Downton Abbey 2012 Christmas Special

Downton Abbey goes Scottish!  Spoilery thoughts below (random things first and more overall storyline ones later, because that’s how I take my Downton):

 

1. I love everyone’s faces as the bagpiper goes around the table.  Next time I need to find out anyone’s real personality in a pinch I’m gonna get in a bagpiper.  Their face will tell me all I need to know about their gut reactions to things.

2. I really liked how Cora’s reaction to the Susan-Rose dynamic brought up Sybil so palpably.  It hit just the right balance between connecting to the past to hold the story believably together and not dwelling on the past so much it’s melodramatic and and a buzzkill.

3. I LOVE Rose’s dress that makes her look like a “slut.”  Yes, I would have loved anything that makes a Downton Abbey character call slut, but I genuinely like that color on Rose and the way the back straps fly.

4. KILTS.  That is all.

5. I really want to know how the Scottish fans felt about having Gilly (the Scottish accented servant) described as speaking with a voice from a “bygone age.”  That just seemed like an odd and badly-chosen term.

6. Seeing someone naked is TOTALLY the way to know how ‘nice’ someone is.  Let everyone who’s not been called back by someone after they had sex know-there should have been clues in their naked body that they were not nice enough to call.  That line was hilarious.

7. I know it’s taking awhile, but I’m tickled coral pink by the Edith Eyre storyline.  Plus, if the show pushed that relationship any quicker it’d seem more like a flighty, ill-considered, irresponsible gambit such as Edith’s been entangled in before, rather than the real relationship it’s evolving into now.  That being said, Gregson needs to figure out how to make his case without this incessant whining.  Rochester had cross-dressing, storming, and domination to overshadow his complaints, and no matter how you feel about that in a romantic hero, it beats the hell out of whining.  Gregson needs to get something like that soon.

8. Hurrah for the fair!  Just what we need in order to keep Carson’s range of disapproval going.  Carson’s Disapproval is like garlic-the always reliable, tasty, basic ingredient of this show.

9. They actually found a baby whose facial features reminded me of Sybil.  I am impressed.

10. I think incorporating Rose into the season is a very smart move.  They need more young blood, particularly with more mourning around, and there’s an awful lot of potential for interesting dynamics between her and both Cora and Maggie Smith.

11. Mrs. Patmore was the cutest thing all episode long.  Wearing a coat over her blouse so it doesn’t “jump” on people is exactly the sort of thing I’d say back then.  I would have liked it a little better if they’d shown the spice guy taking at least a few moments to try and distract Mrs. Patmore before flirting with other girls so she’d have at least that excuse and he’d be showing her at least that pinch of respect, but it’ll do.  Mainly because of the way Patmore SOLD IT when she was overcome with relief at finding out he wasn’t a real opportunity.

12. I really liked the Jimmy and Tom storyline.  Is it a little sad that Tom had to be physically assaulted to earn Jimmy’s acceptance?  Of course.  Is it believable?  Hell yeah, and good TV to boot.  When you’re constantly living with someone it’s really hard to do something out-of-the-ordinary enough to really change their opinion of you.  It made total sense to me that something that dramatic actually had to happen in order to alter their dynamic, so this didn’t even feel like punching it up to make drama like sometimes happens with this show.  It was really well done.  Also, I vehemently disagree with those who think friendship will be more cruel to Tom than awkwardness.  Tom feels guilt at himself, he feels disgust-whenever he encountered awkwardness from Jimmy all those internalized things from society would be emphasized and strengthened.  Tom needs Jimmy’s acceptance to feel all right about himself again, to erase the guilt, and to just feel like a proper human being with rights instead of the disgraced, shameful person he’d been before.  Also, I don’t think this is how the show will play it up, but in my head it makes total sense that once Jimmy does accept and forgive him, Tom will be able to stop obsessing about him.  Let’s face it-he didn’t know Jimmy enough to have anything like serious feelings for him, he was just a hot piece of ass who seemed to maybe actually be GAY and HERE and that was TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.  It’s not love-Tom is obsessed with this because of what the reaction did to him, and now that it’s FINALLY blowing over they should be able to be true friends and even the sexual tension should start getting erased.  It’ll be great.

13. It made me so happy and Christmassy to see Ivy and Daisy, and Alfred and Jimmy, being friends.  Just everything about it=merry!

14. I took a quiz during Season 1 about which Downton Abbey character I was, and got Anna.  This first time I have ever been able to see it is when she sat there saying, “I am racy.”

15. Did anyone else expect O’Brien to get hired by Susan and jaunt off to India?  She said she’d like to see a new place, she’s losing her position on the show as evil mistress due to lack of enemies now Alfred’s all settled, and she’s totally in with Susan because of the hair issue.  I’m still surprised that did not happen.

16. Perhaps it’s because I missed the episode where Sybil died, but Matthew’s death didn’t seem in any way over-the-top or too cliched to me.  Was it a cliche?  TOTALLY.  I sat there from the instant he was all joyful-looking in his car to the end of the show saying, “They’re doing it!”  However, it felt like a Niagra Falls type of cliche: Is it what you want?  No.  Does it have any bearing on real life?  Not so much anymore, but there was a time.  Is it shiny and foreseeable?  Utterly so.  Is it incredibly easy to just melt into it and let it run its course?  For me-yes.  That’s what’s going to happen, it made sense, it was there, it fit in with the time and the series’ shiny way, and it went.  (Also, it reminded me of “Lady and the Tramp.”)  I’m fine with it.

17. Well, Branson finally got a taste of his own stalkery-bullying-persistent method of courtship.  It seems fitting.

18. Everyone needs to stop predicting Branson and Mary getting together.  That is utterly absurd.  If it happens I will have to stop watching.  Even if it is going to happen, let me keep my illusions that the writers have more sense than that for as long as possible.

19. Hurrah, Downton Abbey!  This one really worked for me.  I loved it!

New Year’s Literary Resolutions

The New Year approaches and many people are attempting to choose their New Year’s resolutions.  To help with this important choice, I have compiled a list of advice about resolutions from several British Literary Greats.  Choose to implement this advice with sense and sensibility, or dismiss them as merely sound and fury, signifying nothing at your own peril.

 

British Literary Greats’ Guide to New Year’s Resolutions:

1. Do not: make resolutions based on anything said by weird sisters, or any trio of strange females.

2. Do not: make resolutions based on what you heard from the ghost of a family member.

3. Do: make resolutions based on what you heard from ghosts of time periods.

4. Do not: make resolutions about avoiding the opposite sex. It never works out.

5. Do: make resolutions based on telepathic communications from exes.

6. Do: make your resolutions without reference to any person wholly unconnected with you, particularly if they are cantankerous old women who have not been accustomed to language such as yours.

7. Do not: make resolutions based on one dance request.

8. Do: make resolutions based on letters from scorned lovers.

9. Do not: resolve to keep trophies from Dark Lords, even when they are vanquished.

10. Do not: make resolutions based on Turkish Delight.

 

15 points for every author you can name.  25 points for every title and author.  50 points for any new literary advice.

 

Enjoy your holidays and may the new year bring you good things, whether your resolution helps or hinders you.

Fairy Tale Christmas Comforts

The Christmas tide is very near and things may seem very stressful.  That means it is once again time to keep things in perspective by noticing all the ways in which your holiday festivities will probably NOT resemble a fairy tale:

 

1. Even if you don’t get around to sending everyone their Christmas cards, you won’t have to worry about your children being cursed in retaliation.

2. The delivery people for your balls, toys, and treasures will not ask to share your bed as a reward.

3. If, instead of buying, you are spinning raw materials into gifting gold, you can rest assured that even big mistakes or delays will not result in you losing your head. (Or your baby.)

4. Any unwelcome visitors who trick their way into your house will likely settle for Christmas dinner, or perhaps even Christmas cookies, so your flesh is pretty safe.

5. The gingerbread men will not insult anyone.

6. No matter how sick you get of Christmas carols, even the awful ones will not have the power to lure your loved ones away from you.

7. At least you weren’t asked to build a jeweled palace overnight for anyone’s gift.

8. Even if you don’t have someone’s gift ready on time, you will not have to make up for it by giving up “the first thing you see” or “the first one who greets you” upon your arrival home.

9. Even if your family doesn’t allow you to sleep on Christmas Eve, at least you don’t have to face the big day with no sleep AND exhausted feet.

10. Reveling in your new possessions will not land you in hell or cause you to lose control of your limbs, even if those new things are red shoes.

11. No matter how mechanized the new toys are, none of them will carry your children off into the sky (even if you would like them to).

12. Don’t worry if a gift exchange seems uneven-even the presents that seem like small beans can show just how much magic there is in your relationship.

13. Even if you received a living thing, you won’t lose it if you don’t pick out the right name right away.

14. Even if a gift starts to fall apart, just remember: it has no control on anyone in your household’s looks, love, or ability to handle cutlery.

 

Happy 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Merry Christmas!  Just remember, it could be worse-it could be a fairy tale.

There are 14 reasons today because the Grimms’ anniversary demanded 10 all their own, and there were a few non-Grimm fairy tale references I could not resist adding.  25 Points for every fairy tale reference.  55 for every new one added.

The Golden Book Gown, dressed up in literature

The Golden Book Gown | Ryan Jude Novelline.

 

There is now a dress made entirely out of children’s Golden Books.  I’m sure it’s vastly uncomfortable, but it’s beautiful, it’s a lovely transformative idea, it’s nostalgic, and it’s like a living fairy tale of the pages that no longer are read, that no longer see light, or people, that feel stuck in a strange little board house with fading memories of glory.  Then one day a hero comes along, gathers them out of their sad, dark houses and teaches them how to be seen again, and live once more together, in the light, with people.  Like Ariel, the pages need to learn in different ways, and it may have hurt to be sewn together with metallic gold thread, but now they can be seen again, and everyone can remember how much they loved them.  The pages’ soul is safe and seen.  I like to think he chose a red-haired mannequin because he was thinking of Ariel, too.

book dress

Tolkienmas Tale-ol 3: “Return of the King”

To finish commemorating Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films in appropriately festive fashion, I offer a song about “Return of the King,” to be sung to the tune of “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

 

“Aragorn we have Crowned on High”

 

Mordor we have breached, today.

Brought the Ring to Mount Doom’s fires

And Gollum’s bite has torn away

Sauron’s hold on our desires.

 

Burn, in the fiery chasm

Burn, in the fiery chasm

 

 

Now heroes claim victory,

Now Lord Sauron’s lost his ring.

And by Gondor’s flowering tree,

Aragorn is crowned the king.

 

Aragorn, is the king of Gondor

Aragorn is the king of Gondor

 

 

Hobbits their way home do wend,

For their Shire has been saved.

Fellowship’s quest is at an end,

Just goodbyes still must be braved.

 

Frodo sails into the west

Frodo sails into the west

Frodo sails into the west.

 

For previous ones, go here:  https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/tolkeinmas-tale-ols-2-the-two-towers/

https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/tolkeinmas-tale-ols-1-fellowship-of-the-ring/

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.

 

I saw this at the midnight opening.  Yet, there were no lines, there were available seats, and although only 2 hours before midnight, my party got to choose prime seats.  This is not the nerd-experience I expected.  Fun, in several ways more familiar than I was expecting, but just profoundly not the thing I’d been looking forward to.  The film itself I found to be: Exactly Like That.

 

The main, overall issue that I have with Jackson’s new first film of a Middle Earth trilogy is this: it tried to be exactly the same as his last first film installment of a Middle Earth trilogy:

-Why did it start with an overarching backstory narrative instead of one of the most famous first lines ever?  Because “Fellowship of the Ring” starts that way.  (Don’t get me wrong-that sequence was perhaps my third favorite, but as the opening of a “The Hobbit” experience-hell, no, do the line we know and love, please.  By the way, my reaction to this is a very good indicator of my reactions to the movie in general.)

-Then both have a party in the shire, though the dwarves do change the tone of the comedy.  Both Bilbo’s party in “Fellowship of the Ring” and the dinner party in this one end up with somber proposals for an expedition at Bagend itself.  This particular similarity I don’t mind as everything from dwarves singing about breaking dishes to dwarves singing about the Misty Mountain is definitely my second favorite thing about the whole film, but still-it is there.  Not to mention the fact that the segues to these parties are set on the exact same day, with the exact same cast.

-There are heroic action shots of a journeying company in the exact same manner as the fellowship was shot.

-The fighting stone giants scene is the Hobbit version of the fellowship trying to cross the mountain pass and being turned back by Saruman.

-After which, they wind up underground in caves filled with enemies where all seems inevitably lost and Gandalf faces down the one biggest, toughest, bad guy of all and then falls down into darkness.  The fact that the dwarves fall with him in this version is not that big of a deviation.

-Thorin has been changed to resemble Aragorn-battle-worn, dark-haired, warrior leaders separated from their homeland.  This is fine, until scenes start changing to make the dwarf prince start charging around and being epic-ly glorified.  While pretty, it just kills any thoughts that this might start resembling canon sometime.  Kili is clearly the Hobbit’s version of Legolas.  I cannot find it in my heart to dislike this one, but still it took me straight out of the movie and into comparing shots and going, “Oh, PJ, couldn’t you do something new?”

-It ends with a looming sense of danger and a glimpse of the dark enemies ahead, just like “Fellowship of the Ring.”

 

The second thing I had a major issue with was that this film kept changing things in order to glorify Bilbo Baggins.

-Firstly, Bilbo Baggins is one of my favorite book characters and he NEEDS no glorification.  I felt insulted on book!Bilbo’s behalf that PJ felt he needed to do those things.

-Secondly, it took away from other characters’ moments.  The troll scene is a great favorite of mine from “The Hobbit” and the trolls get turned to stone because Gandalf copies the trolls’ voices and insults them.  This causes a fight and distracts them long enough for dawn to ossify them.  I was dearly looking forward to seeing this and feel cheated.  When actually thinking about what did happen in the scene, I do realize it was well done, and humorous, and Martin Freeman did it well.  Unfortunately, it’s just not what I wanted to see.  The other time this became a really clear issue was when Bilbo charged the orc to save Thorin.  If it had simply stayed that way and then the eagles had rescued them, it’d be okay.  But instead-like 30 seconds after Bilbo charges the other dwarves follow.  I’m sorry, but if the dwarves were physically capable of charging to save their leader, who they’ve actually known all their lives, are akin to, and believe in, it’s utterly implausible to me that they’d arrive behind Bilbo.  And if I make myself believe it did happen…instead of liking Bilbo better I simply like the dwarves less.  I cannot like the dwarves less at the end of the first film involving them if I’m going to be excited about seeing the second.

 

Third big movie thought: Riddles in the Dark was glorious.  I’m fairly certain Andy Serkis’s Gollum is incapable of doing anything without being awesome.  Additionally, this was the scene where Bilbo felt more like Bilbo to me.

 

Other things:

-Thror’s beard is hypnotic.

-Galadriel’s clothes are so ridiculously, dazzlingly, beautiful it was hard to pay attention to anything else.

-I am totally good with the blatant reunion scenes like Galadriel and Saruman showing up at Rivendell.  It’s just so good to see them.

-Radagast the Brown threw me for a loop.  I sat there going, “I have no memory of this.”  On the other hand, it’s been long enough since I read “The Hobbit” that I couldn’t be completely sure I hadn’t just forgotten.  Once I assured myself this actually was a new thing, it kindof rocked.  I’m a fan of smacktalk involving bunnies, saving hedgehogs, and mysterious ghost blades.  Also, Saruman’s scolding about mushrooms even outdoes his chiding of Gandalf in “Fellowship of the Ring” about smoking “the halflings’ leaf.”

-All the elves and their new accoutrement: it is glorious.

-I’m reacting to the Pale Orc the same way I do to purely decorative but not very tasty frosting: I understand why it’s there, so I tolerate it, but I’d sooner it were gone.

-It truly bothered me that at the end no one thanks the eagles for saving them, even a little bit.  No wonder they take so long to show up in Lord of the Rings.

-In the book Bilbo’s grand rejoining of the company after the goblins’ mountain was far more rockstar.  I don’t understand passing up this opportunity.

-With three films to fill I was expecting more of Tolkein’s songs.  Think we’ll get more of that in the next one?

 

 

Tolkeinmas Tale-ols 2: “The Two Towers”

The next Christmas carol I’ve bent into service as a festive song to celebrate Peter Jackson and his Tolkein films commemorates “The Two Towers” to the tune of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”

 

“Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land”

 

Uruks come,

couldn’t miss them.

Theoden,

Are ya listenin’?

Saruman the White, besieges us tight,

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

Gone away is Eomer.

Here to stay is Aragorn.

Protecting us when, it begins again,

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

At helm’s Deep we can fight by the elves

And pullback behind our rows of walls.

They will try to kill us as we slay them,

And Aragorn will see we never lose our balls.

 

Later on, at 5th sunrise,

Gandalf comes, with our good guys,

Now fight unafraid-uruks’ll get PAID.

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

At Helm’s Deep we can fight with heroes,

And charge out for ruin and the red dawn.

We will win the day for the Rohirrim,

As the ents face Saruman on his lawn.

 

Later on, with the hobbits,

Isengard’s forced to stop it.

Now mankind’s been saved,

the way has been paved,

Walking through a Rohan Warrior-land.

 

For the “Fellowship of the Ring” carol see: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/tolkeinmas-tale-ols-1-fellowship-of-the-ring/

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