I noticed even Laura Linney in the opening intro is excited over Downton’s return. I’ll admit, I am too, even though I’ve come to the conclusion it’s just All My Children in livery.
As you know from Season 2, it’s 1920 and Matthew and Mary are finally going to tie the knot, so we open with their oh so boring wedding rehearsal led by a fat priest who under no circumstances should ever wear red.
Cut to – the kitchen to find Daisy in a snit because she’s still Mrs. Patmore’s lowly assistant. She was promised a pro-mo-tion so Thomas advises her to go on strike, which she does, by sitting at the table with her arms crossed. She’s not exactly Norma Rae but she’s still cute as hell.
Thomas after last season locking Isis, the Earl’s beloved white Lab in a shed, has replaced Bates, who unlike the dog is still locked up, as the Earl’s valet. Speaking of Isis, I really think she could do a lot more on the show. I mean after 3 seasons she should at least have her own storyline…an affair with a hunting dog perhaps. Wonder who her agent is? Think I’ll write in.
Back to Bates who thank goodness is just jailed for life and not due to swing, an English term that does not mean wife swapping. He’s visited regularly by little Anna, the new and improved Mrs. Bates who’s determined to get him freed. What she should be telling him is to play nice with the other inmates since he casually tries to choke his roomie just because he’s a little irritating. Try to remember where you are Bates…it’s jail, not camp.
Sybil and her chauffeur husband are now coming to the wedding after Granny sent secret boat fare causing the Earl great distress worrying about what the village will think. Cousin Isobel, who now has a new job rehabilitating war widows who are now turning tricks, thinks he’s making a problem where one does not exist. Atta girl Issie.
One of my favorite moments is when at a dinner party Tom, aka Sybil’s chauffeur, is slipped a mickey by Larry Gray, her high school ex, that makes him scream and cry politics at dinner causing my girl Maggie Smith to demand to know “how do we stop him, he’s like a runaway train.” But then, Sir Anthony Strallan…you remember him, he’s the old guy that Edith likes with his arm in a sling, saves the day by exposing Larry’s little prank resulting in streams of compassion for Tom despite the fact that he’s just insulted the king. Matthew, flushed and furious, rises to the occasion by making Tom his best man as Sybil and Alfred, the giant new footman, drag him practically comatose upstairs.
“Bravo,” says cousin Isobel panning to Lady Mary with tears of pride in her eyes for her husband to be…but, not for long.
Seems Matthew has been left a bloody fortune by his late finance Lavinia’s father, but feels it would be wrong accepting it since, as he puts it, he basically took away her will to live and yes, he will be leaving his ego to science.
Unbeknownst to mostly everyone, The Earl who apparently is a Bozo of a businessman, has lost most of his wife’s fortune therefore bankrupting Downton that they now will undoubtedly have to sell.
Mary decides Matthew should give his guilty inheritance to her father to save the estate along with his forlorn face for being so stupid.
“But I con’t…cries Matthew. “You don’t understond Mah-rey…it’s joust not right.”
Mary has a meltdown, while looking chic of course, in the overly flowered foyer accusing him of not being on their side like they’re playing cricket. She then flees frantically upstairs in front of big mouth Edith no less.
But all is put on hold because Gram-ma-ma, played badly by Shirley Maclaine, is arriving for the festivities. I love Shirley, but the casting in this case is rather odd. First of all, she looks stuffed in her brocaded wardrobe powdered down like a chubby corpse. She’s supposed to be a wealthy American from New York and Newport, not Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke. However, in moments we get over this and giggle at how much she is loathed by Maggie Smith who calls her a homing pigeon.
After Mary decides perhaps they should call off the wedding since Matthew won’t pay up, it all happens without a hitch with the whole town waiting joyously in front of the church. Get a life people, I mean really.
Of course Downton wouldn’t be Downton without the servants acting up Daisy being the least of it. O’Brien, who happens to be Alfred the new footman’s aunt, gets mad at Thomas who won’t help Alfred become a valet by the next episode, so in protest she hides all the Earl’s dress shirts who is now forced to come down to dinner in a black business suit. “I feel like a Chicago bootlegga,” he tells his mother after ripping Thomas a new one for making such a gaffe.
Maggie, aka The Countess, tells her son he looks like a waiter in his black dinner jacket after asking him, by mistake, to get her a drink
I just love that Maggie.
Thomas, who’s about to kill O’Brien, rather than salt to take out the stain in Mr. Matthew’s evening coat, he gives Alfred something that burns a hole straight through causing Mr. Carson to demote him back to tall footman.
OOH…who will kill who first, O’Brien or Thomas? To be quite frank, she scares the shit out of me.
Ah, Mr. Carson who, between having to serve the chauffeur and not realizing the reason Mrs. Hughes is a little off is because she has found a lump in her breast, is utterly beside himself. The only time he appears happy is when he see’s his little Lady Mary lope down the staircase in her rather sedate looking wedding gown.
“Will I do Carson,” she asks like the virgin we know she is not before departing on her father’s arm who, after being asked if he’s happy says, ‘I am so, so huppy I think my hot might explooode.”
That Earl of Grantham is such a big woose, especially after we see him cry to Cora when he tells her they’re broke. “Oh my dear,” she says, falling to her knees. For a moment you think, sex, now? But instead she reassures him that all will be well.
Women, and the art of bait and switch.
I never thought I’d feel badly for that bitch Edith until she gets a letter from Sir Anthony saying he won’t be coming around anymore thanks to the Earl who has asked him to beat it because he’s just too old and a little too crippled. This pissed me off…I mean so what he only has one working arm…he forgets, Edith loves to drive and can’t get a date to save her life so use your head there Earl.
Cut to – Edith weeping in Shirley Maclaine’s fat lap begging her father to get him back which to his credit he does. But I have to say, that Earl has the backbone of a garden snake.
My favorite line was when Mary and Matthew return from their honeymoon and the Earl asks him how it all went and he says, “My eyes have been opened.” I’ll bet, since after screwing a sheik in Season-1 Mary must have been quite the little teacher. Hey I’m all for tutelage of any kind…think of the time it saves when one person actually knows what they’re doing.
The last act of Episode 1 is when Downton opens her doors to the town who thinks it’s coming to a formal, showy affair that Mary and her Countess of a Granny (Maggie) have arranged to impress Shirley into forking over the cash to save Downton. But guess what hoppens….the oven breaks and there’s no food to serve so Shirley takes over by announcing, “We will have an indoor picnic and everyone can sit anywhere they damn well please,” causing Carson to have heart palpitations.
Does Julian Fellowes write the show on acid you think?
Back to Shirley who leads everyone in a chorus of Let Me Call You Sweetheart singing a solo to Maggie Smith who looks terrified that she’s just encountered her first American lesbo, but we know better…
Shirley is just being Shirley