Christmas Special Redux

Damn, those did not disappoint.

I felt physically ill during most of Downton Abbey (it stresses me so) but the payoff was so, so sweet. The scene right before the end was a bit too over the top for me (Lavinia, please go gentle into that good night) but its inclusion closed the book on her and paved the way to glorious happiness.

I want to include every screencap of this moment possible but the above is so perfect. Look how happy Matthew is (finally, away with dreary doom and gloom Matthew!). But the Daily Mail has some other great pictures from the special here. Matthew proposing (properly on one knee)! And Matthew punching Sir Richard! And other things happened.

Side note: More Britons watched Downton Abbey and Doctor Who than the Queen’s speech yesterday. Down with the last vestiges of monarchy via televised drama?

On to Doctor Who: very funny, many memorable quotables. The Doctor makes me laugh out loud more than many sitcoms I watch; I think it is largely due to how Matt Smith delivers his lines. Of course, Steven Moffat warned us we would cry (thus making me more prone not to get sentimental) but he was half-right. I got very teary at the end because Moffat tricked me. I thought he wanted me to get sentimental for the wife saving the husband, when it wasn’t very shocking to me. NO. He had to throw in my kryptonite: the Doctor’s feelings. I immediately got emotional at the idea he was actually going to visit the Ponds. That was already enough. THEN he had to get all humany-wumany with the happy tears. That was such a great payoff too. Especially from earlier in the episode where the Doctor claimed he was not capable of such things (I retorted, oh yes you are Doctor). And boom! Told ya.

I am a huge fan of the one single tear out of one eye as well. If I had more examples of this, I would totally make a Tumblr or something. Alas, my other perfect example is Andrew McCarthy. I feel he has used this in multiple flicks but never as prominently as in Pretty in Pink:

And finally, thinking back to the popularity of the Christmas special in Britain as opposed to the complete lack of programming in the US, I realized it isn’t just that…we don’t or no longer have a tradition of the Christmas special at all. We have the Christmas “episode” which just happens when a 22 episode season coincides with the holidays. We also have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day (among others) to celebrate season to season.

Warehouse 13, Eureka, and Haven

I have to give props for SyFy’s attempt to re-energize the idea. And even with their specials, there are differences. SyFy’s Christmas episodes aired December 6th, when the Christmas season was at its start. And, these episodes are stand alone. No plot was furthered on Eureka, Warehouse 13, or Haven. So it is sort of disjointed to see characters happy and relatively unscathed from the explosive events of their respective finales. I don’t know about Eureka but Warehouse 13 and Haven ended on significant cliffhangers. In comparison, the British specials moved A LOT of plot, especially in respect to Downton Abbey. But even Doctor Who set the Doctor back up with Amy and Rory before the episode was out.

In conclusion, even though some American shows are moving back toward special holiday hours, they are still afraid of viewers missing out. Strange, but typical.

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About Staciellyn Chapman

Grad student at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. This blog is an attempt to condense the craziness that is my TV viewing habits (with the occasional aside into film, music, and general life).

2 responses to “Christmas Special Redux”

  1. verityjes says :

    I choose to believe that either Anna or Daisy did the moving 🙂 No more Lavinia, please, Mr Fellowes. I wonder if the difference in Christmas programming in UK and US is related to the difference in how people spend Christmas day in the two countries – there’s a greater tradition of sitting down and watching TV on Christmas day in UK, resulting in even greater rating than usual. So the shows aren’t afraid to use Christmas specials to further plot points since even more people are watching, they don’t have to worry about the viewers missing anything.

    • teeveeindc says :

      Good idea! I will choose to remember that scene as Anna or Daisy having a bit of fun with the Ouija board (which just happened to lead into the final moment with Mary and Matthew). It could have been a coincidence. And I think that is a great explanation for the programming. If anything, I think it is becoming a bigger tradition in the US for people to go out to the movies on Christmas rather than stay in.

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