Saturday, January 12, 2013

upstairs, downstairs

Where some may not look forward to the doldrums of January ... after the holidays, and usually when winter has set in and the cold nips. But I always looked forward to being tucked into my mother's couch after a delicious Sunday supper, glass of wine in hand, and a something new on Masterpiece Theater.  Just two years ago, 8 o'clock came and we entered into the world of Downton Abbey. Certainly we had heard of it, but other than the title and a few glimpses of it in PBS previews, we didn't know anything of it. And so the magic began.

Last week, the first episode of season three began. And with all of the press and spoilers and interviews and specials, it just felt a lot different. It wasn't a surprise. Oh sure, I loved the opening, and Shirley McLaine is a treasure, but ... it's become the blockbuster. It isn't the little engine that could, it is HUGE.  I'm not that keen on the blockbusters. I'd rather have the little gems ...

Tom Stoppard in fancy dress.
Which brings me to Upstairs, Downstairs. Season two came in the mail this week. And I've spent the last couple of evenings entrenched in the world of 165 Eaton Place. I've never seen the original series, and I should check it out. The new series is very stylized. If I were to compare it to Downton Abbey, I would have to say that is more intimate. For one, the house is in London where life is a lot different than life in the country. And the fortune isn't at issue. I am particularly drawn to the actor who portrays the man of house, Sir Hallam Holland. Man, he is so handsome. His name is Tom Stoppard ... I don't remember seeing him in anything else, but he has quite a resume. And for what it's worth, his father is the English playwright, Tom Stoppard. On screen, his eyes shine brilliantly. His intensity jumps out of the TV and right into me. He works in the foreign office, and in season two, the war draws closer and the seriousness of the clash with Hitler is realized.
Tom Stoppard in his hat!

Another character that I really like in this series is the Duke of Kent, the King's younger brother. He and Sir Holland are close confidantes. He's quite the dandy, and played rather gayly. Very interesting. So I checked the Duke of Kent out, and apparently he was really quite the party boy. And was involved in illicit liaisons with persons of both sexes, famous or not. It is said that he had an affair with Noel Coward. The two of them, the Duke and Holland, are often seated in a fine room with martini in hand, chatting, and listening to Billie Holliday. It's quite romantic. And I've wondered if Sir Holland hasn't only had an affair with his sister-in-law, but his the Duke of Kent as well.

Ah, I will be tucked in and watching Downton Abbey tomorrow evening, but no one on that show wears a hat like my man Holland. What it is about that? I suppose because we see it so seldom anymore. I know one man who wears a hat. I think that I like him best when he's got it on. So dashing. I can just imagine ... oh darling! oh no! don't take the chapeau off.

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