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!

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

I enjoyed watching “The Dark Knight Rises.”  It was a fun, packed movie with all the spectacle one can expect from this genre and series.  Watching it felt like getting tossed around on a thrill ride, with all the excitement and pleasure that goes with that.  However, whenever there was a moment to access the situation, a lot seemed unclear.  And once the movie ended, things felt pretty shaky.  The simplest way that I could sum up this plot is that the French Revolution from A Tale of Two Cities comes to Gotham, and its version of the’ tragic backstory of one family’s pain tying everything together’ is pretty kickass.  Plus, they have Cillian Murphy.  The near parroting of Sydney Carton’s famous last line was something I could have done without, though.  It felt cheesy and unimaginative, and sent me dodging right out of the story just when I was supposed to receive an emotional punch.  Luckily, the ending was solid enough for me to leave the theater on a good note.


My reactions are based on the movies alone as I have never read the comics or done anything else in the Batman verse.  Therefore, I was not eager about this movie the way many were.  On the other hand, I had no expectations for the plot and foresaw none of the twists, the way many fans did, which made my experience somewhat more intriguing than those in-the-know.  Nevertheless, I do have more thoughts.

Additional comments (spoilers included):


1. My largest issue with the film was the way Anne Hathaway delivered her beginning lines about being poor and stealing because she needed to.  It all sounded so saccharine, so trite, so fake.  I thought she was making it all up, or at least playing true things to make her sound good when really she’d be stealing anyway.  Sounding obviously fake would be bad in that situation, but one could presume she was unused to being confronted like that and so new to verbal improv.  Discovering it was not only true, but the driving motivation behind Catwoman’s every move stunned me and made it hard to take Catwoman seriously at all.  More importantly, when the poor-rising-up/French Revolution popped up, I was unprepared.  A lot of Bane’s speeches don’t make a lot of sense unless you’re already expecting a lot of people on the brink of rising up against their situation.  “Reclaim what is yours!”  Okay…and that would be what?  Cause right now what I don’t have is safety and I presume that’s not what you’re saying.  Then Cillian Murphy slapped me in the face with FRENCH REVOLUTION.  Then things fell into place, but I felt a bit disappointed because then it was clear that Hathaway’s initial lines were supposed to be what prepared us for this, what pointed the way to FRENCH REVOLUTION and I couldn’t even buy them as showing something real about Catwoman.  I think I would’ve enjoyed this film so much more if only someone had said those lines in a way that really sold me on ‘the rich are going down.’

2. Bane’s mask frequently made him difficult to understand.  If you’re going to go Darth Vadery with a mask and amplified breath/voice sound, then you have got to do it right.

3. Cillian Murphy’s straw-and-scarecrow sleeves were BRILLIANT. (Death.  By EXILE.)

4. How come Bruce never gets around to dealing with the fact that Rachel chose someone else over him?  Cause the most I saw is that he slept with Talia to try and move past it when he saw her holding Rachel’s photo.  That’s hardly real coping and should not be shown as a successful way to get past such a traumatic issue.  Perhaps he really was over Rachel before the film started and he just used her as an excuse not to do anything else?

5. I love Talia’s backstory.  I even enjoyed the twist and its timing.  However, part of the reason was that I was just so relieved that woman finally had a real character.  She was an inkwell before.  Having guys talk about her behind her back to Bruce Wayne does not count as a personality.

6. Here’s the thing, though: when The Pit (of Despair) is the place with the most reasonable people and most supportive community feeling…how am I even supposed to finish that sentence?  I mean, talk about rehabilitating a society!  Gotham could learn a lot from the change from Talia’s time in the pit and Bruce’s.  Makes me think Bane would be a good civil leader, if only he weren’t obsessed with Talia.

7.Liam Neeson owns your mind.  Forever.

8.If all they had to do to keep the coreless fusion reactor from exploding was flood the place, couldn’t they have done that before?  Wouldn’t the real Mr. Fox have done that in the first place, before allowing Bane to make the core a bomb?  Or slipped back in and done it before it was just about to go off?  Why was this a huge game-changer with the government folk if that’s all they needed to do?  Apparently no one was guarding that coreless part.

9.Why does everybody pick on Gordon?  He is the ONLY one who ever gets anything done reasonably in Gotham.  Batman, while effective, can hardly be described as reasonable.  It’s true Blake tried, but he shot someone in his first altercation, spent time snarking at Gordon after hearing about Dent when they had far graver things to worry about, and is about to join vigilante justice in some sort of super-suit and live in the Batcave.  While justifiable, none of this can be described as properly reasonable.  Gordon is my favorite.

10. What kind of weird tech could Fox have whipped up so freaking BATMAN in his heavy suit could walk on the ice that couldn’t hold skinny bureaucrats up?  Is that how Bruce Wayne got back to Gotham when it was locked down with government help?

11. When Batman told Blake to lead the exodus it seemed just like Hector charging Aeneas to get out and found Rome.

12. I liked hearing the word ‘Robin’.  It’s one of the very few Batman things I know, so it was fun.  I’ve seen some fans dislike this, but I’m glad the movie made the more widely-known choice.

13. A friend asked why Talia didn’t go after the warlord who put her mother in the Pit.  My first response was that as a warlord, he wasn’t likely to live long enough for Talia to find her fatherly reinforcements and get around to him.  However, thinking about him, one does wonder.  He’s cruel enough to put his own daughter in the pit.  On the other hand, she requested it.  Plus, he did arrange for her to have her own safe space and a doctor.  Clearly, he wanted her to have her child in safety, if not in dignity or privacy.  I hardly think there just was a safe space like that down there-that doesn’t seem in keeping with the chaos and even-the-pregnant-woman-gets-lowered-by-rope-cause-if-higher-ups-go-down-they’ll-be-slaughtered thing.  The warlord got that space created, had a key made so a doctor could attend her, and possibly condemned a doctor to the pit specifically so his daughter could have proper medical treatment.  The more I think about it, the more I think he might’ve just put her there until the baby was born, which as a lord he would’ve wanted to hide for political reasons anyway, so he could still marry her off, and been about to release her when she died.  To me that makes it even more poignant.

14. Why did the doctor say he had to stay in the Pit because he couldn’t totally fix Bane’s face?  He tried, he clearly didn’t join in the attack, and Bane’s supposed to be the guy who values good and innocence, like those not attacking him over the child.  Moreover, wasn’t his real mistake the whole ‘I forgot to lock the door and that’s what started the attack-Bane-and-Talia’ thing?  Nevermind anything after that, his lack of lock responsibility started everything.  Is he just lying?  Because he did go on to admit he forgot to lock the door, so he had no motivation to lie.  The only reason for that would have been so the movie had another misdirect about Bane being the child instead of Talia.  I dislike it when characters say things for movie reasons that don’t overlap with their own.

15. Blake says he saw the I’m-angry-about-my-bad-childhood look on Bruce Wayne’s face when Blake was young.  This means Blake realized Bruce was Batman…how???  That was really glossed over…badly.

16. My favorite Catwoman moment was when she played hysterical-female-victim for the police.  I think most people would have played the contrast between that and her follow-up calculating look as “You’d expect a woman to do this, but this one’s special,” and Hathaway played “This is  feminine archetype, but that’s just how men see me when they’re not seeing who I really am” and it had nothing to do with Catwoman being special, but with stereotypes masking women’s true characters every day.  That was awesome.