Tagged: Downton Abbey

Mindy Newell: Yesterday’s News?

US Japs At War

Last week, after I submitted my column to Old Man Editor Mike Gold, I made myself a cup of English Breakfast tea, sliced up some mozzarella and cheddar cheese, grabbed some crackers and got into bed – this woman has to get up way before the first rays of the sun crack the horizon during her work week – and so I didn’t read Old Man Editor Mike Gold’s e-mail in response to my submission until the next afternoon. It said something like: Jessica Jones is old news. It debuted on Netflix in November.

Well, gee, that was only two months ago, Old Man Editor Mike. Two months and 16 days, to be precise.

But I get it. In today’s hyper-streamed world, 10 weeks might as well be 1010 (or 10,000,000,000). There’s so much to watch, so much to read, so much to talk about on the information superhighway that was brought to us courtesy of the U.S. military industrial complex and Al Gore – the World Wide Web, baby – that it’s just about impossible for anyone to stay absolutely current and up-to-date unless you happen to be a green-skinned alien and Legionnaire from the 21st century named Brainiac 5. Even Chris Matthews, of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, now has a segment he calls “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” in which various reporters and pundits tell him, well, something he doesn’t know. And he has a research staff.

Sometimes I feel like the Gallifreyan, trapped in a confession dial for 7000 years while the universe just merrily keeps on expanding, minding its own business, and intelligent life and civilizations and planets and suns within it are born, thrive, wither, and die.

I can’t even keep up with my e-mail. Every day, for instance, I get at least three notifications from Comic Book Resources (CBR). I delete the ones that don’t sound interesting to me, but even the ones I want to read pile up faster than those cars and buses and trucks that were stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last weekend. Then, by the time I actually have the time to check them, they are all old news which I’ve either already heard about, or read about, or watch somewhere else on the net. And that’s just CBR. There’s also Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, Den of Geek, Bleeding Cool News, Michael Davis World, et. al. Oh, and that also includes ComicMix.

Plus my other e-mails and notifications. On Saturday it took me two hours just to clear out my mailbox. Some of the stuff dated back to November, and I never even read them. I’m telling you, it’s like reading a newspaper with the headline U.S. and Japs At War.


I am up-to-date on my X-Files. (I’m thinking that it rocks!) I saw that movie its first weekend in theatres. And I’m actually ahead of the ball on Downton Abbey, having just watched Episode 8 of “The Final Season” on Amazon Prime.


I missed the premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, Parts 1 and 2, and I missed last week’s Supergirl because I watched X-Files. So now I have to catch up those two shows. And I’m embarrassed to admit that Daredevil is still in my queue.

Not to mention that I have three more episodes of Jessica Jones to go.

Jesus, I wish I had a TARDIS.

Mindy Newell: Farewell, Downton?

Downton Abbey Finale

Sarah O’Brien, Lady’s Maid to the Countess of Grantham, talking about Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (Siobhan Finneran): I’d like to giver her the old heave-ho – in a dark alley somewhere.”

Lady Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay): No one ever learned anything from a governess except for French, and how to curtsy.

Charles Carlson, Butler (Jim Carter): We may have to have a maid in the dining room.

Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville): Cheer up, Carson. There are worse things happening in the world.

Carson: Not worse than a maid serving a duke.

Mary Crawley, eldest daughter (Michelle Dockery): Our dentist is horrid

Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith): What’s a weekend?

I’ve been binging on Downtown Abbey the past couple of weeks in preparation for the show’s sixth and final season, which premiered last night; it’s already ended over in the U.K.

I actually came “ratha” late to this period drama, picking it up somewhere in its fourth season. My daughter had been raving and recommending it for quite a while, but I had avoided it, thinking it a rip-off or tired replay of Upstairs Downstairs, the classic BBC series that had aired on PBS from 1971 to 1975. And in many, many ways, of course it is. However, the big difference, aside from the modern production values, including location shooting, is that is that Upstairs Downstairs concerned the lives of a family and their servants in London’s fashionable Belgravia neighborhood – “city dwellers” – while Downtown Abbey tells the story of a titled aristocratic family who are historic estate holders in the Yorkshire countryside.

The events of the early 20th century changed the British societal hierarchy, something that had held rigid and unbending for centuries. Social historians mark the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 as the first crack in this structure, and Downton Abbey began with this, as Robert Crawley, the seventh Earl of Grantham, is told that his designated heir went down with the liner leaving only a distant cousin, a “middle-class” untitled lawyer, as his successor. His oldest daughter, Mary, cannot be considered to follow Robert because of the long-established and legal tradition of the “entail” which endows titles and estates exclusively on male heirs. (It was only in 2013, with the passing of the Succession to the Crown Act by Parliament, that the laws of succession were changed to allow the first-born, regardless of sex, to inherit the crown.)

The British political Marconi scandal of late 1912, World War I, the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic, the birth of jazz and the “Roaring Twenties,” the formation of the Irish Free state, the Teapot Dome Scandal, the first Labor government in British history, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in India – reference Richard Attenborough’s 1982 Ghandi – and the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 (in which Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party first failed to seize power in Munich) all figured predominantly as the series progressed, as these historical events shaped and shoved and remolded Downton Abbey and the real estates on which it is based into either something new and thriving, or destroyed them and the villages that had grown up around them.

It remains to be seen, at least here in the United States, if the fictional Downton will also die, or, like Highclere Castle, the 5,000 acre estate and filming location in Hampshire that stands in for the main “house” on the show, will adapt to the currents of history and thrive.

I hear there are already whispers of a movie.