Thursday, April 07, 2011

To Read and To Watch

First off, I have become hopelessly addicted to these books. I have no control. I keep telling myself that I need to pace myself; I'll want some great mysteries to read for summer, but I keep going to the library and checking them out, three at a time, charging through them, then going back for three more. I highly recommend them, and, while I bet it would be nice to read them in order, it doesn't seem necessary.

Then, there is this coming up, beginning on Sunday night.

I was really little when the first Upstairs, Downstairs came on, but I've spent some of this winter trying to catch up via Netflix. It's an interesting exercise. The first episodes were shot in black and white, which was kind of distracting. It's all extremely low budget, and the actors seem to be overacting (and speaking extra loudly) as if they were on stage instead of on film. However, it is one of, if not, the most-loved Masterpiece series of all time. Over one billion people have seen it. That kind of blows my mind. So I am completely excited that they've decided on an updated version, yet still starring Jean Marsh and (the incomparable) Eileen Atkins, the original co-creators of the show. The script is written by Heidi Thomas who wrote my beloved "Cranford."

There's been a bit of competition between this and Downton Abbey, which has sort of a similar theme--the lives of the wealthy family upstairs and the servants downstairs. Jean Marsh got a bit squiffy about it in an interview, saying Downton is a poor imitation of Upstairs, Downstairs, so Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham from Downton) tweeted: "I thought Jean Marsh was bigger than that - running down Downton while bigging up Upstairs? Downton never downed Up when upping Down." Then Eileen Atkins volleyed back, "In the music hall, you have a warm-up act and then you have a star turn. I feel that Downton has been a fantastic warm-up." Whatever, I'm thrilled about them both and can't wait to watch the new Upstairs, Downstairs, which will be airing April 10, 17, and 24. You can read more about it here.

Lastly, we're going out on a limb this week and watching some network TV. (I basically have sworn off network TV for most of this past year, with the exception of one season of Dancing with the Stars solely because of this and this, which I am embarrassed of, but there you go.) But this Tuesday starts the second season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. We didn't watch the first season where he went to Huntington, VA, which is the unhealthiest city in America, and helped revamp their school lunch program. In this second season, he's heading to Los Angeles. In the new issue of Better Homes and Gardens, they feature Jamie, some of his healthy, kid-friendly recipes, and an easy guide to planting your own small vegetable garden. Darren agreed to dig us the garden, and I ordered the seeds that Jamie said to (Darren said, "You know you can buy seeds at Farm-n-Fleet, Alice.") Jamie claims that anyone can grow vegetables, that if you just put a seed in the ground and give it water and sunlight, 8 1/2 times out of 10 it will grow. Those of you who know my plant-growing odds, I could certainly be in the 1 1/2 failure group, but the girls and I are going to give it a whirl. In fact, that's my blog plan for the summer--showing you a step-by-step of our garden plan and planting, any harvesting (I'm thinking positive!), and then our healthy cooking we'll be doing.

I told Lucy, "Food Revolution starts this Tuesday, and I'll let you stay up an extra hour to watch it. I will tell you that it's reality TV and Jamie Oliver is known to say inappropriate words, so we may end up not watching it and just seeing small clips and reading his articles."

Lucy said, "Inappropriate words like the s-word and the d-word?"

Me: "Um, I think sooooo" (frantically thinking, "how does she know the s-word and d-word already?") until she said softly, "You know, Mom: S-T-U-P-I-D and D-U-M-B."

Here's a clip of Food Revolution (I am all about the clips today!)

There you go--plenty to read and watch for this spring!


Melanie said...

You won't regret watching Jamie's show with the girls - we watched the first season (I need to track down this new one!) and while it didn't get Cole to eat veggies it did get him to swear off McDonald's so I take that as a successful outcome. :)
I am so looking forward to the Upstairs, Downstairs but our PBS station is not listing it as of yet for Sunday so I may have to wait for them to put it online.

Laura Brown said...

Ahem: That's Huntington, WV to you! :-) And apparently Jamie failed miserably there, which doesn't surprise me. We West Virginians don't let any skinny limeys push us around.

Alice said...

Sorry, Laura, WEST Virginia! That's funny stuff. I enjoy watching clips of that show and how the school lunch ladies make "mashed potatoes." I've liked Jamie since his Naked Chef show days, and I always get a kick out the next crazy, goofy name he and Jools Holland call their kids. I think he's already been banned from every public school in LA, so I look forward to seeing how it works out! We Americans aren't so into the healthy eating, ya know!

Chris said...

I have no sense of pace with the Charles Todd books. I read each as it comes out.

The Farmer's Wife said...

You are the only other person I've ever found that reads (or even knows who he is) Charles Todd! Love his stuff.

Today is Upstairs, Downstairs Day!!!

I'm ready.
It's been a horrifically long time since Downton.