December 2011


First off, it’s been posted at YouTube right here.  Hurry before it’s pulled. [On edit — it has been pulled, so don’t bother clicking on it.  Sorry.]

I loved the Christmas Special.  LOVED it.  It had more of a series 1 feel about it.  It was less soapy than series 2 was.  The episode is slightly more than 90 minutes long, so there was more time to spend in the individual subplots.

The two biggest stories involved Bates and Matthew/Mary.  Bates gets convicted of Vera’s murder and Matthew and Mary finally get engaged.  It seems to be for real this time.

In Bates’s trial, Robert is a witness for the defense, and Mrs. Hughes and O’Brien are witnesses for the prosecution.  Unfortunately, since we all know the circumstantial case against Bates was very strong, their testimony hurt him.  So he got convicted and was sentenced to hang.  But the attorneys did their jobs and he got a reprieve. He’s no longer destined to die; he’s now got life imprisonment.  Personally, since Bates is such a popular character, I cannot see Lord Fellowes keeping him in jail for the entirety of series 3.  They have to figure out a way to get him out of there.

As for the other major story, the whole of l’affaire Pamuk is finally out in the open.  Cora tells Robert.  Robert tells Mary she doesn’t have to marry Carlisle just because of it.  Mary tells Matthew, and he tells her that she doesn’t have to marry Carlisle, that he doesn’t hate her and that there is nothing to forgive.  Carlisle tells everyone that he will put the whole story in the papers as soon as he gets back to London.  Matthew punches him and the two of them fight.  Carlisle tells Mary he really loved her.  Mary decides to go to America to stay with her maternal grandmother, and Anna offers to go with her.  Matthew proposes in the snow after the servants’ ball and she accepts. It’s very sweet and very romantic.  I had a smile on my face and tears in my eyes after it was all over.

We had several other subplots, too.  Daisy accepts her role as William’s widow and William’s father takes her under his wing as the daughter he never had.  It’s also very sweet.  Daisy is still a naive girl, but she starts to grow up and stand up for herself in this episode.  Yes, she takes the wrong advice at first, but by the end she and Mrs. Patmore come to an understanding — Daisy is ready to take on a bigger role in the kitchen and to really learn to be more of a sous-chef instead of just the scullery maid.

The bad advice Daisy got was from Shaw, Lady Rosamond’s new lady’s maid.  She is a nasty piece of work from the get-go. She looks down upon all of the DA servants, including those who outrank her, namely Mrs. Hughes and Carson.  And, speaking of Lady Rosamond, her latest suitor, Lord Hepworth (Nigel Havers), is also around a lot.  Violet tries to warn her daughter not to marry a fortune hunter like Hepworth, but Lady Rosamond is old enough to do what she wants and she wants Hepworth.  But Anna keeps noticing Shaw and Hepworth together, and then, during the servants’ ball, she sees the two of them holding hands, sneaking up the stairs.  Next thing we see is Anna leading Rosamond and Mary up to Hepworth’s bedroom.  They open the door and there are Hepworth and Shaw, in full pre-shag mode.  Of course, Hepworth tries to tell Rosamond that it’s not what she thinks it is, but Shaw is not quite that stupid.  The two of them are out on their ears the next morning.

Sybil and Branson are absent, but we learn a reason why; Sybil is pregnant.  Cora desperately wants to see Sybil and, of course, her first grandchild, and she stands up to Robert on the subject.

The servants’ ball was lovely.  It was such a hoot to see Carson dancing with Cora, Mrs. Hughes with Robert and Matthew with O’Brien.  I loved it.  The family’s Christmas gift to Carson was a book about the royal families of Europe. How appropriate!  Carson looked so proud and pleased to see Lady Mary dancing with Matthew. Everyone knows they adore each other.  I wonder if series 3 will open with a wedding or with Matthew and Mary telling everyone the big news.

All in all, this is the best episode of DA in a long time.  See if it you can. My copy of the DVD is on its way from the UK as I type; I can hardly wait. 🙂  What did the rest of you think?

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Last night was spent at KC’s annual Christmas party (church was this morning).  The spread was excellent and a fine time was had by all.  Afterwards, a handful of us sat around the pool and talked.  It was about 70 degrees and pretty much everyone was in shorts.  We called some friends who were visiting relatives in Maine, and it was 9 degrees Fahrenheit with snow on the ground. There are still times when I wish I were back up North for Christmas, but I really don’t want to ever see 9 degrees Fahrenheit ever again.  Today our family is heading over to D’s family’s house for dinner.  We should have at least 15 people, including 3 children under the age of 8.  We spend every Christmas at their house, and it’s become a cherished tradition.

Too many people of my acquaintance had a rough 2011 and I wish them and you a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Yesterday was Jane Austen’s 236th birthday.  I did not write a post on the big day itself because I was out with my local JASNA chapter celebrating it.  A good time was had by all.

I don’t need to repeat what I wrote last year, but the fact remains that Jane is still popular with a wide variety of people.  It’s still pretty amazing that the younger daughter of a country rector is remembered (and revered) for 6 novels and several unfinished stories 194 years after her death.

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Let’s fast-forward a little bit from the Regency era to the years after World War I.  Yes, the Downton Abbey Christmas Special is due to air on ITV in the UK at 21:00 (9 p.m.) on Christmas night.  Here is the press pack: http://www.itv.com/documents/pdf/DOWNTON_ABBEY_PRESS_S2_XMAS_Lores.pdf

As you will see, Sybil and Branson will not be around.  That makes sense — they’re not fabulously wealthy and can’t pop back and forth between Ireland and Downton on a whim.

Here are some stories about what may and may not happen:

http://www.digitalspy.com/british-tv/s183/downton-abbey/news/a352893/dan-stevens-teases-christmas-downton-abbey.html

http://www.cultbox.co.uk/news/headlines/2545-downton-abbey-christmas-special-story-details-revealed

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2073906/Dressing-Downton-Abbey-What-difference-80-years-makes.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2073828/Downton-Abbey-Christmas-special-Will-cast-crew-able-wraps.html

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/3997101/Downton-Abbey-Christmas-special.html

And here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-tZVGdZoEM&feature=player_embedded) is a trailer for the Christmas special.  I am dying to find out what happens to Mr. Bates and, by extension, to Anna.

It’s been a while, but there have been a couple of health scares in the Day in the Life household, and family does take priority over blogging.

Anyway, I finished The Wilder Life and am now about half way through with Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.  It’s just wonderful, and I am so grateful to the dear friends who recommended it to me.

I don’t have any library books with me right now, but I did borrow a couple of DVDs.  I rented New York: A Documentary Film from Netflix and it was outstanding.  I freely admit to being homesick, and I even learned things about my hometown that I hadn’t known before.  There were originally 7 episodes when the series first aired on PBS’s American Experience back in 1999, but after 9/11, they added an 8th episode that dealt with the Towers themselves, both their construction and their destruction.  Yes, I cried.

After that, I found out that one of the library branches had a documentary about the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, in Queens, New York.  The film was narrated by Judd Hirsch, and was less than an hour long.  But it covered a lot of ground.  I have vague memories of that World’s Fair, so this was a great trip back in time.

The other disc I borrowed is a Canadian film called La Grande Séduction. The English title is Seducing Dr. Lewis. Not being French-Canadian, I did not know any of the actors, but I have to say that I adored this little movie.   The basic premise is pretty simple — a tiny little fishing village in Québec with only 125 inhabitants is dying.  It used to be a vibrant fishing village, but now pretty much the whole town is out of work and living on the dole.  They learn of the possibility of getting a factory into the town, but the catch is that they need to have a full-time doctor.  The village’s mayor can’t cope anymore so he and his family leave in the middle of the night.  He gets a job in Montréal as a policeman and, the next time we see him, he’s stopping a car driven by a doctor who has cocaine in his possession.  Next thing we know, the town finds out that they are getting a doctor for one month.

Germain, the heart and soul of the village, convinces the rest of the villagers to do what they can to “seduce” Dr. Lewis and convince him to stay and help them get the factory.  They find out that he loves cricket, so they play cricket.  They take him fishing and make sure he catches fish. They tap his phone calls to find out more about him so they can use this information to help him decide to stay.

It’s a very funny, very sweet, very entertaining movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.  If you’re a member of Netflix, you can rent it, and I recommend that you do.  It’s a delight.