Television

  1. The men and women who queued up to see Downton were expected to be envious and larcenous. Instead, they were serious-minded and inquisitive. In a series of quick vignettes, we see Cora, Edith, and Mary all stumped by basic questions about art, architecture, and history. Only Molesley, standing in the background, seems to know who painted the paintings, but he is silenced by his position in the hierarchy.

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  2. Sunday night’s episode of Downton Abbey felt different. What seems to be a simple domestic drama can be read, instead, as a dream-like meditation on the menace of war and the corrosive power of secrecy. This episode works through symbols and allusions, rather than Downton’s usual blend of realism and exposition.

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  3. Madeline Kahn is taking the week off, and I want to re-up Elon Green's wonderful piece about the greatest, most horrifying episode of the Dick Cavett show in history, when John Cassavettes, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazarra turned up on-set too drunk to discuss the movie they were there to promote.

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  4. Redwall: Live!

    A great actor reads aloud from Brian Jacques’ Redwall series in front of a crackling fire. (They do all the voices really well.)

    Interesting Bookstores

    In-depth profiles of small-town independent bookstores across the world, including interviews with the owners, patrons, and any cats-in-residence.

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  5. MAL: How come you didn't turn on me, Jayne?

    JAYNE: Money wasn't good enough.

    MAL: What happens when it is?

    JAYNE: When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute, when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it’s picked up by scoundrels.

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  6. Can hard work get you ahead? Will laziness be punished with a fall? To what extent do our parents’ fortunes determine our own? The answers to these questions say a great deal about what it’s like to live in a particular time and place. If this season of Downton Abbey has an argument thus far, it is that social mobility is increasing.

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  7. "I've never had a glass of water in my life."

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  8. The fact remains that my first Korean drama was also the first time I saw a) two reasonably well-rounded and developed, human Asian characters b) falling in love on screen c) in a way that was not filtered through the Western world’s view or "understanding" of how Asian characters should act.

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  9. The most anachronistic thing about Downton Abbey may be the near-total absence of religion from its characters’ lives.

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  10. Previously: the Marty Feldman version of the sketch.

    This one has Alan Rickman.

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  11. Across the internet this subplot has been dismissed as inscrutable and interminable, but The Toast is made of sterner stuff. At a moment when the funding of the National Health Service in Britain is under constant debate, and junior doctors are demonstrating in the streets and talking about strike action, it’s worth taking Downton’s invitation to think about the history of paying for medical care.

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  12. Botched is a television show that follows two Hollywood plastic surgeons who specialize in repairing the mismanaged work of other, lesser plastic surgeons. One of the most common recurring characters is the Supportive Partner who is terrified above all else of saying something accidentally unsupportive.

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  13. Recalling dreams has always come easily to me. But to this day the one that stays with me the most is my first nightmare. It happened because of the show Ghostwriter.

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  14. "And then I was so thrilled that she was thrilled, that I wrote her back, telling her how thrilled I was that she wrote me back."

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