Dec 16, 2013

Conversations with Nick C

In less than three weeks Downton Abbey will return with its fourth season.  Supposedly we will have a man of color enter those hallowed halls this year, and he will be a jazz musician, to boot. In fact, I imagine this season will be all about the "Jazz Age" and the "Roaring Twenties".  Lady Edith will start wearing colored tights, short skirts, and continue her muckraking feminist ways with her "blog" (newspaper column) in London; and Lady Mary will probably fall for the musician guy, infuriating everybody to no end.  It will all end with the stock market crash of 1929, and Downton Abbey and all its residents on the brink, facing financial ruin.

Shoulda said, "Spoilers!", hunh? Whatever.  I have not seen it yet.  And, I could be completely wrong.  (Although, I fear I am not.) And, do not get upset.  I love me some Downton Abbey.  I really do.  Really.

But that is merely tangential to what I would like to speak about.  You see, last year during the bloodbath that was Season Three of Downton Abbey, someone had the hilarious and perfect notion to post a picture of Lady Mary on friendface, with a caption that read something  to the effect of, "Donate to PBS or Lady Mary snuffs it!"

I shared this story with Nick C, and we came up with yet another one of our wonderful notions that will never come to pass.

Why not really do that? PBS is always struggling to make ends meet.  Heck, the GOP would love to see PBS abolished altogether except for Antiques Road Show.  Why not raise money for your programs by holding your most treasured characters for ransom?

Imagine the drama! Put a little picture of Lady Mary in the left hand bottom of the screen with a "Money Clock" as Downton Abbey plays.  The viewers would be given a deadline and a financial target they would have to meet to keep Lady Mary (or Lady Edith, or whoever) alive.  The phones would be ringing off the hooks! You would never have to run another dreaded Pledge Drive again!

But, it could work for commercial television, as well.  Take a show like Mad Men, par example. Mad Men is a cultural phenomenon that has a rabid cult like following, yet, does not really ever receive very high ratings, despite all the critical praise heaped upon it.

Mad Men and Matthew Weiner and AMC would be a perfect test case for our idea in the commercial teevee universe.  Instead of donating to the network, viewers would naturally be urged to buy the Mad Men's sponsors products!

Now Peggy Olson is pictured in the bottom left hand corner.  And, viewers know that if they do not purchase a certain amount of cases of Johnny Walker Red before the clock runs out, that Ms Olson's life is in severe danger.

In this way, perhaps Matthew Weiner could raise enough revenue for the program to get the network, AMC, off his back?

Nick C and I think this is a brilliant idea to really add spice and drama to our everyday television viewing.  Plus, it could get more money in to the hands of the artists who create all this great television.  Remember all the hullabaloo when Mittens said those nasty things about Big Bird at the 2012 Presidential debates? Well, imagine the support if Big Bird's neck truly was on the chopping block?

Food for thought.


And, now for fun, an entire episode of PBS' Miss Marple after viewers refused to donate enough money to keep her character alive:

(Credits finish, and we find ourselves EXT: DAYLIGHT at Tea Time in one of the many luxurious verdant gardens of LADY GERTRUDE's expansive manse.  Her husband, LORD NIGEL, is reading the Financial Times at the table, occasionally sipping at his tea.  Their restless bespectacled daughter, LADY GWENDOLEN, plays with her scones, and fusses with the buttons on her blouse.  LADY GERTRUDE, however, maintains a rigid imperious calm, presiding over the entire table, sipping tea, and reading Vogue Magazine.)

Really, Gwen darling, could you please stop fussing with those buttons? You are driving poor Mama to absolute distraction.

(LORD NIGEL sighs and casts a glance at his wife.)

But, Mama, the ball is just a fortnight away, and I have yet to hear from Peter, what his intentions are.

I thought we had agreed you would be attending the ball with Sir Westley?

(sadly, and with desperate quiet intensity) But, Mama, ... Sir Westley is ninety-four years old ...

(The Irish house servant, NIAMH, enters.)

Your lady? The Vicar Leicester is here to see you.

Oh, dear.

(LORD NIGEL clears his throat and casts a glance at young NIAMH.)

(Exasperatingly) Thank you, Niamh.  Show him the way.

(NIAMH exits, and VICAR LEICESTER enters.  The VICAR stands to the left of LADY GERTRUDE, and says:)

Oh, that I would have the grace to visit you, Lady Gertrude, in better circumstances!

Good heavens, Man! What is the matter?

I can barely bring myself to speak of something so awful in your company.

Vicar, please.  Tell us your news.

It is that wanton lady, Miss Needlesham.  She has been murdered!

(Alarmed, dropping his paper, and sitting bolt-upright in his chair) My God!

Yes.  And, what is worse, with the dear Miss Marple passing away last year, I do not know how we should ever find the culprit.

(Brushing the crumbs of a scone off her lap) My dear Vicar, I am sure that St Mary Mead Constable Henley will be perfectly capable of finding out who would want to kill that vulgar woman.  (To her husband,) More tea, dear?

(Fade out, credits roll.)


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