Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey — Look Out! Here It Comes Again!

Downton Abbey is coming back, this time in the form of a movie.

Most of the cast—except for Isis, the unfortunately named dog, and the actors whose characters were killed off by Lady Mary (aka “The Black Widow”) or by the murderous Mr and Mrs Bates and their creepy secret son, Norman—will return.

UK release is scheduled for 13 September 2019, with US release a week later.

While You’re Waiting…

Meanwhile, back at the stately manor, tickets are available for Downton Abbey: The Exhibition in West Palm Beach, Florida, through late April 2019. No word yet on where the traveling show will land next.


Brideshead Downton Abbey ReVisited

After years of relentlessly mocking the looniness of Downton Abbey while never missing an episode of the series, there was no way that I could pass up a chance to spend an afternoon at “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” while I was in New York.

It was a treat.

Throughout the New York show, you’re greeted by some of the principal Downton actors, in costume and in character, via HD video. The exhibition covers three floors and contains hundreds—or, more likely, thousands—of props, costumes, and furnishings from the TV series. Snippets of dialog from the series play at related parts of the exhibition.  The use of technology to enrich the experience is flawless.

The first floor of the exhibition focuses on the servants and the “Downstairs” portion of the house, starting with the kitchen.

The informative signage that explained the roles and duties of the various members of the household was particularly good.

The servants’ dining table.

Mr. Carson and Mrs Hughes in Mr. Carson’s Office.

Mr. Carson’s Desk shows an attention to detail that’s typical of the exhibition.

If you looked closely at the pictures, you might have noticed something peculiar about the representation of the servants. I think that it must allude to a particularly dark episode in the Crowley family history. During the 1926 General Strike, Lady Violet was left in charge of the Abbey while the Crowley men went off to shoot some random strikers. As the hours wore on and her consumption of sherry grew apace, she became increasingly unhinged, until, fearing a violent revolution was about to bring down the Abbey and all it symbolized, she had the entire Downton underclass decapitated and stuffed.

The next morning, in the cold light of day—cold, because she’d offed the servant responsible for seeing that the rooms were warmed before the family awoke—she expressed extreme regret for her impetuous actions, once she realized there was no one left to prepare her morning tea.

Churchill helped the family cover up the incident, and the TV series tactfully ignored it.

Leaving behind the Morlocks who labour below the earth, we ascend to the golden, carefree world of the Eloi….

Oh, wait.  Wrong story,

The second floor is all about The Family and everything here—the clothes, the furniture, the people—is brighter, richer, and more colourful.

The Dining Room was a show-stopper.

Lady Violet has a little display area entirely to herself, where the audio features some of her better-known witticisms, including the one that has always seemed to me to be an excellent example of the series getting things hopelessly, unforgivably wrong.

Viewing a well-set dining table like the one in the picture above, she says, “Nothing succeeds like excess”, at which point I’ve been known to shout “No. No. No!” at the TV screen. A tacky sentiment like that would never come from Old Money. It’s something a Trump would say.

The third floor has a small display of miscellaneous costumes. After the richness of the rest of the show, it’s a bit anticlimactic.

Wedding Gowns.

So that was my afternoon at Downton. The show is beautifully put together, and I had a delightful time.

“Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” — Now at a New Low Price

Wanna visit Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition in New York, but can’t afford the $35 admission? The Crawley family has a deal for you!

As you probably know, Downton Abbey is perpetually in danger of being sold to satisfy the creditors of the gullible and financially incompetent Earl of Grantham, who falls for the machinations of card sharks and Ponzi schemers with clock-like regularity. (On a recent trip to New York, he stumbled across a three-card Monte set-up in Times Square. The dealer now owns Downton’s East Wing.)

But Downton’s loss can be your gain! Even though the Crawleys are loath to admit commoners ne’er-do-wells poor white trash those awful people the general public to Downton’s hallowed halls, money is money, and needs must.

Travelzoo to the rescue! The site is offering tickets to the exhibition for $20, and the offer is good for the rest of the show, which is now scheduled to close on 2 April 2018. (No word yet on where it will turn up next.)

The Earl of Grantham—his given name is “Robert”, but grifters around the world call him “Mark”—will appreciate your patronage, particularly now, since he’s lent his daughters’ dowries to a former Nigerian Treasury official, and the rascal seems to have dropped out of sight.

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures from the exhibition.

Downton Abbey — Party Like It’s 1925

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which I’ve previously mentioned, has extended its New York run, and is now offering a new, interactive feature:

It’s 21+, and tickets are $225. The package includes:

  • A three-hour cocktail soiree with Edwardian inspired passed hors d’oeuvres and passed small plates menu
  • Unlimited bar featuring a Downton Abbey inspired cocktail
  • Access to the Exhibition
  • Exclusive screening of rarely before seen cast footage
  • A complimentary Downton Abbey: The Exhibition keepsake book
  • A complimentary media guide for touring the exhibition

“Guests are welcome to dress in their best Downton Attire. All waitstaff will be in period costume, providing service of which Carson would be proud.”

Four Questions about Downton Abbey, and Four Tentative Answers

In my earlier posting about the upcoming Downton Abbey touring exhibition, I mentioned my mixed feelings about the show, and promised to elaborate on some of my reservations. I’ve dealt with anachronisms, false notes, and “borrowed” plots in earlier write-ups, so in this entry, I’m just going to tackle some loose ends.

Here are four mysteries I wondered about at the beginning of each series of Downton Abbey, and their probable solutions:

Will Lord Grantham’s financial incompetence put the family at risk of losing Downton Abbey yet again?

Yes, but some distant relative will conveniently die and leave them another massive inheritance, just in time. That seems to happen to them a lot, which is fortunate, since the gullible Lord Grantham is a sucker for every grifter and swindler within 100 miles of the Abbey.

Will the most scandal-plagued family in England somehow remain socially acceptable?

Yes, but god knows how, what with all the dead diplomats, resident card sharks, illegitimate babies, felonious servants, wayward daughters, Irish terrorists, and other riff-raff that make Downton Abbey home. And don’t forget resident visitors like that trashy Lady Rose, who should have been sent off to India to cavort with the natives and drink herself to death, but wound up at Downton instead.

The Usual Suspects

Are Mr and Mrs Bates competing with Lady Mary to see which of them can kill the most people without getting caught?

I think so. I’ve always believed that Mr and Mrs Bates, both suspected murderers, were guilty as sin, and that after fleeing the country one step ahead of the police, they settled in California, and opened…the Bates Motel.

As for Lady Mary, aka “The Black Widow”, isn’t it suspicious that every male who gets involved with her winds up dead? There was that aforementioned diplomat, and then her husband, who died immediately after she gave birth to a son and heir, thereby giving her control of Downton for the following 21 years, just in time for WWII to finish the job and give her another 20 years. And remember that dead potential spouse and heir from the first season? I would not be at all surprised if Lady Mary was complicit in the sinking of the Titanic.

And what will happen to the pigs?

The pigs will get very, very fat. Remember, when the series ended, Mr and Mrs Bates and The Black Widow were still in residence. They’ll probably use the pigs the same way that Al Swearengen used them in the magnificent Deadwood: As a very opportune way to dispose of superfluous corpses.

“Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” — Coming Soon to a Stately Home Near You

I’m as much of an Anglophile as Her Majesty herself, and considerably more so than that Greek bloke she married. (You want proof? I used the word “bloke” in the last sentence, and who but a true son of Albion would do a thing like that?)

My Anglophilia is the reason I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Downton Abbey.

Yes, the plots were absurd, the characterizations were paper-thin, and the anachronisms were beyond counting. But…it was British! And not just British, but Stately Home British, which is the best kind of British to be.

I never missed an episode.

So I’ll almost certainly make my way to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which opens in New York next week. It looks like standard admission for adults is $30, and a typical visit lasts about an hour. Tickets are on sale for dates through January, at which point the New York show will either be extended or travel to another as yet unannounced location.

I’ll elaborate on some of my issues with Downton in my next posting. I tend to get a bit too snarky when I talk about it, and this tour announcement isn’t the place for snark.

And Then There Were None — First Teaser

In the United States, the week between Christmas and New Years is pretty much a TV dead zone.  Not so in the UK, where the BBC and ITV bring out their four-star specials.   This year, the schedule looks particularly rich.

I’ve already posted items about the début of Dickensian (26 December 2015, on BBC One) and the return of Holmes and Watson in The Abominable Bride (1 January 2016, on BBC One), the one-off episode the takes Sherlock back to his Victorian roots.   Many popular series have special extended episodes around the holidays:  Doctor Who and Call the Midwife* are set for Christmas Day on BBC One, and the final episode of Downton Abbey** will play on ITV the same day.

The plot thickens.  BBC One will follow the Boxing Day début of Dickensian with the first episode of a three-part adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

And Then There Were None is Christie’s best-selling book, and the best-selling mystery of all time, with over 100 million copies sold.  It’s arguably her best work, and the one that Christie said it was her most difficult book to write.    (She wrote something like 85 novels, but I’ve always thought of them as five or six original stories and 80 variations of the same tale.)

There have been numerous adaptations of the book for film, theatre, and television.  This new version is supposed to be darker and more graphic than the others, with language that might make the rather prudish Dame Agatha blush.  The stellar cast includes, well, all the usual suspects: Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Charles (Is there anything he isn’t in these days?) Dance, Aidan Turner, Douglas Booth, and Toby Stephens.

Should be fun.  And if it doesn’t work out, just wait:   20th Century Fox has acquired the feature rights to And Then There Were None.  A new movie version should be out in the next year or so.

*How long will it be before Bravo launches a series named Call the Real Midwives of Orange County?  Since that sleazy Andy Cohen has made the network unwatchably trashy, it’s only a matter of time.

**In the spirit of the holidays, I’m not going to write anything snarky about Downton Abbey. Besides, I just slimed Andy Cohen, so I’m feeling mellow.