Ahhhh, Downton Abbey: I enjoyed every minute of every episode of every season.
And with six seasons – the TV mini-series ran from 2010 to 2015 – and 56 episodes, that was a lot of enjoyment.
Playing the role of Downton Abbey itself was Highclere Castle, a “stately home,” as the English like to say…
Located in Hampshire, about 70 miles southwest of London, and owned by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon.
Months ago, I was delighted when I learned that the actors had gathered again, this time to create a Downton Abbey feature film that would premiere September 20.
And to get me even more enthused, the evening before the movie opened, NBC was airing a one-hour special, Return to Downton Abbey.
So I had a date with NBC.
I couldn’t wait to see those familiar upstairs and downstairs faces, enjoy clips from the movie, and admire the gorgeous settings and glorious scenery.
What I hadn’t counted on was having to endure the most obnoxious, inane, banal, annoying, incompetent and useless show host I’ve ever seen.
I had no idea who this guy was, but when the show opened, the first word out of his mouth was “I.”
And throughout the hour, it was all about him.
Who the hell is this guy?
The inanity began immediately.
We see him walking:
We see him dancing:
Why? Why is this guy dancing, and what does his dancing have to do with this program?
We see him mugging for the camera:
Who the hell is this guy?
And: Could we see some stars, and not this moron?
Early on, we see the guy – whom I’ll call “Host” – talking with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.
Host: Your grandmother is the queen, correct?
(The Earl and Countess burst out laughing.)
Host: Is that wrong?
Yes, idiot, it is. No, the queen is not the Earl’s grandmother.
Was this stupidity scripted?
And if not, did Host just wing it? Did he truly neglect to do even a modicum of research about the owners of Highclere before he showed up to interview them?
Yes, Host did neglect his research. Here’s another exchange.
The Countess had asked Host to guess how many rooms Highclere Castle has:
Host: I’m gonna guess…40? Thirty?
Countess: Between 250 and 300.
Host: Wow. So I was way off? OK.
I suspect Host is accustomed to being “way off.”
I can’t even begin to imagine what the creators of Return to Downton Abbey were thinking when they chose this jerk.
Host added nothing to the program – in fact, he detracted from it.
His incompetence continued.
At about half-way through, we see the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon giving Host a tour. They pause before a large painting.
Countess: That’s a painting by Anthony Van Dyck of Charles I on horseback.
Host: The real king and queen have actually visited here before. So what is that like? What’s that preparation like?
(The countess laughed, and indicated she wasn’t alive when it happened.)
Sidebar: Charles I reigned from 1625 to 1649.
Host: Whoops! Put my foot in my mouth there!
I suspect Host is accustomed to having foot in mouth.
In addition to no research, was there also no script? Was host ad-libbing all this?
Every time this doofus spoke, I cringed. Every time he appeared, I groaned.
If eye-rolling was an Olympic sport, I was a gold medalist, no question.
And how’s this for Host’s mastery of grammar:
“Over the next hour, myself and some of the cast members are going to indulge ourselves with the cream of high society.”
As I said – it was all about him.
Somehow, I was able to watch Return to Downton Abbey despite more Host dancing:
And attempting – and failing – to play the Downton Abbey theme song:
What does his piano playing have to do with this program?
Later, I fell sleep still wondering who bonehead Host was, so the next morning I went online and found out.
His name is Derek Hough.
His apparent claim to fame is winning Dancing With The Stars competitions.
If Return to Downton Abbey was an example of his hosting skills…
Memo to Derek: