Downton Abbey--Upstairs/Downstairs, Stiff Upper Lips, and Tea!

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Matryeshka, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    I would assume that at one time in its distant past, it actually was an abbey. Now, no longer tied to its former religious functions (and much added to by successive generations), it retains the historic name. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, a number of former abbeys were converted into private country homes.

    ETA: Civic beat me to it.
  2. ChelleC

    ChelleC Well-Known Member

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    I'll try to remember to post it in February when the season ends.
  3. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member

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    I just saw Iain Glen (Sir Richard) play another conniving baddie in Spooks last year, so I had to laugh once this turned out to be a similar part.
  4. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

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    This show was just a story today on the NBC nightly news: The focus was a short remembrance of the "wildly" popular "Upstairs/Downstairs" and now we have the wildly popular "Downton Abbey." I knew a lot of us were watching but to make the nightly news: I am both surprised and delighted.

    "Brideshead Revisited" was mentioned earlier. This show does not remind me of that program except for two points: One is the difficulty in those times of marrying for love without the consideration of money/titles/ownership etc.. And I thought BR was magnificently written and acted and feel the same way about DA.
  5. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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    Thanks, I just watched the NBC news segment here (ETA corrected link): http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/#45934794

    All 4 episodes of Season 1 can be viewed online -- in the US only? -- at PBS.org until January 17, 2012, and episode 1 of Season 2 is online now: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/watch/index.html
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  6. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    What is a British historical soap without an illegitate son popping up and claiming to be the heir? Preferably the son of a long-lost black sheep brother or cousin whom everyone assumes is dead and no one talke about.

    Terrible Thomas has all the earmarks of being SOMEONE'S illegitimate son, the chip on the shoulder, and why is O'Brien always so concerned about him?
  7. moojja

    moojja Active Member

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    If he's illegitimate, then he can't be the heir. Not even a decree by parliament can change that. But if Matthew dies, then there will be actual incentive to go to parliament and petition for Mary to become the heir. If there's no legitimate heir to a title, it's not unheard of to allow the female to be the heir, then her husband will be the next earl.

    It would be interesting plot twist for Matthew to be missing thought to be dead, then Mary becomes heir presumptive, only for Matthew to come back. Only now he's just a lawyer and Mary's the heir presumptive to Downton Abbey.
  8. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Didn't a lot of aristocrats lose everything during/after the War? It may become irrelevant who the heir is. It may become a story about who can survive/succeed in the modern world.
  9. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    I think being working class and gay in Edwardian Britain, apparently with some latent sociopathic tendencies, is more than enough. O'Brien's just a bitter old hag and knows a kindred spirit when she sees one (though at least she had the grace to change her mind about setting up Lady Cora to fall, if not fast enough to stop it.)
  10. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I didn't catch the gay part, but it was my first time watching. My local PBS station ran the last 2 and the current episode back to back on Sunday, so I got the intensive version.
  11. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    It was a subplot in the first episode of Season 1. Thomas had a relationship with the Duke who came to call on Mary and suss out her inheritance prospects. The actor who played the Duke, Charlie Cox, also plays Owen on Boardwalk Empire.
  12. moojja

    moojja Active Member

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    Isn't that why the father married Cora, b/c they ran out of money. They can do that again, and Richard, the new love interest, is very rich. Besides a title is always attractive, and an earl is pretty high up there.

    Would be interesting to see what happens when the depression hits. Since Cora is an American, I'm assuming her money is tied up to the US stock market. Even if it wasn't, all stock markets took a hit during the 30s.
  13. cygnus

    cygnus Liberal Furry

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    No, the laws of succession to a particular peerage are clearly laid out, and the vast majority can only go to "heirs male of the body lawfully begotten" of the original grantees. ie legitimate heirs in the male line. There are a few exceptions, but these exceptions were put into the original patent granting the title. For example when Lord Mountbatten was given his earldom, it was specifically written that his daughters were in succession, as he had no sons. Lord Nelson's earldom went to his brother on his death, as he had no legitimate children and again it was written into the patent. The Dukedom of Marlborough can descend in the female line too, as it was written down in the patent. For the rest, the title will just die out if there are no legitimate heirs- hundreds have done so in the past century. The property once a line dies out is a different story- I imagine that that can go to daughters, but it would depend on the entailment.

    There are a few very old (medieval titles) that can descend through the female line as well, as they were created before the patents were written down. The Earldom of Arundale is one such, as is the Earldom of Mar. Scottish succession works a bit differently too- and some Scottish titles can descend through the female line as well.

    But the fictional earldom of Grantham is none of these - IF Matthew is the only heir in the male line (do we know that for sure?), then the title will die out. The property might be able to go to Mary, though.
  14. moojja

    moojja Active Member

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    There have been cases where the title died due to no male heirs, then revived for the daughter's husband. (I was reading a biography about Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's last wife, her brother was married off to an heiress with that assumption in mind. That her father's title will be revived and given to him.)
    It's not common and it's not automatic. But it has been done. So maybe that's why Mary said in the first season, she'll needs a parliamentary decree to inherit. But since the real Earl of Grantham went extinct, she just might mean the money and not the title.
  15. cygnus

    cygnus Liberal Furry

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    Yes, but those were the older titles that I mentioned- it would not be done for a title more recently created than Tudor times.

    The most recent example of something like you mentioned was the Dukedom of Fife. The title was created in the 1890s (a promotion from and Earldom of Fife) when the Earl married a daughter of Edward Prince of Wales (later Edward Vll). When they had only daughters, a NEW Dukedom was created with the proviso that the elder daughter could inherit the title when her father died. Note that they couldn't just change the old one, they had to create a new title of the same name. But that was for a Royal (or semi royal) title. They have never, to my knowledge, done that for a non-royal title. Certainly not the Earldom of Grantham. As I have said hundreds of titles have died out in the past century.
  16. Parsley Sage

    Parsley Sage Well-Known Member

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    I'm watching "Pompeii, The Last Day" on PBS and Mr Carson is one of the citizens.
  17. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Well-Known Member

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    Goodness!!! No wonder he was feeling rather unwell from overwork on Sunday night! Amazing that he even made the attempt to serve the dinner at his great age. :D
  18. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Actually Downton is what was called "entailed" and it's been specifically referred to as an entailment--the same thing happened to the Bennetts in "Pride and Prejudice"--Mr. Bennett HAD to leave his estate to the male-line descendant no matter what if he didn't have a son of his own. He couldn't split off property to give to his daughters, hence the importance of at least one marrying well. In the case of Downton Abbey it's not so much the title, even, that's all that important, it's that apparently the Dowager insisted that if her son married Cora, Cora's fortune would be legally brought into the state and made subject to the entail and that means Cora cannot separate any of what she brought to the marriage and leave it to her daughters. The assumption was, no big deal, they'll have a son, he'll inherit, take care of his sisters, and the fortune stays in the immediate family. Now it's not just that Downton goes to Matthew (or the next male heir down the line), Cora's fortune goes with it. The daughters are basically left hoping to A. marry rich, B. hope for largesse from a cousin who starts as a near-total stranger, or C. get a job. Their parents can't leave them a thing.

    This is also about the last point in British history where the situation can come up, too, as while I don't recall the exact date, the laws were changed to eliminate entails.
  19. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    Mr Carson is also in Shakespeare In Love.
  20. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

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    Just finished watching the second season!

    I have to admit I wasn't really planning on watching it at all...I knew that it was going to air at some point but I never sought it out. Then a few weeks ago I read a spoiler in this thread about the Christmas special (mainly the ending) and I was like, "Awwww YEAH!" Talk about payoff. ;) So the second season it was!

    I'm going to spoiler the rest just in case. :)

    I really enjoyed the second season. I found all the characters MUCH less tiresome than the first season, even Mrs. O'Brian. The whole season seemed to flow much better without the whole sabotage storyline. Edith was nice too...I was rooting for her, and I was happy when she found her niche. I hope that the next season develops her character more and gives her some more action, since she will be the only daughter left unattached.

    The new characters were good. I liked Ethel, and I really liked Lavinia. I know that Mary and Matthew are fated for each other, but she was so nice...I wish she could have had a better resolution; she deserved something better than the martyr's death. :p

    I thought that the Anna/Bates storyline was REALLY irking; it just dragged on way too long. They're a nice couple but not one I'm willing to agonize over so much for. Yeah, they kind of hammered that story too much.

    Given the ending of this current season, how do you think the next season will progress?
    I think it might take awhile to actually get Mary and Matthew to the alter, and I HOPE it's not too long and drawn out...they just need to get over it and get married. Although I'd miss seeing the lead-up, I'd almost not mind if the new season opened on their wedding day!
  21. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Who was the guy who came to pick up Mary in his new car, but ended up with Edith instead. He seemed easily discouraged when he came to propose to Edith and Mary scared him off. Was he a goldigger also?
  22. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    No, he was a rich, middle-aged neighbor. Edith wanted to marry him but Mary told him that she was 'dreading a proposal that night from some old bore' so he never asked.

    In Mary's defense, she was retaliating for her sister's outing the Pamuk episode.
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  23. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    Which I always thought was stupid . . . it only was going to help everyone if Edith married a rich guy. Sure, she was spiting her sister, but getting her married and out of the house would have helped Mary too.
  24. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Mary doesn't always seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, to be fair. Edith isn't the only one prone to stupid vindictive behavior. Run, Sibyl! Get out while you can!

    I have to feel sorry for the chauffer. Seems like he's doomed to be the working-class guy falling for the upper-class lady (Allan Leech played Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in Rome, where they had him, accurrately or not, falling for Octavia.)
  25. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    What was the Pamuk episode about? I gather Mary and her mother were dragging around some corpse connected to the Turkish Embassy. Did Mary actually do something scandalous, or was it all about innuendo?
  26. D&Sfan4ever

    D&Sfan4ever Living in a Snark

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    The turkish diplomat forced himseft into Mary's room (with Thomas's help) and basically convinced her to sleep with him. After "having fun" in bed, he suddently collapsed and died.
    Before anyone asks, no, it was not rape, Mary admitted she wanted to do it.
  27. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Dear me, Thomas does get around.
  28. kittyjake5

    kittyjake5 Well-Known Member

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    Finally got to watch the first episode of the new season, loved it. Mary who imo showed such a strong character in the first season seems a little wimpy. I was expecting some fireworks between her, Matthew, and his fiancé, maybe next week. Sorry to see Bates go. Maggie Smith was gloriously funny as always especially when she found out that Downton Abbey may be used as a convalescence home for the injured soldiers.
  29. Reuven

    Reuven Official FSU Alte Kacher

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  30. Fergus

    Fergus Well-Known Member

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    Likeability of her character notwithstanding, IMHO it's Michelle Dockery who should be getting the Best Actress nominations for "DA", not Elizabeth McGovern.

    (My apologies to any and all rabid McGovern fans.....I loved her in "Ragtime"!) :D
  31. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    Agreed. Of course she's mesmerizingly beautiful, it's hard to separate that out from her acting talent, but that role is challenging. Mary can be a mean girl, a doofus, oddly dignified and loving, all in the same episode.
  32. viennese

    viennese Well-Known Member

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    Agree 100% about the actress playing Lady Mary - I change my mind about the character about 10x an episode.
  33. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Well, in fairness, in that case Thomas got his own blackmail turned back on him a bit--he made a misjudged pass at Pamuk (he's Turkish, not in a Turkish prison, Thomas) and Pamuk basically said "You help me get into Lady Mary's room or I tell your boss you're a filthy pervert."

    Okay, Michelle Dockery? Did not recognize her, but no wonder she can be a bit frosty, she's Death's granddaughter.
  34. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    Not just spite, but wouldn't it make Mary look like a failure if her younger sister married before her as well?

    I know Sybil does, but she "ran off" with the chauffer and after the Great War as well, so it's a bit different.
  35. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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  36. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    That and especially a younger sister who is perceived as unattractive (the parents have apparently written her off as a spinster - "she can take care of us in our old age" - ouch! No wonder she is spiteful.
  37. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

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    I'm always rooting for Edith! :respec:
  38. Fergus

    Fergus Well-Known Member

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    ^ And His Lordship's ambiguous response: "What a ghastly thought".

    For whom? The two of them stuck with picklepuss in their twilight years or Edith stuck babysitting the geriatrics? :lol:
  39. my little pony

    my little pony snarking for AZE

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    but edith did damage to her own marriage chances when she wrote the letter to the turkish embassy or wherever since it could cause scandal for the whole family

    just an aside, she reminds me of the poem "pointy birds" from the man with 2 brains

    another aside, i have a friend who keeps writing me about "downtown abbey" and it is driving me crazy. i asked her if she used auto correct and she said no.
  40. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I thought it was Downtown Abbey too, until I saw the show and the name was on the train station.

    I'm with Nubka, I think Edith will turn out all right after the war. Thomas was at least kind to the suicidal soldier, Mary is the one who seems like an awful pill. I hope no one nice gets stuck with her.