Sunday, February 26, 2012

With Apologies to Petula Clark, Things Will Be Great When You're 'Downton'

(From today's Times and News-Star)

Until last week I thought a footman was a podiatrist and a valet would fetch your car after the big party, if you tipped.

But that was my pre-Downton Abbey life. PDA. If you live in a world unfamiliar with this British TV series, please listen and you will send me crumpets and roses after you meet Lord Grantham and Anna the Head Housemaid and Mr. Bates (who I like but who is starting to get on my nerves for some reason) and the matchless Maggie Smith as Violet, Countess of Grantham, a one-woman comedy team who throws verbal haymakers without reserve. One writer has said that the purpose of the whole series might be nothing more than the creation of a specific world in which Maggie Smith can wield barbs “like an aristocratic ninja.”

I love her so!

Years ago, at long last unhooked from the long arm of the law in the form of the infernal NYPD Nude, I vowed to not watch a TV series again. Took too much time. I strayed into “The Wire” a few years back – what a memorable outing -- but have been clean since.

But that was before Downton Abbey. I am attached as by television Velcro. A slave to the series.

Like many of you, I was unwashed, is all, to the things of your European aristocracy. But I know now that there is a world where men wear bowties at supper, where women are daily corseted like an NBA tenny shoe and where both would rather die than have the neighbors find out there’s Bama preserves in the icebox and Little Debbies on the kitchen counter.

Downton Abbey (does this sound like a London streetwalker's stage name to just me?) is all the rage in the television world, something I didn’t know about until my friend Lil’ Tone told me. He’s a man about town and knows these sorts of things. He explained that it was on PBS, had just completed its second season, was winning awards hither and yon for “Best Series” and things like that, and was “drawing a huge share” of the TV viewing audience.

Lil’ Tone called it a “British television period drama,” a near soap opera actually, set in a “big, huge castle.”

“Is it like Monty Python?” was my question. “I love Monty Python. Do they sing? Will they do skits? Does John Clee…”

“You are a stupid and largely unromantic person,” Lil’ Tone said.

I ordered Season One for $19.95 and gave it to my spousal unit for Valentine’s Day because nothing says romance quite like seven hours of unknown television, unless it’s maybe an unrehearsed trip to O’Charley’s. Or perhaps Olive Garden.

Ignorant and unromantic my foot.

Proving that a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, the gift was a cinematic homer! We knocked out Season One in three nights – I have not watched this much TV in one sitting since the football bowl games – and are counting the minutes until the mailman shows up with the hastily ordered Season Two. (Plus, I got out of Valentine’s Day for under 50 bucks/pounds, give or take. Ha ha! Hahahahaha! I am so The Man!)

The problem now is that Season 3 won’t even shoot until spring. (Lazy Brits!) I cannot make my Season 2 DVDs – if they’ll ever get here! -- last longer than a week, even if I summon all of the tiny bit of willpower I possess. What ever will I…?

Thank goodness baseball’s spring training started this week.