Tuesday, January 08, 2013


The Pantload on Downton Abbey:
I do wonder what the left, particularly the British left, thinks of the show. For starters, one of the chief villains is gay.
We can stop right there; you could make a parlor game out of guessing Goldberg's other insights ("the whole point of the show is to sympathize with the landed gentry," "the one fairly radical lefty in the show... remains something of a bore," etc). The thing that defies imagination is: What does he think is going on? Is he trying to using conservative hanky code to find if Abbey's producers would like to provide the entertainment on the next NR Sadcruise? Or is he laying the groundwork for the case that, when the history of early 21st Century conservatism is written, Julian Fellowes will be the Goldwater of the Kulturkampf? (After all, as Goldberg's colleague Jay Nordlinger noticed years ago, Fellowes once complimented America. Maybe he's a mole in the commie arts community, and can be recruited to make movies with Bill Whittle.)

Oh, one more thing, from the aesthetic part of Goldberg's episode review:
Indeed, the whole show felt bizarrely cut up, like they had to put it together at the last minute.
At last he's talking about something he understands. [Farrrt.]


  1. smut clyde4:04 PM

    I do wonder what the left, particularly the British left, thinks of the show.

    I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark here and guess that some people like it and some don't.

  2. satch4:23 PM

    Well, stone the crows... Thomas Barrows' gayitude was so subtle I missed it. I thought he was just an asshole. But Jonah's ability to miss points is still legendary:

    "For the most part the working class types - i.e. the servants - are basically very happy to live up to the standards and expectations of the wealthy aristocrats upstairs." Umm... since these particular working class types have a very specific skill set... namely, waiting hand and foot on their betters... that doesn't translate very well to the real world, what the hell else are they going to do?

    "...even though the proper lefty response should be cheers. "Good! Give the land back to the people!" Ah... here's Jonah being the expert on what "Lefties" think. Actually, this Leftie just assumes that the estate won't be broken up, since if that happens, the show's over. I'm just clinically curious to see how it will be saved.

    The "Irish chap" Branson may have expressed some tediously revolutionary ideas, but he was under the influence of drugs for the worst of them. And I'm curious as to how much of Jonah's scorn for the Martha Levinson character has to do with his presumed loathing of Shirley McClain. I thought she was fine, especially when she sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to The Dowager Countess of Grantham. Frankly, I'm waiting for Jonah's follow-up piece: Downton Abbey's Most Conservative Characters.

  3. Roy T.4:24 PM

    Fascinating. What's his take on Honey Boo Boo?

  4. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard4:29 PM

    I do wonder what the left, particularly the British left, thinks of the show. For starters, one of the chief villains is gay.
    Ah, yes, the purity test... we believe that gay people deserve the same rights as everybody else, therefore we believe that there are no gay assholes on the planet. Thanks for the insight into the dumb, unsubtle conservative mind, Doughbob!

  5. Spaghetti Lee4:30 PM

    I don't watch DA, so I'll leave the Goldberg-mocking to the rest of you, but I do feel obligated to point out that Julian Fellowes' full name is Baron Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, son of Peregrine Edward Launcelot Fellowes and Olwen Fellows, nee Stuart-Jones. Good God damn! Why don't people give their kids names like that anymore? It's all Braden this and Kaylee that.

  6. Spaghetti Lee4:31 PM

    Continues the proud conservative tradition of doing absolutely anything for money.

  7. Meanwhile, the one fairly radical lefty in the show — the Irish chap —
    was admittedly spruced up for the season premier, but for the most part
    he remains something of a bore...I doubt
    one viewer in a thousand has been persuaded by any of his little
    speeches and tirades.

    if the irish chap from downtown abbey can't get americans behind child labor laws, the five day work week and universal suffrage, then all is truly lost.

  8. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard4:35 PM

    Thomas Barrows' gayitude was so subtle I missed it.
    Don't sweat it, he's European.

  9. Goldberg knows that "the left" isn't that stupid and doctrinaire. He's just setting up for what he thinks is a brilliant cheap shot: "You guys have ideals. Your ideals, if followed in a blindly Stalinist manner, would lead you to draw stupid conclusions about fiction and life. But you're not doing that, so you're hypocrites! Ha ha BURN"

  10. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard4:38 PM

    He watches the show as "food porn". Deep-fried hog jowels, anyone?

  11. Thomas only gets to do one gay thing per year, and he hasn't done it yet this year. In series 1 he made an ill-considered pass at a pretty guy; in series 2 he fell in love with a mangled veteran. Neither was very subtle.

  12. sharculese4:43 PM

    Hey, if there's one thing Goldberg knows, it's being something of a bore. Okay, more like something of a boor, but still...

  13. "No no no, it's spelled, 'Raymond Luxury Yacht' but it's pronounced, 'Throat Warbler Mangrove'."

  14. satch4:45 PM

    Well, it's subtle if you missed those episodes.

  15. Aimai4:52 PM

    It's like reading protocols of the elders of Disney. Is he arguing that all popular entertainment is really Stalinist propaganda so it can only be critiqued insofar as it fails to make a leftist argument over and over?

  16. Halloween_Jack5:04 PM

    Shorter Doughpants: I can't easily mine this for pop culture references, so fuck it. (You'll notice that he throws in a reference to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in the first para. That's staying on the bleeding edge, Jonah!)

  17. I do wonder what the left, particularly the British left, thinks of the show. For starters, one of the chief villains is gay.

    Jonah's too lazy to ask the fine folks at Out Magazine what they think of the hot gay villain: http://www.out.com/entertainment/television/2013/01/03/rob-james-collier-downton-abbey

    I don't actually watch the show (because I'm just miserable at focusing enough to watch episodic TV), but I read the recaps on Tom and Lorenzo -- gay and liberal. They do great recaps, because not only do they talk about the clothes and the story and the Dowager Countess one-liners, but they also offer a little social commentary:

    We had hoped that the much-hyped addition of Shirley MacLaine to the
    cast would bring in a blast of fresh air to Downton, but alas, her time
    on the estate was largely pointless and her performance seems strangely
    restrained, like she wasn’t allowed to bring her essential Shirley-ness
    to the role. There were a couple of good moments, but for the most part,
    she was simply an idea wrapped in a costume: Americans, according to
    both Julian Fellowes and the Dowager Countess, are vulgar in comparison
    to their English cousins and do such horrid things as to openly discuss
    money, question the British social order, and talk with their mouth
    full. It was that last one that really got on our nerves. Mrs. Levenson
    is clearly not some working-class housewife and would know how to
    conduct herself at a dinner at Downton. In fact, everything indicates
    that she would have been raised in such finery herself. Yes, the British
    and American social orders were very different at the time, but it
    struck us as silly that she would be portrayed so crassly.. . .

    The “role” of Downton was a big part of this episode and it appears to
    be a major theme going forward. At this point in history, the importance
    of these large country estates was starting to wane and the show is
    trying to reflect that. We think that’s a fine theme for a show like
    this, but history has also shown that these estates weren’t really all
    that important in the end. Yes, they provided employment for large
    staffs and land for entire counties, but almost all of them declined to
    the point of being torn down and the world did not end because of it, so
    history is actually working against the drama here.

  18. John E. Williams5:10 PM

    Reminder: this fucker gets paid to WRITE.

    "Okay since I already outed myself as a weak-kneed animal lover let me go
    completely over the top and admit I watch Downton Abbey."

  19. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:11 PM

    This column once again demonstrates the "conservative" approach to art... Jonah is watching the show, thinking "how does this further my political aims and undermine my opponents'"? The thought of watching something for pure pleasure eludes him. One could hate the political themes of a show, but watch it for the intricacies of the plot, or the quality of the set design and costuming... but Pantload is not that one.

  20. this left wing freedom fighter would like a word.

    say hello to your aunt alicia, doughy

  21. Leeds man5:47 PM

    If the ignorant fucker is such an Anglophile, he should watch something entertaining and instructive, like Victorian Farm, or Time Team, rather than another fucking Upstairs Downstairs costume wankfest. Wodehouse did this class nonsense much better. So did Saki.

    There, I feel much better now.

  22. wileywitch5:52 PM

    You beat me to it. Such a stupefying opening statement defies coherence.

  23. MaryRC5:56 PM

    And the mangled veteran was in one of the earliest episodes of season 2,
    right? So either Jonah has been following the show since early season 2
    at least and couldn't think or anything to say about it until now ....
    or else (more likely) he was pondering what he could crap out today,
    checked the headlines in EW Online to see what the cool kids were
    talking about, then looked up Downton Abbey in Wikipedia or someplace to
    find "Barrow, Thomas, gay valet to the Earl." No wait, what am I
    saying? He got one of his readers to look up Downton Abbey because, you
    know, he had a deadline and lunch was ready.

  24. KatWillow6:04 PM

    Its made in England by English for the English. Jeez Doughy is stupid.

  25. KatWillow6:08 PM

    "Goldberg knows that "the left" isn't that stupid and doctrinaire" I must take issue with that. Doughy Pantload is stupid & doctrinaire, and not capable of imagining people who are not. "Liberals" in his view are dirty rotten conservatives who are CLAIMING to be better than everyone else, but some drive expensive cars and live in nice houses. Some have... money!

  26. KatWillow6:09 PM

    And "Jaden" or "Jadin" (sometimes spelled Tjaden.) Sheesh.

  27. Hattie6:13 PM

    Oh God. You slay me!

  28. Ethics Gradient6:18 PM

    Is Pantload trying to imply that Downton Abbey is written by a lefty, but he just can't manage to insert a proper Stalinist message in it, such is the inevitable triumph of the aristocracy? Fellowes is a Tory Lord, who used to write speeches for the Tory leader. I'd be amazed to find it turning out as a polemic on how the downtrodden masses should overthrow their oppressors.

  29. By "stupid and doctrinaire" I mean honestly stupid and doctrinaire. He obviously knows they are not, because if they were, they would be violently objecting to the show, and that's not happening-- it's incredibly popular with all kinds of people. So when he "wonders" what liberals think, the intended answer is "they don't really care, so they must be hypocrites who don't really believe in their beliefs."

  30. John E. Williams6:34 PM


  31. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard6:47 PM

    This column once again demonstrates the "conservative" approach to art... Jonah is watching the show, thinking "how does this further my political aims and undermine my opponents'"? The thought of watching something for pure pleasure eludes him. One could hate the political themes of a show, but watch it for the intricacies of the plot, or the quality of the set design and costuming... but Pantload is not that one.

  32. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard6:55 PM

    Sorry about the double post, folks- Disqus is pretty crappy (oddly enough, this is the one site where it really gives me problems.
    On an unrelated note, I bet Jonah watches the entire show fantasizing about the manor house being made of gingerbread.

  33. chuckling7:02 PM

    You can say that again.

  34. I think this is why I maintain my sanity by not viewing everything through a political lens. I don't wanna be like Jonah.

    So he's confused by "Downton Abby?" Well, he'd be flummoxed as hell by "True Blood," a show whose politics are so muddled you could pour some alcohol on it and make a Mojito. I mean, it's obvious that the vampires are supposed to be kinda gay. And it's obvious that the writers often take potshots at fundamentalists...but just when you think you have bent of the show figured out, it makes a villain of someone you thought was cool. It gets kinda confusing...which is why I find it's best to just enjoy what's meant to be enjoyed and not be psychotic-- or "Jonah" as I call it-- about it.

  35. You and I just basically wrote the same post. Which is awesome. :D

  36. Fats Durston7:23 PM

    I would've posted Let Me Google That For You, but I would've fallen into Goldberg's trap. (Anywho, lefty smart guy on seasons 1-2.)

  37. People who name their children "Braden" and "Kaylee" ought to be locked up for child abuse.

    I have strong opinions about child-naming, which I'm sure everyone here cares deeply about.

  38. The very worst people are the ones who give their children surnames as first names. It's so fucking pretentious, I kind of want to murder them. The parents, not the kids. Well, the kids a little bit.

  39. aimai7:46 PM

    I've always thought that Jonah et al would be ripe for The Unrest Cure.


  40. chuckling8:03 PM

    Seems the conservatives are always looking for ways to break into entertainment and here we have a popular show written by a genuine conservative, perhaps there's some hope for them yet. Maybe they could develop shows about the American upper class. You can have old timey dramas about the Carnegies and Rockefellers and newer sitcoms featuring fictionalized versions of the Romneys or their buddies like Marc Leder.

    But I had the same reaction as Fats and used the Google. Unfortunately for American conservatives, it seems that, in addition to not being overtly political, according to Fellowes, Downtown Abbey is about mostly nice people. I don't think American conservatives can do "nice people." Certainly not in the way normal people understand nice. They could probably steal a bit from Tarantino and do something like Candiland, but that only works when some guy comes in and blows all the upstairs folk away.

  41. Leeds man8:08 PM

    Yes, but too intricate. We need more, amazingly physically fit, hyenas.

  42. doh! fixed.

  43. redoubt8:10 PM

    No, because then he'd have to admit to actually reading something other than Cheeto bags and admit to watching something on the BBC that wasn't The Great British Bake-Off.

  44. smut clyde8:11 PM

    Ah, I see. So liberals *should* be doctrinaire Stalinists who denounce an English TV series on account of its ideological unsoundness. But totally not projection.

  45. I'm naming my hypothetical child Lt. Col. the Hon. Orestes Tulkinghorn Arbuthnot Jarndyce wjts Bart. GC, DSO & Bar, CGM, DLitt (Oxon.), FRCS, FRS.

  46. I still think of him as the petty foil to the Monarch of the Glen.

    Tyme, it doth fly, wot?

  47. MaryRC8:44 PM

    I'm naming my hypothetical child after the late Admiral the Hon. Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, KCB, DSO, JP, DL, an actual person who was married to Elizabeth Louisa Maria Grosvenor Ernle-Erle-Drax, née Burton and was at one time a buddy of David Niven. His grandson calls himself Mr. Drax.

  48. sharculese8:47 PM

    How do you feel about Starwars? I'm asking for, um, a friend.

  49. BigHank538:48 PM

    are basically very happy to live up to the standards and expectations of the wealthy aristocrats

    Well, of course they are, Jonah. That's how they get paid. Honestly, it's a concept you and the rest of the conservative movement should take out for a spin, instead of just kvetching about the sluts and poors and pinkos. This will also teach you just how interested people really are in your big ideas: exactly as long they're paid to be.

  50. Though his brother went by the rather pithier Lord Dunsany.

  51. marindenver9:03 PM

    Disclaimer. I like Downton Abbey. Don't luurve it but I like it enough to watch all the episodes so that I DVR it cuz Sunday night is not a big teevee night for me.

    But why does Pantload try and dissect it? Why does anyone? It. Is. A. Soap. Opera. Take away the period costumes, British accents, lovely scenery and what you have left is a plot from Days of Our Lives, General Hospital or Peyton Place. BUT beautifully acted by talented British actors. So I watch it. And afterwards think "But how did she practice on that huge typewriter every day in a room with no desk and nobody ever realized it?" or something to that effect.

    So I'm rooting for Mr. Bates' conviction to be overturned as much as anyone else and Matthew *will* see the light and save Downton with his new fortune for Mary's (eyebrows?) sake but it's all just entertainment in the end.

  52. Julia Grey9:19 PM

    >>The very worst people are the ones who give their children surnames as first names.It's so fucking pretentious <<

    What a plebian snob you are.

  53. M. Krebs9:34 PM

    The very worst people are the ones who give their children surnames as first names.

    Goddamn right. It as bad as just making up shit.

  54. M. Krebs9:41 PM

    I care a lot, Herr Doktor Kenneth Noisewater, since in my "real" life I've been saddled with a unique (therefore good, in a way) yet highly obscure (therefore soul crushing) given name. It sucks to have to spell your name to people.

  55. MaryRC9:42 PM

    Then let me introduce you to "Toddlers and Tiaras", a recurring reality show on The Learning Channel (ha ha ha ha) that explores the world of child beauty pageants. You will be impressed at the creative ways that Kaylee can be spelled, including Kaleigh, Caylie and Kailai. And yes, all of the parents on this show should be locked up for child abuse, regardless of how they spell their tot's name. Especially the parents who named their little girls Alaska, Kragen and Sparkal.

  56. M. Krebs9:47 PM

    Mmmm, pork. Sweet, soft clouds of fresh pork.

  57. M. Krebs9:55 PM

    The Unrest Cure maybe (whatever that is), but please, dear Gott in Himmel, not The Cure --- pre-1988 anyway.

  58. yoo-hoo
    slovenly and lazy
    writing so hazy
    just like jonah

  59. M. Krebs10:04 PM

    I was born in the '50s, and I'm a pop-culture luddite, so I've never seen an episode of this "television" show called "Downton Abbey." Is it worth my time?

  60. montag210:18 PM

    This is just an hypothesis, mind you, but my guess is that Doughy would find DA much more involving were it to just have satisfied his lust for a more authoritarian gentry, perhaps an episode or two in which the lord of the estate horsewhipped a servant or two for trivial transgressions of unwritten rules.

    American conservatives are not a little impressed by titles and moderately obsessed with Debrett's Peerage (recall the oohs and aahs emanating from the right wing when there was some evidence presented that the Bush family was (very) distantly related to Queen Elizabeth--they could hardly contain their excitement). They don't much like democracy, have considerable affinity for monarchies, and I suspect this is an attitude that has been around ever since there were colonial Royalists. And, they are definitely predisposed to aristocracies, both traditional and modern.

    Had there been even more emphasis on class differences and the moral superiority of the ruling class, I suspect this would have been der Pantload's cup of tea.

  61. mortimer10:30 PM

    Shorter Pantload: I'm watching PBS? Hey, I'm as surprised as you.

  62. "Jonah watches the entire show fantasizing about the manor house being made of gingerbread"


  63. The Unrest Cure

    "The Unrest-Cure"

    Saki's recurring hero Clovis Sangrail, a sly young man, overhears the complacent middle-aged Huddle complaining of his own addiction to routine and aversion to change. Huddle's friend makes the wry suggestion of the need for an "unrest-cure" (the opposite of a rest cure) to be performed, if possible, in the home. Clovis takes it upon himself to "help" the man and his sister by involving them in an invented outrage that will be a "blot on the twentieth century".

    He follows them home and informs them that he is an emissary, sent by "The Bishop" to organize the extermination of the local Jewish community. While handling this task with all the aplomb of a general factotum Clovis also invites all the local jews to show up at the house, one after the other, where the panicked owners of the house have to make the decision as to whether they are going to hide them (while still placating the bishop) or let them be killed.

    It contains my family's favorite line:

    "We can curry the cold duck" she said, resolutely.
    He said nothing, but his eyes thanked her for being brave.

  64. Is it Llandudno?

  65. glennisw10:46 PM

    Nicknamed "Pookie" I assume?

  66. MyPetGloat11:26 PM

    Re For starters, one of the chief villains is gay.

    This is classic Jonah. His (what I loosely call a) book, says, and I paraphrase, "For starters, Hitler was a vegetarian." Because Hitler being a vegetarian is the whole story about Hitler and it's all you need to know to judge vegetarians because if Hitler was a vegetarian, all vegetarians are Hitler, just as all gays are villians.

  67. Jeffrey_Kramer11:55 PM

    Oh, absolutely. Best place to start is with the third-season episode where Gandalf banishes Baron Wormtongue, who had been counseling a policy of appeasement towards the socialist Orcs.

  68. AGoodQuestion12:28 AM

    would lead you to draw stupid conclusions about fiction and life.

    Once again, Jonah writes what he knows.

  69. Another Kiwi12:39 AM

    There re rumours of people watching it because they "like" it and "find it amusing". Weird shit, I know, but not everyone watches Tee Vee for conformationally biased reasons.

  70. AGoodQuestion12:43 AM

    It's a Mad Lib.

    Okay since I already outed myself as a [SELF-ABUSING ADJECTIVE] [NOUN] lover let me go completely over the top and admit I [VERB] [NOUN].

    Try it yourself!

  71. Halloween_Jack12:54 AM

    So Jim Starlin didn't just make up the name Drax for one of Thanos' archenemies? Fascinating. Then again, I shouldn't be surprised that the British could come up with something like that, given their goofy-ass penchant for names like Bonebrake and Wigglesworth.

  72. Mr. Wonderful1:13 AM

    I doubt one viewer in a thousand has been persuaded by any of his little speeches and tirades.

    More proof, as if any were needed, that Doughy, and his confreres, see culture as political war by other means, and thus cannot understand culture. "No, dear boy," one wants to say to him, "It's fiction, yes, but it's not Atlas Shrugged."

  73. Mr. Wonderful1:17 AM

    Alas, no. Ten dollars down and we go to Bennett. (I'm hoping aimai is old enough to recognize the allusion.)

  74. Mr. Wonderful1:18 AM

    Of course you are. Now open wide and take your pill.

  75. Tehanu2:14 AM

    My husband, whose mother was English, has cousins named Kneebone.

  76. Tehanu2:25 AM

    No, to give Jonah what little credit he deserves, I doubt that horsewhipping the servants would thrill him. I think he would much prefer to hear the aristocrats discussing exactly how much they could cut the servants' pay by, or congratulating each other on leaving tips of 2p after a weekend visit.

  77. smut clyde3:07 AM

    Do not mock the good name of Professor Wigglesworth, who wrote the best entomology textbooks ever.

  78. I did just read True Blood as Blue Bloods and wsy seriously thrown off-track by your suddenly talking about vampires..

  79. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard5:07 AM

    Great Belin, I'd wager it's Fflewddur! A Fflam never spells his name to people!

  80. satch7:06 AM

    Typical liberal, Mary (if that's your REAL name)... giving your child titles he/she didn't earn through rigid, meritocratic labor and, of course, not at ALL based on inherited wealth or family connections.

  81. Jeffrey_Kramer7:14 AM

    I've got [AMERICA-HATING] [HUMUS] [SODOMIZE] [GLENN BECK]. Should I spin again?

  82. aimai7:31 AM

    I don't, but I wish I did. Tell me! I hate to not get things on alicublog it makes me feel so...doughy.


  83. aimai7:35 AM

    I agree. I think Jonah gets off on seeing how accepting most of the servants are of their subordinate position and is touched by how nice the Earl is when he doesn't have to be. I've been waiting for him to turn into a British Catholic for a while but I guess it takes too much effort. And perhaps even a discreet English baptism would smack too much of bathing.


  84. aimai7:37 AM

    I thought it was much more significant that the gay guy was a servant and that the other two characters who indulged him were 1) an evil bisexual foreigner and 2) the "tragic" homo who kills himself (or dies, can't remember) because he's so horribly disfigured.

    There was a fascinating article that came out early on in the series about how many upper class officer types found their true sexuality in the trenches, with their lower class soldiers and brought one home as a lifelong companion in the form of a ba(imagine the proper accent here)tman. In fact such a story line would have immesurably enriched the plot if Bates had actually been Lord Whatever's lover.


  85. I'm both plebeian and a snob? Impressive!

  86. Halloween_Jack7:57 AM

    I know, Clyde! That's where I first saw his name, and always imagined that he decided at an early age that his surname would be his destiny.

  87. redoubt8:01 AM

    Is that something John Charles Daly might have said?

  88. It's a soap? I may have to give it a watch. I love soaps. (Yes, the lowbrow kind.)

  89. aimai8:38 AM

    I would have thought you were a snobby plebian since you are objecting to the apeing of upper class naming styles by the lower classes. The preservation of last names through first and middle names is associated with upper class inheritance and is a formula for marking and passing on status and connections that are not merely patriarchal (memorialized by the last name in western society) but include maternal relations, adoptive relations, and historical references. For people naming their kiddies "Madison Smith Heffelweiss" today its completely about the sound and vague associations since they don't have any status to pass on.

    My nephew by marriage is named a "last name first" because one of his ancestors was the least interesting President of all time: Harrisson. That's a kind of self love that I find hysterical. I mean, granted its a big deal to have anyone in your family become President of the US because there are relatively few of them. But still, would you want to stick the kid with the name of a noted failure?

  90. aimai8:40 AM

    I'm totally waiting for the next big thing: a show about Irish Cop Vampires in Boston. The Catholicism and the Reagan worship make it a natural anyway what with all the blood and symbolism.

  91. coozledad8:53 AM

    You know Jonah's ego would be inflated if he found a blood connection to the Potter Pirbrights.

  92. Now I'm going to bang my head against the wall becaus you brought up my biggest bugaboo: the name "Madison," which I actually have never associated with upper-class pretensions, but rather the movie "Splash." I swear that name got popular after the movie came out. And it's just an awful name, besides.

  93. The Dark Avenger8:55 AM

    My favorite historical British name is Praise-God Barebone.


  94. The Bennett is Bennett Cerf and the show is ...well I just saw that redoubt got it, so....nevermind.

  95. BigHank539:52 AM

    I'm guessing you missed "Forever Knight", about a vampire detective in an unnamed American city. It actually wasn't that bad--ran for three seasons. I always wondered how the guy kept the job, seeing as he couldn't actually show up in a courtroom and testify against anyone...

  96. aimai9:55 AM

    Wow. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that with an infinite number of monkeys typing out an infinite number of scripts something has been on TV at some point but still. I am surprised.

  97. Why not go with utility and direction in naming your kids?
    Like, "Hey, Fucknuts the III", or "Clean up your Roomius the Indolent".

  98. Well, you should, but you might get lightheaded

  99. Well, yeah, the Sister in law who named her son Harrisson also named her cat "Madison." Its not an upper class name at all--unless you are related to the James Madison. Its definitely a middle class name. They made fun of it on a recent season of Dexter when one character observes that she would feel weird if her niece was "named after the city we made our sunday beer runs to."

  100. BigHank53 nails it...Which has to hurt if his name is true. But maybe it's a good pain.

  101. Jeez, I'm not that old!

  102. I think Mr. Aimai was in Wigglesworth Hall when he was a freshman.

  103. No one wants to see Jonah grab the Honeypot and make a boo boo. You swine.

  104. You'd really wager, huh? BBBB, your harpstrings are breaking.

  105. Wait, did his grandson run the Moonraker project, by chance?

  106. Former MTV VJ Julie Brown writing an advice column?

  107. Hey, you know what the difference between a Time Lord and a Tory Lord is? The Time Lord has two more hearts.

  108. Uh, I dunno about the original failed Rick Springfield pilot, but the eventual series was set in that unnamed American city that has the CN Tower in it.

  109. Mr. Wonderful10:58 AM

    And recall that the mermaid-now-on-land fixes on that name, when asked, because she happens to look up and sees the sign for Madison Avenue, in NYC. So all the real-life Madisons are named after a mermaid who named herself after a street in a fictional movie. Take that, DeBrett.

  110. Mr. Wonderful11:06 AM

    Oh, don't kid yourself, cookie. You will be.

  111. Perhaps it was the cook's description of Thomas that was too subtle: "He's not a ladies' man." Best euphemism ever.

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  113. Okay, now I shall prepare myself for your scorn.

    Cram it, clown.

  114. whetstone11:41 AM

    "We're here! We're queer! And so are some fictional characters on PBS!"

  115. Hell, there's Kayley Cuoco on "Big Bang Theory." It makes me sad there are Kayley's that old out there, yet the popularity of this dumb, trashy name has not abated.

  116. William Gibson apparently stole that name for a minor character in his scifi novel "All Tomorrows Parties." The character was a twenty-something refugee from a quiverful-type family now working in an LOs Angeles convenience store. Not too bright but a real sweetheart.
    (The global convenence store chai was called Lucky Dragon, which was the name of a Japanese fishing boat that got caught in the fallout zone of a US atomic bomb test in the '50s.)

  117. I like unique names. Unless they are silly and made up. Now I know that all names were *made up* at one point, and drawing lines between which names are "real" and which are "made up" is a silly arbitrary exercise...but I'm ok with being silly and arbitrary. I just really hate some names.

  118. "Jaden" is one of the few "made-up" names I don't mind. I think it's rather pretty.

  119. GMTA. Whenever I heard the name, I'd always say--through gritted teeth--"that's a street, not a name."

  120. BigHank5311:58 AM

    Oh, I knew it was filmed in Toronto--or at least that time-lapse sunset came from there. My admittedly fuzzy twenty-year-old memories don't include any mentions of the city's name, which the show may very well have been full of.

  121. TomParmenter12:17 PM

    The simple English surname of De'ath wil do for me.

  122. Leeds man12:20 PM

    "I've been saddled with a unique (therefore good, in a way) yet highly obscure Welsh (therefore soul crushing) given name"

    Cnychwr? Bless you!

  123. TomParmenter12:28 PM

    Perhaps Jonah would be inspirited by a crossover visit from Roderick Spode and his Black Shorts from the World of Wodehouse just next door to Downton Abbey.

  124. Uncle Kvetch12:36 PM

    Yes, "the left" simply will not tolerate a gay character who is anything other than saintly. That's why Tony Kushner made Roy Cohn the hero in "Angels in America."

    Christ, what an asshole.

  125. I read Jonah's post. He seems puzzled that libs might enjoy a show about likable rich people. Which is remarkably stupid if you consider that outside a handful of sitcoms and dramas about working class families and workplaces, nearly EVERY SHOW ON THE AIR is about upper middle class and wealthy white people.

    Daytime soaps? They're all about attractive rich people who lunch in outfits that make it look as if they're about to attend an opera. And many of the characters are likable.

    It couldn't be as simple as viewers wanting to escape and enjoy a fairytale world for awhile, could it? Nah. That's too normal a way to think about things.

  126. Harry Cheddar12:39 PM

    Downtown Abbey: A syndicated advice column written in a sassy outspoken "urban" female voice. The column's catch phrase is "Oh no you din't!"

  127. Halloween_Jack1:15 PM

    Least interesting President of all time? What about that time he fought off the hijackers on Air Force One? That was so bitchin'.

  128. And who moved the 23 year-old John Updike to dash off the following memorable lines:

    "V. B. Nimble, V. B. Quick"

    Science, Pure and Applied, by V. B. Wigglesworth, F.R.S., Quick Professor of Biology in the University of Cambridge.

    --a talk listed in the B.B.C. Radio Times

    V. B. Wigglesworth wakes at noon
    Washes, shaves, and very soon
    Is at the lab; he reads his mail,
    Tweaks a tadpole by the tail,
    Undoes his coat, removes his hat,
    Dips a spider in a vat
    Of alkaline, phones the press
    Tells them he is F.R.S.,
    Subdivides six protocells,
    Kills a rat by ringing bells,
    Writes a treatise, edits two
    Symposia on "Will Man Do?"
    Gives a lecture, audits three,
    Has the Sperm Club in for tea,
    Pensions off an aging spore,
    Cracks a test tube, takes some pure
    Science and applies it, finds
    His hat, adjusts it, pulls the blinds,
    Instructs the jellyfish to spawn,
    And, by one o'clock, is gone.

  129. MaryRC1:42 PM

    My REAL name, if you must know, is Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, OBE.

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  132. You got me. My name is actually Hariot Georgina Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava VA CI DBE.

  133. aimai2:25 PM

    In'sh' allah.

  134. I usually refer to this as the "Holy shit, will you look at the size of that apartment" effect.

  135. A former yoga teacher of mine had married a British guy named Quattlebum. Of course she took his name. I'd totally do it, too, despite my general aversion to marriage-related name-changing. I mean, Quattlebum.

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  137. Davis3:21 PM

    I for one am glad I never wonder about such things.

  138. smut clyde3:27 PM

    I refuse to allow aimai to ruin the Lord Peter Wimsey novels for me.

  139. smut clyde3:28 PM

    "Life-long bachelor".

  140. MRC2103:47 PM

    Even closer than next door. Sir Watkyn Basset acquired Downton Abbey from the Crawleys some time in the 1930s and renamed it Totleigh Towers. Sir Roderick Spode the amateur dictator was a frequent visitor especially after he started courting Madeleine "The stars are God's daisy chain" Basset. If only PBS would re-broadcast Jeeves & Wooster. Imagine the pantload Jonah could deposit over that.

  141. aimai3:55 PM

    Peter Death Bredon Wimsy, speaking of great names. Sorry to be the first to break it to you old chap. You ought to have suspected during the description of Bunter practically curry combing "his favorite" before Wimsy's wedding night with Harriet.


  142. MRC2103:56 PM

    Yes, it all seems so clear now, doesn't it? Even when Harriet came into the picture, it took Lord Peter 5 years to propose to her and then he brought Bunter along on the honeymoon.

  143. sharculese4:23 PM

    This reminds me of Bones, which has to include periodic aerial shots of the White House and the Washington Monument lest you forget that despite what every street scene would suggest, the show doesn't take place in LA.

  144. Davis4:27 PM

    Hey, my sister's name is Ceridwyn!

  145. slavdude4:37 PM

    There was a "Star Trek TNG" episode involving Data going down to a planet to retrieve the radioactive components from a damaged Federation probe, which explodes and damages his memory. He carries the pieces to a nearby town, whose inhabitants are roughly equivalent to seventeenth-century Europeans. A little girl names Data, who has forgotten his own name, Jaden. So I wonder if the folks naming their kids that nowadays are actually naming them after an amnesiac android (wow, alliteration!).

  146. MRC2105:17 PM

    I don't see why Jonah is confused by Downton Abbey. It's a story about people who never have to lift a finger because they've inherited privilege and position from their parents, who never interact with anyone but each other, and continue to be cossetted and protected throughout their existence by other people's money. What could be unfamiliar about that?

  147. aimai6:01 PM

    I know, Bones is so incredibly visually formulaic that it is almost more stupefying than the plots.


  148. aimai6:03 PM

    Pre-zackley, dear boy [taps side of nose, significantly.]


  149. The Dark Avenger6:26 PM

    One of my great-greatgrandfathers was named Quincy-Wong.

  150. TGuerrant7:11 PM

    Not the marrying type.

  151. I'm pretty sure most of them think it's an homage to Will Smith's kid...which...ugh. It bums me out I find the name pleasing. I want to hate it so much. I'm psyched to find out it has other roots!

  152. TomParmenter7:15 PM

    So there already is a Downton/Wodehouse Mashup! Let's toss in Connecticut Yankee and send young Jonah back there to explain things to them.

  153. coozledad7:38 PM

    I'm old enough to remember when Madison was still making films.

    No last name. Just Madison.

  154. smut clyde8:20 PM


  155. redoubt8:52 PM

    That whole serving your country thing, for one. . .

  156. whetstone9:09 PM

    SIGH. There has been one great name innovation in the 20th century. If you are a football fan, you may remember a cajun quarterback named Bobby Hebert. He named his son T-Bob Hebert.


    I'm sorry, what were you saying about "Julian" "Fellowes"?

  157. Your shirts will be ready in the morning, milord.

  158. Spaghetti Lee11:28 PM

    Well, that's an innovation. So were reality TV, the telemarketer, and Autotune.

    I feel sorry for that guy, honestly. Imagine having this conversation 4,000 times. "Hi, my name's T-Bob." "Oh, is that a nickname for Robert?" "No, that's my real name." thinking: Man, his parents must have been real yokels.

  159. DocAmazing1:18 AM

    Though you probably already know this, the "T" is a phonetic equivalent to "'tite", short for "petite", meaning "little", in this case equivalent to "son of". I'm from Oakland originally; the tradition there is "De", as in "DeShawn", who is very likely Shawn's son.It may look funny, but it's logical.

  160. DocAmazing1:22 AM

    Gibson's got a fine ear for American names. Chevette-Marie Washington and Cayce Pollard are but two.

  161. Well, yeah, but isn't Special Agent Booth a vampire? So there you go.

  162. Michael in Cambridge2:28 PM

    How about Kay-Lib? My nephew in Foriduh and his addict girlfriend named their son "Kay-lib." I assumed it was Caleb until they set me straight....as it were.

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