TV Eye: A belated Christmas present to feast on

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Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) being quite contrary. Photo / Supplied
Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) being quite contrary. Photo / Supplied

Right, so it's back to work we go which is the cue for much groaning and glooming about how rotten the weather was and how somebody should move the holidays. Anyone up for moving Christmas as well then?

At least that way we'd have got the Downton Abbey Christmas special (last night, Prime and next Wednesday, 8.30pm) in time for, well, Christmas. Never mind, it was all spiffingly silly, as usual, and gave us all something to scoff now that all the Christmas chocs have gone. It should also have made us grateful we get holidays at all. The Downton servants get two nights off serving the family, much to that rotter Sir Richard Carlisle's haughty disdain. When he and Lady Mary married (oh, ha, ha), there would be no waiting on oneself in their stately home. What an upstart! Why, he's nothing but a purveyor of those filthy yellow papers. Is Mary really going to marry him? Is Bates really going to be hanged? I do hope so. He's drippier than that labrador who I really am rather worried about - the evil smoking servant Thomas has his if-I squint-through-the-fag-smoke-acting-at-looking-evil eye on the mutt.

We should also be grateful we don't have to line up in the great hall for our Christmas presents and bow and scrape and be really, really grateful for whatever our bosses have deigned to give us. Best present of the Christmas special wasn't given to one of the servants though. Matthew's ghastly moralising mum went up in my estimation: she gave the dowager duchess a nutcracker; she might want to crack some nuts. I reckon that was a cast suggestion: payback for Maggie Smith getting all the best lines.

Still moaning about the office air-conditioning now you're back in your cubicle? Harden up. Try being a shearer. Shearing Gang (Prime, Tuesdays, 9.35pm) is a good idea for a fly on the wall series (bet there are a few flies around too; all those dags.) It follows the fortunes - you shear 9000 sheep, you get four grand - of Peter Lyons, the "Tony Soprano" of the high country shearing business, during the season. I wish they hadn't felt the need to talk the thing up. He's about as much like Tony Soprano as Shrek the Sheep was like a celebrity ... Oh. Well, anyway, that is silly stuff, as is, and as so often is, the narrative voice of this sort of stuff. There's no excuse for a line about a "newbie" named Creedence who is going to be chucked in the lake after the first day's work because that's the tradition. "It could be less Clearwater Revival and more cold water survival." Whoever wrote that should be water-boarded. There's too much voice-over and not nearly enough hearing the voices of the "characters" who make up the shearing gangs. Perhaps they have nothing much to say. That's the trouble with "characters"; they're often rather dull, actually.

Still, perhaps we'll get to know them better as the series moves along. As I say, it's a good idea, mostly because we all like to look at other people working really hard while we're sitting on the couch scoffing ... hey, who ate all the Christmas chocs?


- NZ Herald

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