Monday, January 26, 2015

Dishing on Downton!

RHYS BOWEN: My friends and family know not to call me on Sunday evenings during January. That is because I'll be watching Downton Abbey, of course. I've never actually watched any soap opera in my life (except for the odd episode of Days of our Lives when I was visiting my parents) but I have to confess that I find Downton completely addictive.  When I analyze the ;plot I can see that it's over-the-top and full of holes. The bad characters are so evil, the good so noble. Poor Anna and Edith. They endure one bout of suffering after another, rather like the suffering women in Telenovelas in Central and South America.

And yet I am hooked. I have to keep watching. Will Edith ever find out what happened to Michael? Will Bates be accused of pushing Green under a bus? Will Mary find happiness and with whom? Will Thomas ever become sweet and lovable and abandon his evil ways? (And is he on drugs or trying to cure himself of his homosexuality?)

When I had a personal blog a couple of years ago we used to dish on Downton every Monday morning and a couple of thousand people joined in the dishing. They were the most popular posts ever on my blog. Everyone had an opinion. Everyone cared!

So I'm wondering, Reds, are you addicted to Downton? And why do you think we find it so fascinating? Is it because we are fascinated by lives in such a different time and place? Or are the story lines so emotionally compelling? Has Julian Fellowes raised the emotional bar so high by killing off two favorite characters that we cannot be sure of the safety of anyone?

So let's hear what you think? Who do you think Mary should marry? Please not Charles Blake! What should Edith do about little Marigold? (If I were her I'd buy a little cottage and hire a nanny for her daughter and go to visit her when I wanted). And if I were Bates I wouldn't come across as so guilty. I'd say "Yes, that man annoyed me the one time I saw him, but I don't run around killing everyone who doesn't behave as I would. More offence and less defense). And poor Anna--will she finally have to reveal the rape?
And does everyone else loathe Miss Bunting. She's just plain rude and if she cared about Tom she wouldn't embarrass him.

And who absolutely does not like Downton?  Even if you don't,you have to watch this wonderful Downton Christmas spoof..

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Oh. SO much to say. But briefly: Gillingham, no. Creepy.  Marigold? PROBLEM.  Bates? Boring. And still I am beyond hooked. Miss Bunting? Predictable. I'd love to have Mary swept off her feet--that'd be fun, right? And Edith;s what's-his=name  should come home and they get Marigold. And change her name.  (Hmm. But that wouldn't work, would it?)

HALLIE EPHRON: First, yes, I love Downton. And I will be watching.

Isn't Edith's lover (whats-his-name) dead, and didn't she inherit a newspaper that she's supposed to be running? Or is that a plot in MY head? And she's gotten so pathetically needy after having a nice spurt stiffening backbone.

I am tired of he Bates/Green murder story. And of course someone's going to find  that missing diaphragm(?) Mary asked Anna to get rid of for her ("No one looks there..." Yeah, right.) Mary and Gillingham? Obviously not. But that other guy that's sniffing around doesn't seem right, either. We'll surely find out why Thomas nipped off to see his "dying father"-- poor conflicted soul.

I think thematically everyone is going to marry UP or DOWN. Because how many times can you get hit in the head with that theme? So that means Mary might marry Branson (even if there's no chemistry, at least he appreciates her smarts). And Isobel's got to end up with Sir Whatshisface.

And of course, someone's got to die...

DEBORAH CROMBIE:  I swore off Downton after Season 2, and didn't watch but a few episodes of 3 and 4. But I have found myself strangely hooked again--really against my will! I love the music, and the setting, and the clothes! Although the plot is over the top, and I think Rhys is right--the plot lines are suitable for a Telenovela... I like Branson better than any of them, Upstairs or Down... and don't understand why he doesn't just bugger off to America:-) Maybe someone will murder Miss Bunting???? (She certainly deserves it!)

RHYS: So did you like the ways things were going last night? I think Isobel should marry Lord Whatsit. He's nice AND he's rich. What more does she want? AND she could be superior to Violet.

And in case you want a good laugh, take a look at the Downton Christmas spoof! it's priceless.
And all our friends in the path of the blizzard, stay safe and warm!


  1. There's really nothing like a good soap opera . . .
    Edith has become annoyingly needy; of course Bates will end up getting accused. Generally speaking, no one ever finds true happiness on a soap opera, so I'm guessing Mary's doomed in that regard. It seems doubtful that Thomas will reform any time soon and loathing Miss Bunting is so much fun . . . .

  2. I watch and then I end up annoyed with myself because some stupid plot point or a character's wrongheaded decision is sure to gnaw at me for hours afterward. I gave up on The Good Wife for the same reason. Why is Lord Grantham so jealous of his poor, long-suffering wife? Why on earth did Alicia let herself be talked into running for office? Thank goodness I won't be tempted by either show next Sunday. Go, Pats!

  3. She should DEFINITELY marry Lord Merton. And ah HA, we always knew Charles Blake was the one. (Didn't we?)

    I am annoyed with pitiful Edith. And who thought of the name Marigold, anyway?

    I did like the fashion show. ANd Hallie's idea that someone dies. (Only on a mystery blog could you say something like that, right?)

    It does show you the difficulty of writing a series, right? At some point, it gets repetitive or absurd. Makes me idolize Rhys and Debs and Julia and Susan (and Sue Grafton and the lot) even more!

    Roberta/Lucy is on book--six, is that it? And I am thinking of five--VERY challenging!

  4. I love Downton. It's so melodramatic, but that's what a good soap opera should be.

    I suspect it will be another season before we see the return of Edith's (what-his-name). I don't think he is really dead. Too much talk of the brown shirts for his story not to tie into theirs somehow.

    I suspect we will find out who killed Mr. Green - and I DON'T think it was Bates. Just saying. If you think about it, you will probably begin to suspect the same person as I do.

    I am not loving the Russian storyline yet, except that it gives the great Maggie Smith something to do.

    I don't mind Mary and Gillingham, but they won't end up together. Someone will come out of the woodwork I suspect.

    And who else things that man is there to do more than just "look" at those paintings. Poor Cora is going to be upset if he steals them.

    I think I read too many mysteries - everyone is suspect to me, it seems.

  5. I think this group should take ove the plotting. STEALS THE PAINTINGS?! Brilliant. I think Mrs. Patmore killed Green. With the rolling pin in the pantry.

    (I enjoyed Daisy's spunk.)

  6. If this group takes over the plotting, I will watch. I haven't so far.

  7. Have never watched an episode of Downton Abbey. Probably never will. I already know my patience is thin on several of the points you've talked about, so why bother?

    The hubby and I did binge on period movies over the weekend, though. Pride & Prejudice (with Colin Firth, natch), Sense & Sensibility (with Emma Thompson), a new-ish Jane Eyre (Mia Wasilkowska and, oh drat, forgot his name but he was Magneto in X-Men First Class). The clothes. And the houses! Oh my - that house they used for the exterior of Pemberly (Lyme Park) was so die for!

    We watched the first episode of Grantchester from the DVR, too. Sweet - and the vicar is pretty hot. What we're really hooked on right now, though, is Agent Carter and Gotham.

  8. Miss Bunting is as annoying as all get-out, but I wonder why a forward-thinking woman has to be presented in such a disagreeable manner? I was on Lord Grantham's side at the dinner, and I usually want to smack him upside the head. Why is Fellowes writing her as such a shrew?

    I think Thomas is doing some kind of chemical castration thing, or he is a heroin addict. (The spoon? Giveaway.)

    We've already seen this Mr. Bates storyline and it got tedious the first time. There are two opportunities here: Have Bates be outraged at the attitude of once a convict, always a convict. Second, show Anna can't ignore the emotional impact of being raped, just to keep her husband out of trouble. The local constable or whatever he is seems like a dimwit, which Fellowes did before in Gosford Park, with Stephen Fry. Or maybe he's crazy like a fox?

    What I'd really like to see is Anna put in the position of having to choose between her loyalty to Lady Mary and her love for Mr. Bates. Maybe that's where the secret cervical cap will come in.

    I'm being so critical, but I'm heads over heels for this whole mess!

  9. PS - What Hank said about the name Marigold. We've got Daisy, Rose, and Violet, too. Enough with the flower names!

  10. I've confessed to Reds before about being a Downton escapee. My eyes rolled so severely near the start of season 4 I nearly dislocated them, and I quit cold turkey.

    Frankly, my dears, listening to what's going on this season, I see I have chosen wisely. Bates accused of murder AGAIN?? The appalling Edith ruining her life with her execrable taste in men AGAIN??

    And I'll bet Thomas is still fooling everyone and wouldn't be surprised if Lord G has managed to go through yet another fortune.

    (Though I admit I miss Violet and Daisy. Oooo, coincidence?)

  11. Ooh, Agent Carter is my new guilty pleasure! And Grantchester! Delicious.

    For me, Downton is all about the clothes, and the glorious settings, and the pretty people. Cora drives me batty; I can't tell if it's Elizabeth McGovern's acting or whether Cora is meant to be that vapid.

    And how confusing are the actors for Blake and Gillingham? They look so much alike! What were the producers thinking? Mary's interchangeable boys, seriously. Although, after last night's episode I think I will be able to keep them straight. Gillingham was just scary.

    Hank, I actually like the name Marigold. But we also almost named our daughter Trillium, so there's that.

  12. Totally hooked, but liking this year less and less.

    Tony is a bore, Charles Blake has gone downhill, Miss Bunting is a bitch, Anna deserves better (as does Baxter), and Tom Branson is suddenly developing existential angst when he used to be so confident.

    I wish it would come out how Barrow got out of the trenches, and why the underbutler does no work at all. Daisy should leave for the farm and open up a shop selling jams and jellies that winds up with a royal warrant, and with her products being sold at Selfridge's, and then Branson should marry her.

    And Edith should move to Rosalind's, take over running the paper, turn into a crusading anti-Nazi feminist, and send for her child (Rosalind can play at being a granny; it'll give her life some purpose.) And she should make the class order clear, in no uncertain terms, to Margie Drewes.

    And Cora should spit in Robert's eye the next time he disses her.

    Isabel should marry Lord Whosis and invite Violet to live with them and the next season should be about THEM.

  13. I think Mary is going to actually wind up marrying Tony Gillingham because that will be the price of somehow covering up the fact that Bates took care of Green.

    Tony will be upset when he learns Green raped Anna (despite what everyone says, I think Tony is a good guy) but it will be in Green's death that he finds some leverage over Mary.

    Mary owes Anna big time, and I think we'll actually see her doing something for someone else's benefit (Bates and Anna) by marrying Tony so the Green murder investigation somehow goes away.

    Branson will move to America soon, I think. The theme this season is change, and that fits.

    I shudder to think about what is going on with Thomas.

  14. Yes. Gillingham was scary. He won't let it happen!!?? Is he going to try to blackmail Mary into marriage?
    And I think after they saw Anna in Piccadilly, they have turned their suspicions to her. And if they find out about the rape....
    Bunting is rude and crude and Tom is WAY too good for her. To act that way as an invited guest. And after Tom SPECIFICALLY asked her not to....
    I've always thought Michael was a secret Nazi. Or maybe a British spy pretending to be a Nazi.
    I agree that Edith should get a little house and Nanny and stash her daughter there. If it's not too late.
    Wouldn't it be something if Isabel married Lord Merton? I think that's why Violet had her party last week, with the Dr. and the Lady, trying to turn Lord M away from Isabel.
    I think it would be something if the art expert was a thief. But Cora flirting with him has a lot to do with Robert. Everytime she expresses an interest in the estate he brushes her off. And after she specifically told him how much she missed being in charge of the hospital and having something to do.
    I think this is long enough. :)

  15. Okay it's settled. We at Jungle Reds will definitely take over the writing.
    It will have more sensible plot lines and fewer holes and be less melodramatic.

  16. I watched avidly seasons one through four. For some reason, I'm not caring about season five enough to watch. Maybe I'm burned out on angst and I just want them to happy and leave them alone. I love reading historical mysteries in that era though. :)

    I did watch Grantchester last night after viewing episode one on demand. I usually have no patience for filmed mysteries (other than Sherlock). But this, I really liked and the 50s time frame was refreshing. And the vicar isn't bad looking either.

  17. He's a CON artist who STEALS the paintings??? I LOVE it! BRILLIANT>

  18. Gillingham blackmails her?LOVE> Yes, I SO agree..we are TAKING this over.

    And we will have Miss Bunting see the error of her approach. I so agree, Ramona, why make her unpleasant?

  19. Trying to skim to avoid spoilers (my husband loves binge watching, so we wait until the entire season is on DVD), but wanted to tell all you Downton fans about The Grand Hotel, a sort of Spanish version of Downtown- maybe a little soapier, but well acted and directed - I am addicted!

  20. I have never liked Lady Mary, and this season she's worse than ever. The way she's using poor Anna, who has had a hard enough life. And her comment when "Lady Edith set her room on fire." No one should have to marry and live with Lady Mary.

  21. Yes, REDS write Downton! I love it! We all have great ideas. And of course there would be more murders in it--but Bates would NOT be the killer!

    But I am loving Richard E. Grant (a long time favorite) as the dodgy art expert, and I definitely think he's after something more than Cora's "favors."

  22. You are ALL brilliant!
    Forget re-writing Downton.
    Get busy on one of your (collective) own! It will be a smash hit! Mystery! Fashion! Angst! Drama! Humor! Tongue-in-cheek!
    I'll watch.
    But you can keep the opening with the rear view of a dog. That is TOO ironic to skip.

  23. I doubt Lady Mary wants to marry Gillingham. He has a temper.

    That Bunting will not be invited again. I think Tom will meet someone better.

    I think Thomas is a drug addict. The syringe is evident of drug use Or he has a condition - diabetes? Leukemia ? Low blood count? That requires syringe use. Chemical castration is another possibility.

    I think Lord Grantham fears that Cora will bolt with the art dealer. He was clear when he said in London "I came to take you out to dinner and you were already out. Cora apologized. Still, I think Cora is clueless to her husband's feelings. He still loves his wife.

    Moseley has more work now instead of having nothing to do.

    The idea about Lady Edith living in a cottage with Marigold and the nanny sounds like a good idea though the question is "can she afford it?"

    Hope things will improve for Anna and Bates.

    Did anyone notice there are two actors playing Shrimpie?

    Will Mrs. Patmore write to the War Office.

    These plot twists are interesting.

  24. Dear Reds, I know just how you all feel! But I am that way about Blue Bloods with Tom Selleck! I could watch that family all day long - and swear to God I did one day last week... did not nothing else - ate my lunch in front of the TV! Well, that's what a good soap opera does!!!! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  25. Oh, yes, I am definitely a Downton Abbey addict, Rhys. It's like playing dress-up when a child, watching the fancy costumes and dinners, having tea with treats (although there seems to be more liquor than tea this season).

    Hallie, you expressed my feelings exactly about Edith, from showing backbone to needy and weepy. I do believe that Michael will show up again. I agree with Ellen that Edith should move in with Rosalind and run the newspaper. So much better than crying all the time. It would be great if she could take her daughter with her. It's definitely not working with her leering at the family and trying to gain access to their home.

    Mary. I actually like her better this season, but she seems to have gotten herself into a messy situation with Gillingham. I certainly didn't like the side of him I saw last night. I'd hate to see Mary forced into a marriage she didn't want, but Tony may have lots of leverage he can and might use over her. I know it probably wouldn't work, but I kind of would like to see Mary and Tom together.

    I've really grown tired of the Bates situation with Mr. Green's death. Just settle it. Please! I like Anna and hate to see her having to cover up for everyone else. I think it was wrong of Mary to ask her to take the birth control device. Why didn't she just burn it in the fireplace? Is she planning on needing it more?

    Miss Bunting gets on my nerves every time she comes to dinner. I can see why Robert doesn't want her at the table. She's deliberately rude, having no consideration for Tom's feelings for his new family, even after he asked her to. I'm disappointed, too, that a forward thinking woman has to be presented as such an irritant.

    Cora, I think, is in for an unpleasant surprise with her admirer. I'm with those who think he's after more than her affections. To me, Cora teeters between compassionate and vacuous.

    And, what is going on with Thomas. Heroin or heterosexual potion? I actually have developed sympathy for him and would like to see him have a relationship with someone who fits his natural urges.

    A link I'd like to share with you all is that of Louis Bayard, who does a quirky, witty review of Downton Abbey each week. This week's review is at

  26. How much do I love Tom & Lorenzo? Read their latest here:

    Not as snarky as usual, but pretty much on target.

  27. Regarding the death of Green, I think Tony Gillngham pushed him into traffic, to revenge his beloved's dear maid. After all, the guy was killed just a short distance from his home. He may use this for leverage to entice/ force Mary to marry him, to protect the Bates.

    I would like to see Tom and Mary marry, although it is highly unlikely. They are very fond of each other and have become allies in preserving Downton, and their children are as close as siblings. It would be a natural. I think Lord & Lady G would be thrilled.

    Miss Bunting may be very intelligent, but she isn't very smart. She gains nothing by alienating the Granthams and her rudeness and bad manners make her strong opinions intolerable. I do like it that Daisy has blossomed under her instruction though, and can easily see Daisy eventually taking on the farm and prospering.

    Edith ought to man up and admit to Marigold's parentage and bring that child home to live with her family. Lord & Lady G love Edith and would support her. Telling the truth takes away the power of the threat of discovery, and restores her courage and strength.

    Rose and Violet will work with Shrimpie (love that name) to find Prince G's wife in Shanghai or Hong Kong and reunite them. Violet, for all her posturing, always does the right thing, and will do anything for those she loves.

    I have no sympathy for Barrow. He deserves whatever evil he brings into his own life.

    Whoever would have guessed Mosely was 51? Time for him to put the spurs to his own life and ambition.

    The clothes in Episode 4 were TO DIE FOR. And did you notice what great posture Mary has ... she is so upright.

    I did particularly like Anna's comment to Mary in Episode 3 about having to explain herself to purchase the diaphragm -- to the effect that what if she was an overworked mother of 8, shouldn't she have the right to decide enough was enough?

    If Cora had been home when Lord G surprised her in London (so close to their anniversary date), do you think romance would have ensued? I think she is being emotionally lazy and intentionally naive with the art historian. Sometimes it feels good to be flattered.

    I do like it that Rose has acquired some backbone, is doing something worthwhile, is sticking up for herself and bonding with Shrimpie.

    For the emotionally distant and reserved Mr. Carson to say (more than once) that he does not like having conflict with Mrs. Hughes was very sweet. He wants to live in harmony with her.

    And I'm glad they decided to put the memorial in the town; I think Daisy's forthcoming letter on behalf of Mrs. Patmore's nephew will be a good thing.

  28. I love Downton, and even more the new plot lines explored here. The possibilities are endless, especially with opening of opportunities for women.
    Meanwhile, fun watching the spirals of plot threads . . .

  29. I must confess to being a Downton Abbey deserter. My husband and I loved it for three seasons, but it turned into such a telenovela. Still, reading this post and all these comments makes me tempted to pick it up again, even though I know I'll be disappointed. Bates suspected of murder. Again? Edith back to weepy and stupidly helpless? Again? Mary sneaking around with Anna's help and perhaps being forced into marriage by a man who finds out? Again?

    I second the idea that the Reds and their backbloggers should write it from now on. We can have Miss Bunting murdered and Mary suspected while Tom comes to her rescue (or vice versa). We can have Cora stand up for herself to Robert and make him face all his errors that have hurt everyone else so much more. We should have Edith claim her daughter and move in with Rosalind and run the paper with a strong anti-Nazi slant, and Nazi spies can kidnap Marigold to force her to stop with all the women, upstairs and down, setting their quarrels aside and combining to track them and save the little girl.(This would make up in part for JF's making Miss Bunten, the enlightened woman, a shrew.) The art expert could be an art thief, and Cora and Violet could foil and capture him, to Robert's dismay.

  30. Linda, fabulous ideas!!!

    Wonder if JF would like a new writing staff???

  31. I'm actually enjoying this season of Downton more than the past two, even though every character but Daisy seems to be reverting. I liked Miss Bunting at first, but her rudeness has become intolerable. Miss Baxter, the maid, though, is wonderful. Such an interesting addition to the manor.

    Count me in for thinking the Reds should take over the series. I've always said Carson and Mrs. Hughes should tour the grand homes of England solving crimes.

  32. You're forgetting that Julian Fellowes likes to repeat storylines, but change the endings. He's done it several times…so that's the theory We're applying to the various stories in S5, but We'll say no more. ^^ Twitter: @L_MarysEyebrows

  33. I've watched the whole thing, and I won't go away as long as Lady Mary and her Granny are around! I love them! (and no - not Tony - ewww) And Granny Violet told Edith to stop whining years ago, and I have no sympathy left for her. That little girl should have been left with the nice Swiss family, and isn't Edith supposed to be running a newspaper?!

  34. I'm late to this conversation because I hadn't seen Sunday's episode yet. Poor Thomas -- he's one of the most compelling characters for me. I get the sense that he's not reeeeallly evil, just incredibly unhappy.

    Boo to Miss Bunting!

    I love Daisy's transformation.

    Edith ... Nope, not liking her so mopey. Something needs to happen there, some new change. I'm glad they brought up Michael again -- I'm hoping that storyline comes back.

    The thing I love about Downton are all the various threads -- I don't quite know which one Fellowes is going to dig into.

    Something big is going to happen this season though -- I'm keeping that faith.

    Karen in Ohio, I LOVE Sundays even more with Grantchester in the lineup!

  35. I'm enjoying everyone's recap, and like some of the new story lines....the Russian dude looks wayyy too young for Maggie Smith; of course Mathew's mum should marry the rich guy who loves her; I appreciate Thomas's complex character - loathe him for blackmailing, love him for saving the day the night of the fire and for his love for Jimmy. But the best part of Downton this year? The casual use of the slang, "golly." I find myself saying golly quite a bit now and it always makes me smile. Which would you rather hear these days? "S**t!" or "This sucks!" or "Golly!" Call me old fashioned, but I fancy golly. :0)

  36. I love Downton Abbey; however, it seems at times there are now too many characters to keep up with and some story lines have gone on too long such as Mr Greene and then there's Ms Bunting. And what's with all of the "B" names: Barrow, Bates, Branson, Blake, Bunting, and Baxter!

    Cora can be so simpering and coy. Even Lord Grantham is getting irritated with her. I'm wondering if he and Ms Bunting might run into each other, get into an argument, one thing could lead to another in the heat of the moment and passion could ensue. Where else are they going with their line of animosity? Remember, he was drawn to the new maid earlier on and they got a little too close.

    On the Pro side, Violet is still a bright spot, the sweet proposal of Lord Merton to Isobel Crawley was lovely and I hope she accepts, and hopefully, Carson and Mrs. Hughes will eventually marry if and when they get to the part when servants started going out into the world to work when the large manor homes could no longer be run because of a lack of money. DA on PBS still beats anything else on the networks for me.