Grumpy Old Ladies
If you thought Downton’s Dowager Countess (Dame Maggie Smith) was a master at saying inappropriate things at entirely appropriate times (appropriate for our personal enjoyment, anyway), just wait until you hear the word-bombs dropped by Highgarden’s Lady Olenna Tyrell (played by another dame, Diana Rigg). If it weren’t for the fact that Game of Thrones takes place hundreds of years before Downton Abbey (as well as on a completely different version of Earth), we’d say these two old in body, but young at (curdled) heart biddies were separated at birth. Then again, considering the pride the Dowager Countess takes in her advanced age, maybe they were.
Grumpy Old Ladies
Why She’s a Good Match for Smith: Downton can be such a stuffy place, it would greatly benefit from a blast of the fresh-aired sexiness that Mirren just naturally exudes even at age 67. Having her around would tease out the randiness that you just know lurks beneath the Countess’s snappy exterior. Not to mention that she’s probably the only female guest who could ever get a rise out of the eternally proper Carson.
Who She Should Play: A suffragist and sexual libertine who takes the directionless Edith under her wing, much to the Countess’s initial chagrin… and subsequent pleasure.
The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps
A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook
Know someone who loves TV and cooking? And cooking while they watch TV? Gift them recipes straight from their favorite series — the Downton Abbey cookbook isn’t official, but the True Blood and Game of Thrones ones are — in fact, A Feast of Ice and Fire even features a foreword by George R. R. Martin. (Just make sure your giftee isn’t the type who hates ot when ol’ Georgie writes anything that isn’t The Winds of Winter, okay?)
Price: $21.95, $29.95, $35 (all hardcover)
Read more: Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Best TV Books
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Submitted Episode: “Episode 7” (Christmas Special)
A standalone Christmas special that was aired as the season finale during the show’s stateside run, this episode finds Bonneville’s Earl of Granthan taking the stand in defense of his former valet turned murder suspect, Mister Bates. That doesn’t work out so well, but at least the Earl’s annual shooting party ends on a happier note, with his daughter Mary ditching her overbearing fiancé and finally — finally! — hooking up with Downton’s heir presumptive, Matthew.
Our Pick: “Episode 6”
Although the Christmas special is an all-around stronger outing, the Earl has much more to do in the preceding episode, when an outbreak of Spanish flu sweeps through the mansion, threatening the lives of mater butler Carson, Matthew’s soft-spoken fiancée Lavinia and the Earl’s own wife, Cora. And with all that going on, he still finds the time to lock lips with new maid Jane, but stops short of giving into his passion. It’s great to see Bonneville’s normal unflappability turn so… well, flappable in the face of these extraordinary events.