The subject? Not the season ender of Doctor Who Season 5 or Torchwood: Children of Earth although these were considered. Instead, we voted — with the support of our friends — for the first episode of the BBC production Downton Abbey.
And, no, this isn’t technically a live-blog. It’s more the result of us sitting here with a laptop between us and typing whilst (like my vocab use there?) we watch. And then you get to read it! Fun all ’round.
So lets get going…(time stamps off my laptop rather than PBS…)
8.57: Waiting for the off. Mark Walberg from The Antiques Roadshow a continual disappointment since he is not Mark Wahlberg.
8.58: And now the “Give up for car to earn PBS money” ad. Anna and Minerva make tea for refreshment.
9.00: And finally we get the real lead-in ads!
9.00: Laura Linney leads off…and the inevitable ad….oh, god, he’s from Manchester! We might have to die — or kill him—
9.01: There’s a Masterpiece Trust now? Interesting. Uh…thanks, rich guys, for paying for this, I guess!
9.02: Who gave Laura Linney this job? But her delivery’s improved. “A voyage to America won’t solve anything.” Oooooohh…. but Morse code will?
9.03: And the rounds of everyone who is in this…good god…Oh, I need someone to call Joanne Froggatt! Oh, a telegram! Horror! Interesting historical commentary there… I know that house…
9.04: Minerva makes a justified comment on the fuzziness of the camera. Very bad decision. M: “With the shaky cam again!” H: Must admit, it seems more natural with James Bond than Maid Jane.
9.05: The rolling POV…A: I wonder what the average size of a household staff for a house was? M: About 50 people? H: Pissed butler is pissed!
9.06: M: Someone’s sleeping with one of those maids! A: Possibly all of them? Simultaneously?
9.07: M: And a remarkably see-through outfit. A: So which one of the men is sleeping with Lady Mary?
9.09: A: The lordship always has a dog. H: Because no-one else would put up with him.
9.09: And so we bring up the Titanic — odd starting point. Interesting point. H: And the fucking harpies enter…whoa…flanked by weird daughters…
9.10: We wait with bated breath for the telegram. Which…isn’t all that helpful. James and Patrick! Augh! Who are they!
9.12: H: Mr. Crawley. Hehe. Why is the new valet cause for weird music?
9.13: H: Butler Exposition and Housekeeper Plotpoint.
9.14: [servants discussion about new valet] A: Is he not his type? Why is everyone freaky? M: Yeah, is he too chubby or…? (The endless fun of jokes about slash. :))
9.15: [Lord and Daughter confer about drowning death of fiance] Uncomfortable father-daughter moment, there…M: What is with bitchy ex-valet? H: Mr Happy Laugh!
9.16: M: Is it me or is innuendo just…kind of rife?
9.18: [first appearance of Dame Smith as Dowager Lady] Fangirl expressions of love for Maggie Smith all ’round… A: For someone who I’m led to believe is sweetness and light, she plays bitch…. M: Maybe it’s cathartic?
9.20: [Dowager Lady and Lady plotting to save money and estate] M: Granny is manipulative and awesome. A: Yeah, it would be a little frightening to be on her side — but it would be frightening to be on the side that wasn’t her!
9.21: [Daisy mooning over sulky footman] M: Daisy is going to end up in the family way… A: And not quite understand how it happened. H: Does she only have one dress? M: Yeah. She’s so going to end up pregnant.
9.22: [lawyer and Lord discussing new heir] Oh god, not Manchester! A: The midlands! “There are worse professions.” “…..Yes.” M: Oh — snap!
9.24: “Blessed and merciful God, thank you!” [maid freaking out about chicken for no identifiable reason] M: What the fuck!
9.25: [housekeeper and butler confer] Brief side disquisition on straining of port to remove sediment. H: Always interesting to note in these dramas how “downstairs” adopt the “upstairs” as family, faux or otherwise.
9.27: [Lord and Other Daughter share ‘moment’] “If being all right is compatible with feeling terribly terribly sad.” M: Awkward, awkward hug.
9.29: [sulky footman and Yorkshire maid] M: What’s goin’ on with those two? H: Both smoking. Interesting.
9.30: [maid commenting “not very lame” about Bates] A: What’s up with sour older sister? M: Sour older sister’s probably tired of being used as a pawn! A: But not ready to chuck it all and give it over.
9.31: So what is with footman/maid alliance against Bates? Who seems quite nice? M: Jesus… H: That was about the least subtle subterfuge I’ve ever seen in my life…
9.32: [Mary at mirror] M: I’m going to have an existential crisis… A: Maybe this will be a wake-up call for her.
9.33: [Bates and Lord] A: What’s the history there? H: Peter and Bunter. [moment of silence] M: You know it’s sad when you get the offhand British allusion.
9.34: [Lord: “Even with a servant?”] H: Old Lordship showing up well here…
9.35: [Lord: “You may not mean it but I bet you will!”]
9.36: [Lord: “…I hope to die here.”] H: Your odds are bad.
9.39: [Grandma: “No-one wants to kiss a girl in black.”] General burst of laughter.
9.40: [Daisy: “And me?”] M: It looks like she was about to take off her top! “No, Daisy..” A: Be careful or she’ll just be lying there naked on the bed…
9.42: [Duke: “We shall do very well together…” whilst eyeing sulky footman [Thomas?]] M: That was not subtle! A: That was definitely like “fuck me now!”
9.45: [as Duke and Mary explore house…] M: There’s going to be shenanigans…wait for it…what the fuck! H: Ah, the endless fun of boundaries from up and down… [Mary: “I always apologise when I’m in the wrong. It’s a habit of mine.”] A: Good for her. Some backbone.
9.47: M: Him…[the butler] telling him [the lord] about the honor of Downton? That feels kind of…odd.
9.48: [Lord: “…a valet’s extra duties.”] M: Stuff. H: And things.
9.50: [Middle sister Edith: “What were you and Mary doing in the attics?”] H: And middle sister sticks her foot in it. Hehe.
9.52: [Anna taking food to Bates] M: I hear you, honey; I”m a sucker for that shit. H: And what’s he going to do? Hang around until he can be cannon fodder in 1914 as a disabled but useful officer? Yay for the treatment of veterans!
9.54: [re looking up Anna/Joanne Froggatt on IMBD] H: Oh, hell, I just remembered — she’s from that awful second episode of MI-5 — she’s the one who got deep-fried….yuck. Anna, God, we’re idiots! She is fucking Sam Tyler’s mother! I mean, not literally…she is Sam Tyler’s mother!
9.56: [Duke and Lord arguing] H: The…thunder? in the distance is a little heavy-handed, yeah?
9.57: [Duke: “You might tell that footman I’ve gone up.”] H: Well, you’re not the game there, honey! M: God, how did women survive this time? H: Vibrators. A: I don’t know if vibrators would solve their financial problems…
9.58: [Thomas kneels in front of Duke] Moment of stunned silence. A: This is like slash that gives you the ‘no feeling.’ M: …this is still a little hot. This is like Upstairs, Downstairs with a gay twist! H: They’re…quite sweet? M: Oh — not sweet. H: Nope, not sweet. [as threats pass between footman, Duke] M: Oh, wait — I feel some angry sex coming on…maybe not…maybe…awwww…no slashiness. A: Well, he was being a bit of a bastard. H: Yeah…Maurice without the nice ending. M: Wow… [as footman tries to master his emotions.] H: Yeah…kind of touching.
10.02: [as Lord and Lady retire] H: Oh, they sleep together. A: Yeah…wonder if they changed it for modern audiences?
10.04: [as Bates and Duke leave]: M: Oh…Bates…
10.05: [as Bates returns] H: Oh, good on the old Lordship… M: What’s going on there? A: They might just be doing a Peter/Bunter… M: It’s interesting because of his thing about “I have to do what my conscience feels is right” and then what about that [Bates]?
10.06: H & A: Harriet Jones, Prime Minister!
10.07: [as Matthew and Mrs. Crawley arrive] A: He’s going to have radical ideas, isn’t he? H: He’s George. M: Are they putting him up in a cottage? H: They said they had a dower house…
10.09: [as Matthew meets Mary] M: Oops… [general laughter as Matthew looks glazed and apparently can’t breathe] H: Oh, I bet you wish you hadn’t said that. A: He’s thinking “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit…”
10.10: [as servants critique Matthew] H: She would be the only one with a Yorkshire accent…
10.11: [as cook rates Daisy] M: Cooks are always really bawdy in these things… A: I always got the impression in these novels that the cooks ran the kitchen and nothing else, so if they wanted to have authority… H: The housekeeper ranked the cook, so while the cook was in charge of the kitchen the housekeeper was in charge of how she had to cook it?
10.12: M: Are you guys noticing the fuzzy edges of every single shot? It’s making me feel like I’ve got cataracts!
10.12: [as Mrs. Crawley/Dowager Lady Grantham clash — general laughter] H: And the butler thinks that was the funniest thing he’s seen all week. M: I think all the servants really enjoyed that!
10.14: [D. Lady Grantham: “What is a weekend?”] Applause. M: That was beauteous.
10.15: [Lord and Matthew going at it] H: Nothing like a good generational shift to help settle your dinner.
10.18: [D. Lady Grantham: “It always seemed rather dark when my mother-in-law lived here.”] General approval.
10.20: [Molesley: “This is my job, sir.” Matthew: “It seems silly…”] M: Ooohhhhh. H: Oh, what a thing to do. M: Dude…
10.22: And Mark Walberg is back to disappoint us again. M: That was a really odd ending point. I don’t know what to do with half of the women in this show. A: And when they’re trained to pick a husband based on their economic prospects…to some extent she’s been raised since birth to make those kind of judgments of future prospects. She doesn’t have any sense of marrying someone because she likes them as a person. M: She has a little bit of an inkling of that — “I refuse to mourn for a man I do not love…”
Closing thought: A: “That was a lot…of a lot.”