The Tudors: Headdesk

Previously on The Tudors: Henry got his son and then lost his third wife in quick succession. He then married and quickly got rid of Anne of Cleves, and then got rid of Cromwell in the most horrific botched beheading imaginable. While Cromwell was being tried on bogus charges and hacked to death, Henry was taking up with 17-year-old bimbo Katherine Howard.

New season, new characters in the credits: Tamzin Merchant as Katherine, Lothaire Bluteau as…some French guy I guess. Sarah Bolger! Regular cast member—yay! Torrance Coombs as, I think, Culpeper, and David O’Hara, who looks really, really different from how I remember him from Braveheart. I never would have connected him with Stephen the fun, crazy Irishman.

Whitehall, August 1540. In voiceover, Chapuys tells us that it hasn’t rained in two months. Man, that sucks. We also learn that Henry’s gone a bit overboard when it comes to jailing people accused of heresy and executing people left and right, and it’s apparently the hottest summer in living memory. Even the dignified Chapuys is sitting around in just a shirt that’s untied at the neck, dabbing his dripping forehead with a handkerchief. He goes on to say (he’s writing a letter to the emperor) that it’s rumored Henry’s already married to Katherine Howard and intends to present her to the world shortly. Great.

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Downton Abbey: Hope and Heartbreak

Dear PBS: Fire the person who was responsible for editing the original British version of Downton Abbey into the 90-minute episodes that aired here. That person is an idiot. I was annoyed with some of the scene switching that went on in earlier episodes, but tonight’s episode was a total hack job. Scenes never showed up (which made some later scenes confusing), we had at least one scene that started with a character in mid-sentence yet again, and a whole subplot got dropped. All so we could get this thing done with plenty of time for yet another annoying, overlong commercial for Antiques Roadshow. Thanks, PBS, you did a great job here. You’re on notice.

Anyway, for anyone who was confused, seek out the original version of the show. I’ll try to explain things as well as I can.

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The Tudors: Just Messing With You!

Previously on The Tudors: An utterly adorable Anne of Cleves arrived in England and got a strange, disgusted reaction from Henry, who married her nonetheless, mostly because he didn’t have a choice.

Henry starts off with his council, informing everyone that he can’t bring himself to have sex with his wife because he’s sure there’s some kind of impediment to the marriage. I think we’ve all heard that one before. He brings up Anne’s alleged precontract with the Duke of Lorraine’s son, and as the camera pans across the council members, we see Rich with the most hysterically funny flummoxed look on his face, like even he can’t figure out what Henry’s problem is with this woman. Henry tells them to look into the matter and find out if his scruples are justified. He leaves, and everyone bows, Brandon and Seymour exchanging smug smiles.

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Downton Abbey: Love is in the Air

Is anyone else starting to find these intros by Laura Linney to be strange and kind of pointless? The one tonight was bizarre—she started out talking about bras and clothing and then finished up with a line that made no sense whatsoever. Just me? Ok, then.

It’s a bright sunny May day in the village of Downton, and workmen scurry about setting up a fair as Mary watches. Bates, Anna, and Gwen are strolling through the setup, talking about getting up a group to go a’fairing. Anna spots Mary and sends the others ahead so she can have a chat about the Dead Body Affair.

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The Tudors: Marriage Made in Hell

Previously on The Tudors: Cromwell tried to engineer a marriage between Henry and the Protestant Duchy of Cleves, and for some reason, the Duke’s caginess doesn’t raise any alarm bells at all.

Holbein hangs around in Cromwell’s busy office, waiting for the man himself to show up. When he does, he tells Holbein he needs him to head to Cleves and paint a portrait of Anne. He urges Holbein to make sure the Anne in the painting is easy on the eyes, despite her actual appearance, because there’s a lot riding on this marriage. Oddly, there’s a totally sloppy historical muck-up in this scene when Cromwell refers to Anne as the current Duke’s daughter, even though she’d been previously established as the duke’s sister (as she was in real life.) Oops!

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The Duchess of Duke Street: The Bargain

Previously on The Duchess of Duke Street: Louisa and Gus buy a hotel, mostly to give Gus something to do besides drink all day and act surly. He promptly runs the place into the ground, runs up debts all over the place, and still drinks all day, so Louisa unceremoniously kicks him out.

The morning after the Trotter Bust-Up, Mary and Merriman are clearing up the trashed office as Mary gossips away about the previous night’s goings-on. Merriman keeps telling her that he heard everything—as did the people down the street, I’m sure, it’s not like Louisa was trying to keep her voice down. Mary frets that the hotel might close, and Merriman agrees that it’s a possibility. His sang froid is admirable here. Mary, like a rather bitchy dolt, says that if they were chucked out, she’d probably find a job, but he never would, because he’s so old. She keeps going on and on about it. How old is Mary supposed to be? Because she certainly looks like she should be old enough to have basic manners and a filter of some kind.

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Downton Abbey: Complications

Hoo, boy we had a lot going on this week. A little action, a little intrigue, and quite a lot of character stuff, which is really what we’re watching for (well, that and the pretty clothes). Mary, who’s already been established as a frigid bitch, can now add stupid and possibly evil to her list of unpleasant character traits, Isobel gets more awesome and is joined on the Roll of Sweet/Awesome by Mrs. Hughes the housekeeper and youngest Crawley daughter Sybil. Plus, we find out that Carson actually had a life before working for the Crawleys! Who knew?

Hey, we’ve got credits this week! Unseen servants go about their duties, dusting, laying table, etc. And, of course, the dog frolics out on the grounds. That dog really needs a name—anybody want to suggest one?

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The Tudors: Sketchy

Previously on The Tudors: Henry locked himself away to grieve, and the court went right to hell. Once he reemerged, Cromwell suggested he marry again. Also, Reginald Pole, now a Cardinal, has been stirring up trouble in Europe.

Henry’s getting dressed with Brandon standing nearby. After dismissing his servant, Henry says that all the fighting at court was unacceptable, so he’s naming Charles president of the council and Lord Great Master. He’ll be in charge any time Henry’s indisposed or not around. It might have been a good idea to think this out before you locked yourself away for weeks or days or however long it was. Henry also mentions that he’s having Seymour look into the activities of the Pole family, all of whom are now under suspicion, thanks to Reginald’s activities.

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Downton Abbey: Backstairs Bitchery

I must have been insane when I decided to recap this. Yes, of course, it fits perfectly with this site and is a totally obvious choice, but the number of characters alone is slightly mind boggling, and trying to keep all the (similarly dressed) servants in order is likely to drive me slightly batty. Maybe a chart would help. I mentioned in the Gosford Park recap that GP and Downton Abbey have a few things in common, and this is one of them. You know how many times I had to watch GP before I could readily identify everyone? And to be honest, I still can’t remember the actual name of Lady Lavinia Meredith’s maid. I promise, everyone, I’ll try my best, but if I slip up, I do apologize. Please be kind in your comments.

We start with a close up on a wireless being tapped frantically, then move right to a steam train rolling through some beautiful countryside. The camera lingers lovingly on the train that probably cost them a fortune to rent and run for this one little scene, and eventually it comes to rest on a window, where a man with a round face, probably in his early to mid-forties, sits, looking out. The wireless chimes in again, and I was briefly tempted to really outdo myself and try to translate what was being said via the wireless, but admittedly, I don’t have the energy, and it was probably gibberish anyway. We learn what’s being said soon enough.

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The Tudors: Fool

Previously on The Tudors: Brandon was sent north to needlessly slaughter a bunch of people, and started losing his mind a bit as a result. Henry’s joy at finally having a son was cut short when Jane died a few days after the birth.

In the chapel, Henry approaches Jane’s tomb, kneels beside it, and tells her he’ll be with her someday. And he was—they’re both buried at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, though I think they’re under the floor of the altar, not in tombs, but it’s been a few years since I visited, so I may be misremembering.

Meat market! Butchers hack apart dead animals and hang the carcasses up for buyers to peruse. For no reason at all (seriously, someone of this guy’s stature would have had no reason to be wandering around this part of town), an expensively dressed gentleman comes through and makes his way down a narrow side street, where he finds his way blocked by a peasant with a laden cart. He gets snippy with the peasant, who suddenly gets a bit scary and identifies the gentleman as Robert Packington, Member of Parliament and friend of Cromwell’s. Packington, a little nervously, asks the guy to step aside, because he’s in a hurry, so the peasant grabs a pistol out of his cart, shoots Packington right in the head (and leaves a wound that’s way too neat for a point-blank shot with a weapon from that time), and takes off through the market, still waving the gun. Uh, ok, so people are just killing people for being friends with Cromwell now? Come on, the guy wasn’t that hated. Maybe the peasant was just pissed about Packington’s expense reports or something.

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