The Downton Abbey Christmas special aired earlier this week, and it was a doozy. We’ll all need time to process it, so check out our recap of the episode and share your feelings below. All the spoilers below!

The episode begins with the house in a carefully controlled chaos, as Robert, Cora, Violet, Mary (who is pregnant), Matthew (who is worried), and Edith all hop aboard the train to Duneagle Castle in Scotland. Duneagle is the estate of Robert’s cousin Hugh (“Shrimpy”) MacClare and his wife Susan. Their teenaged daughter Rose – last seen in the season finale, though she is much more sympathetic and vulnerable this time around – is at Duneagle as well, and is thrilled to have company. Anna, Bates, O’Brien and Molesey come along as well to attend to the family in the various goings-on.

But frankly, not a whole lot happens up in Duneagle. Shrimpy and his wife have realized that they despise each other and they snipe among themselves at every opportunity; Lady Shrimpy vents her vitriol on Rose out of motherly concern. Remembering Sybil’s rebellious-ish days, Cora sympathizes, and it’s eventually decided that Rose will come to live at Downton while Shrimpy and Susan take up a military post for the Empire in India. (Maybe the food will improve their marriage, or at least their tempers.)

Robert lusts after the unadulterated privilege which Shrimpy’s vast estate reminds him of (Robert’s own has been dissipated by the war) and hunts, dines and lives as lordly as he could wish… until Shrimpy admits that he has lost the estate by neglecting to modernize its management, as Robert has. Lord Grantham realizes how lucky he is to be in love with his wife, and expresses at length his good fortune in having Matthew there to pressure him into taking Downton Abbey into the 20th century.

Really, what would we do without Matthew?

At the same time, it turns out that Edith’s newspaper editor Michael Gregson has more-or-less followed her up to Scotland in order to propose a not-marriage. Mary disapproves of Gregson instantly and lashes Edith with her acid tongue every time the subject comes up, though to be fair, she hasn’t got much else to do. Matthew (dear, dear Matthew) is much more sympathetic to Gregson and tries to make a good potential brother-in-law by hiking across the Highlands with him in an attempt to kill stags and fish.

That is, until the facts reveal themselves. The editor is still trapped in a marriage to his mad wife (maybe he should hire Bates?) and the best he can offer Edith is a position as his super-duper beloved mistress. Matthew insists that he end their flirtation after the Gillies Ball, but Edith once again rejects her man’s rejection of her and informs him that their relationship is not over.

Bates and Anna sneak away for a picnic, all memory of the former’s incarceration and death sentencing swept away by the scenery, or maybe the opening credits. They are sweetly flirtatious, especially when Anna surprises Bates by breaking out a killer reel in the middle of the ball. O’Brien and Lady Shrimpy’s maid at first seem to be kindred spirits, but then wind up in a battle of the ladies’ maids, with Molesey as the drunken casualty.

And Mary, after becoming increasingly uncomfortable in her nearly full-term pregnancy, decides to return home to Downton after dancing a reel, and falls into full-blown labor as the train pulls into Downton station. (Yes, that is apparently what it’s called.)

But before we go on to the really exciting parts, let’s rewind a bit. Meanwhile in Downton Abbey…

The younger servants left behind find their attentions wandering, though Carson and Mrs. Hughes provide plenty of work for them to do. Mrs. Patmore begins to be courted by the village’s new spice-shop owner, who invites everyone to a country fair. After a good deal of cajoling by the enternally-awesome Mrs. Hughes, Carson allows Thomas, Jimmy, Alfred, Mrs. Patmore, Daisy, Ivy, and new (and instantly loathed) maid Edna to attend the fair. While they’re away, Carson cuddles with baby Sybil in a scene which might have been worth the entire two hours combined.

Speaking (alas) of Edna, Tom Branson (who has not been invited to Duneagle) is left alone in charge of the estate while the Crawleys are on holiday. This continues to exacerbate Tom’s awkward comrade-to-superior relationship with the staff. Edna spies Tom’s discomfort and seizes her opportunity, flirting with him with narrow-eyed intensity and inviting him downstairs to dine with the staff. She ups her game at the fair and finally walks in on a shirtless Tom alone in his room. (Screencap it, it’s worth it.) Edna kisses him and tells him to meet her at the pub for lunch, which fact she (in a truly spectacular breach of brain cells) informs Carson and Mrs. Hughes when they ask her to actually do her job.

Mrs. Hughes, having sniffed out the source of Tom’s newfound camaraderie with the staff – which is, for some reason, a problem – fires Edna and assures Branson that he has nothing to regret in his raised station. Tom gratifyingly breaks down over Sybil and expresses how much he misses her; Mrs. Hughes comforts him and tells him that someday he’ll find someone with whom to bear that loss.

(Disregard those words from the man behind the curtain, they will certainly not be important later.)

At the country fair, Jimmy gets drunk with cash to burn and winds up nearly the victim of a brutal robbery. Thomas (still pining, apparently) steps in to take the beating and gets his face bashed in. Feeling guilty, Jimmy visits a recuperating Thomas in his bedroom and admits that while he is not interested in a romance with Thomas, he is willing to make a go at friendship. Thomas happily agrees.

Also at the fair, Daisy wins a rigged game, and Mrs. Patmore’s beau flirts mercilessly with her and every other woman in sight. Mrs. Hughes breaks this news to her later, but Mrs. Patmore reacts with relief. Dr. Clarkson and Isobel attend as well, having shared a few plesant evenings together, but Isobel inadvertently rejects Clarkson’s proposal of marriage by telling him she prefers friendship to wedlock.

So! A ghostly pale Mary is zipped straight to the hospital, where she begins to labor in earnest. (The baby is early, but not worryingly so.) Isobel comforts her as news is brought to the Crawleys back in Scotland, who make arrangements to dash down as quickly as possible. With Downton in a tizzy as they arrive (even Carson is adorably ruffled) Matthew dashes to the hospital. Sweaty and terrified and joyful, he is just in time to meet his newborn son and – as Mary very pointedly reminds us, just in case we’d all forgotten the past three series of playing ‘Catch the Crawley’ – his heir. Mary, Matthew and long-awaited baby enjoy a few blissful moments in the sun-drenched hospital room, light glowing around them all like halos, enveloped in their collective love and the bright future ahead of them.

At Downton, the Crawleys breathe a sigh of relief and Robert recaps the past years of turmoil, wondering what he has done to deserve two healthy heirs. Violet agrees (that Robert has done nothing, apparently) and then cooly informs the audience that, “We don’t always get our just desserts.”

We have no idea what she could be talking about.

At the same time, Matthew drives back to Downton Abbey in his Chekhov’s car, bearing his tides of boundless joy. Smiling as only a new parent can as the wind ruffles his hair, he arrives back at Downton, and all is happiness, as fan-and-family dreams are fulfilled alike, and there are fireworks, and –

Oh, sorry. Actually, a lorry driving up the one-lane road causes Matthew to veer off down the unpaved hillside, where his his head is dashed in the dirt and his body crushed beneath his overturned car. Not being party to all the foreshadowing, Mary smiles down at her son in the hospital, waiting for her family and her husband to come back to her.

Happy Christmas to you too, Lord Fellowes.

Have you recovered from the Christmas special?

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

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The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

cogsworth-lumiere-live-action-beauty-and-the-beast

While it’s nice to finally see a glimpse of a couple of the characters, a big question remains unanswered: How will these objects look once they have faces on them? (Cogsworth’s face might be hinted at in the center of the clock.)

Also on the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is a shot from the the “Gaston” musical number. From left to right we see Alexis Loizon as Stanley, Josh Gad as LeFou (just over Gaston’s shoulder), and Luke Evans (with his back to the camera) as Gaston.

live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-gaston

Update: And here’s another look at the movie, courtesy of this person on Twitter — this time we get to see Dan Stevens as human Beast!

human-beast-dan-stevens

We’ll be curious to get our hands on the anniversary edition in September, because we expect we’ll see more from the new movie than the two stills above.

Disney released the first trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast in May. It was very much a teaser trailer, as it didn’t provide any looks at the characters — except Belle (Emma Watson), appearing through the glass casing protecting the film’s iconic rose.

In fact, the trailer’s first looks at the various settings (Namely the Beast’s castle) fell in line with the visual style we see in the above concept art.

Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hit theaters March 17, 2017.

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

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Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

That changes next month, when Apple is expected to announce that the iPhone 7 will be lacking a headphone jack. Instead, users will be listening to music via the Lightning port (which you currently use to charge and sync your iPhone).

And for 2017, Apple will reportedly go one step further by removing the Home button.

Ah, the Home button. It’s always been there for us — it’s our captain for navigating the iPhone. We use it to switch between apps, we use it to get to our Home screen, we use it to summon Siri, and we use it to read our finger print. Back in the “old days,” we used it to force quit apps when they froze on us.

In a new report, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to remove the Home button for the 2017 iPhone, which will presumably be called iPhone 7s. It’s billed as a “major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display.”

Previous rumor mill reports have suggested that Apple will ditch the Home button in order to decrease the size of the top top and bottom bezels, thereby making the phone not as tall, or using the freed up space to add more screen.

Here’s a mock up of what that could look like, via TapSmart:

borderlessmockup1

What remains unclear is how users will be able to unlock and navigate their iPhone without the Home button. Reports have suggested that the whole screen will serve as a TouchID surface and a Home button (using the 3D Touch feature Apple launched last year).

Interestingly, next month’s release of iOS 10 will introduce a new way to unlock your iPhone: You’ll have to press down on the Home button to activate an unlocking. Previously, all you had to do was rest your finger on the Home button while your lock screen was awake.

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Read full article

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Now, according to Deadline, Disney is developing an all-live-action remake of the film. Nick Hornby will write the script, while Joe Roth is in negotiations to sign on as a producer.

If Mendes’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he directed the last two James Bond features, both Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1999’s American Beauty.

You can check out the trailer for the horrifying original film below:

As of late, Disney has been announcing live-action versions of its properties left and right, including The Nutcracker (which has a huge cast of well-known actors), The Little Mermaid (with Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to help write the music), Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), and Cruella (starring Emma Stone), among others.

With the amount of remakes — especially in the live-action department — it’s no wonder James and the giant Peach is the latest to be announced.

Do you want to see a live-action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ movie?