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Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora #22

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.

Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora #22

The Downton Abbey juggernaut just keeps moving and is now steaming across the Atlantic on its way to its big January premiere. So now is the time to hit the refresh button and catch up on past episodes before we sit down to feast on Season 4. I know I plan on spending this weekend, uninterrupted, with a marathon of my own (let’s see how that works!). How about you? I’ve got the DVDs from the first three seasons on tap (all available for a pledge to THIRTEEN). And if you’re the kind of person who, like me, always reads the last page of a book first because you cannot wait, you’ll probably want to pledge for the Season 4 DVD, available for pre-order online. If you pledge for it now it will be mailed out just after Season 4 premieres on January 5, so you’ll be able to plow through it all in one shot before most of it is even broadcast. Very tempting!! You know you want too!

Battle of the Remotes: So who won the big battle in your house on Thanksgiving? You know, the battle between football and the Downton Abbey Season 2 Marathon on WLIW? If you Downtonians have learned anything from the program’s more devious characters over these past three years, you would have won hands-down by thinking WWADACD (What Would a Downton Abbey Character Do?). If you learned anything from O’Brien, you could have just put a bar of soap on the floor next to the hubby’s LazyBoy and waited for the impending thud. If you learned anything from Thomas, you just hid the remote in the shed and softly giggled as he searched fruitlessly. If you learned anything from Lady Edith you just seethed quietly while writing notes about your slutty sister to the commissioner of football. But if you were channeling Shrimpy, you would have just hired a bagpiper to clear out the house (and neighborhood) so you could have the telly all to yourself. Probably the best move, considering. How do you think some other Downton characters would have handled it?

Why Everyone Likes Sandra: When Entertainment Weekly recently interviewed Sandra Bullock and asked her what her favorite TV show was, she replied, “I’m desperately waiting for Downton Abbey to come back.” ‘Nuff said.

Mourning Glory: Yes, some people really cannot separate fantasy from reality. A couple of years ago I interviewed an actress from EastEnders who told me that she went out to lunch one day with another actor from the show, who played a rather hateful character. A woman came running up to them and hit him over the head with her handbag and started screaming at him for something his character had done. They had to calmly assure the woman that he wasn’t really the character – that he was an actor and everything was fine. And so it’s no surprise that Michelle Dockery got sympathy cards over the demise of her make-believe husband Matthew. And here is more from Michelle Dockery from an interview with (if you’ll pardon the expression) Boston Common Magazine as she takes a modeling turn. It seems that every Downton Abbey actor we’ve seen interviewed has mentioned being star struck by the fans they’ve got, and Michelle is no different.

Apologies Accepted: In an interview in Radio Times (the BBC’s version of TV Guide), Dan Stevens apologized for Matthew’s untimely death but said it wasn’t his choice to kill him right then (causing him to go down in Christmas history in the UK alongside Ebenezer Scrooge). That was up to Julian Fellowes, who previously apologized along with the producers, the costumers, various castmembers and the lady who runs the craft service table on-set. At this point, the only person who hasn’t apologized for Matthew’s death is the extra driving the truck that ran him off the road. Yeah, where’s THAT guy!?!? Let’s hear from him!

Ghost of a Chance: Recently Shirley MacLaine was on Katie Couric’s program Katie talking about how Highclere Castle is haunted. Well, of course it’s haunted! It would be pretty disappointing if a house built in 1679 on the foundation of a house that existed almost a thousand years before wasn’t haunted. The difference here is, apparently, these ghosts are art critics or TV critics, or maybe interior decorators. We can’t quite tell from this clip, but see what you think.

Strut and Fret: Uh – oh, Maggie Smith wants to pursue other projects. She wants to tread upon the boards once more. Sigh. I would LOVE to see her on stage in anything, but let’s all just send out some energy that she pleeeeease wait until after Downton Abbey is done. Pretty please? To me, she is the only character the show cannot do without. I don’t care if The Dowager will be 100 years old in Season 5, please just prop her up and let her unleash her bon mots upon the assorted family and staff. That’s all I want. Is that too much to ask? After that, let’s hope she comes to Broadway!

For the Lady Who Has Everything: Yes, just what you needed to house all your precious baubles – a jewelry box that is a replica of Highclere Castle that costs £100,000 (about $160,000!). Call me kooky, but if I had to pay $160K for any type of abode, it better be big enough for me to live in! It was designed by a team working for the Queen’s Nephew (Princess Margaret’s son), who must know a thing or two about housing jewelry.

Hat Trick: Question: What do the popular PBS programs Downton Abbey, Last Tango in Halifax and The Paradise have in common? Answer: Sarah Lancashire! Sarah Lancashire really is PBS’ Sunday night lineup utility player. No, she’s not on Downton Abbey, but she is a big fan of the show and has no desire to be on it because that would interfere with her watching it. It’s nice that she’s got her priorities straight. And she has enough on her plate already with The Paradise and Last Tango in Halifax (as well as being the narrator on Larkrise to Candleford), so it was only a matter of time until worlds collided and she had to set aside one to work on the others. It seems Miss Audrey will be leaving the Paradise for now so that Caroline can return to Halifax next season. This is truly a choice that would have perplexed King Solomon, but I think that if she could only do one, she made the right choice. Do you agree? And by the way, check out what Ms. Lancashire looks like when she’s not in character and glammed up!

Paradise Lost: So The Paradise drew to a close with so many cliffhangers. But who cares about all that? What about that kiss! Was that series-ending kiss Moray planted on Denise a good-bye kiss on the way to the alter? Or had he decided to throw caution (and his beloved store) to the winds of caprice and choose Denise over Katherine? It’s a good thing they are planning a Season 2 because I want answers. Me thinks it won’t be anything simple, but that’s the fun of it, innit?

  • Fan

    How dare anyone mention “The Paradise” in the same post as “Downton Abbey?”
    One episode of that pitiful faux-French trash was enough for me. The only advantage to having it exist at all is so I could have the pleasure of deleting every taped episode unwatched to make more room for Downton!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

      LOL, well then, it did provide you with something (even if it was only to exercise your delete button). I’m not sure about Moray, but I believe that if Mr. Selfridge heard this he would immediately begin selling Paradise Delete Buttons in the store:)

      • fan

        Now THAT is a fundraiser I would buy!

    • Marialivia

      Agreed. “The Paradise” is indeed pitiful — a poor imitation of “Mr. Selfridge,” which itself was pretty pathetic. Nothing compares with DA.

  • Marialivia

    In the Katie Couric interview, I believe she asked if (after Matthew’s untimely demise) “Lady Katharine” is all right. As there is no Lady Katharine, I’m assuming she meant Lady Mary. I’m just including this carp because no one else has done so, and I love being first.

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