Sunday, January 08, 2012

Brendan and Brady's Downton Abbey Marathon

What is a 'week end'? What is 'nightmare fuel'?
BRENDAN GIBBONS knocks on the door to BRADY HOKE's office in Schembechler Hall.

Hey coach, I need some academic help.

Sure thing, son. What can I do for you?

I'm taking a history course on Edwardian England this semester, and with the Sugar Bowl and the celebrations and all the girls wanting to celebrate Mardi Gras with me, I'll already way behind on my reading. I need a tutor to help me get caught up!

Lucky man, Brendan! You don't need a special tutor. I can get you caught up lickety-split. Just come by my house on Monday night and be prepared to take notes.

Monday night? Isn't that the BCS national championship?

Yes it is, but as obscure blog The Hoover Street Rag points out, both LSU and Alabama are dirty recruiters, so it really doesn't matter who wins. I was going to start scouting out Alabama for our game in September, but now I figure there's no point until we know who's going to wind up in St. Saban Memorial Hospital. Don't worry about the BCS. I've got a much more entertaining and informative evening in store for you, son!

Yes sir, Coach Hoke! I will be there on Monday!

Monday night. BRENDAN rings the doorbell at STATELY HOKE MANOR.

Brendan! So glad you can make it. I just got this 65" plasma TV. Jamie Morris and Big George's hooked me up. It's even got those $300 gold-plated audio cables that don't actually do anything, but what the heck...we earned it this year, son. It's got all sorts of other features that Kelly will figure out for me, but I know how to use the PS3 and set up Netflix Instant. That's all we need for us to be good to go.

We're going video games? Watch movies?

No, son. We're going to watch Masterpiece Theatre and immerse you in Edwardian England. Now where's that PS3 remote?...Here we go.

BRADY pushes play.

I'm Laura Linney, and this is Masterpiece Classic.
The opening credits to Downton Abbey begin.

Laura and I would watch this whenever I got a break during the season. Do you know where I got the idea to tell you about the brunettes? [points at TV] Look at 'em! Now I know Elizabeth McGovern's a bit old for you generation, but she can get your ol' ball coach's heart burning! But we've also got Lady Mary...she's the impulsive one...Lady Sybil...she's the headstrong one...Lady Edith...she's the jealous one who's not a brunette, and downstairs, there's Daisy. Don't worry about her too much...she's sweet, but really dumb.! Holy moly is Maggie Smith old!

[angrily points at Brendan] Shame, son! Have you no respect for the classics? Next time you hit the weight room stop by Coach Carr's office and ask to borrow his copy of Laurence Olivier's Othello. Not only will you learn about the tragic consequences that can result from mistrust and backstabbing within a team, you will learn that young Maggie Smith was a stone cold fox. Both valuable life lessons.

You're not ordering me to hit the weight room during the offseason, are you, Coach?

Oh no, that would be wrong. That would be so much worse that hooking you up with free tattoos and lying to the NCAA about it.

It would be worse than looking the other way if an agent gave Denard $290,000 in gifts.

It would be almost as bad as checking up to make sure you're attending summer classes, or giving the assistant coaches a bonus out of my own pocket. [shakes head] So very, very wrong.

BRENDAN and BRADY watch the first two episodes.

Coach, I've been thinking. Matthew Crawley and Mr. Bates, they're kind of like Coach Rod and his staff. It doesn't matter to the Dowager Countess that Matthew is the rightful heir and that he's well-off in his own right. He's "poor" because he can only afford one servant and he seems like a country bumpkin to them, even though he's a decent fellow. It's like she's decided he can never be a "Downton Man." And Mr. Bates. Can't the servants give him a chance? He's a war hero! He seems like a decent guy who'll get the hang of everything once he has a little time to adjust.

Brendan, you have to look at it from Mr. Carson's point of view. He's got a difficult job to do and Lord Grantham demands perfection from him. Even a good man like Mr. Bates can be a liability if he can't do the job. You know there are lots of good guys who have to sit on the bench on gameday because they're just not as good at their position at they need to be. He has to maintain the tradition of excellence at Downton Abbey, and sometimes that means you have to be unforgiving in demanding excellence.

Think about Lord Grantham too. He understands he didn't build Downton Abbey and he wasn't the only one responsible for making it what it is. He understands he's just one link in a chain that stretches back generations. He feels that maintaining the traditions of his family is more important than doing what would be easiest in the short term. You can see that he wants to keep Downton Abbey in the family and somehow give it to Mary, but his hands are tied by law and tradition.

Now that I think about it, you're sort of like Mary. You're the guy Michigan could have given the head coaching job to in 2008 to "keep it in the family," but you weren't quite ready yet. Maybe Mary will mature as the series progresses and they'll find a way to establish her as the heiress.

Oh, I don't know if I'm like Mary. I'm definitely not as pretty as her, and I bet no one calls her "Ol' Pizzafarts." [epically points through the space-time continuum] I've got my eye on you, Spencer Hall.

BRENDAN and BRADY watch episodes three through five.

Wow, Daisy sure is dumb. But this whole incident with Mary and the Turk is hard for me to understand. Last week, it seemed like any woman in New Orleans was willing to show me her breasts, and none of them got in any trouble over it. But 100 years ago, a woman can be raped and get punished for it?

First of all, don't think things have gotten that much better for women in 100 years. The amount of victim-blaming and accusations leveled at accusers in sexual assault cases is horrifying. You should take a women's studies course as an elective. For much of history, high-born women were valued for their virtue instead of their intellect or their other abilities. When you have an unconventional lady like Mary, a rumor of lost virtue, no matter how scurrilous, can severely damage her marriage prospects. This is why the Dowager Countess feels it's so important to separate Cora's wealth from the entail, so that Mary will have independent wealth and be a desirable bride despite being "weird" for an Edwardian lady.

I'm trying to put this in terms I understand. Who at Michigan is like the Turkish ambassador? One of the players who transferred or quit?

[breaks out the flaming double-point of rage] Brendan, Brendan, Brendan! You are young and you have to learn: there are no perfect analogies! No one at Michigan is as bad as the Ottoman elite in the final days of the sultanate! The late Ottoman empire was corrupt and venal and it's a quite appropriate fate for a member of their elite to have his corpse farcically dragged back to his bedchamber in the middle of the night! You'll learn more about this later in your course, but you can't compare anyone to the Turkish elite during World War I. You just can't. Got it?

Yes coach. I understand... Um, that Thomas, man, what a jerk!

BRENDAN and BRADY watch episodes six and seven.

Oh, man, Sibyl was really lucky to get away from that riot without any serious injuries. She's lucky that Mr. Branson scores so high on protective instincts!

We're never going to stop making fun of The Blind Side, are we? All you have to do is find the right metaphor to be a good football coach! Treat the quarterback like he's part of your family! [laughing]

But all the coaching you gave me this year was telling me to think about women on beaches and brunettes.

That's different. You're a kicker. Coaches don't know how to teach you guys any actual skills.

An uncomfortable pauses ensues.

Hey...Sibyl scores high on protective instincts too, helping Gwen get a job as a secretary.

I liked Gwen. It's a shame we won't see her in Season Two.

Rose Leslie, the actress, is going to be on the new season of Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones was all right, but that's a show that hates brown hair! Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke are both natural brunettes, but they had their hair dyed until it was almost white.

When Emilia Clarke is naked and eating a horse's heart, we really don't care what color her hair is, Coach.

Oh! Oh! Keith Stone like the cardiovores! I'd read the books before the new season starts, but a busy head coach doesn't have time to read thousands of pages of fantasy novels. I can't wait until Catelyn and Robb avenge Ned's death though! gotta get home and go to bed, Coach. Long day of classes tomorrow, plus I'm gonna go see Coach Carr.

All right son. Remember to come by Sunday night, and we can get caught up on the start of Season Two!

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