Downton Abbey: A New Era

[3.5 stars] [IMDB Link]

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Mrs. Salad invited Pun Daughter in for dinner and a movie, specifically this one. (Free-to-us on Peacock.) I sighed deeply and said, "Oh, all right, I'll watch it with you." But I suspect they knew I was going to enjoy it too.

Big doin's at the Abbey: (1) a mysterious figure from the Dowager Countess's past has died and left her an opulent villa on the French Riviera, to be (eventually) passed down to young Sibyl, her great-granddaughter. But in the meantime: (2) a British movie company has asked to use the Abbey grounds and interiors to shoot a silent movie, The Gambler. To which the old and staid members of the household say, very Britishly, "Well, I never!". But once Lady Mary shows her dad the array of chamberpots in the attic catching raindrops from the leaky roof… well, the movie company's cash starts looking pretty good, so much for your snooty principles.

Part of the crowd runs off to France to check out the villa, and there's some friction between the Crowleys and the widow. But good manners and legal necessity win out. Robert gets some potentially distressing news about his parentage, and then he's aghast all over again. Could he be … part French? Soccer Blue!

Meanwhile back in Old Blighty, the movie production runs into a snag: it's supposed to be silent, but talkies are clearly ascendant, the studio is about to pull the plug. Before you can say "this subplot was ripped off from Singin' in the Rain", the household gets wangled in to playing a much larger role in the production than they planned. This is hilarious, especially when the downstairs staff get a chance to play dress-up, after being stuck in maid/cook/butler outfits for the past decades.

There's a lot of fan service here, as shameless as any Marvel movie. And I ate it up, just as I do while watching Marvel movies.

Last Modified 2024-01-17 9:31 AM EDT

URLs du Jour


  • Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before. Just when you thought you were losing motivation, there's help: a new batch of inspiration from the Federalist: Kamala Harris Quotes As Motivational Posters. Sample:

    [Time keeps on slipping]

    [My favorite bogus presidential quote in headline.]

  • Warren Women. Pro-life women, anyway. Liz Wolfe on Liz Warren's current crusade: Elizabeth Warren Wants To Shut Down All of the Country's Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

    "In Massachusetts right now, those crisis pregnancy centers that are there to fool people who are looking for pregnancy termination help outnumber true abortion clinics by three to one," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) told NBC 10 Boston. "We need to shut them down here in Massachusetts and we need to shut them down all around the country."

    "You should not be able to torture a pregnant person like that," she added, referring to the work done by the pro-life charities.

    It's unclear what legal authority Elizabeth Warren would use to enact her will. In fact, a sitting U.S. senator trying to shut down charitable organizations, like crisis pregnancy centers, for no violation of laws but rather due to the fact that they further the pro-life cause, would be quite blatantly unconstitutional.

    Ms. Wolfe notes that it's possible to find crisis pregnancy centers that "provide misleading information" and "use aggressive, deceptive marketing". Is that enough to "shut them down all around the country"? Um, no.

    Warren has introduced the "Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation [SAD] Act". As I type, it's (apparently) too pro-abortion for (even) our state's senators to co-sponsor. Over on the House side, NH-02 CongressCritter Annie Kuster has signed on; NH-01's Chris Pappas has not.

  • Ridiculous and bad faith? That's a twofer. Jesse Singal writes On Rashida Tlaib And Chase Strangio’s Ridiculous, Bad-Faith Attack On The New York Times.

    Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, just launched a broadside against The New York Times.

    It came in the form of a tweetstorm that reads as follows, numbering and link added by me:

    (1) The @nytimes has been providing a platform for transphobic hate & propaganda, with horrifying consequences. Texas just entered NYT articles into evidence to push for the TX Dept of Family & Protective Services to take trans kids away from their supportive parents. (2) During escalating assaults on trans people & trans rights nationwide, the New York Times is featuring writers debating whether trans people should even exist and scapegoating this already-marginalized community. One way to act in solidarity is to sign now: Sign now to tell the New York Times to stop providing a dangerous platform for transphobic hate, and instead amplify trans voices. As trans lawyer and activist Chase Strangio has said: “The NYT's horrible coverage of and fixation on trans people has been central to the progression of anti-trans bills and policies nationally… (3) Thank you @chasestrangio for sounding the alarm and asking cis people to speak up. To trans & non-binary people: I'm with you. I’m going to keep fighting for your right to exist, to be safe as your full authentic selves, & to thrive. Our safety & liberation is intertwined. (4) The fights for trans rights and reproductive justice are wrapped up together. Our right to bodily autonomy—our ability to make decisions about our own bodies—is under threat. This affects ALL of us. We must be in solidarity to defeat the growing fascist movement to control us.

    It goes almost without saying that the Times has not published anything “debating whether trans people should even exist” — this seems to just be completely made-up, or relying on a very esoteric definition of “exist.”

    Not to mention the esoteric definition of "fascist".

    Chase Strangio is an ACLU lawyer. Singal, as might be expected, is dismayed by the attempt to bully the NYT into full compliance with ACLU's theology on the matter.

  • He's no FDR. He's not even a Jimmy Carter. Kevin D. Williamson is tough but fair: The President Is Not (Entirely) to Blame for Left's Failures.

    Two-thirds of Americans think Joe Biden is doing a poor job in office. The other third is selling meth to Hunter. The trajectory is decidedly southerly, and this has not escaped the notice of leftier Democrats who weren’t all that excited about the old man in the first place.

    I don’t think that I would have much in common politically with RootsAction, the progressive group that has just made a splash with its new campaign to convince Joe Biden not to run for reelection in 2024. But I do admire progressives’ willingness to take on their party’s president. That’s a sign of good political health — rare on the left.

    “A president is not his party’s king,” the RootsAction statement says, “and he has no automatic right to renomination. Joe Biden should not seek it. If he does, he will have a fight on his hands.”

    Biden should have a fight. He should lose it.

    KDW points out that the problem for Democrats isn't Biden, old and ineffective as he is. It's that the progressive-activist policies he's chosen to pursue are fundamentally out of whack with normal-people concerns. Replacing Joe with Elizabeth, or Kamala, or Mayor Pete, [etc.] might fix the geezer problem, but not the policy problem.

  • But we want to go this way, Science! Marty Makary M.D., M.P.H. and Tracy Beth Høeg M.D., Ph.D. write at Bari Weiss's substack: U.S. Public Health Agencies Aren't ‘Following the Science,’ Officials Say.

    The calls and text messages are relentless. On the other end are doctors and scientists at the top levels of the NIH, FDA and CDC. They are variously frustrated, exasperated and alarmed about the direction of the agencies to which they have devoted their careers.

    “It's like a horror movie I'm being forced to watch and I can't close my eyes,” one senior FDA official lamented. “People are getting bad advice and we can’t say anything.”

    That particular FDA doctor was referring to two recent developments inside the agency. First, how, with no solid clinical data, the agency authorized Covid vaccines for infants and toddlers, including those who already had Covid. And second, the fact that just months before, the FDA bypassed their external experts to authorize booster shots for young children.

    That doctor is hardly alone.

    The problem according to Dr. Makery and Høeg: "the heads of [FDA, CDC, and NIH] are using weak or flawed data to make critically important public health decisions. That such decisions are being driven by what’s politically palatable to people in Washington or to the Biden administration. And that they have a myopic focus on one virus instead of overall health."

    So, yeah, nothing could go wrong there.

  • I'm not generally a fan of saying your political opponents are nuts. But let's see where Arnold Kling is going when he discusses the "Coalition of the Sane."

    By now, you’ve heard about and probably read Bari Weiss’ speech The New Founders America Needs. Did you notice the italicized phrase in this passage?

    I want to offer you the briefest overview of the core beliefs of the un-American revolution we are currently living through, which are abundantly clear to anyone willing to look past the hashtags and the jargon. Then I want to tell you what I think we—liberals, conservatives, independents, trads, whigs, normies, the coalition of the sane—can do to stop it in order to preserve the precious virtues that have made this country the last, best hope on Earth and that have made every single one of our lives possible. 

    I was titillated by the phrase “coalition of the sane.” It sounds really promising, but she never returns to it in her speech. And I am left wondering about the terms “coalition” and “sane.”

    In this context, what does it mean to be sane? Probably it means believing that men and women differ in physiologically identifiable ways. It means believing that a color-blind society is a desirable goal. It means believing that freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry are important values. It means understanding that market processes have some virtues and that government processes have some vices.

    But what does it mean to be a coalition? A coalition works together to overcome opposition. I do not think that Weiss’s list of constituents actually are a coalition. It includes too many of what I call Enablers—people who profess principles that differ from Woke ideology but who are ready to excuse it. Like Jonathan Haidt, they put the blame on social media. Like Jonathan Rauch, they put the blame on Donald Trump

    Arnold has a number of suggestions that a "coalition" could get behind. But if those suggestions attract only conservatives and libertarians, that's not going to make a "coalition."

Last Modified 2024-01-30 8:15 AM EDT