Friday, January 6, 2012

Champagne Friday: The British Are Coming

you're the best

I was actually searching for an image of British royalty casually sipping on champagne for this post. But a complete lack of images tells me one thing: the British royalty do not openly sip champagne. And I just think that's a damn shame. Although, I bet Camilla does a pretty healthy keg stand.

For this Champagne Friday, I am unabashedly singing the praises of PBS's new season of Downton Abbey. No...that is not DownTown Abbey. That would be a McMansion parked squarely in Covent Garden. Downton Abbey is the engaging and soap opera-esque story of the upstairs inhabitants of a country home outside of London and the downstairs staff that keeps it running.

With the exception of Maggie Smith (that's Dame Maggie Smith to you), who plays the reigning Dowager Countess of Grantham (but may be more familiar from her roles in Harry Potter), I recognized none of the cast. But they perfectly execute their roles so that it's easy to imagine yourself falling into the patterns of either the upstairs or downstairs lifestyle. I recently read a review in the USA Today that said one of the reasons Downton Abbey is such enthralling entertainment is because the staff are not treated like third class citizens by the upstairs residents. In the first season, the cook cried on the earl's shoulder and the butler lent comfort to the oldest Grantham sister. Their lives are intertwined and the series shows an easy, albeit occasionally dramatic, interaction between those living upstairs and those working downstairs.

The second season starts on PBS on Sunday, which is why I'm spewing my British love, all the way from the colonies, here today. If you want to get caught up before Sunday, fortunately the first season is only approximately 7 hours long. You can find the 7 episodes of about 45 minutes each on Netflix instant streaming or you can watch them on the PBS website. Another reason to love a hit PBS show? As they are facing a possible cut in government funding, it's so much easier to donate to a station that gives added quality to your life. Also, it's public television and I have yet to hear anyone on Downton Abbey drop an f, s, or h-bomb. And the sex scenes consist of a twee bit of kissing and maybe a hand wrapped around the head. Three cheers for not having to cover Neal's eyes!

I'll leave you with some of the Dowager Countess's more cutting very very witty. They are delivered so precisely and so quickly sometimes that it's hard to get them all!

And some of these could give a bit of the plot away so if you would rather hear for yourself, then I'll leave you here. Happy Weekend and Happy Champagne Friday!

"I couldn't have electricity in the house, I wouldn't sleep a wink. All those vapors floating about."

"Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house."

"Why does everyday involve a fight with an American?"


  1. "Why does everyday involve a fight with an American?"

    Them's fightin' words... ;)

  2. I cannot wait for Sunday to get here! My friend has the 2nd season on her computer and offered to give it to me, but I kind of wanted the full TV experience. I can't imagine the computer doing those landscapes any justice! Welcome back, Champagne Friday :)

  3. I have got to download this show!
    I loved Gosford Park, and everywhere I turn I am hearing how great Downtown Abbey is...I guess all I was waiting for was your champagne endorsement.

  4. Cheers! It's Friday! Why does all the good stuff come from overseas?

  5. You know it's a bad day for thinking when you JUST read about Downtown Abby over at another blog (Hutch!) and you can't for the life of you remember why that sounds so familiar. Seriously? I just read it there two minutes ago. Pass me a glass of bubbly!

    Anyway I must watch this. Sounds totally up my alley!

  6. I loved Upstairs, Downstairs, though there was no warm personal interaction between the family and the staff. I didn't bother with Downton because I thought "been there, done that." But now that I think of it, it's probably much better than a lot of the shows we watch. Okay, I'm sold.

  7. We are looking forward to this Sunday as well for the very same reason. PBS/BBC does *such* a wonderful job on the period dramas.

    And yay for the return of Champagne Fridays!

  8. Oh holy hell. I have that qeued up in my Netflix and I always read it DOWNTOWN.

  9. I just heard about this and am watching season one online. God bless free tv shows!!!!!

    And the British WILL be drinking when they arrive next month!!!! Let the twirling begin...

  10. My friend Caroline is in love with all things Harry Potter, Great Britain, and apparently, Downton Abbey. I added it to my Netflix today. Then I come here and there's a whole shiny review!! Now, I *really* can't wait to see it.

  11. I discovered Downton Abbey by accident this summer when it was so blasted hot outside and watched it all on Netflix in the comfort of the air conditioning so I am all caught up and I can't wait to watch the new season tomorrow night! It's so nice to know there are other fans like me out there! (So glad your back at this your writing and your wit.)

  12. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Downton Abbey! We just finished rewatching Season One in prep for Season Two coming out (and then I may or may not have re-rewatched it because it is just that awesome).

    I think my favorite part about it is that it's the only costume drama Brian has ever enjoyed watching with me. And he's not alone. My father and all my male college friends also love it. Because really, what's not to love?

  13. Oh, I love the PBS dramadies of "manners," with that distinctly British touch. "Upstairs, Downstairs" meets the 21st century, I'll bet! I'll toast Dame Maggie any day!!


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