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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

January 7, 2013 at 10:35 AM

‘Downton Abbey’: The wedding . . . or not

So, what gives, Julian Fellowes? We wait, for eons and eons (well, nearly a year anyway) after Matthew’s super-romantic proposal to Mary in the snow, for a “Downton Abbey” wedding, and what do we get? No wedding! Well, OK, there was a wedding (after some fairly unnecessary faffing about in which we were led to wonder if the wedding would be off, to which I say, As If), but we didn’t see most of it. Or the reception — which, come on, wouldn’t that have been fun? If Mrs. Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine, and how) can singlehandedly liven up a dinner party picnic, think what she could do for a full-on wedding reception. I’d have happily heard another song, or watched her and the Dowager Countess leading a conga line, or whatever the 1920-equivalent of wedding reception revelry might be. Ah well. At least Mary looked lovely in her dress (Michelle Dockery being one of the few women alive who can look willowy in a drop-waist gown) and veil, and we got to watch Edith being snarky and Mrs. Hughes charmingly wrangling a group of flower girls.
Elsewhere, all was status quo on the one show on television that really, really cares what kind of dress shirts its gentlemen wear (and why didn’t Robert just borrow one from Matthew? Or is that just Not Done?). Matthew may inherit some money, or maybe not; and Mrs. Hughes may have cancer, or maybe not; and Edith really really wants to marry Sir Anthony What’s-His-Name, or maybe not; and Daisy feels unappreciated and Anna’s determined to prove Bates’ innocence and Thomas is scheming and Cora handled the news of Robert’s losing nearly all of her fortune with such good humor I wondered if she had a hearing disorder. And the new footman is very tall, leading to the sublime Dowager Countess line “Are you really that tall?” which, trust me, Maggie Smith sold. I loved seeing the contrast between Mrs. Levinson and the Dowager Countess; MacLaine was costumed in the most up-to-date ’20s gear, while the DC remains firmly Victorian. And they were a kick together — particularly during the song — but we knew they would be.
What did you think? Did this two-hour episode satisfy? Are you now wondering who’s going to be cast as Cora’s mysterious brother Howard? (I say Paul Giamatti.) Would you take Mrs. Patmore with you to a doctor’s appointment? How fabulous was Mary’s red dinner dress (which was, I learned from a “Downton Abbey” coffee-table book, a copy of a dress by Vionnet)? I’ve been waiting forever to talk about this show; have you?

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