A person of interest in my life has challenged me to watch the first season of Mad Men (in the comfort of my own palatial, villa-like personal space) in order to catch up to where she is in her Netflix cue.
I know you don’t believe I can do this, which is why I’m so totally jacked to prove you wrong. And also why the following haiku will be totally in your face, in an extremely subtle way.
Five o’clock shadow
Don Draper has it going
At, like, ten a.m.
Did you enjoy the subtle references to you, me, and life (etc.) in that haiku? Phew! At least we have that in common.
Downton Abbey can bring back Gwen, the former maid and current “Mrs. Harding,” wife to Hillcroft College treasurer John Harding, and have her tell the story of the young feminist Lady Sybil helping her get her first job, but don’t for a second think this counts as bringing back Sybil as a ghost.
If this is your idea of a ghost, then you’ve got some thinking to do. In some people’s minds, you can feel the presence of a ghost in a conversation at the dining room table, hear it in people’s voices and “see” the long-dead person who's being discussed in the eyes of everyone affected by her. My idea is that when a ghost enters a room, you actually lay eyes on the physical specimen, preferably in a flattering costume.
For example, the next time Robert winces from another episode of whatever it is that is causing the stabbing pain in his gut and is destined to kill him, have it be when he’s alone in the drawing room so he doesn’t get to say to Lady Grantham, “I can’t drink Bourbon any longer, unless, of course, it’s Knob Creek.” Instead, have him keel over and appear to actually be dying. And then, as it looks like some essential internal pipe has blown and he’s hemorrhaging bigtime, have Sybil appear in her nurse’s garb to staunch the wound with heavy pressure applied to the abdomen, whilst kicking over a couple of tables and chairs to awaken the house.
Tom and Mary are first to arrive, and it’s no coincidence that they are together. They don’t see Sybil and neither does Robert, but he sure feels her and is doubled over from the pressure she’s applying to his gut, which is actually saving the man’s life.
Doctor Clarkson is quickly summoned, and during the wait Lady Sybil comes to see in the guilty faces of Tom and Mary that…well…”finally you two!” (She doesn’t care! Do you think she was going to wait all those years in heaven for Tom to get old and flabby and die?)
Needless to say, there should be evidence of more such scenes to come "On the next episode of Downtown Abbey."
While you’ve spent the last year doing very little to influence television programming, I’ve been in direct communication with Julian Fellowes about tweaks in the upcoming (and final) season of his brainchild Downton Abbey, just to make sure that we’re on the same page. I’ve opted to use telepathy to communicate with “Jules,” as I call him, because this prevents disagreements from marring our discussions. It turns out that he is totally for my idea of killing off just about everyone in the first episode of this final season and letting the rest of the story run its course in heaven.
For this is how Lady Sybil finally gets her day. While the others have lived on and withered in the heat of life on earth, she has been maintaining her youthful glow, chilling up there in a big feathery bed, biding her time while the servants back-stab and her family’s piles of money get diluted by fiscal ineptitude and new generations of lay-about relatives. The lovely Sybil has not only maintained her striking beauty over the years, having aged not a millisecond, but also has continued to bone-up on the rights of labor while clad in some rather salacious black-market undergarments (which are available in heaven). Meanwhile, her surviving husband Tom all too easily dons the starched costumes of the upper class and drives the story in boring circles, unable or unwilling to seduce either Edith or Mary (or someone, anyone, for crying out loud!)
Julian himself tells me (via telepathy) that he totally agrees with me that having Sybil be the central figure in the final season is absolutely essential, and gets that this is his last chance to make amends for the eclampsia debacle. (“Stupid decision,” he told me without actually speaking, communicating directly with my brain via a smattering of almost imperceptible body movements in PBS interviews).
The one minor dispute we’ve had revolves around my assertion that three people should remain alive on earth and therefore out of sight: Mr. Bates and Anna, of course, who can be imprisoned, or exonerated, or permanently stuck on death row – I don’t really care, as long as we’re not forced to watch the tedium of their sugar-tinged subplot over and over again; and the Countess of Grantham, who seems to have forgotten how to act in film.
This is heaven, after all, where there is finally justice.
With Downton Abbey upon us once again, I am pinning my hopes for this season on a couple of simple plot fixes, which I conveyed to the show’s producers last year via rambling, five-page “open letter” (open in that I cc’d most of the world’s email addresses – did you get it?)
1 Reintroduce Lady Sybil. This is a must. I’ve said it before: not having Lady Sybil return in some spirit-in-the-flesh capacity would be a huge ripoff. How much am I paying for this series? Give me at least an hour, interspersed throughout the course of the season, of the lass tormenting the widower Tom, prancing around in the undergarments of 1920s England (or maybe something more recent, hmmm? To hell with historical accuracy!) such that he is kept in her thrall and cannot make the dumb mistake of falling for the irritating Lady Mary, as all men do on the series (for some unknown reason. “Cuz she’s real purty!” Is she? Is she really?)
2 A new character, the chisel-featured six-foot four-inch hunk named Percival H. Rumblecocke, arrives from Germany where he was employed in the British embassy, ostensibly to attend an impromptu ball thrown for the sole purpose of aggravating the servants, but in truth there to tell Edith of the fate of her long lost love (what’s his name again?). Turns out the missing father-of-her-son actually went off to India to throw back a few pints with Shrimpy (good old Shrimpy!), taking with him the leggy Fraulein Winkelmann as his “traveling secretary.” Played by Tom Brady, which shows off the famed quarterback’s incredible versatility while foreshadowing a possible direction he might turn when his football career ends (and, let me add, may he never retire), Percival will divulge to Lady Edith that his own wife had died of eclampsia just like Sybil, “and what say we sneak off with a case of your father’s finest claret and see where it takes us?”
Please understand: the latter of the two subplots is merely a vague hope of mine, offered to thicken the gravy, while the former is necessary if the producers’ hope to resurrect their reputations after having inexplicably killed off the show's most beguiling character.
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