Thursday, January 21, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Thursday's Thrashing

by Liz Smith

Thursday's Thrashing: "Downton Abbey" Winds Down ... Do the Golden Globes Need "Fixing?" ... Justin Bieber — Purple Hair and Manscaping.

"DOES IT ever get cold up there on your high moral ground?"

So said Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) to Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) on "Downton Abbey" a week ago. Violet's acidic bon mots — delivered at everyone, willy-nilly — and her lively sparring matches with Isobel, remain the primary pleasure of the final season of "DA."

It's not that I'm not enjoying the entire cast, but I have to concur with most fans of the show that creator/writer Julian Fellowes is doing the right thing by ending it now. There has been a sense of a balloon being slowly deflated over the past two seasons, and it seems that most of the characters have been written — or backed into — an ornately papered corner.

It's poor Edith ... mean Mary ... hapless Cora ... annoying Daisy ... pouting Thomas ... and of course those icons of perpetual misery, Anna and Bates. (I don't care what anybody says, Bates looks and behaves like a serial killer!)

I'm still having fun with the various upstairs and downstairs intrigues, and will be a bit sad in the knowledge that we won't have Lady Mary to kick around anymore, but all things must come to pass. Anyway, Maggie Smith (So terrific in the current "The Lady In The Van") said she wasn't returning to those elaborate costumes and coiffures if there was a season 7, and let's face it, she really is the star of the show.
Maggie Smith as Miss Shepherd in "The Lady In The Van."
But I think, to put a "Wizard of Oz" touch to it, that I'll miss Lady Mary — played by the divine Michelle Dockery — most of all. So many detest her, and she is certainly a prickly sort and relentlessly unpleasant to sister Edith. But I've always found her basic honesty refreshing, and although a great lady, not as snobbish as one might expect. She's terribly impatient, wants what she wants when she wants it, but also knows what she doesn't want (such as marriage to Lord Gillingham, after an experimental romp between the sheets.) Mary doesn't believe in political correctness. I like that.
"DA" is most likely done and gone forever. But maybe in a year or two after everybody's decompressed, there could be a two-hour special, taking the characters up to, let's say the mid 1930s as war in Europe looms. Oh, sure, they'd finally have to age the characters, in terms of how they look, and exclaim that Violet is a bloody miracle of good physical health. Or not. It's a TV show, get real. Or, get unreal. That's much more fun.
YESTERDAY we went off on Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer's performances on the Critics' Choice Awards. Like they care.

But speaking of Apatow, apparently he was, once upon a time, a big fan of the old Bozo the Clown TV show. (Why does this not surprise me?) Bozo had a number of incarnations and various men played him. The Bozo that Apatow admires is Frank Avruch. He did "Bozo's Big Top" from 1959 to 1970.
Avruch, who beneath the red wig and clown nose is a rather urbane gentleman, is still alive and kicking at age 88. He and Apatow met up at a recent "Chiller Theatre" fan convention in New Jersey. The two guys hugged it out and Apatow proclaimed his admiration. (I don't know why a guy who played a clown would be at a "chiller" convention. Then again, many people are terrified of clowns!)
Apatow clowning around on the set of "Trainwreck."
Anyway, I've heard that Judd and his pal Mark Wahlberg (another clown devotee) are thinking of putting together a "Behind the Scenes" documentary about Bozo — the Frank Avruch era.

Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey are also rumored to be Bozos. Uh, fans of Bozo, that is.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY magazine (David Bowie cover) suggests "Five Ways to Fix The Golden Globes." Really? I think the GG's are fine as they are; the most amusing and fun of all the awards shows.

One of the five suggestions was an "Integrity Makeover" — referring specifically to this year's much-mocked decision by the Hollywood Foreign Press to place "The Martian" in the "Comedy or Musical" category. No! It's just this sort of surrealism that makes us love the Globes. An "integrity makeover" would likely end the show, which has always been a little bit of a joke — a lavish, star-studded, drunken joke.

EW also suggested firing Rick Gervais. The magazine was happy Gervais "sabotaged" Mel Gibson's "hollow comeback." (Don't agree on that, Gibson had to know he'd be skewered again, and his retort to Ricky was probably scripted by Gervais himself.) No, EW has its thong in a twist because of Ricky's "tediously toxic narcissism and alienating jokes about transsexuals." Come on! If toxic narcissism was a reason to fire people, award shows would be populated by the wait staff and a few press reps. I actually didn't mind Gervais this year. Maybe because I'm used to him.
As for "alienating jokes about transsexuals," I recall only one transsexual being joshed — Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. They are a big girl, who have made themselves bigger with relentless self promotion. If they can't take the heat they should get out of the hormone clinic. In no way does Bruce/Caitlyn represent the real lives of the vast majority of poor, oppressed and threatened transsexuals. (Who are also unlikely to walk away from a fatality-inducing car accident with just a fine.)

Ricky Gervais didn't diss those people.
JUSTIN BIEBER has purple hair now. We know this because he posted selfies, displaying his new tresses. However, who was looking at his hair? The kid (now 21) just can't keep his clothes on. In the pix, JB is wearing a towel tied so low on his pelvis you can clearly see the manscaping. He's had a recent big hit record, so we mustn't deny Justin his child-of-nature exhibitionism.

When it looked like that was all he had, yeah, that was a problem. For some.
SARAH PALIN endorsing Donald Trump.

No, that's it. If I attempted to analyze, or simply describe the event (that jacket!) my head would explode.

Come back to "SNL," Tina Fey, Tina Fey.
ATTENTION READERS: Our fearless leader, Liz Smith, has had a slight mishap. She is fine, but will be hors de combat for a brief interval. Denis Ferrara will be pinch hitting for Liz.
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