Tag Archives: Paul Giamatti

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History Review

PBS has become a staple of my Sunday night television viewing, thanks to Downton Abbey.

But with the American premiere of Downton Abbey several months away, PBS still keeps rolling out great programming to keep their audience entertained until January.

Tonight, PBS aired the first episode of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. This multi part miniseries follows the lives of former Theodore Roosevelt, his niece Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband, former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Using a single narrative as the structure of the documentary, Ken Burns and his team start with the birth of Theodore in the 1850’s and will end with the death of Eleanor in the 1960’s.

It is more than a stiff and predictable documentary.  Using pictures, archival footage, newspaper accounts of the day and personal letters and diaries, these three giants of American history are brought back to life. Another stroke of genius was to use notable actors to record the personal writing of the three subjects. Paul Giamatti is the voice of Theodore, Meryl Streep is the voice of Eleanor and Edward Hermann is the voice of Franklin.

I was so enthralled that I thought it was a fictional Shakespearean drama, not a real life story of one of the greatest political families that this country has ever seen. I highly recommend it and I am looking forward to the next chapter tomorrow night.

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Downton Abbey Recap Series 4 Episode 8

As usual, these recaps contain spoilers. Read at your own risk if you haven’t watched the episode.

Upstairs

The Team Blake Vs. Team Gillingham discussion continues. I didn’t like Gillingham at first. He seemed too much like a puppy dog. Hanging around Mary, waiting for her emotional scraps while dangling an off screen pseudo fiance, then an off screen fiance and finally an off screen ex-fiance, all in hopes of gaining her affection.

Then there is Charles Blake. The anti-aristocrat government worker who seemed more interested in taking down the great estates of the aristocracy than studying them. His story with Mary has rom-com quality, a Benedict and Beatrice , hate then love story. We thought we knew everything about him, until oops, Gillingham let it slip that poor Mr. Blake, is actually rich Mr. Blake, the heir to a distant cousin’s title and fortune.

Unfortunately, we must wait for series 5, but if these pictures are any indication, Mary’s new man and George’ stepfather maybe Lord Gillingham. However, I wouldn’t mind if Julian Fellows would decide to let Mary be single for a while. I get it, its a period drama, romance is par for the course.  But let’s consider that the time in between the first episode of the series and the last is only about a year a half, which means Matthew died just about 2 years after the final episode of this series. It’s not like Mary has nothing to do with herself. She has her son and the estate the take care of. Maybe letting her be single wouldn’t hurt Mary as a character or us an audience.

Edith had her baby and left her with the adoptive parents in Switzerland.  However, the adoption was never formalized and Edith is feeling guilty. After listening to her aunt for 8 months, Edith decides to make a decision for herself about her child. Inviting the pig farmer, Mr. Drewe to Downton she tells him of a “friend” (we all have those friends) who got involved with a man who her family did not approve of and had a child with this man. Now the child needs a home, Mr Drewe agrees to keep her secret.  The thing that baffles me about this story line is that while Rosamund knew about Edith’s pregnancy and Violet was quick to discover her secret, Edith’s own parents are still wearing rose colored glasses. How does a parent, especially a mother who had four pregnancies and three children that lived to adulthood not know or figure out that one of their daughters is pregnant?

Tom is spending more time with Miss Bunting. While the family is in London, he invites her to dine with him at the abbey and she corrals him to show her the view from the gallery.  It seems that Tom and Mary are on the same emotional track. They will never forget their spouses (nor should they), but neither seem completely ready to get involved in another relationship.

Lord Merton has become a rather ambitious suitor for Isobel. Personally, I think it’s good. We don’t know how long she has been widowed, but she deserves some happiness.

The big story line of the upstairs was two fold: Rose’s introduction to society, her dance with the prince and return of the Levinsons. We met Martha (Shirley Maclaine) last year, but we finally met Cora’s errand brother Harold (Paul Giamatti), still reeling from the Teapot Dome Scandal.  Rose’s time in London includes going to a night club with her friend Madeleine Allsopp, whose father, Lord Aysgarth  is dining with the Prince Of Wales and his mistress.  Back at Crawley house, Rosamund brings her “friend”, Mr. Sampson to the house who insists on going with the girls to the night club and steals a very intimate letter between the prince and his mistress.  Thus begins the Scooby Doo hour on Downton Abbey, where upstairs and downstairs collaborate to find the letter before it falls into the wrong hands and embarrasses the royal family.

Actually, the prince didn’t need the letter to embarrass himself and his family. In a few years, he will abdicate the throne to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.

The only thing I found odd about Rose’s story line is that Mr. Ross was not mentioned at all. I know it’s eight months, but still. That struck me as odd.

While Lord Aysgarth proves himself to be a gold digger by proposing to Martha, who turns him down, his daughter might have more luck with Harold. He is at times very American, direct and a little rude. But he admits that he likes Madeleine and she in turns appears to like him.

Downstairs

Is it me, or was Anna and Bates not in this episode as much as they were in previous episodes? Their story line was that Anna gave Mrs. Hughes a jacket that her husband was not using to be donated to the Russian refugees. Inside the jacket is a ticket to London for the day that Mr. Green was killed, evidence that might prove Mr. Bates’s guilt. Mrs. Hughes consults Mary and in the end, Mary throws the ticket into the fire, which is wise, considering it was Bates who forged the letter that allowed Mary, Charles and Rose into Mr. Sampson’s apartment.

It seemed odd to me that after 7 episodes, Thomas is jealous that the former chauffeur that is Tom Branson is now part of the family and must be treated with respect.

Daisy has an admirer in Mr. Slade, Harold’s valet, in both the romantic  sense and the culinary sense. So much so, that his employers gives his approval to invite Daisy to New York to work as his cook. Daisy turns the offer down, but Ivy takes it.

Whatever secret Baxter has, she has come to terms with it. Thomas keeps badgering her, but she is determined to move. She and Mosleley seem to be getting somewhere, which is sweet.

After all of the work the staff put in the for Rose’s coming out,  Cora instructions Mr. Carson to give them a day off. After a series of ideas that is met with rejection, Mrs. Hughes suggests a beach day. The final shot of the series is Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson holding hands, wading in the water. I’m sure the Elise and Charles shippers were dancing in the streets.

Analysis

The letter story line seemed a bit silly and the ending seemed like a non ending, especially considering the way series 2 and series 3 ended. But overall, I am satisfied with this series.

Dowager Moment/Quote Of The Week

Martha Levinson: I have no wish to be a great lady.
Countess Violet: A decision that must be reinforced every time you look in the glass.

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone who read my recaps. This is the first series that I’ve done this and while some recaps were better than others, I thank you for taking some time of out of your day to read them. See you next year.

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Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 7 Recap

This recap contains spoilers from this weekend’s episode. Read at your own risk if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

Upstairs

The list of Mary’s suitors is down to two. The tepid Mr. Napier is gone, but Anthony Gilllingham is back; his off screen fiance has become his off screen ex-fiance. He stares at her with adoring eyes, a la, a puppy dog. She convinces him to fire Mr. Green, but does not reveal the reason.

If I were a betting woman, I would put my money on Charles Blake.  But only time and Julian Fellows will tell.

The doomed relationship between Rose and Jack is over, as both Mary and Jack know that when she pays him a visit. It was not Rose, but Jack who ended it. In his words “A marquis’s daughter and a musician…” That said it all. Call it a youthful infatuation, a rebellion, whatever label you want to use.  Rose is young and head strong, if it was 2014, this relationship would hopefully not be an issue. But the show is set in the early 1920’s and this relationship is doomed from the get go. At least Jack knew that the best thing to do was to end the relationship.

With her usual acuteness, it didn’t take Violet long to figure out why Rosamund had not only visited Downton unannounced, but had offered to take Edith to Switzerland for four months, all expenses paid.  I feel for her, it’s not an easy decision to make. We would hope that her mother would be included in this decision making process, especially when a third grandchild is on the way. But either Cora was wearing rose colored glasses or she was so engrossed in the bazaar that she wasn’t paying attention to her daughter.

Violet re-introduces Isobel to Lord Merton, who is Mary’s godfather and the father of the childhood friend of Sybil who tried to get Tom drunk the night before Matthew and Mary’s wedding. The conversation about their lives and their children is going well until oops, Lord Merton does not remember that Matthew is dead.

We know more about the young woman who Tom sat next to at the political meeting.  Her name is Sarah Bunting (Sarah Lewis) and she teaches at one of the local school. She is also as political and anti-aristocrat as Tom claims he used to be.  She could either be the woman who heals his heart or be the second coming of Evil Edna.

Robert is in America for the end of the episode, having rescued Cora’s brother Harold from scandal.

Downstairs

Alfred is coming back to Yorkshire due to his father’s funeral. He writes to Ivy proposing marriage. Sounds like Robert Martin’s proposal to Harriet Smith in Emma.  Daisy starts off the episode with another childlike hissy fit.  But after spending a day with her father in law, she finally comes to the very mature conclusion that Alfred does not return her love and it is time to move on.  This story line has been bordering on the inane since the first episode, at least it’s over.

With the return of Lord Gillingham comes Mr. Green and the death stares of Mr. Bates.  With Thomas in America and the staff working at the bazaar, John requests a day off. Onerous music follows him as he leaves Downton. When Mary and Tony meet for lunch in London, he tells her that Mr. Green is dead, hit by a bus. It was an accident, witnesses by many. An accident, I wonder or a man taking revenge for his wife’s rape?

Molesley, despite being the Edith of downstairs, seemed to have found kindred spirit in Baxter. He also beats full of it Jimmy at the bazaar and offers a gentleman like arm to Baxter after Thomas returns home.  Maybe the Edith of downstairs will be Edith no more.

Analysis

I love how Mary has grown as a character from the first episode. She started as a spoiled, selfish young woman to a mature woman who is taking charge of her future and her family’s future.

Martha Levinson (Shirley Maclaine) is back this weekend, bringing her unknown son Harold (Paul Giamatti).  This is the 2013 Christmas episode and the last episode of the series. Unlike last year, I have been very good about not being spoiled.  I am curious to see how this series will end and what morsels we will be left with to hold us through to next year.  I have enjoyed series 4, overall and I look forward to series 5.

Dowager Moment/Quote Of The Week

“All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. The first one, then the next, and then the next, until at last we die.”

 

 

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