Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Downton Abbey Episode 4 on PBS/Masterpiece-Season 1 Finale

Lord Grantham and his Rolls Royce

How sad that this lovely series is over for the year.  My goodness this was an event packed episode.  I loved it but will try not to spoil it for those who have yet to see the entire series.  We have been assured that Season 2 is in the works, but  a year is a long time to wait.  Apparently, according to Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley), Season 2 picks up two years after the start of WWI in 1916, so we can expect a lot to have happened in those two years, and a bit of a rollercoaster ride to catch us up.

Shall we guess what happens to everyone?

Destiny awaits these two...eventually!
Matthew and Mary have to end up together due to the rules of Period Drama romances, which state that if two lead characters (of similar age and usually opposite sex) hate each other vehemently, it is only a matter of time until they fall madly in love, then are thwarted in some way, and then eventually wind up together, usually after surmounting a ludicrous number of obstacles!

Someone will have to die in the war and many will have signed up by the time we rejoin them.  I can only wish that it is Thomas who is killed, but more likely it is poor William.  I hope Daisy weeps for him! My husband (The Squire) suggested that Matthew might get killed in the war and my immediate reaction was "They won't need lawyers in the war!".  I know, what a ludicrous thing to say.  Instead, I should have referred him to rule #1 of Period Drama romances above.  He will probably volunteer (I guess he would be an officer) and Mary may think he has been killed in the war, as one of those numerous obstacles, but he has to fulfill his destiny as the next Earl and Mary's devoted husband.

At least we know Bates won't pass the physical and so will have to stay at home.  Anna and Bates' stories will definitely heat up.  His wife will probably have to come out from hiding to make this storyline sing.

I think Lady Sybil will probably end up as a Nurse at the front, much to her father's chagrin.  She'll probably end up having to deal with Thomas (Mr. Medic) and his nastiness at some point.  And what about our cute little Irish socialist Branson.  Will the puppy dog follow Lady Sybil to the trenches?

The cat fighting will continue...

I don't give a flying leap what happens to Lady Edith!  So there!

I am happy that O'Brien's character has been rehabilitated and is now human.  I hope she doesn't go back to her old conniving ways.  I know, there is no chance she'll stay good for long!

I do wonder what Matthew's mother Isobel will do with her endless energy and extensive medical knowledge during the war.  Train nurses? Rehab soldiers at home?

Lord Grantham will obviously stay at home, but will he feel guilty about not contributing?  Will Cora fund raise and roll bandages in the village to be sent to the front?

The Dowager Countess will keep meddling and whipping off wonderful lines.

We adore you Dame Maggie!

Line of the evening from the Dowager Countess (aka Dame Maggie Smith);

"We can't have him assassinated...I suppose..."

Well, I look forward to watching the continuation of this Edwardian soap opera.  I feel like I did when I used to watch "The Young and the Restless" when on maternity leave.  Guilty but addicted.  Oh, well...

N.B. As a note for anyone interested in Mrs. Patmore's cataract surgery.  Although it is true that large centres like London were doing this surgery, she would not have returned to the kitchen without glasses.  In those days, they didn't do intraocular lens implants like they do today.  She would have had strong glasses to compensate for the focusing power of the cloudy lens removed from the eye.  Think Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys.  If they need an optical historian for future episodes, I would love to volunteer!
Spectacles after cataract surgery would have likely been even more magnifying than these!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spooks(MI5) and Period Drama -A Spooky Link?

Spies always have secrets
The British spy show Spooks (known in North America as MI5) is a very modern, edgy and absolutely gripping television show.  It doesn't seem at first to have anything to do with Period Drama.  However, these spies who run around with guns fighting terrorism and keeping Britain safe from high level criminal activity all have a secret.  They have all (or almost all) been previously seen in some of my favorite Period Dramas. I hear you scoffing in disbelief at this absurd assertion.  Spies in crinolines and top hats? Pshaw!

Richard Armitage as spy Lucas North  in a black T-shirt

Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton, in black suit and cravat
The sexiest spy of them all, Lucas North (actor Richard Armitage) not surprisingly stars as the sexy Mr. Thornton in the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's  North and South.  It doesn't seem to matter whether this man is in a T-shirt and jeans, or a Victorian black suit, he can rock it. He also played Guy of Gisborne in the Robin Hood TV series.

Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Quinn, Spook

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy, gentleman

Fans will also recognize Tom Quinn (actor Matthew Macfadyen) as the very attractive Mr. Darcy from the recent film adaptation of  Pride and Prejudice.  He also played Arthur Clenham in Dickens' Little Dorrit and Sir Felix Carbury in The Way We Live Now (I loved him in this one!).  Actually, he was also in Wuthering Heights, Robin Hood, The Pillars of the Earth, and will soon be seen in Any Human Heart and The Three Musketeers. This man is king of the Period Drama!

Hermione Norris as Ros Myers, scary kick ass spy

Hermione Norris as Victoria St. John, scary Edwardian lady
Ros Myers can run with a gun in tight leather jacket and jeans and then take down a terrorist without even breaking a sweat.  Played by actress Hermione Norris, she is one woman you really don't want to mess with.  Perhaps the casting agents saw her first as Victoria St. John in Berkeley Square, the Edwardian miniseries about three nannys, their employers and their little charges.  Norris plays the scariest of these employers who eventually shows her softer side, but just barely. (Thanks for the photo of Norris in Berkeley Square to Enchanted Serenity of Period Films and Fine Eyes/Nursery Rhymes Gallery).

Rupert Penry Jones as cutie spy Adam Carter in Spooks

Rupert Penry Jones as Captain Wentworth in Persuasion

Rupert Penry Jones plays the serious but adorable Adam Carter in Spooks.  He has a weakness for pretty girls, which gets him into trouble, but we can forgive that face. As Captain Wentworth in the ITV adaptation of Persuasion he puts his seriously cute face to work as one of Jane Austen's best beloved male leads.  He has done a few other Period Dramas (Jane Eyre, Casanova and The Four Feathers) but after perusing his IMDb page, I want to seek out a bit part he had in AbFab as "Boy at Party" The End, 1995.  Anyone seen him with Edina and Patsy?

Keeley Hawes as funny but sharp spy Zoe Reynolds

Keeley Hawes as Lady Agnes Holland in BBC's new Upstairs, Downstairs
Keeley Hawes played the adorable and often funny Zoe Reynolds for three seasons of Spooks.  She was wonderful as the flighty but affectionate Cynthia Kirkpatrick in Wives and Daughters, one of my favorites. She was also in Under the Greenwood Tree, Tipping the Velvet, Our Mutual Friend and is now starring as Lady Agnes Holland in the new BBC Upstairs Downstairs which will be airing this spring on PBS/Masterpiece.

Peter Firth as spy boss Harry Pearce

Peter Firth looking pretty goofy as Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey

Head spy Harry Pearse (actor Peter Firth-no relation to Colin!) when he was much younger and apparently had a bad 1980's perm, starred in a particularly campy adaptation of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey 1986. He will also appear in "South Riding", an adaptation by Andrew Davies of Winifred Holtby's novel on PBS/Masterpiece later this year.

I will leave you with a You Tube video of Peter Firth's hilarious portrayal of Henry Tilney, blond perm and all, singing no less (accompanied by flute and harp)!

Click here to see Peter Firth (aka Spooks boss Harry Pearse) sing in Northanger Abbey on You Tube!

P.S. I know I left many actors out so feel free to comment below if  you can remember any others from Spooks who have done Period Drama. Even now I am kicking myself for not including Gemma Jones/Connie James who was the best Mrs. Dashwood imaginable in Sense and Sensibility.  Any others?????

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Downton Abbey Episode 3 on Masterpiece PBS

Matthew and Lady Mary- Will they get together or won't they?
A budding romance is starting to appear between the heir to the estate, Matthew Crawley, and Lady Mary, even after the scathing things that Lady Mary said over the dinner table last week (you remember, "our kind of people" and the Andromeda barb).  Oh, well, at least she seems at bit chastened by last week's crazy events.  She was starting to annoy me with her haughtiness and her bitchiness.  I think I may quite like her after all.  Now, what can we do with that annoying Edith?

Lady Edith, Lady Mary and Lady Sybil, the Crawley sisters of Downton Abbey
Lady Sybil was so cute in her new dress and seems to be really stirring things up with Gwen and now her new friend, Mr. Branson, the chauffeur.  Mrs. Hughs' suitor gave a nice twist to the servant's story line and Molesley's allergic reaction was fodder for more wonderful fireworks between Violet (the Dowager Duchess) and  Isobel (Matthew's feisty mother).  The flower show was rather cute too.  Now if only Thomas and O'Brien would get sacked and the "Mean Girls" Lady Edith and Lady Mary would stop their petty cat-fighting nonsense...well I suppose that would get boring, but still...

I did wonder about Lady Mary and her mother Cora discussing Mary's situation so openly without closing the door.  Doesn't everyone look at the door if one is discussing something that is not common knowledge to see if someone like Lady Edith or a nosy Parker like Thomas or O'Brien might be listening?  I mean they even named names!

Robert Bathurst/Mr. Weston/Sir Anthony Strallen

Did anyone else recognize Sir Anthony Strallen as Robert Bathurst, better known to me as Mr. Weston from the most recent version of Emma 2009 with Romola Garai?  It was bugging me where I had seen him before.

The line of the night had to be,
Mrs. Isobel Crawley: "I will take that as a compliment."   
Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham:  "Then I must have said it wrong!"

Gwen (sweet as sugar) and O'Brien (was she beaten as a child?)
I rather enjoyed the slower pace of tonight's episode after last weeks frenzied storyline.  Stay tuned next Sunday night for the conclusion of season one of Downton Abbey.  It sounds like next January may be the time that Masterpiece airs season two, as the UK gets it in the fall, but when will we get the Christmas episode that the UK gets at, of course, Christmas?  Perhaps Christmas in July?  Or will it be Christmas 2012, which seems a crazy long time away.

By the way, if you want more Downton in your life, go to Masterpiece Classic on PBS and you can read Q and A's with Hugh Bonneville and Dan Stephens (The Earl and the heir), participate in a live chat with Dan (Matthew) tomorrow-(Monday January 24th at 12:30) and even watch full episodes of the show that have already aired-if you live in the US that is.  Canadians are shut out from all video of Downton on the PBS site (as is the rest of the world I presume).  I have already complained to PBS but to no avail.  Something to do with airing rights.  Same reason I can't watch anything on the BBC sites either.  Dangit!

My Downton Abbey DVD is already on order so I can replay this in February at my house!  Now, I think I may have to order all four seasons of The Tudors to get me through the rest of this deep freeze of a winter!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bridget Jones Interviews Colin Firth

Bridget Jones interviews Colin Firth (not Mark Darcy) in the DVD extras
I was reminded of this today when I left a comment on Laurel Ann's Blog Austenprose using the phrase "sporing your own gender".  Also, in this award season, during which we are seeing Colin Firth interviewed so many times, I thought it only fitting to post the original best? worst? (funniest anyway) of them all.  Go Bridget!  When I read this scene in the book "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" I laughed out loud.  Obviously, they couldn't put this scene into the film, as Colin Firth was playing Mark Darcy and so couldn't appear as himself, but in the DVD extras I think that Renee and Colin did full justice to the written word.

I do love that they didn't catch the mistake of her saying Mark Darcy instead of Mr. Darcy and her smelling her hand at the end is just priceless.  Well, I hope you enjoyed that, even though I'm sure most of you have seen that before.  I sure got my laugh for the day.

N.B. Just found out that not only are they planning a sequel to Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones 3?) they are also contemplating a musical adaptation of the franchise starring Sheridan Smith (Cinderella Doe from Larkrise to Candleford) and music by Lily Allen, with the director and choreographer from Billy Elliot (Stephen Daldry and Peter Darling).  The film sequel is slated for 2011 but the musical is not likely to appear until 2012.  Well how about that?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Downton Abbey Episode 2 on MASTERPIECE on PBS

All the presentable servants-poor Daisy's not included!

I love January this year!  Normally, January is a very cold, dreary month in this part of Ontario, Canada (for me anyway) but this year it is Downton Month!  Can PBS arrange their schedule so that next year has something equally amazing to look forward to every Sunday night in January?  I'd say it sounds like a good cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder wouldn't  you?

So, my head is spinning after last night's episode.  Poor Lady Mary, she really did have an exciting time of it last night.  And I must say, I really enjoyed the almost constant looks of consternation on Maggie Smith's face as the Dowager Countess had to deal with Matthew's mother over the hospital issues.  Gwen, the housemaid had me rooting for her and her little typewriter.  I did wonder, however, how she was practicing typing without anyone knowing about it.  And I must say, I am liking Lady Mary and Lady Sybill more and liking Lady Edith much less.  I mean really, throwing herself at Matthew like that...really!  And I thought Lady Mary treated poor Evelyn Napier rather poorly when her head was turned by the Turkish know...whatshisname.  Oh, well, Mr. Napier is in the recurring character category so we can hope to see him again perhaps.

Dame Maggie Smith as the formidable Dowager Countess

If you need help keeping the names and numbers of all the players straight, the list below may help.  I got the info from Wikipedia, but there are major plot spoilers on the Downton Abbey page (think Wiki leaks for Period Drama), so do not go there if you haven't seen the entire series.

Crawley family

Actor Character
Dame Maggie Smith Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham
Hugh Bonneville Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
Elizabeth McGovern Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
Penelope Wilton Mrs Isobel Crawley
Dan Stevens Matthew Crawley
Michelle Dockery Lady Mary Crawley
Laura Carmichael Lady Edith Crawley
Jessica Brown-Findlay Lady Sybil Crawley


Actor Character Position
Jim Carter Charles Carson Butler
Phyllis Logan Mrs Elsie Hughes Housekeeper
Lesley Nicol Mrs Patmore Cook
Brendan Coyle John Bates Lord Grantham's Valet
Siobhan Finneran Sarah O'Brien Lady Grantham's Lady's maid
Rob James-Collier Thomas First Footman
Thomas Howes William Mason Second Footman
Joanne Froggatt Anna Smith Head Housemaid
Rose Leslie Gwen Dawson Housemaid
Sophie McShera Daisy Kitchen/scullery maid
Allen Leech Tom Branson Chauffeur
Andrew Westfield Lynch Groom
Kevin Doyle Molesley Matthew Crawley's Butler and Valet
Christine Lohr Mrs Bird Matthew Crawley's Cook

Recurring characters

David Robb Dr. Clarkson Family Doctor
Robert Bathurst Sir Anthony Strallen Family friend and Lady Edith's romance
Brendan Patricks The Honourable Evelyn Napier A possible husband for Lady Mary
Samantha Bond Lady Rosamond Painswick Lord Grantham's sister
Charlie Cox Duke of Crowborough Family friend and Thomas' lover
Jonathan Coy Mr George Murray Lord Grantham's lawyer
Nicky Henson Mr Charles Grigg Former friend of Carson's

The Earl and Countess of Grantham

In Downton Abbey news, ITV in Britain has commissioned a Downton Christmas special to air after season two in the fall of 2011 finishes.  Yippee!!!  Christmas at Downton.  I can't wait!  Lord only knows when we will get them over here, but if Masterpiece/PBS is smart, it will try for sooner and not later.

And finally, with respect to the Golden Globes, yay to Colin Firth for winning best actor.  I watched the Golden Globes pre-show and the first hour before I switched to Downton Abbey and then back for the final half hour of the GGs.  Heaven forbid he get a Harley Davidson and risk his life!  We need many more years of film making Colin...



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