I know a lot of people about my age (if not my gender) are fans of Downton Abbey, which premiered season 3 last Sunday night with a two-hour special.
I've heard some people say the show is, "Rubbish." But I disagree. It's really very good ... very good soap opera. After all, it poses lots of crucial, life-or-death questions. Will Matthew and Mary finally find happiness as husband and wife? Will Lord Grantham really lose his fortune and have to sell his estate? Could Mr. Bates possibly be his wife's killer? Does Mrs. Hughes really have cancer?
But what I noticed from this latest episode is how many words of wisdom can be gleaned from a show about an old English family. And as anybody knows who read my previous post, Speaking of Cliches, I'm constantly in search of more catch phrases and old sayings.
For example, when Anna visits the jail to see her husband, Mr. Bates, she tells him: "Just remember what my mother used to say: 'Never make an enemy by accident'."
Later, when Mrs. Isobel Crawley contemplates living a simpler life in reduced circumstances, she reminds everyone that it takes a lot of work to keep an estate going, summarizing: "Much cattle, much care."
Tom Branson, the former chauffeur who's now Lady Sybil Crawley's husband, goes downstairs to say hello to the servants. He tells them: "I wouldn't want you to think I've gotten too big for my britches."
And when maid Daisy goes into the kitchen and formally announces her protest, an outraged Mrs. Patmore responds by asking her: "Have you swallowed a dictionary?"
Later on Mrs. Patmore scolds Daisy, telling her, "A bad worker always blames his tools."
The Lady Dowager Violet Crowley (played brilliantly by veteran English actress Maggie Smith), upon seeing her lavish dining room all decked out for a party, comments, "Nothing succeeds like excess." But later she warns us: "No guest should be admitted before the date of their departure is settled."
And as the future of the family hangs in the balance, she cautions: "Never mistake a wish for a certainty."
One piece of advice I found particularly practical is Mrs. Patmore's reply to Mrs. Hughes, worried about the cost of medical treatment: "If you must pay money, better to a doctor than an undertaker."
Meanwhile, it was Sir Anthony who "saved the day," while Cora advised the family not to "cast a pall over the proceedings." And -- not as any advice, but just as an amusing turn of phrase, the older Sir Anthony asks the dressed-to-impress Edith Crowley, "Have you done something jolly with your hair?"
But as a man with two strong-willed sisters, who's had occasion to sometimes enlist the support of my brothers-in-law, I found Matthew's advice to Tom particularly relevant. Matthew turns to Tom, who's having a hard time with the family, and says: "We're brothers-in-law with high-minded wives. We'd better stick together."
Anyway, Downton Abbey is on TV again tonight, with the second episode. I wonder how many new bits of advice I'll be showered with tonight?