Giving it the Quentin Tarantino treatment
The indentured servants here at Blaska Stately Manor are suckers for European nobility. They don’t mind class warfare as long as the upper class wins decisive victory, with suitable retribution. Restore the Hapsburgs!
One day soon the household staff will board the renovated school bus for a trip to the local multiplex to wallow in the decadent pleasures of Downton Abbey, the movie. (Is it true that Petula Clark has modified her 1964 hit for the opening credits? “Downton/No finer place for sure.”)
The staff never missed an episode during its six seasons on the rumpus room Philco. They cried when Lady Mary’s husband died in the traffic accident after seeing his newborn son for the first time. (Driving too fast for conditions. Now there is a life lesson!) Is it true actor Dan Stevens asked director Julian Fellowes if he could be resurrected for the movie? (“Just like I overcame paraplegia after WW1, they could find that I wandered away from the accident scene suffering amnesia; they buried the guy I hit because he was hamburger on the highway and thus, unrecognizable. I know I was hasty to walk away from the show. Gimme another chance. Maybe I could play Matthew’s heretofore long-thought-dead twin brother, Felix.”)
I do love the cast except for Elizabeth McGovern who plays the Earl of Grantham’s old lady. The poor woman just disappears into the screen. A test pattern has more screen presence. How difficult would it be to recast someone else in the role using CGI? Her character is supposed to be a New York City heiress worth millions. She should have some attitude! Winston Churchill’s mother Jenny Jerome was no fading wallflower.
• How about Ellen DeGeneres as Lady Cora? A real scamp, embarrassing the Crawleys’ hoity-toit friends at every opportunity. Think of the subtext: it’s never spoken but hinted that she might be gay. Maybe a thing for the scullery maid.
• You want attitude? It is spelled R.o.s.e.a.n.n.e. B.a.r.r. We hear she is available. Hey, the Earl married for money, right? Don’t take no shit, Sherlock.
• Our third choice would be Glenn Close, a real ball buster off her Fatal Attraction image. (Stay Away From the Bathtub!) The Earl toes the line or he’s a dead man. Subtext!
A new direction
Which brings us to the director. It’s Sir Fellowes’ show but that shouldn’t stop another director from considering a sequel. Think what Quentin Tarantino could do with the subject! The Irish guy who used to be the chauffeur could paint the old Abbey’s walls red with blood in a surprise IRA attack — in slo-mo, of course. Avenge the potato eaters.
Martin Scorsese would have Hugh Bonneville dealing cocaine. Toward the end the Earl would step away from the dinner table and deliver a monologue directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall. Great soundtrack. And Joe Pesci would be in it.
Bring in a younger audience with the Farrelly Brothers, auteurs of the classics Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. Downton Abbey is rife with comedic potential. Its plot already is thinner than the soup course. The entire movie is about the King and Queen coming to dinner. It’s all a scam. Joe Pesci pretends to be George V. Special guest appearance: Kathy Griffin as Queen Mary.
A little script doctoring
In his attempt to escape the onerous expenses of hosting the royal couple, The Earl of Grantham performs a telephone monologue in the manner of Bob Newhart.
“Now is not a good time.”
“I should tell you, the abbey is infested with feral hogs.” [Makes snorting noises into the telly.]
“Well, perhaps her ladyship’s rash will have cleared up by then. We’re not sure what it is.”
“I see.” [Resignedly] “So you’ve had your shots.”
Blaska’s Closing Scene: The Manson family is moving in to replace the bankrupted Crawleys. Subtext!
Leave the cast alone. Agree with casting of Lady Granthom, but…………no movie/series can be perfect. Tis the only error that I’ve experienced. Have not seen the new movie yet, only the original 6 season series.
I’m old enough to have watched “Upstairs/Downstairs” on Masterpiece Theatre, from which “Downton Abbey” has borrowed (plagiarized) shamelessly. For example, the movie centers around a visit by King George V and Queen Mary; the highlight of U/D was a visit (as a dinner guest) by George’s father, Edward VII. Rachel Gurney, the actress who played Lady Marjorie Bellamy, was light years superior to Elizabeth McGovern. Ditto for Gordon Jackson, who played the head butler Mr. Hudson. And in the older series, the upstairs folk NEVER shared their thoughts or experiences with or (Gasp!) asked for advice from the staff, which is historically accurate but which happens constantly in “Downton Abbey.” As for the dialogue, I long ago gave up keeping count of the anachronisms–unlike the costumes and settings, which are appropriate to the period in every detail. All in all, it’s the difference between drama (U/D) and melodrama (DA).
Yes, Lady Marjorie was a “presence.” The daughter of an earl. She was properly imperious while seemingly self-effacing. A trick only those of us, Kriewald, in the upper classes can pull off. (Harr-rumpf!) I do think Jim Carter as the head butler at Downton is as good as Gordon Jackson in Upstairs. (For a real reprobate, love the head butler in Victoria.) But I do remember Mr. Hudson saving Lord Bellamy’s bacon more than once. Discreetly, of course. We all remember poor Ruby the scullery maid. Here at Blaska Stately Manor I’ve appointed the Lovely Lisa as scullery maid but she seems not to appreciate the gesture.
Who’s with me on restoring the Habsburgs, the royal family that oppressed my dirt-eating German Bohemian ancestors for 500 years?
I loved how when Hudson announced a guest in a room where Richard Bellamy and Lady Marjorie were both present, he would say, “Lady Prudence Fairfax, MY LADY” (completely ignoring the man of the house, who lacked a title). Ah, for the days when social hierarchy was chiseled in granite.