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Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora #1

Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora is written for Inside 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.

It’s been a couple of months since Matthew finally popped the question to Lady Mary and the television screen, and our world as we knew it, went dark – so I thought it was time to check back in with all you Downtonians out there. These Crawleyless days have been rather grey, and some Downton Abbey fans have become desperate looking for their fix. So desperate that it’s only the odd bits of Edwardian civilization, added into their modern lives, that has helped many to maintain their sanity. People are naming both sons and dogs Carson; older suburban women, who ordinarily run around dressed in track suits, like Paulie Walnuts, now dress for dinner; silly hats are making a comeback; and chauffers report that they are now getting hit on as much as firefighters. Downton Abbey is more than just a show: It has become phenomenon.

In March, when the White House held a State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister David Cameron, all the press reports said that Lord and Lady Grantham were in attendance. Not Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern – but Lord and Lady Grantham. Call me kooky but I’d say this was a missed opportunity: If there’s any Grantham who should have come to Washington, it is the Dowager Countess. Who wouldn’t want to see her address a joint session of Congress and give those knuckleheads a dose of what-for, Dowager Countess-style?

Downton Abbey is the hottest show of the season: Everyone and their brother is touting connections to it, and just about every network has some new show that their publicity departments claim as being The New Downton Abbey. Ovation described their new mini-series, Cloud Street, as ‘The Australian Downton Abbey’. Silly me, I thought The Thorn Birds was the Australian Downton Abbey. But despite that, I watched Cloud Street just to see how like Downton it really is, and I can report that it is nothing like Downton Abbey at all. Try Twin Peaks meets Lost meets Babe. There’s a vaguely haunted house, squirrely neighbors, and a talking pig. I can’t recall any of Mrs. Patmore’s roasts giving their opinion, can you? And actually, if any animal at Downton were to talk, I’d want it to be Isis. A talking Isis would really have some tales to tell. Of course, the first words out of her mouth would be, ‘what is with these crazy, fercoct people?’

Fortunately, PBS understands this beast that they have created (and it’s not like they’re running test patterns in the interim). To help ease Downton withdrawal symptoms for us tea-sipping Anglophiles, THIRTEEN has offered up some fabulous, original British programming. Already, in the Downtonless wilderness, a new star has risen: A tossel-haired and dishy Sherlock Holmes, also known as Benedict Cumberbatch, (distant cousin of Englebert Humperdink?). In the short time we have known him, we have learned two things about him: He doesn’t like people shaking Emmy statues at him (understandable since one of those pointy wings could take someone’s eye out), and he uses words like ‘begone’ (as in ‘begone woman!’). And I have it on good authority that at a recent live PBS appearance in NYC, he turned grown women into a quivering mass of Beliebers.

And talk about burying the lede: Season 2 of Downton Abbey re-airs on THIRTEEN Thursdays at 9pm starting May 17, and it will be LOTS of fun to watch again. Personally, I always love to watch something great another time or two. Knowing how it all turns out, you always end up seeing all kinds of little details and throwaway lines you missed the first time around. And on two of those Thursday nights, THIRTEEN will have pledge breaks during Downton Abbey. If Downtonians go to the phones, THIRTEEN will be quids in for sure!

One of the fun side-effects of a great drama is, it fires our imaginations, and the finely crafted characters it creates keep on living there. Because of that, The End isn’t really the end – you always wonder what happened to the characters after that. So I know that what all you Downtonians will be doing, while watching the Season 2 encore; the same thing we’ve been doing since Season 2 ended: Thinking about what’s going to happen in Season 3. The only hint we have of Season 3 is from Begone Woman, who told the press that ‘Someone is born and someone dies.’ Hmmm… That’s not really a giveaway. It sounds like the story line of any soap season. So let’s break it down and think about what that could mean. And by the way, none of what I’m saying here is a spoiler: It can’t be because I don’t have the slightest idea what happens in season 3. I’m just speculating for fun – so join me!

‘Someone is born and someone dies’: At the end of season two Sybil was pregnant, so it’s not a stretch for it to be her who gives birth. Then again, that’s way too easy. So what if it’s Lady Grantham who falls pregnant again, and what if this time O’Brien keeps her hands off the soap, and Cora gives birth and then dies? Talk about a twofer! And of course, using the British term ‘fall pregnant’ sounds like… well never mind what it sounds like. But if anyone were to fall accidentally anything, it would have to be Edith, wouldn’t it? And when last seen, Edith was dancing with Thomas. But he wouldn’t… would he?

Online there have been message board rumors (for what those are worth) that Dowager Grantham is going to be killed off, but I can’t believe that Lord Fellowes would do anything so dumb as to yank Violet out of the garden show in Season 3 when he’s already said he expects there to be a Season 4. Who would he replace her with, Cousin Oliver? If they ever did kill off the ever-popular Dowager, Downtonians from far and wide would certainly descend upon his house with pitchforks and torches. But say for just a second that it were true, how would she go? What would be an appropriate exit for our Violet? Might she come to a Pamuk-style end? When Lord Hepworth visited, there were hints that, in her youth, she had a wild streak. Who’s to say she doesn’t want another highland fling? But who would be in the role of Lady Mary in this Pamukian scenario? Mosley? (I can just see your faces at that thought!) Then again, given the Dowager’s battles with modernity she could just as easily meet her maker by getting caught in a revolving door.

So many others to speculate about… Will Matthew and Mary get to the alter? Will there be more repercussions over Mrs. Bates’ death? Have we seen the last of Sir Rupert? Will Mr. Bates get out of prison? Will Anna change her name to Tammy Wynette? Come to think of it, is she the one who gives birth? And what kind of hell is going to break loose when Aurora Greenway (AKA Shirley MacLaine) turns up at Downton? So many questions.

It’s elementary my dear Downtonians: The countdown to Season 3 begins! Keep checking back here, Downtonians, as we periodically survey the latest news from Downton Abbey and beyond.


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