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Susan Michals

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Face Off: Downton's Dowager Countess vs. Mad Men's Roger Sterling

Posted: 04/15/2012 2:25 pm

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(Images courtesy of PBS/ITV and AMC)

In the last few months, we have happily experienced the advent of Mad Men, Season 5 and sadly, the conclusion of Downton Abbey, Season 2.

While we can revel for the next few weeks in Joan's post-baby extra wiggle and perhaps Peggy burning her bra, Downton fans must wait 8 long months to see if Matthew and Mary seal the deal and what's to become of that ultimate bad boy below the stairs, Thomas.

Perhaps the person we miss most though at the moment, is that purveyor of bon mots, the woman with a heart of gold and a barbed tongue, the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith). And while he's no Dowager in any way, shape or form, Roger Sterling (John "Lincoln Mercury" Slattery) has a lot in common with Lady Grantham: They are both the providers of the sharpest and wittiest remarks on their respective shows, not to mention never ending founts of comic relief. He's every inch of chauvinist, and let's face it, Violet's certainly no feminist.

While it's just the tip of the iceberg (yes, that's a blatant nod to creator Julian Fellowes other recent period piece, Titanic) here's a collection of some of Sterling/Grantham's best, topically arranged:

Fine cuisine:
Lord Grantham: "We better go in soon or it isn't fair to Mrs. Patmore."
Lady Grantham: "Oh, is her cooking so precisely timed? You couldn't tell."

Roger Sterling: "Look, we've got oysters Rockefeller! Beef Wellington! Napoleons! We leave this lunch alone, it'll take over Europe."

Marriage:
Lady Mary: "Sybil is entitled to her opinions."
Lady Grantham: "No. She isn't until she is married, then her husband will tell her what her opinions are."

Roger Sterling: "You know what my father used to say? Being with a client is like being in a marriage. Sometimes you get into it for the wrong reasons, and eventually, they hit you in the face."

Decorum:
Lady Grantham: "Last night! He looked so well. Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house."

Pete Campbell: "Your decisions affect me."
Roger Sterling: "Let me put it in account terms: Are you aware of the number of hand jobs I'm going to have to give?"

Hidden talents:
Lady Grantham: "For these moments, you can normally find an Italian who isn't too picky."

Roger Sterling [after Don receives a Steinway walking stick for his birthday]: "You could stick it up your ass and have a concert."

Health care:
Doctor: "Mrs. Crawley tells me she has recommended nitrate of silver and tincture of steel.
Lady Grantham: Why, is she making a suit of armor?"

Roger Sterling: "Psychiatry is just this year's candy pink stove."

Shakespearean Folderol:
Lady Grantham: "I was watching her the other night, when you spoke of your wedding. She looked like Juliet on awakening in the tomb."

Roger Sterling [to Joan]: "Look, I want to tell you something because you're very dear to me. And I hope you understand that it comes from the bottom of my damaged, damaged heart. You are the finest piece of ass I ever had and I don't care who knows it. I am so glad I got to roam those hillsides."

Death:

Lady Grantham: "One can't go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We'd all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper."

Roger Sterling (on the passing of Ida Blankenship): "She died the way she lived: surrounded by the people she answered phones for."

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