DOWNTON ABBEY had become a sleeper hit. Who knew this Edwardian ITV costume drama would attract such a following across the pond? Season 3 began here in the states last night. From what I understand the UK has already seen it. So that no spoilers alerts are necessary, and for those who have never seen the show, I’d like to do a scene that I would have liked to have seen in season one.
If you watch Downton Abbey you can just skim the next paragraph.
To get you up to speed: Early 20th Century. Downton Abbey is Hearst’s Castle but in England owned by this one family. The series focuses on the five family members and eight or nine of their thirty servants. The family is concerned because a distant cousin (Matthew) is due to inherit the whole schemer (it’s a long story why). The family looks down on Matthew. He’s not an aristocrat. He actually works for a living. He’s a lawyer. To them that's like Joe the Plumber inheriting the Trump Tower. But Matthew proposes to the oldest daughter (Mary). The family stands to keep the estate if this marriage takes place. But due to complications not worth spelling out, Mary is hesitant. She asks for the summer to think about it. And when Matthew finally confronts her in the fall she is still on the fence. That’s where my scene would begin. (By the way, I've become quite fond of Mary.)
EXT. GARDEN -- DAY
MARY: I’m afraid I have not. Not yet. If you would be so good as to grant me another month, I will surely tell you then.
MATTHEW: Another month? You had the entire summer, my precious.
MARY: Yes, but I was pre-occupied with so many activities.
MATTHEW: What activities?
MARY: Dear sir, are you questioning my integrity?
MATTHEW: No. Seriously. I want to know what you do all day. You don’t work. You don’t cook. All of your meals are prepared. Have you ever once made a bed? You don’t even dress yourself. What do you do?
MARY: Well… I ride.
MATTHEW: You ride. Once every few months for three or four hours you ride. The one activity the entire family participates in is killing innocent animals. Bully! What about the rest of the time?
MARY: I sit on benches in the garden a lot.
MATTHEW: Wow! I hope you take the weekends off.
MARY: Are you mocking me, good sir?
MATTHEW: Do you have a friend? Do you ever sneak off and sit with her on her bench?
MARY: I don’t need friends. I have two sisters. Oh wait. That’s something else I do. I scheme against them. Yes, that takes up time. And for your information, the servants are my friends.
MATTHEW: They’re paid to be your friends.
MARY: Some are nice to me on their days off.
MATTHEW: Can you even name the servants?
MARY: I can name about eight of them. The others don’t speak – they’re more in the background -- so I don’t know. The cook is… Mrs. somebody. Begins with a P.
MATTHEW: Yes, and about that – don’t you ever get tired of big fancy meals? Aren’t there nights when you want to say, can we just order a pizza? Or here’s a crazy thought – Sloppy Joes?
MARY: What pray tell is a Sloppy Joe?
MATTHEW: And why aren’t all of you girls 300 pounds? I’ve never seen you exercise.
MARY: We have servants who exercise for us.
MATTHEW: What if you don’t like stuffed pheasant and that’s what they’re serving? Are you allowed to ask for a tongue sandwich?
MARY: Of course. What’s tongue? Where do you eat?
MATTHEW: Do the servants always have to preside over every meal? Can the cook ever say, “Hey, we got a smorgy tonight! Grab a plate and help yourselves!
MARY: What’s a smorgy? Matthew, you’re beginning to scare me.
MATTHEW: Speaking of the servants, I’ve seen their quarters. They’re tiny and two to a room. This house is bigger than Luxemburg. There must be a hundred rooms. You can’t toss six or seven guest rooms their way? There are five people who live in this fortress. Unless you’re having the entire population of Ireland over for the weekend, you’re not going to run out of room.
MARY: What is a "weekend?"
MATTHEW: Dear God!
MARY: We’d be happy to give the servants bigger quarters but they spend so little time in them. We work them twenty hours a day.
MATTHEW: How considerate of you.
MARY: They have to polish all the bannisters and wash the paintings.
MATTHEW: Uh huh. Well, let me ask you, my spoiled goddess – how do you heat this place in the winter?
MATTHEW: It’s a train station with chandeliers. How do you heat it? I see maybe three fireplaces.
MARY: I don’t know. It always seems to be summer.
MATTHEW: And you must have thirty acres here. Who mows the lawn? You have four footmen to dish out soup and not a single gardener.
MARY: I'm sure we have them. They must mow at night.
MATTHEW: Well, dear lady of entitlement, I'm afraid I must take my leave. I’m due in court in an hour. I’m guessing whatever school you went to didn’t have a Career Day.
MARY: We had tutors. Mrs. Doubtfire taught me the essentials -- posturing, dramatic exits, and celibacy.
MATTHEW: What did you take for shop class? (beat) Well, I'm off.
MARY: Matthew, wait. I’ve made my decision. I do want to marry you.
MATTHEW: Yes, well, now that I know a little bit more about you and your life I need some more time.
MARY: What? How much time?
MATTHEW: Can I get back to you in thirty years? Or when you put away your own shoes -- whichever comes first.
MARY: Oh my God! You’re rescinding your proposal?
MATTHEW: I’m terribly sorry but yes. I’m running screaming as we common people say. I’m afraid I require someone a little more… interesting.
MARY: Ha! In this town? You’ll never find one. I’m still the best you can do.
MATTHEW: Oh, I’ll find a girl more interesting.
MARY: Really? Where?
MATTHEW: The Jewish mixer! Good day, m’lady.
MATTHEW runs screaming. On MARY’S reaction, we: