Tag Archives: Dan Stevens

The Christmas episodes

Not surprisingly, some were better than others. Although we found ourselves making comparisons between fresh new writing as was the case for older new Doctor Who seasons, as well as for the earlier season of NCIS. Downton Abbey was OK-ish. Apart – obviously – for you-know-what. NCIS: Los Angeles felt more Christmassy than its big brother did.

Although, it was very noticeable that they had decided to throw in a little from many early NCIS seasons and stir well. Except maybe the stirring wasn’t done terribly thoroughly, after all.

Doctor Who

I don’t care for the Doctor’s new assistant. She’s spunky, but the chemistry between us is all wrong. And I trust there is now a country full of children who will scream at the mere idea of a snowman.

How could they end Downton Abbey like that? They did, though, didn’t they? Someone here was disappointed it wasn’t a wintry episode, but when you’ve seen one snow scene, you’ve seen them all. And all that Scottish deer-stalking will suit the Americans just fine. Long live Mrs Patmore and her patés!

So, L A was an early NCIS medley with a Christmas twist. But at least once they’d sorted out the drugs on the ship (I just couldn’t get over the L A gang being on a boat in the first place) they went a little Christmassy. To my mind Nell didn’t need fake elf ears. Besides, didn’t she go from very sad to surprisingly chirpy very quickly?

But NCIS, oh, NCIS… What shall we do about you? This was an over sugary episode with too many cute scenes. I almost didn’t mind DiNozzo Sr being back. Again. He was almost more rational than Jr. And the sight of Junior’s bed is now forever etched on my mind. His flat was gorgeous, but was it him?

As for the goldfish… Or the snickerdoodles. Well.

Perhaps get Steven Moffat to write the next episode?

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Spoiling at Downton

Can I take it that everyone who intends to watch, has seen Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey now? Yesterday Facebook was teeming with people who caught spoilers before catching Downton.

Are the makers of the series really wanting to give away what happens every week, or are they hinting so coarsely in order to make us feel proud that we ‘got it’ long before ‘it’ happened? This week it was simply a toss-up between Sybil, her baby or both of them.

Downton Abbey

It’s strange it’s taken them so long to start killing off The Family. We’ve been together eight years now, and there ought to have been more deaths.

The Earl is an idiot. I see that now. I was confused for so long because the actor seems quite a nice man. But had they put someone less sympathetic in the role, I’d have cottoned on to the idiocy long before now. Good for the American heiress that she has finally found her teeth, become a good mother (if a bit late) and is going against what hubby says.

The other week I did expect Sir Anthony Strallan to drop dead in the aisle of the church (on the way in, obviously) but other than that little miscalculation it’s been easy to see where we are heading, week after week.

Not so sure about the accuracy of medical advances back then, but it is hard to know what people didn’t know. And what happened to the disfigured Canadian cousin heir? Whether genuine or not, we need to know. Maybe Matthew will turn out to have wasted Lavinia’s dad’s money after all.

Going Down(ton)

My heart sank after watching the first new episode of Downton Abbey. Not enough to make me give up, but I did have my doubts. Chatting to Daughter on the phone 15 minutes before the second episode began last night, she said she didn’t think she’d bother. At least not last night. Maybe watch online later. Maybe. And she’s someone who doesn’t give up easily.

Shirley MacLaine in Downton Abbey

Reading an interview with Shirley MacLaine in the Guardian a few weeks ago, I felt so certain we were going to get great stuff. The first week there wasn’t a single spark between her and Maggie Smith. No spark anywhere. Mary and Matthew behaved like silly children. We’d worried the wedding would be off again, forgetting that you can so easily have turmoil (or childish quarrels) within a marriage.

I might have to inform Daughter she should watch again. It was a lot better last night. We laughed a few times. There are still things people wouldn’t have said or even known about back then. But if you can’t put 21st century concerns into a period drama, what can you do?

Having sort of known Mary was an idiot, it wasn’t until she talked with her American granny that I fully realised it. And Alfred looks very much like poor William, don’t you think? As for His Lordship suddenly cottoning on to his valet’s lack of popularity…

The American Dream

Isn’t it lucky that Sir Mark Elder went to New York? If he hadn’t, we might not have had Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town to enjoy, here at the Lowry in another wonderful town.

I could see his left ear, but for the most part I forgot all about Sir Mark, except when I noticed a pair of arms flapping somewhere in front of me, and wondered about it before remembering this was actually a musical with the whole of the Hallé hiding down in the orchestra pit. (Although Daughter sneaked a look down and said it couldn’t be all of them and she didn’t see Roberto Carrillo-García anywhere.) I love it when the serious players play lighter stuff. They do it so well.

That’s why it was easy to forget they were there. Perfection is unobtrusive. And this was perfection. Speedy Valenti had a nerve instructing Sir Mark and his band from up there on the stage…

Wonderful Town by Alastair Muir

What happened on stage was also perfect, but because it happened right in front of me I didn’t miss it. And who would want to miss this? Simon Higlett’s set and costume design must count as one of the most pleasing I have ever seen. Possibly the best ever. New York never looked more New Yorkish, including a natty little elevated train.

And those clothes! The clothes were to die for, and that goes for everyone from leading lady Connie Fisher’s to every last one of the dancers’. It was an interesting – and oh so American – blend of 1930s to 1950s style. The kind we privately aspire to and usually fail to achieve. It was a clever move to have the dancers help Connie and her stage sister Lucy van Gasse dress on stage.

Those dancers are every bit as marvellous as director Braham Murray said they were. Choreographer Andrew Wright even had his dancers conga-ing down the aisles at the Lowry, and as for the Riverdance sequence in jail, well…

Jailors and sailors all fell for Lucy’s beautiful Eileen. Every single male (and I don’t necessarily mean ‘single’) in New York followed Eileen around and having witnessed Michael Xavier try to walk into the ladies toilet at the launch, I know only too well what hit her admirers.

Wonderful Town by Alastair Muir

Michael as Bob Baker was a singing Dan Stevens-lookalike. Somewhat dim when it came to what he really, really thought of Connie’s Ruth, but eventually the penny dropped. There isn’t a tremendous amount of plot here. Two sisters arrive in New York, looking for jobs and maybe fame and fortune. They meet people. At least, Eileen meets people. Men. They make friends. Ruth gets her Bob – and a press card – and Eileen gets a job with Valenti.

Wonderful Town by Alastair Muir

The finale with the sisters wearing the most gorgeous glittery dresses and happy endings for both major and minor characters is perfect.

We need a CD. Possibly even a DVD. (Are you listening at the Lowry, the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Hallé?)

Wonderful Mancunians who haven’t yet booked need to do so urgently. People in other wonderful towns must see to their ticket needs for the wonderful tour of Wonderful Town. Who knows when we get to see anything like it again?

I want to go again tomorrow, and maybe next week, too. And if all else fails, I will really need that CD.

The Doctor, Downton, a Dover bound Poirot and Dolly. Some Cash.

Along with too much food comes too much television. I wouldn’t mind having it spread out more. At least the entertainment. The food might be healthier to get over and done with, and we can go back to porridge and salad. But since I’m in a minority, I’m guessing my careful consumption of television over Christmas will not be noticed at all. Or missed.

Although, since we’re on one of those things that keeps track of who watches what and when, I have to own up to being so technically incompetent that I had the Grandmother watch Dolly Parton last night. She didn’t, but there was no way I could delete her after she went to bed.

Dolly Parton at the O2

So, it was just me and Dolly and most of the O2 arena. Nice blue dress, although having heard that she looks totally different without make-up and wig, I kept wondering what she looks like. Really. Concert was good, but I’d go mad if I had to have those bodyguards escort me everywhere.

I did actually watch a little Johnny Cash afterwards, but found it so painfully embarrassing I had to turn it off. As Roger Whittaker would say, he didn’t have Dolly’s two advantages.

Geoffrey Palmer and David Suchet in The Clocks

Before the country greats we sat down to Poirot. Couldn’t remember much about The Clocks except for the clocks. Could have sworn that I saw bits of Brighton, and I wonder where the crescent-shaped street can be found? Possibly in Dover. Doesn’t matter. It always looks good, and this time the plot wasn’t too outrageous, either. Watched parts of it twice to allow the Grandmother to catch up with the bits she slept through.

The Doctor and Lily

Cyril

After Christmas dinner and two lots of dishwasher on Sunday, I was more than ready to sit down with the Doctor. Despite its Narnia theme I liked it. How like a childless man to take children through a snowy landscape wearing only their dressing gowns and slippers. The only thing that grated somewhat was Matt Smith smirking ‘I know’ each time the children discovered something they liked.

Madge

A good cry was had by all at the end. Nice tree. Nice trees, in fact.

Maggie Smith

In my next life I will come back as the good Dowager at Downton. Those one-liners are a dream. (In my life as a witch I’m much too kind to utter anything like that. Naturally.)

Didn’t expect Matthew and Mary to get their act together quite so soon. And I still want to know what happened to Patrick from Canada. My hopes for Edith and her beau with the trembling smile have grown a little. Might be a case for the ouija board. Shame about Nigel Havers. He’d have been a good addition to this upperclass zoo.

I’m one of those who didn’t mind all that much about the slipping standards of season two, but it was certainly noticeable how much better the Christmas episode was. We’ll have more of the same for next year, please.

Downton Christmas

Another end to Downton Abbey

Well, I thought Matthew looked like a sad vampire at the end, but apparently Daughter didn’t. His colouring suggested he was next to come down with the Spanish flu. The only thing about this killing off of characters is that while you can work out who will be needed in the next series, you know they will live. And that doctor is rather easy with his patients’ futures.

Who’d have thought I’d feel even a little bit sorry for Thomas? I know. I will regret this as soon as we return.

I’m also about to join Sam Wollaston in the Guardian with my dislike for Mr Bates. Not the fictional character, just the actor. They are either toying with us and Mr Bates will prove to be a truly awful man. Or, this lovely character is being portrayed by someone quite fishy looking. Poor Mrs Bates II.

What happened to Patrick? There was no mention of him, even in a pejorative way. Has he been forgotten already, or will he make claim to Downton again at some point?

And why do I keep asking you questions? Does anyone know?

I love Granny. ‘I do hope I’m interrupting something.’

Downton again

Well, they need to keep Matthew alive, don’t they? We decided he can be allowed to be injured, but has to stay alive. The question is who they are going to sacrifice? And who, if anyone, deserves a white feather. I’d have done anything to get one, if it had been me.

In my next life I will be the Dowager Maggie Smith. She’s wonderful! Awful, but wonderful. I thought perhaps that Matthew’s mother was getting a little too aggressive in sending people off to the war.

Mary has grown on me. Can’t quite make out her spiteful sister. I feel sorry for her half the time and hate her the rest. And the budding nurse was never interested in the chauffeur, after all. Oh well.

Love Mrs Hughes. There’s something about those devious women who will stop at nothing to look after their family. Let’s hope Mrs Bates comes to a sticky end, and preferably soon. O’Brien hasn’t improved, but for a moment it was almost possible to feel sorry for Tom. And Daisy has grown up.

We had far too many stops for refreshments. Next week we’ll watch afterwards and save half an hour in commercials.