumed it was going to be that.

Lady Edith seems likely to butt heads with William Randolph Hearst, right? He buys a castle in the UK in 1925. I'm guessing she makes an enemy of him and eventually hires Orson Welles to take him down a peg only to have him blow up his own career and never again have final cut.

WG: If it means we see Gerald McRaney on Downton this season, I'm all for it.

OMD: Playing son to his previous father. Let's hope.

Robert's handling of the churlish Miss Bevan was nice. Handed her ass to her without dirtying his hands much.

WG: Yosting. I didn't think he had the skills to pull a move like that. And I'm a little skeptical that little bulldog Bevan would be satisfied with a paltry 50 pounds.

OMD: That or jail time? She'd never be able to handle the rigors of the laps 'round the courtyard.

With the demise of Mallerton Hall and the impending doom about to descend upon the United Kingdom on the whole, the future of Downton Abbey would certainly seem to be less than bright. Can we expect Carson to be wandering the halls in tatters, wits left a decade in the past, muttering to himself about servants long since kicked to the curb to fend for themselves as typists and sock-darners on High Street? The future sure seems like it's writ large across this episode.

WG: Fucking Nazis.

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.

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