Downton Abbey is in the throws of season three and it's been a pretty great ride. Let me clarify, it's been a great ride for those of you who are really interested in spotless dinner service, Maggie Smith sniper-like one liners, waist coats, and puddings. We can make it better. All we need are some classic American touches.
Smokey and Bandit Lives
Guest star: Burt "Gator McClusky" Reynolds
An American oil wildcatter arrives with deed in hand and hell bent on staking his claim to the river of black gold that flows beneath the ground at Downton. Darken that mustache Burt, make it jet black, you're an American and worse a Southerner who won the mineral rights to Downton Abbey in a high stakes poker game. Bonus points he busts out the cowboy hat. Extra bonus points if Norm McDonald plays his twin brother.
The show culminates with a winner take all drag race around the grounds of Downton and at the end Reynolds kisses the Countess of Grantham square on the lips. The men are offended, the women are jealous. As the credits roll we get treated to some classic Burt outtakes. It's called the television event of the decade.
Downton needs a broader appeal. Here you go, one of the Crawley daughters goes on a trip abroad and comes back having adopted a couple of kids from Africa, Asia, or South America. Hilarity ensues. This accomplishes two things: 1) the show becomes less pale and 2) we get a ton of cute kid lines. Tell me you don't still laugh at "What you talkin about Willis." This is what shows do, when they run out of ideas and they write in a kid or two. Imagine some small child of color with a catch phrase like "You put a lump in my tea Mr. Carson?" or "Don't touch my biscuits." The lines write themselves.
Here's the other thing a kid does for you, spin off. Downton, last I checked you're on PBS. They hold telethons to bring us quality programming. They have an entire show based on a post World War I gardening. The biggest characters on the network are operated by someone else hand. You need to get hipper, younger, more diverse. What about this, "Downton on Disney." Our little whipper snapper heads off to a boarding school and a spin off. Think Gossip Girl meets Austin and Alley with a slice of Kickin It.
Guest Starring: Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis
Top Gun was 27 years ago. TWENTY-SEVEN! I'll admit this next idea is purely selfish and purely a one off promotion. World War I is just over and Downton is getting back on it's feet. Who comes to visit but two American fighter pilots, Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, call signs Maverick and Iceman. They're fresh off chasing the Jerrys out of European skies. But there is a rivalry there. They both love the same woman, Kelly McGillis. OK, that last part is a stretch but we have to make sacrifices to make great TV.
We basically spend an episode putting Mav and the Iceman in 1920's versions of Top Gun scenes. The valets are getting the two dressed when Cruise leans over and says "That's right Iceman...I am dangerous." They have debates over the time Maverick went inverted over a German Albatros. In the end they have to work together to take down a rogue zeppelin or something, I don't know I'm too caught up in trying to rewrite the volleyball scene. Croquet? Maybe. I need to work that out.
Cameos, Cameos, Cameos
You know what made TV great in the 70's and 80's? You never knew who you would see hanging out with your friends on the tube. Joe Namath on the Brady Bunch. Stevie Wonder on the Cosby Show. Phil Collins on Miami Vice. The list goes on. (Jim Harbaugh on Saved by the Bell!) Now, Downton needs a new footman or valet or cook's assistant or pool guy, just bring in a celeb every week to "interview." Hey who's that new maid, a Kardashian? Yes, yes it is. Mike Tyson is interviewing for the footman's position this week? Awesome. Who's the new driver, he looks like Wayne Gretzky.
The cameos show up, do an episode and then get fired in the same episode for something related to their own actual life. Win, win, win. Lindsay Lohan get's busted steeling one a Lady Mary's necklaces. Sean Penn can't stay on as a butler because there was a hurricane in Indonesia or some such. Mike Tyson has a prize fight in London. "This week on Downton Abbey Jon Hamm guest stars as Roy the Carriage Driver." Sure fire ratings EXPLOSION.