Waiting for Downton

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

I stood in line for a few midnight shows over my 65 years of loving movies. A few of the Star Wars movies got me out on a Thursday night to wait for a midnight premiere. I did the same for several of the Harry Potter films.

But, for the most part, I am content to stay away from reviews and social media spoilers and wait to see a movie after the blockbuster weekend has passed.

It’s killing me, however, to have to wait to see “Downton Abbey.” I will be out-of-the-country when the continuation of my favorite-of-all-times television show hits the big screen on Sept. 20. If I were here, I can guarantee I would be finding a special screening or standing in line for a midnight show.

I was already very late to the Downton party. I didn’t start watching the PBS show until season two was already finished. I wasn’t watching much television in 2010 and somehow missed what everyone who knew me said was “must see” for me. As season two ended, I bought the first season DVDs and watched the whole thing in a weekend.

Two of my girlfriends and I were going to the beach not long after I finished season one, so I bought season two and took both of them with me to Orange Beach. The three of us could hardly wait for dinner to be finished so we could watch the DVDs.

We enjoyed it so much that we made a pact to NOT watch the next season until we could have a girls’ weekend and watch it together.

Staying away from social media spoilers for season three – when Matthew dies – was extremely difficult, and one of us (Ahem, you know who you are, Sheree) couldn’t stand the pressure. But Michelle and I managed to go months without hearing the news of exactly what it was that happened, and we watched the third season over a long weekend as season four was being released.

After that, it was all-girls-for-themselves, with some of us waiting for the DVDs and some jumping into the episodes as they aired.

I was a year late watching the last season. The reason: I couldn’t bear to know it would be the last!

I believe the movie is going to be loved by Downton fans, no matter what. If preliminary reports are to be believed, it won’t shatter anyone’s faith in any beloved characters and will just give us another look at the lives of the Crawleys and their servants.

Because it is Downton Abbey and not “Days of Our Lives,” the movie can’t deliver what we really want: Matthew back from the dead. While it broke the hearts of his fans, Dan Stevens’ decision to leave the show was epic for the writers, and they handled it magnificently. We loved Matthew for all that he was, and, for the fact that he helped us love Mary. We always wanted to love Mary, but she was just so pompous, entitled and mean, especially to her sister Edith. Matthew made us love her, and we were so thrilled with their happy-ever-after.

And then it wasn’t.

I am looking most forward to hearing more words of wisdom from the Dowager Countess. Casting Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley has to go down in television history as genius, and she has given us some of the best quotes in television.

While I wait to be back in the USA to see the movie, maybe these will keep me happy, courtesy of the Dowager:

Carson: “Hard work and diligence weigh more than beauty in the real world.”

Dowager: “If only that were true.”

“At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.”

“Principles are like prayers; noble, of course, but awkward at a party.”

“There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like. Avoiding one’s friends, that’s the real test.”

“First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.”

“What is a weekend?”

(On hearing jazz musicians:) “Do you think that any of them know what the others are playing?”

Isobel: “Oh, how you hate to be wrong.”
Dowager: “I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.”


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