Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Upstairs, Downstairs: Shall We Talk?

April 11, 2011 @ 2:29 pm | Filed under: ,

So what did you think?

A few years back, Scott and I watched the first few seasons of the original. Enjoyed it very, very much. So I got goosebumps when I saw the old familiar house number and realized we were coming back to 165 Eton Place.

And again when we first saw Jean Marsh! I absolutely love the premise of the new show: not a remake of the original, but another chapter in the life of the house…and in at least one of the people who lived and worked in it before. Brilliant.

The mother-in-law delighted me: not a stereotype at all. Her secretary, perhaps a bit.

Favorite moments: the cook’s reluctance to take the job offer, her mild scorn at the “newness” of their baronetcy, her susceptibility to the lures of a gas range and top-of-the-line refrigerator. That, and the quietly emotional pleasure on Jean Marsh’s face as she looked at the word ‘housekeeper’ on the tag.

The housemaid is going to be trouble, obviously.

Side note: I once began writing a novel inspired by the original Upstairs, Downstairs series, in which the main character was a girl whose mother worked in a turn-of-the-20th-century London household. In the story the girl’s mother was accused of theft, and it was going to be up to the girl to save her. About four chapters in, the entire story up and transplanted itself to a homestead on the Colorado prairie. I know, that’s quite a shift! It became an altogether different kind of tale, but the kernel of the original idea is still there. It will be published in Summer 2012 by McElderry Books—I can’t wait!


Downton Abbey Open Thread

January 31, 2011 @ 4:29 pm | Filed under:

It’s that time again…and the last time for a while, sadly. What did you think of the season finale? Lots of cliffhanger plotlines. Suspense makes me grumpy.

Spoilers in the comments.

Downton Abbey Open Thread

January 22, 2011 @ 7:56 pm | Filed under:

I forgot to post this after we watched Episode 2. New ep tomorrow night!

Bound to be spoilers in the comments below. Episode 2 certainly gave us lots to talk about…

MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: We watched Episode 3 last night so that may be part of the combox discussion—consider yourself spoiler-warned. 🙂

SDCC 2010: The LOST Panel

July 29, 2010 @ 7:59 pm | Filed under: ,

I didn’t take many notes on this one, but there are stories to tell. First of all, I went into it expecting a discussion about the show, the ending, our questions, our theories—I mean, I figured there would be five or six people up front debating and taking comments from the crowd. It wasn’t like that. What it actually was was an info session on DK’s soon-to-be-published LOST Encyclopedia, moderated by a DK rep, with the book’s two authors as panelists/interviewees.

This sounds very market-y, but it was FASCINATING. And before twenty minutes had passed, I had shifted from feeling very shruggy about the notion of an “encyclopedia” for a TV show, even one as intricate and awesome as LOST, to thinking I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK.

So: if it was a commercial, it was a darned effective one.

But it wasn’t really a commercial. It was two intelligent and enthusiastic writers talking about the process of researching, writing, and organizing a complex work of nonfiction. (more…)

Lark Rise to Candleford: Nan?

May 6, 2010 @ 6:13 am | Filed under:

SPOILER ALERT for those who haven’t caught up to Season 3.

Molly left a comment on my Lark Rise post: did anyone know, she wondered, what happened to Alf’s girlfriend Nan?

I replied:

I was wondering that myself. She seems to have been written out between seasons two and three. Which is strange, considering how the season two finale devoted so much time to her—wasn’t that the episode that culminated in Emma’s speech about Nan not believing she deserved a good guy like Alf?

Didn’t that episode end with a kiss for Nan and Alf? It seemed like Emma’s words had made an impact. But in Season 3 (we’re up to episode 4, so far), it’s as if Nan never existed. There’s the hamlet giving Alf a housewarming, but no mention of any impending nuptials.

I can’t say I’m terribly disappointed she’s gone—she tended toward peevishness—but I do like my stories to explain themselves. This seems like an outside-the-story development. (Did audiences dislike her, so the writers have gone another direction? Or was the actress, Rebecca Night, perhaps unavailable? Wikipedia tells me she’s been busy making films.)

Anyway—now I’m seeing “what happened to Nan on Lark Rise” searches show up in my stats, so I thought I’d bring the question up top in case any of you have a more substantive answer than my speculations.

And now it seems we’re being prepped for an Alf-and-Minnie romance? They are (with Queenie) my two favorite characters by far, but as a couple? Seems contrived…


March 13, 2010 @ 2:26 pm | Filed under: , , , ,

• Rose has taken a shine to the Handbook of Nature Study. Mind you, this is a book I have lunged for on a regular basis throughout her entire life, but this week after we read about crows in it, it was like she discovered it for the first time. I found out the next morning that she took it to bed with her and stayed up late reading about turtles and chipmunks. All day yesterday, she was reading me interesting tidbits about squirrels. And she pointed out that while it would certainly be handy to have an iPod-sized edition to carry around with us, she “wouldn’t have been able to flip through it and find random bits of interest.” Nor, she added as an afterthought, “curl up in bed with it.” She has a point there.

• Remember when the alligator lizard scared the pants off my husband? Yesterday was my turn. I picked up an old plastic pot from the side yard and saw some sidewalk chalk inside. Reached in for the chalk and the pot started violently shaking in my hand—something under the chalk scrabbling around and around. Yes, I screamed. And dropped the pot. And watched the lizard scurry into the grass. And hollered for the kids to come quick before it disappeared. And pretended to be all calm and cool and nature-mama. And lost a year off my life, I’m sure.

• Lark Rise to Candleford update: We’re a little behind. I didn’t much care for the Harvest Festival episode, the one with the plot about the constable and Pearl (not to give too much away). Didn’t buy it. But—I think this was the same episode—I loved the scene in which Alf respectfully, ruefully tells Robert Timmins why he wants to be a farmer. Loved the warm gleam in Robert’s eye as he recognized a fellow craftsman’s passion for his work, the work he is meant to be doing. But then, I just plain love the character of Robert Timmins, period. Possibly because he is a lot like my husband. Blunt, outspoken, humorous, tender, mercurial, passionate about his craft and his family. Yeah. I know that guy.

• I scored 167 points on a single word—corncrib—in Words With Friends. (Scrabble-like app for the iPod Touch.) I’m just saying. EVERYWHERE I POSSIBLY CAN.

• The crows are discarding their empty peanut shells in our birdbath. Ingrates.

• I may actually have to start a whole blog category here for crows. What’s geekier: that or bragging about a Scrabble word score?

• You don’t really have to answer that.

Lark Rise to Candleford

February 16, 2010 @ 8:55 pm | Filed under:

Are any of you watching Lark Rise to Candleford? It’s a BBC period drama that airs here on our PBS station. We’re about halfway through Season 2; I believe the third season started last month in the UK. It’s set in a somewhat vague 1880s-ish time frame, the story of a small farming hamlet (Lark Rise) and the neighboring market town (Candleford). Season One begins with 16-year-old Laura leaving Lark Rise—somewhat reluctantly—to take a job in the Candleford post office, which is owned and run by Laura’s mother’s cousin, the amiable and efficient Dorcas Lane.

I think it was the glimpse of Dorcas on PBS one night that made us add Season 1 to our Netflix queue; she is played—wonderfully, I have to say, with great nuance—by Julia Sawalha, whom you may remember as the maddeningly flighty Lydia Bennet in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice.  We watched the first season on DVD and then tuned into Season 2 already in progress; I think we came in around episode 5. Annoying, our DVR fizzled out during the recording of episode 7, so we didn’t get to see how things played out with Fisher Bloom—not to mention Laura’s father’s stolen tools, a plot development which made me feel sick to my stomach. Robert Timmins is a stonemason. His tools are his livelihood. I think he’s my favorite character—except maybe for Minnie, Dorcas’s young, semi-competent, chatterbox maid—so I really hate to see him suffer a blow like that. He’s an artist, Robert is.

I never see anyone talking about this show online, and every week I’m all sputtery over various developments and yearning to gab. Are none of you watching?

Queenie! I forgot. Queenie is my favorite character. Absolutely. And not just because she’s a beekeeper, though that of course is part of it. But also for her warmth and twinkle, her generosity of spirit, her calm good sense. The way she talks to her bees reminds me so much of Linnets and Valerians.

It was awful to see her so distraught last night over the disappearance of her bees, and (now we enter spoiler territory, so be warned) the memory of her saintly grandmother’s dark secret. I thought the bit about the Lark Rise children destroying the Fordlow gardens was a bit of a stretch—even with Twister riling them up, I can’t imagine those kids laying waste to food like that. Not when we’ve seen how lean the pickings can be in Lark Rise at times.

I have no patience for Mr. Dowland’s self-indulgent moping. Enough already. I did love his reaction when Minnie dropped in with the flimsy, ad-libbed story that Dorcas wanted to borrow, um, a cigar case. For her cigars! That glimmer of amusement in his face was the first really likable thing about him.

I miss Caroline Arliss. What happened to her and the rest of Alf’s family? That must be part of what we missed in the beginning of this season.

Honestly, I could watch this show for the scenery alone. Those lush grain fields, the green hills. Oh my heart.