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Posts Tagged ‘TIDBITS’

Abbey Fabulous!

In Tidbits on March 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Lady Grantham (Kim Cattrall) and the Countess (Jennifer Saunders) in “Uptown Downstairs Abbey.” (Photo by BBC, courtesy The Daily Telegraph)

If you’re suffering from Downton Abbey separation anxiety – and who isn’t these days? – then hopefully this will tide you over until the addictive Edwardian era soap opera returns to PBS next year.

Uptown Downstairs Abbey, a biting two-part spoof that the BBC broadcast last week as part of Britain’s annual Comic Relief charity drive, is now on YouTube.

The 15-minute production features a cast of British comedy superstars, including Absolutely Fabulous’s Jennifer Saunders as the Countess, Dame Maggie Smith’s Downton Abbey role, and Joanna Lumley as the housekeeper, originally played by Phyllis Logan.

The show-stealer is Kim Cattrall, whose impersonation of Elizabeth McGovern, a.k.a. Lady Grantham, is flawless.

The Brits loved the spoof: The Daily Telegraph newspaper ranked Uptown Downstairs Abbey second on its list of this year’s 10 funniest Comic Relief moments. Read the rest of this entry »

Be It Resolved: Updating My 2011 Watch List

In Tidbits on February 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Louie (Louis C.K.) in “Louie’s” “Poker/Divorce” episode. (Screen cap)

I resolved to watch more television this year, beginning with The Good Wife, Justified and Louie – three series I’d read about but never seen.

I’ve now watched each show’s first six episodes.

My take on each:

The Good Wife. Better than I expected but not great. Sorry Wife; I know everyone loves you – and I gave your show a try – but I’m just not that into you.

Justified. Initially, I was mesmerized by Timothy Olyphant’s performance as heroic federal marshal Raylan Givens. But as the season progressed, I found it increasingly hard to believe a smart guy like Raylan would continually get tangled up with that unappealing Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter).

Louie. My favorite among these three and the only one I plan to keep watching. A spiritual descendent of Curb Your Enthusiasm and just as absurd, yet somehow real, too. Give Louie a try – if you haven’t already.

A History of Violet II: More Quips from Downton’s Dowager

In Tidbits on February 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

This poor woman feels as if she’s living in an H.G. Wells novel. (Screen cap)

Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Dame Maggie Smith) delivered more zingers in the final episodes of PBS’s Downton Abbey:

• “Is she making a suit of armor?”

Upon learning cousin Isobel borrowed “nitrate of silver” and “tincture of steel” to treat the valet Molesley

• “She reads too many novels.… Everyone goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.”

After learning that granddaughter Mary planned to confess a past indiscretion to almost-fiancé Matthew

• “I was right about my maid: She’s leaving – to get married. I mean, how can she be so selfish?”

• “First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.”

Reacting to the latest changes at Downton Abbey

• “What have I done wrong now?”

Responding to Isobel’s huffiness

• “Your quarrel is with my daughter Rosamund, not me. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Matching wits with Isobel, yet again

A History of Violet: Downton Abbey’s Queen of Quips

In Tidbits on January 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Would someone please explain the concept of weekends to this nice lady? (Screen cap)

Whether her character is bemused or bewildered, no one delivers a line like Dame Maggie Smith, the dowager countess Violet Crawley on Downton Abbey, PBS’s latest Masterpiece soap opera.

My favorites, so far:

• “No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house!”

Upon learning that Turkish attaché Kemal Pamuk died while visiting the Downton Abbey estate

• “One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper!”

Explaining why granddaughter Mary should get over Pamuk’s death

• “I don’t think things are quite that desperate.”

Responding to a suggestion that lovelorn Mary visit New York to find a husband

• “We had better get her settled, before the bloom is off the rose.”

Discussing Mary’s marital eligibility

• “What is a weekend?”

After hearing when a middle-class relative plans to tend to his duties as Downton’s new master

Censor Sensibilities: Downsizing Downton Abbey

In Tidbits on January 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

You can’t always trust British servants – or British tabloids. (Screen cap)

Is PBS dumbing down Downton Abbey for American audiences?

The pre-World War I era British soap opera – a big hit when it aired in the United Kingdom last fall – chronicles an aristocratic couple’s efforts to marry off their eldest daughter, who is legally prohibited from inheriting the family estate because – gasp! – she isn’t a man.

This week, The Mail on Sunday reported that the show’s producers slashed two hours from the seven-hour production and “simplified” the inheritance plotline because they feared Americans wouldn’t understand it.

But Rebecca Eaton, Downton’s American executive producer, has a message for the British tabloid: “You were wrong.”

Thirty-five minutes were cut from the show to create the four 90-minute installments that PBS is airing this month on its Masterpiece anthology series, Eaton said – adding that no characters, themes or plots were eliminated to accommodate what she called “the allegedly short attention span of Americans.”

Say You Want a Resolution? My TV Goals for the New Year

In Tidbits on January 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife.” (Photo by Justin Stephens/CBS)

I usually make my new year’s resolutions well in advance of January 1, but this one didn’t occur to me until today: I pledge to watch more television in 2011.

Believe it or not, I don’t consume much TV to begin with.

I’m well below 2010’s weekly average – 34 hours! – and there were tons of shows on the year-end best-of lists that I’ve never heard of (Archer?).

So I’ve decided to sample three shows in 2011:

The Good Wife. I’ve always dismissed this CBS drama as the kind of show that only menopausal women watch. Maybe I’m wrong.

Justified. This FX drama about federal marshals is one of the shows that I didn’t even know existed until recently.

Louie. I liked Louis C.K. on Parks and Recreation; how did I miss his FX comedy?

I’ll give these three a try and report back in a few weeks.

Stay tuned!

Wishing Upon a Star (Or Maybe Three)

In Tidbits on December 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Emile Hirsch, try television! (Photo by Jayson Laveris/FilmMagic; courtesy New York Magazine)

Since Showtime has cast Don Cheadle in its House of Lies comedy pilot – and since this is the season for wish lists – here are three more movie stars I’d love to see in TV series:

• Jude Law. PBS is reviving Upstairs, Downstairs next year, so why not remake another Masterpiece Theater classic – I, Claudius – with Law in the title role?

• Emile Hirsch. When Congress finally repeals Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, someone ought to produce a series about an idealistic, openly gay service member – the kind of role Hirsch plays so well on the big screen.

• Frances McDormand. Speaking of Congress, wouldn’t it be nice to have McDormand playing a determined, progressive House speaker in prime time?

Just as we relied on Jed Bartlet to survive George W. Bush’s White House years, I suspect we’ll need another prime time liberal to get us through the Boehner era on Capitol Hill.