Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora is written for THIRTEEN by Deborah Gilbert, a British television maven and editor of the E20 Chronicles, a free, weekly Eastenders e-newsletter, and an Eastenders column in the Union Jack Newspaper. Check back for updates.
Counting Down: We are now less than a month out from the premiere of Downton Abbey Season 3 on PBS and anticipation is building! It’s been far too many months since Matthew (finally!) knelt down on bended knee, in the snow – and gravel (ouch!), and proposed to Lady Mary – and the camera pulled back to show the snow globe view of our stately home. The End. Harumpf! But now we are almost there – so close we can taste it!
What are you planning for premiere night? Will you be watching at home or will you be attending a viewing party with canapes and butlers?
PBS continues sending out tantalizing little snippets of Season 3. If you watched Downton Abbey Revisited you saw the arrival of Cora’s American Mum, Martha Levinson, whose character was drawn right from the outset with her interactions with her granddaughters (i.e. ’Edith, still no one special?’). Oy, watching that gave me the same shpilkes I get when I have to go to Aunt Shirley’s for Seder!
And something else I noticed during Downton Abbey Revisited; Angela Lansbury referred to O’Brien as ‘Sarah O’Brien’. I cannot recall anyone ever calling O’Brien anything other than O’Brien, can you? Not even Thomas. I’ve always thought it odd that she is the only character referred to by her last name alone; no “Miss” or “Mrs.”, no first name. One wonders if this portends something for Season 3. Will she twirl her moustache a little less as she is fleshed out into something more than merely conspiratorial – becoming a Sarah and not just O’Brien? Not long ‘til we find out!
Cliff Notes: Is there that one annoying guy at work who hasn’t watched Downton Abbey and is completely lost when the talk around the water cooler turns to the latest gossip from Rippon – and thus wants to change the topic to the Jets? Don’t you hate it when that happens? Here’s a great way to get him (or anyone else) up to speed in just over five minutes flat. PBS has broken down the highlights (and lowlights) of Seasons 1 & 2 into a bite-size five minute recap video. Pass it along to those unenlightened people you know so they can join the team.
Gild This: The mind that created Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, is reportedly developing a new drama for NBC about life in New York in the 1880s called ˆThe Gilded Age. I don’t know, it sounds interesting, but what is a costume drama without British accents? That time period featured the rise of many of the names that became huge institutions in America, like Rockefeller, Mellon, Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Astor (and John Jacob Astor, who was killed on the Titanic, which brings it all back to where Downton Abbey kicked off – and probably to Kevin Bacon as well). The term Gilded Age was created in satire by Mark Twain and that holds promise on its own. Whether this idea can succeed with an American network and without the charm of Britain remains to be seen. But I’m just happy that Season 4 of Downton Abbey has been confirmed.
Try FedEx?: Last week it was reported that PBS is looking at ways to speed up the lag time between the broadcast of Downton Abbey Season 4 in the UK and its’ broadcast in the States (wouldn’t that be terrific?). While you might logically assume that this four month delay is caused by the Brits still taking that whole tea in the harbor thing a bit too personally, in fact, it is caused by the fact that in the UK, Downton Abbey is on commercial telly. That means that the entire program has to be recut and the commercials removed for PBS. But despite the lag time, I truly believe that we are the lucky ones. Yes, they get the show sooner in the UK, but it’s interrupted by commercials (how very uncivilized!). With a production like Downton Abbey, I much prefer our commercial-free PBS where the spell isn’t broken by intrusive discussions of dog food, Cialis, and toenail fungus. But hey, if they can do what they need to do faster so we can get it sooner, I’m all for it!
The Eagles Have Landed: As Downton Abbey storms the beaches of the US and begins its media blitz, expect to see Downtonians everywhere you look! Here they are making like regular New Yorkers on Sunday night (Hugh Bonneville posted this on his Twitter feed. Imagine seeing this on your way to a downtown (or rather, downton) train. Later this week, Masterpiece is holding a press preview screening of Season 3. I’ll be there, and was lucky enough to attend this event last year and I have to tell you that Downton Abbey on the big screen is absolutely GORGEOUS! The cinematography, with its Degas-like color stories, is truly Oscar worthy. Not to mention it’s just tons of fun watching it in a theatre full of like-minded, obsessed fans, and hearing everyone’s reactions. Like last year, the press screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the actors, moderated by Rebecca Eaton, and guess what? The panel discussion will be live streamed on THIRTEEN’s website Wed. Dec. 12 starting at 8pm (est)! How great is this? So forget about dressing up and fighting the crowds; just come home from work, relax in your jim jams, put your feet up in front of the computer with a pint of Haagen Daz, and watch the whole thing unfold in real time from the comfort of your own living room. Pure luxury!
Dorian Gray: Mr. Bates and Lady Mary aren’t the only ones with pasts. Recently, the Daily Mail published this article showing Downton Abbey actors in their younger days (for a few of them that was just 5 minutes ago!).
Many ‘appy Returns: Have you been missing our friends at Nonantus House? Fear not, there are more stories to tell (after all, Jenny Lee wrote three volumes of her memoirs!). THIRTEEN will be airing the Call the Midwife Holiday Special on Sunday, December 30 at 7:30PM, so we’ll be able to get all caught up with Jenny, Chummy and everyone else in the East End. Watch a preview.
And Speaking of East End: If you’re an EastEnders fan, December is your time to make your voice heard by pledging to support another year of this fabulous long-running drama, which airs on WLIW21 Wednesdays at 10pm. Pledge by phone or online for great pledge gifts, including the E20 Chronicles magazines (written by yours truly) and a new ‘Keep Calm and Watch EastEnders’ tote bag. Watch EastEnders on WLIW21 Wednesday, Dec. 19th and join in this annual whip ’round in our virtual Vic! TA!