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RGmen

Robert, Lord Grantham & Rick Grimes

Come with me to a bygone era, where people dress for dinner, and have servants, or are servants, but in either case speak with accents and know Their Place, even while that Place changes under their feet. Where families, literal and extended, stick together through thick and thin, through death and disaster, around a common ideal—Downton Abbey.

Love the Crawleys, Lord & Lady Grantham, their daughters and their various loves, the servants and their various loves, all the drama, triumphs and tragedies. It’s great stuff!

One wouldn’t think one could juxtapose the British elegance of Downton Abbey with the, dare I say it, down-and-nasty noir of The Walking Dead, would one?

But since I got sucked in to a Walking Dead marathon recently, and Downton Abbey is on my dvr, I’ve had the you-could-call-it-pleasure-if-you-wanted-to of seeing most of TWD season 2 & 3, followed by the relaxation of the Crawley saga.

Are there parallels? Of course there are, my friends, and not just because I’m tired and my eyes are falling out of my head—uh, due to excessive TV, and not, you know, a zombie bite.

1. Male Lead Character: The patriarchal figure, struggling to make the best of a changing world, slightly less sure of his footing than he used to be, I give you Robert, Lord Grantham.

And then there’s TWD’s Deputy Rick Grimes—leader of the pack o’survivors, struggling to keep it together, and keep his ‘family group’ alive. And avoid, you know, zombies. Is there death, destruction, grossness? Yes. Do beloved characters die? **SPOILER ALERT** Yes. Well, not much of a spoiler, as one might expect lots of death in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. And reanimation, and death, again, given, you know, the zombie thing.

The Crawley Sisters2. Themes: The strong male lead, the strong females around him, the struggle to survive and thrive in the face of change. The Big Questions—not just life and death and avoidance of zombies, or modernism, depending on the show, but how do I protect my family? Some of whom don’t want to be protected. How do you do the right thing in a changing world? How do you know what the right thing is? How do you help the group and maintain some Standards, damn it!

And Rick, whose standards have seriously slipped in the face of … okay, now the **MAJOR SPOILERS**—if you haven’t watched either show or are not caught up, read no further. Really! I’m going to name names and deaths and major plot twists.

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IN THE ‘CAN YOU BELIEVE THEY DID THAT?’ ZONE

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3. Death by…? : Downton AbbeyThe Walking Dead—the creative minds behind both these shows are not afraid to kill people off. Beloved characters! No small-time red-shirts here. We’re talking emotional, gut-wrenching—okay, in zombie land, there are usually some actual guts involved—game changing, life-altering deaths.

And, means of death they have in common—death by childbirth. AAAUUGGHH!!!

Downton Abbey: We Moderns take living through childbirth for granted—not so in Downton Abbey times. Lady Sybil! So bright and fun, rebelling against her class and family, loving ‘beneath’ her—and what happens? She gives birth, then dies. O M G! And that whole, doctor snobby v. doctor-who-knew-her-from-childbirth. And whose doctor-decision was it? Lord Grantham.

Well, as you can imagine, that didn’t go over too well with his wife, Lady Cora. The restrained grief! The blame, self-blameMatthewCrawley and guilt. It was awful, it was fabulous, it was tragic at every turn.

And, not satisfied with One Major Death, (and there were a few minors before this one) they end the season on Another. Matthew. AAAUUGGHH!!! Matthew, so handsome, so in love, so bringing out the best in Lady Mary, so happy to be a daddy. SMACK! I can’t even speak about that one. Plenty of emotional fodder for season 4, that’s for sure.

Shane WalshThe Walking Dead: As if there weren’t enough dead things around! Shane (and of course, many, many dead before him, but SHANE!) Best friend, in love with Rick’s wife, Lori. So maybe Lori isn’t quite sure who her baby daddy is, but she had a good reason to stray—she thought Rick got eaten in Atlanta. One has to Move On, and quickly, during a zombie apocalypse.

Shane was mostly a good guy. Dangerous, volatile. Sexy. The rules of civilization, no longer applicable, and for him, no point in pretending. You had to love that about Shane. Plus his great abs and… Ahem. A man of action, was Shane. Sometimes angry, loose-cannon action, but action none-the-less. In the face of some of Rick’s dithering, there was a purity to it. They balanced each other.

Too bad Shane tried to kill Rick.

What a down and dirty fight, I didn’t think Rick was going to pull it out, but a man fighting for his life and his wife and his baby and his boy—in the end, Rick wins. Boo hoo! Lose/lose all the way.

Shane-Rick-LaurieAnd then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, we get death by childbirth.

Lori! O M G. Okay, Rick and Lori, not getting along so well, what with one thing and another, but still, they loved each other. But, as usual, disaster strikes, Rick is off somewhere, the zombies are at the door. Lori gives birth—well, it was more like, rip this child from me—and dies. Noooooo!

Needless to say, Rick’s been a tad off the deep end since. He’s been bringing ‘I see dead people’ to new heights. Hugs, Rick! You need them.

4. Humor: Along with death and heartache, both these shows have their humorous touches. Downton Abbey—British wit, Maggie Smith’s delivery—always spot on, as it were, Carson’s face in the face of, well, all the Stuff. Quite right!

The Walking Dead—a tad darker, yet who can forget dangling Glen over the well as biter-bait, as in how many living does it take to get a walker out of a well?, and when they finally get that bloated corpse out—lol, if you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a (gross) treat.

For what is life without a bit of humorous leavening?

5. In Sum: Plenty of angst in the air, both in the post-Edwardian past and the hope-it-never-happens zombie-apocalypse future. How to explain their parallel appeal? Well, they’re good, of course, the characters, the drama, the emotion. Plus we live in times that are filled with dangers, and change, and uncertainty, and both of these shows speak to those elements. In their own unique way.

6. Last parallel:  Robert, Lord Grantham. Rick Grimes.

R. G.

Just saying.

******Have any obsessions that seem like they couldn’t possibly go together? Love the Dead, hate the Dead, bored of the Dead? Downton Abbey fan? Mad about how killing off major characters seems to be such a big fat trend? Is it drama or melodrama? Or just plain annoying?******

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I love the Halloween Season!

I don’t like roller coasters, slasher movies, or walking home alone in the dark, but give me pumpkins, witches, and skeletons, evil laughs, Frankenstein, Dracula or Mummy movies, a Milky Way, and I’m a happy camper.

In my younger days, I had my goth costume moments, and I did dress up as a vampiress to my husband’s priest,and for a cozy what-if scare I will watch Ghost Hunters with my daughter (she sure does know how to scare herself).

But Halloween is pure fun.

I used to make my kids’ costumes. They were so adorable! My son was a devil (red pj’s, glued on devil horns, a pitchfork—watch out dog!—and once he figured out why the heck I was dragging him around in this outfit, he’d run up to people’s doors chanting ‘candy’! He was 2 ½ ), Zorro, Batman (yes, I made that one despite all the readily available costume shop ones), a pirate, a ninja, and the Prince of Thieves. My daughters have been Sailor Moon (reused several times, a fabulous costume if I do say so myself), princesses (from old bridesmaids gowns, got a lot of mileage there), and then I went to buying costumes, because, well, because, so we had cheerleaders, vampires, and mermaids. Did we do a black widow or ghost bride? Oh, maybe that was me.

Then we went to Zombie soccer players, and minimalist outfits (ie, sweats) and make-up, bloody scars, out with the friends and see ya, mom! Sigh.

So now, only my youngest goes out trick or treating, with friends, and my house must be a little spooky, because I get very few little goblins knocking on my door. I do put on the light. The dog is loud, maybe?

Anyway, I could go on and on about Halloween fun and the joy of a good scare, but I’ll leave it at this.

The spirit world is the closest to ours on the Eve of Hallowmas, or Samhain, depending who and where you are. Roast some pumpkin seeds, light a candle for the dead, ring some bells, and definitely go for the Treat over the Trick.

And I hope you don’t get egged!

Good Halloween Movies

Really old, really creepy. I mean, really. If it’s late and you’re alone, and you watch this thing, you WILL be scared! NOSFERATU—1922, b&w, silent. It’s in the public domain. Creep Factor=HIGH! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcyzubFvBsA

THE MUMMY—with Boris Karloff—ooh, that close-up of him! Kissing dead things. That vat of embalming fluid. This is both a love story and a creep-fest. Creep Factor=MED

THE MUMMY—Brendan Fraser—I adore #1 and #2. Creep Factor=LOW Although those scarab beetles, ugh! Some good gross-out moments, too. Fun Factor=HIGH

DRACULA—oh, pick any of the dozens of movies out there! Children of the Night, indeed. Creep Factor= SOME CREEPIER THAN OTHERS, SOME STUPIDER, TOO

Frankenstein, Wolfman—hey, I’m a traditionalist! And for a laugh—it still holds up, ABBOT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. They meet a lot of other fun characters, too. And who can forget YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, the Mel Brooks comedy with Gene Wilder and many other fabulous people. Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life!

And for a good black and white ghost story, and I probably mentioned it before, try THE UNIVITED (1944) with Ray Milland.

A lot of people tend to ignore movies made in black and white, but if you’re up for something different, I say give it a try! There is nothing like a spooky black and white movie at this (or any) time of year.

And for a fun Halloween TV treat, if you didn’t catch the Halloween episode of The Office, give it a whirl. It was funny, and good. If you missed it, check out HULU http://www.hulu.com/watch/292804/the-office-spooked James Spader’s Scary Story was Excellent.

Nothin’ to fear but fear itself!

Any Halloween tips to share, a favorite costume, or favorite scary movie? Love this holiday or hate it?

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In Zombie Time—after 1 am, before 3 am—TV can be a challenge.

And sleep. You know, if you don’t make it to the pillow before 1 am, the brain does a little jump, and it’s harder to get it to shut down. At least, for me.

Also, things that you watch during Zombie Time, you might think they are better than they actually are. Because, you know, you’re tired. Maybe a little punchy.

And despite the hour, you’re in the Zombie Zone so you feel compelled to see it through to the end.

That said, MARS NEEDS WOMEN. It’s your classic B movie. OK, probably a C- -. Does that make it a D? Anyway, in that odd confluence that sometimes happens, the plot ended up being exactly the same as an episode of STARGATE SG1, ASCENSION. And yes, I was able to catch the gist of both these shows, even though they were on at the same time.

Both feature your classic tale of doomed love. Alien (surprisingly human-like) sees human woman, falls for her, woos her, and…yeah, you guessed it, it hits the fan. There’s military intervention. Some shooting. A little self-sacrifice. A woman without her alien cutie at the end. Tears. Fade to black.

OK, Major Sam Carter (Amanda Tapping) doesn’t cry much. But when she clutches the empty jeans of Orlin (Sean Patrick Flannery) the Ascended Cutie, you feel her pain. Sniff. He was/is a nice guy. Just, Ascended, so, no longer corporeal. Kinda sucks.

MARS NEEDS WOMEN—why, you might ask? Apparently there’s some kind of genetic mutation and they ran out of females on Mars. So, Earth being handy, they’ve come to get  some.

However, their dating/wooing skills aren’t fabulous, and volunteers being short on the ground, they decide kidnapping is the way to go. But scientist Dr. Bolen (Yvonne Craig, later Bat Girl on the TV cult classic, Batman) is there to help. She catches the attention of Martian operative Dop (Tommy Kirk) (really? ‘Dop’?) who decides he’s going to recruit her/spy on her, some combination of that. However, after he poses as a reporter, he catches Dr. Bolen’s eye. Dop and the Doc go for a stroll and fall in love. He changes his mind about The Plan, and his buddies are all upset.

The military come and the Martians need to skedaddle, and Dop’s boss says, either she comes with us, or you do, and you know what’s going to happen to you when we get home. So, he goes.  He kisses his Doc goodbye, and confesses his love.

There are tears, guns, the women are saved, and the lonely scientist faces her future not knowing what happened to her Martian. Sigh.

In general, I like a happy ending in my romances. But these worked for me. Or maybe it was fun because they had the same plot. Maybe it was better to switch back and forth, less is more. Or maybe I was under the influence of the Zombie Zone!

Anybody have any Zombie Zone experiences? Favorite bad movies? Serendipitous alignment of plot? Feel compelled to watch something to the end, even though you know you should turn it off?

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