Tag Archives: television

Earls of Grantham

Earls of Grantham coat of armsBelow is the lineage of the Earls of Grantham. The family name is Crawley, and their home is Downton Abbey in Yorkshire.

It is a fictional family in a television series I have never watched. I found family trees online, read summaries of the show and characters, and mapped out connections. Could I use only the internet to figure out a family history, I wondered. I think I did, and it made me want to get to know them better.

I will meet the Crawleys on DVD. Those watching on television will end their acquaintance with them in 2016. The sixth, and final, season on PBS begins January 3rd. The series is set between April 1912 and December 1925.

The Crawley family was given the Earldom of Grantham around 1772 for deeds unspecified. A subsidiary title is Viscount Downton. The earl’s heir may use this as a courtesy title. The title and estate are entailed, meaning inheritance can be passed only through the legitimate male line.

Grantham Family Tree

Downton Abbey Earls of Grantham family tree
Click for larger view

The house and lands of Downton Abbey came into possession of the Crawley family through the unnamed daughter-in-law of the 3rd Earl, great-grandmother of the ‘present’ earl, Robert Crawley. Presumably, she inherited her family home or received it through the will of a previous husband.

Jessica Fellowes, author of companion books to the series, refers to grave of sybil daughter of 5th earl dailymail.co.uk 1 Mar 2013Robert Crawley as the 7th Earl of Grantham. Other sources call him the 6th. Observant viewers noted a publicity shot of the gravestone of Sybil, Robert’s daughter. Carved on it is “daughter of the 5th Earl of Grantham”. The series does not fully explain the line of inheritance.

Robert had no son and no brother so after he inherited the title, his heir presumptive became his first cousin James, the son of his father’s unnamed brother. James had a son Patrick, who would inherit in turn. However, both men died on the Titanic in 1912. The male next closest in the family line was Matthew Crawley, Robert’s 3rd cousin once removed. The presumably deceased Reginald was Matthew’s father.

Amazon link for World of Downton Abbey
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While daughters could not inherit, strategic marriage could keep it in the immediate family. Robert and his mother Violet had sought marriage between Robert’s daughter Mary and Patrick, son of then heir presumptive 1st cousin James Crawley. After their deaths, Mary wed the new heir Matthew and they had a son, George. Matthew soon after died, making George heir.

Through the marriage of his daughter to the heir, Robert’s grandson will be earl after him. Mary, daughter of one earl and mother of the next, will never be countess. She would have held that title only through her husband had he lived to become the next earl.

Apples to Apples

TV writer David Shore was on CBC Radio’s q (formerly Q) today. He was introduced as battle creek cbs by David Shorecreator of House and Battle Creek, writer on Due South and originally from London Ont.

He described Battle Creek as premised on male friendship. Then they discussed male friends or frenemies in House. House? Wilson’s friendship with House was a big part of the show, but not vital to it. Not like the relationship between the lead characters in Battle Creek.

Battle Creek is a ‘fish out of water’ buddy cop show about a quirky partnership between a morally upright FBI agent and a cynical Battle Creek, Michigan cop. Due South was a ‘fish out of water’ buddy cop show about a quirky partnership between a morally upright Mountie and a cynical Chicago cop. I waited for that comparison. Didn’t happen.

Amazon link for Due South
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Watching the first episode of Battle Creek, I thought, wow, this is Due South twenty years later with two Americans. I like the show, just as I liked Due South.

A CTV series, Due South was a cult hit in the US for CBS. Stereotypes of the Canadian worldview versus American was the appeal but also a drawback to going beyond “cult” to “mainstream”. Battle Creek, with colliding American worldviews, will not have that problem.

Eric Peterson and Street Legal

Listening today, hoping the discussion would move to the shows about which male friendship would be really applicable, I thought of a Street-LegalQ interview with Canadian actor Eric Peterson. The host introduced him as a star of CTV’s Corner Gas, the musical Billy Bishop Goes to War and CBC’s 1980s Street Legal. He talked eloquently about the importance of exploring Canadian culture in Canadian entertainment. Corner Gas and the story of Canadian WWI pilot Billy Bishop were the examples. Why not Street Legal?

LA Law dvd Amazon link
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Canadian-made, -set and -aired, Street Legal started just months after NBC’s LA Law. Both centred on law firms – big deals, backstabbing, sex and intrigue. LA Law‘s was big and
glitzy, Street Legal‘s was Toronto storefront office scale. Canadian, eh? I waited to hear what Mr. Peterson would say about Canadian and American takes on the same dramatic premise. Didn’t happen.

Both q and Q’s interviews led straight to Street Legal and Due South: apples to apples comparisons. If q/Q have no staff familiar with old Canadian television shows, please contact me. I’ll be your “old codger” if you can’t find one in the CBC building.

She Loves You

Some things you will never ever forget.  One, for me, is Ed Sullivan introducing “these CBS Beatles ad on tvyoungsters from Liverpool.”  Hands clenched on head, pulling at hair, “eek, aah, oohh”.  In the living room with parents, sitting on the floor in front of the television, screaming.  Watching John-Paul-George-and-Ringo, February 9, 1964. I still can hear “well, she was just seventeen, and you know what I mean, the way she looks, is way beyond compare.”

Even now – old enough to realize that my parents must have been looking askance at each other, each blaming the other’s gene pool for having produced such a half-wit of a child – the memory sends shivers through me.  After that and before, I watched bands I loved on girl-in-audience-screenshotEd Sullivan’s “shew”.  But the Beatles were “way beyond compare.”

I think we in North America were lucky in our introduction to them.  They were already an established sensation by the time they came on tour.  We already knew it was ok to like them; indeed being Beatle-crazy was de rigueur.  Probably in England, there had been girls who said ‘they’re ok but it’s Frankie and the Fruitcakes who are really going to make it big.’  In light of knighthoods, billions in sales and historical perspective of the musical and social change started by the Beatles, those girls probably still feel a bit silly.

Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein made a way bigger misjudgment. According to Terry O’Reilly on CBC’s Under the Influence, Epstein let someone else market Beatles products – at a 90/10 split, the 10% going to the Beatles.  Who didn’t buy a Beatle wig?  And I had Beatles cards tv screenshotBeatles bubblegum trading cards, uncut sheets.  My father got them from a friend at O-Pee-Chee Gum.  I cut them into individual cards, not keeping even one whole.  I could have retired on the proceeds of those.

The fact that none of the plentitude of Mersey Beat bands ever matched the Beatles’ success does not deny the success that many did achieve due to the spin-off effect.  The Beatles were not created in a vacuum; they were influenced by their contemporaries and they opened doors for others.  In September 1964, the Beatles came to Toronto.  My mother would not let me go, despite wheedling DC5 London Ont UWO Archives lfpress.com James Reaney 3Nov2011and tantrums.  Two months later, my friends and I stood along Oxford Street in London (Ont.), waiting for the Dave Clark Five to drive past. They were playing at Treasure Island Gardens and, again, my mother said I couldn’t go.  But being in that crowd of girls on the street, screaming our heads off, made up for a lot.  The Dave Clark Five weren’t the Beatles, but they were close enough. Tellingly, I have no memory of the Rolling Stones coming to London the next year. That suggests their music was beyond my pre-adolescent ken.

Beau-Brummels-Teen-Aug-66-beaubrummels.tripod.com_laugh_60sjpgTerry O’Reilly mentioned a 1960s band called the Beau Brummels. They were from California but their music and foppish suits seemed British.  And, maybe more importantly, their name put their records alphabetically right after the Beatles in record bins, thereby increasing their sales.

I will be watching the Beatles special February 9th  on CBS. I’ll probably sit on the floor as close as possible to the tv, maybe scream a little.  For sure, I’ll cry a little for four lads and a girl from long ago.

Ford Branding

Rob Ford at Ford Nation t-shirt boothTobacco companies are probably heaving a huge sigh of relief.  As far as we know, no cigarettes were smoked by Mayor Rob Ford.  So they do not need to distance themselves and their brands from him. One of few industries spared.

Due to the mayor’s littering, Newfoundland’s Iceberg Vodka distillery released a statement decrying drinking and driving.  Ford Motor Company said its logo can’t be used on t-shirts made by his supporters.  CFL officials must have had kittens seeing him wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey while making his infamous statements Thursday about whom he was going to sue and why.

shocked cat with text Rob Ford Eats What?And speaking of kittens, I wonder when a cat food company will distance themselves from him after all of his revelations on Thursday.

We made a point of watching The Daily Show and the Colbert Report Thursday night.  This was way too good for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to pass up.  They and every other comedian could not believe he had actually said what he said.  In a nation grown accustomed to dirty little scandals like Anthony Weiner’s crotch ‘selfies’, Elliot Spitzer’s call-girls and a President’s hair-splitting denials of what exactly he dailyshow-14-Nov-13was doing with an intern, you would think nothing could shock American late night tv hosts.  So when the mayor of a Canadian city grosses them out, that’s an accomplishment of some sort.

I’m not a fan of Saturday Night Live, but I saw they plan to do something about him in their show this week.  You know we’ll be watching, along with the rest of Canada – except for maybe a few truly mortified Torontonians.

iceberg vodka-bottle-TO-police-picCongratulations, Mayor Ford, you have well and truly made Toronto a memorable city.  And provided hours of entertainment, both with your own words and the commentaries on them.  Thank you.  I haven’t enjoyed watching the news so much since President Clinton was Bad Billy.  Please don’t stop now!

Spoilers

I hate spoilers.  It’s like walking into a movie as someone walks out of the previous screening and says “I would have never guessed it was the good guy that did it.”  Spoilers Spoilers Alert kittensare like seeing your Christmas presents by accident.  When I was a kid I did not want even a clue about what I might be getting.  I still don’t.  And I don’t want to know what’s coming up on Coronation Street.  So I avoid UK Coronation Street sites.  I only read Canadian timeline sites said to be “spoiler-free”.  So imagine my disappointment when I learn something I didn’t want to know, whether it’s in a post, a comment or a tweet.  They may not be intentional spoilers, but they spoil anyway.

Right now, I know two characters are leaving, due to posts on Canadian sites saying something like “Since so-and-so is leaving the show, we wonder if this is how they are going to write him/her out”.  Well, no, I didn’t know so-and-so was leaving and didn’t want to.  To add insult to injury, I know the circumstances for the departure of one of those characters thanks to a tweet posted on a Canadian site and a well-intentioned ad on another one.  For sure, the tweet and ad could have waited a week or so until we all in Canada see on our screens the particular event.

Sometimes, real life events make real-life news and therefore spoilers are unavoidable.  The death of actress Betty Driver made us all know that, sadly, we would also the face the news item about death of Betty Driver in Daily-Mail-15-Oct-2011death of her character Betty Williams.  Real-life reporting of legal problems meant we would somehow see the characters of Kevin and Ken being written out of the show. Those things I can accept because they are newsworthy realities.  Even the big anniversaries with special stories and lots of promotion – impossible to avoid.

But an actor deciding to leave or a contract not being renewed?  If I were in the UK, I probably would know about it because of mainstream press coverage.  But I do not live there.  I learned the hard way, on British media sites, to employ tunnel vision when reading articles.  I do not look at ads or promo lines for “in other news”.  If I must go on a UK Corrie site, I have developed the ability to scan without actually reading to avoid digesting bits of information I don’t want to know.

I do everything in my power to avoid spoilers so it makes me feel let down when they pop up on Canadian sites that profess to be spoiler-man with many hands over facefree.  They are enjoyable sites to read, to see what other Canadian Corrie fans are thinking.  But too often, even there, I have learned things that ruin my pleasure in just watching the story.

At least now, being only two weeks behind the UK, the events in these spoilers come to pass quickly.  But for that length of time, my viewing pleasure is lessened.  And why?  If something is a spoiler, even by a day, is it that difficult to remove or clearly mark it with “SPOILER ALERT”?

A good article in the Calgary Herald about spoilers.

Baby Prince George

FB-Monarchy-post about Prince GeorgeIn the past three days, the royal baby has been born, brought home, had pictures posted on Facebook, and been named. A boy named HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

For two days my television was tuned to the Royal Baby Channel – whichever one had “live coverage”. It’s been worth it, waiting to see that little bundle in the arms of both his parents. Also worth it have been the hours and hours of filler patter by hosts and guests on the broadcast specials. I find you always learn something new about British and Royal history and protocol when guests have to fill airtime.

There is a photograph, I learned, from the last time there were four generations in the direct royal line. It is of Queen Victoria, her son who would be Edward VII, her grandson London,-Royalty,-Four-Generations Queen Victoriathe future George V and her infant great-grandson the future, and fleeting, Edward VIII. Let’s hope it works out better for this newborn when it is his time to be king.

Something struck me as very interesting in the analyst chat on CNN yesterday. It was the question of when this future king’s time will come. Repeatedly, people said with amazement that it might well be 70 years before it was his time. Amazing indeed considering that, in 70 years, his father William will be 101 years old. Even with the good genes of the Windsors, still being a reigning monarch at that age would be remarkable.

I think having three generations already in line for succession actually means is that there may not be a reign as long as that of Elizabeth II, or Victoria, in this century. That is, of course, assuming that these future kings live out their assigned ‘three score and ten’ or more years.

my-tv-screen CTV Prince George leaves hospitalLooking at the number of direct heirs doesn’t determine how long it will take for them to reach the throne anymore than only counting heads in a grocery store check-out line tells you how long you have to wait to reach the cashier. You also have to look at how full their shopping carts are. With succession, you have to look at the age of the heirs as well as the number of them. The best estimate you can make is how long their reigns might be.

Queen Victoria’s heirs

Queen Victoria also had three heirs lined up. She came to the throne at the age of eighteen and lived a very long life. Her son’s reign was only 9 years. His son came to the throne already a grandfather. He reigned for 26 years. His son, the present Queen’s father, died when only 56 so Elizabeth came to the throne at the age of Mom's Royal Scrapbook photo D Stewart25, much younger than she or anyone else expected.

What is significant about these four generations is that, all things being equal, it is likely that people alive today will never again see a young monarch or such a long reign. The last generation to see the fairy-tale story of a young princess, or prince, being crowned will have been the age cohort of Queen Elizabeth. That being said, Long Live the Queen – and the future King and King and King.

Olympic Eventing

Trying to watch the Olympics Equestrian Eventing of the past three days, I’ve performed dog coming down stairsin my own Eventing competition.  It includes the Stair Dash, Pet Hurdles and Speed Remote Handling.

It’s due to television reception, or lack of.  We now have satellite tv and I’m sure when the bugs get worked out, it will be fine.  But that hasn’t happened in time for Olympics watching.  A new box is on a truck on its way here from somewhere.  I don’t watch sports much; World Cup, Triple Crown races, show jumping, equestrian games and the Olympics.  But those events alone are reason to have a big screen high definition tv.

We have one in the living room, with its fancy box for transmitting the signal to the tv.  Upstairs is a smaller tv with a “standard” box.  The tv in upstairs denupstairs one has worked fine, but the living room one?  Sometimes it’s fine but it often cuts out or there’s no signal at all when you turn it on.  We were told weather affects satellite reception so at first thought there must be a storm somewhere.  No problem, see how it goes, there’s other things to do anyway.  But when it didn’t work more often than it did, I called the company.  “It’s the box,” the lady said after taking me through diagnostic unplugging and resetting, “we’ll send out another one – 3 to 5 days.”

But last Friday was the opening ceremony for the Olympics.  No life in the big screen box at all.  So I watched upstairs.  It was impressive but I knew how much more so it would be if I could only watch it downstairs on high def big tv.  Dogs’ dinner was late because the commercial breaks weren’t long enough to run downstairs and feed them.  Midway through Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude, a cat fight downstairs couldn’t be ignored, so I missed the end of the show.

It was during the Eventing that I perfected my own eventing.  Running up and down the stairs, leaping over animals, simultaneous coordination of remote and tv buttons.  I kept Olympic medal presentation on big screenfiddling with the big screen box, unplugging cords I hadn’t unplugged before.  Yesterday, it worked.  I watched swimming and it was glorious. I left the tv on and went out, came back and there was still a picture.  Settled in to watch the show jumping part of Eventing.  Even without high definition on OLN, it was fabulous.  You could see every detail of the horse and the jumps.  I could easily do other things during commercials. Maybe this box is fine, it must have been that last cable I reconnected.

tv with no signal messageZara Phillips and High Kingdom started their ride in the individual competition – and the signal went out.  Even surpassing the gold medal standard in simultaneous performance of my personal eventing elements, I didn’t get the upstairs tv on in time to see the end of their ride.

Dressage starts tomorrow.  The new box had better be here.

Tourist Board TV

Last night I watched the first episode of Arctic Air, CBC’s new series Arctic Air banner cbc website - tourism tvset in Yellowknife and surrounding lands.  Tonight Republic of Doyle, set in St. John’s, returns for its 3rd season.

Major sponsors of both shows are their respective provincial tourism departments.  I Newfoundland and Labrador plane at Arctic Air hangardon’t know if that is the reason why there’s a plane with the Newfoundland and Labrador logo at the Arctic Air hangar.  It might also be in recognition of the fact that there is a disproportionate number of Newfoundlanders employed in the North West Territories, both in government and private industry.  Either way, it was a nice touch.

Arctic Air struck me as kind of ‘North of 60 does Dallas’.  There’s the bad exploration DC-3 flying over waterguy, from away.  There’s the conflicted hero, from ‘here’ but been away.  There are the crusty, savvy locals.  There’s the nice pretty girl and the not-so-nice pretty girl.  There are locals (Dene and white) and come-from-aways, so we will always have someone who needs northern cultures and terrain explained and those who can do so.

DC-3 engine and wingAnd we have the terrain and the DC-3s – both starring ‘characters’ of the show.  As trainee pilot Dev said, these planes fought the Nazis.  And Dev himself, played by Stephen Lobo, is an absolute treat.

I want to like Arctic Air.  Early in last night’s episode, I wasn’t sure.  I’d seen these characters and dramatic conflicts before.  But, by the end, I wanted to see how Dev makes out as a pilot.  The rest of it, I can kinda predict.

Republic of Doyle banner cbcTonight, we get Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s offering – the Doyles back in the sleuthing business in old sinjohns.  It’s another show where you can see its television history.  It’s been compared to the Rockford Files, aptly, but as homage rather than copycat.

Weather: Tourism ideal vs. actual

They do argumentative father and son well.  And they place it in the glorious backdrop of St. John’s.  I’ve wondered how much leeway they have to build into their shooting schedule to get all those sunny days.  I can imagine cast and crew being woken up at dawn, after weeks off – “looks like a fine day, byes, let’s get at her!”

St. John's streetI lived in St. John’s a long time.  I know summer fog and drizzle.  I know early spring when you’re ready to gnaw your own leg off to get out of fog and snow and rain.  But you are trapped.  Even if you had all the money in the world, planes aren’t flying, ferries aren’t sailing:  the weather is too bad.  We don’t see that weather on Republic of Doyle.  And it is beautiful and awe-inspiring in its own right – once you stop trying to gnaw your foot off and look at it and feel it.  But I forget that weather while watching RoD.  I remember glorious days with sunshine reflecting off brightly painted old buildings, just like on the tv.

Prime Time

Last month, the new prime time tv programmes were rolled out.  Many are good.  They threw my life into chaos because I actually wanted to watch them.

Person of Interest prime time tv cbsPerson of Interest, Prime Suspect and Pan Am are my new “can’t miss” tv.  I’d seen ads for Person of Interest – wasn’t sure.  Too many kinda spooky ‘person with special powers’ series in the past years.  But Person of Interest has an interesting angle on it: a post-911 Big Brother analysis of “national security.”

Prime Suspect I was doubtful of.  British series are usually done best by the British, and I didn’t like the idea of the wonderful Helen Mirren series being replicated, or mutilated, by Hollywood.  But it isn’t.  It stands on its own merits as does the star Maria Belo.

stewardesses in front of Pan Am logo ad posterThe ads for Pan Am were wonderful.  Could the show live up to them?  Yes.  I’d feared a pale imitation of Mad Men, cashing in on the 1960s milieu evoked so wonderfully by it.  (We’ve watched the first seasons of MM on Boxee.)  Or superficial “coffee, tea or me?” T&A.  But it’s a beautiful looking history and geography lesson with good stories and good acting.

I watched the premiere of The Playboy Club.  Same ‘60s women-centred setting.  Overtly T&A, fitting the subject matter.  Hmm, wait and see was my opinion.  No time – it was cancelled after three episodes!  I was sorry because I have a soft spot for Eddie Cibrian who was the male star. Eddie Cibrian in The Playboy Club NBC banner adI interviewed him when he was bad boy Matt Clark on Y&R and liked him.  I was delighted to see him in a big prime time series.

Our favourites are still on and still good.  House has had big changes and it’s still great.  The CSI, Criminal Minds and Law & Order franchises (including L&A UK), Harry’s Law and the excellent Flashpoint opening title shotCanadian Flashpoint.   And now, new shows!  It’s been quite a change in our household.  We’d become accustomed to having the tv on the least annoying programme while we worked on computers.  That was ok, except when you really wanted to watch something good and all that was on your 500 channel galaxy was America’s Got Talent and its clones.

I was ready to cancel cable – it was very expensive “white noise.”  I took these pictures Riverdance in Beijing PBS on our tvone evening last year when I’d really wanted to watch tv.  The best thing I could find was Riverdance in Beijing on PBS.  While good, it wasn’t what I wanted, so I just went to bed with a book.  $100 a month for Rogers Cable basic HD package, and my entertainment was a novel borrowed, for free, from the library.

I can’t blame Rogers for network programming.  reading book M Grimes Lamorna WinkBut I can ask why they organize their channel packaging the way they do.  You know there are shows you want to watch, but you have to pay extra for their channels.  You get, ‘free’, a lot of channels that just slow down your guide scrolling.  The Fireplace Channel.  Rogers-owned sports teams channels.  Shouldn’t they be specialty channels paid for by thems that want them?

Recently, my stepson hooked up a wire to our tv, without cable.  We got in six channels clearly.  Only CBC, our national broadcaster, was snowy.  If I knew the networks would keep the quality and type of programming they introduced this fall, I’d cancel cable and rely on what we can get over the air.  But I can’t be sure, so Rogers dodged a bullet.