"Downton Abbey" on PBS - Page 4 - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by philw1776 View Post

Got to say that the 15 January episode was weak relative to most of the others. Still, the actors/characters are simply fun to watch.

What I have read has led me to believe that Season 2 of Downton Abby has a lot more humor in it than Season one did. That was a turnoff to some viewers.

I have ordered the Season 2 BDs from Amazon but they aren't being released until February 7. I have also ordered the Season 1 BDs from Amazon UK but they aren't scheduled to arrive until later this week. The BDs I have ordered are the uncut UK version of the show, so I now plan to watch them rather than the slightly edited version being shown on PBS.
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

What I have read has led me to believe that Season 2 of Downton Abby has a lot more humor in it than Season one did. That was a turnoff to some viewers.

I have ordered the Season 2 BDs from Amazon but they aren't being released until February 7. I have also ordered the Season 1 BDs from Amazon UK but they aren't scheduled to arrive until later this week. The BDs I have ordered are the uncut UK version of the show, so I now plan to watch them rather than the slightly edited version being shown on PBS.

I would have loved humor in last night's episode. Yes, even the British kind.
No series is perfect. Last night was just Meh.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:43 AM
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The last episode didn't have as many surprises, but for those of us that have fully invested in the characters, it was a pleasure to watch.

The period costumes and sets, along with the wonderful lighting and HD clarity, make each episode a delight.

Of course, my wife and I are real push-overs for British period pieces.
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Old 01-17-2012, 07:28 PM
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The BDs of Season 1 I ordered from Amazon UK arrived today and they play perfectly on my setup. That was a relief because I have seen that some US purchasers of the set had some trouble with them. My only disappointment was that the DTS-HD MA soundtrack is only 2.0 but that's a quibble. Overall, I am very happy. Looking forward to geting Season 2 from Amazon US in early February.

Watched the first two episodes of Season 1 and was blown away. Downton Abbey is truly great television.
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

That was a relief because I have seen that some US purchasers of the set had some trouble with them.

Does your Blu-ray player also play video files that can be on DVDs, Blu-rays or USB media?

If yes, then that is probably the reason, as the player has to handle video at lots of different frame rates and sizes. Mine does and it too will play 1080i25 Blu-rays.

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Old 01-18-2012, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mrvideo View Post

Does your Blu-ray player also play video files that can be on DVDs, Blu-rays or USB media?

If yes, then that is probably the reason, as the player has to handle video at lots of different frame rates and sizes. Mine does and it too will play 1080i25 Blu-rays.

I have a PS3, which is routed via HDMI through a Yamaha RX-v3900 receiver to a Pioneer Kuro 6020 display. From what I have read the potential problem with the UK version of the Downton Abbey BDs doesn't involve the PS3. The hangup apparently lies in the inability of some displays to deal with these discs' frame rate. Fortunately, my setup was able to deal with them. I don't know why that was but am grateful nonetheless.
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:17 AM
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There's nothing oddball or problematic with the UK Series 1 Downton Abbey BDs at all. The episodes are encoded at 1080p/24, the SD extras are either 480i or p (I forget which one), and there is no region encoding. They should play just fine on every device sold in the US.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:50 AM
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Several posters who posted to, I think but am not positive, the PS3 thread reported having problems with the discs. Other posters advised those having difficulties with the discs that the problem was caused by their displays. Sorry I can't be more specific but that was what they said, I promise.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugnax555 View Post

The episodes are encoded at 1080p/24

I thought I read in this thread that series 1, U.K. version, was 1080i29.97. Even if that is the case, should still work.

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Old 01-18-2012, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

The hangup apparently lies in the inability of some displays to deal with these discs' frame rate.

That is weird, considering that the U.K. discs are not 1080i25. I forgot about that.

For 1080i25 discs, my Samsung BD player determines what the display can do and changes the frame rate accordingly. So, 1080i25 video is output as 1080p30. The monitor says 60p, but we know that ain't so.

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Old 01-19-2012, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrvideo View Post

That is weird, considering that the U.K. discs are not 1080i25. I forgot about that.

For 1080i25 discs, my Samsung BD player determines what the display can do and changes the frame rate accordingly. So, 1080i25 video is output as 1080p30. The monitor says 60p, but we know that ain't so.

Won't 1080i25 be output at 1080i29.97 or 1080p59.94? 1080p29.97 output of 1080i25 will look pretty nasty - particularly if the 1080i25 source is native interlaced (rather than 1080p25 in a 1080i25 signal)

All of my Blu-ray players output 1080p50, 1080p59.94 or 1080p23.976 if they detect a 1080p compatible display - depending on the disc contents (rather than 1080i25 or 1080i30) - with the player de-interlacing interlaced content internally.

So when playing a 1080i25 disc I get a 1080p50 output, when playing a 1080i29.97 disc I get a 1080p59.94 output, and when playing a 1080p23.976 disc I get 1080p23.976 output.

1080p is increasingly standard these days IME. UK HD OTA boxes all offer it so that they can replay internet media and interactive services that are natively progressive as progressive, removing the need to interlace and then de-interlace again. (BBC iPlayer HD is 720p, so if you watch iPlayer HD on a Freeview HD box you don't have any interlacing between set top box and display)
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:30 AM
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1080i29.97 and 1080i25 is frame rate, not field rate. I NEVER list field rate, always frame rate.

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Old 01-19-2012, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrvideo View Post

1080i29.97 and 1080i25 is frame rate, not field rate. I NEVER list field rate, always frame rate.

My point is that IME Blu-ray players configured for 1080p output will output 1080i29.97 (aka 59.94i) content at 1080p59.94, and 1080i25 (aka 50i) content at 1080p50. (i.e. they de-interlace i25/50i to p50 not p25 - so they retain 50Hz motion on native interlaced content, and de-interlace i29.97/59.94i to p59.94 similarly to retain 59.94Hz motion on native interlaced content) I know all mine do.

I'd be surprised if your player output i25/50i content at p29.97, surely it would de-interlace to p50 internally (which with a 1080p25 source carried 1080i25 will have 2:2 pull-down) and then output at p59.94 - probably by frame repetition? I can't confirm what mine do as all my displays are p50 and p59.94 compatible.
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Old 01-19-2012, 03:28 PM
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Ah,OK. I really do not know what the player is doing. As it is an HDMI connection, I have no way of capturing and actually looking at the video.

I need to encode some bars with embedded timecode to see what my player does with it. I first need to find out if the player will step through MKV wrapped H.264 video. But even that might not be a real test, as it all depends on how the player handles interlaced video when in pause mode.

This discussion should probably be moved to a different thread.

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Old 01-21-2012, 07:49 PM
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Finished watching the Season 1 BDs of Downton Abbey I ordered from Amazon UK earlier this week and was deeply impressed. I am now getting ready to watch the PBS version of Season 2, which I am recording. The Season 2 BDs of the orignal ITV version are to be sent to me from Amazon US on February 7 and I plan to watch them, too. Does anyone know if PBS will be showing the Downton Abbey Christmas special this season? I gather that it is not included on the Season 2 BDs I have ordered from Amazon.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

... Does anyone know if PBS will be showing the Downton Abbey Christmas special this season? I gather that it is not included on the Season 2 BDs I have ordered from Amazon.

I believe the indications are that it WILL be included in both the PBS airings and the S2 BD release. See posts back around #58 of this thread.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by diditagain View Post

The PBS Shop listings for both the American S2 DVD and American S2 Blu-ray say the Christmas special is included, and the runtime listed by PBS Shop (544 minutes) can be calculated by adding the runtimes for the 8 proper S2 episodes AND the Christmas special.

Thanks. I just found the information for the Season 2 BDs of the unedited UK version on the PBS site. According to PBS there are 9 programs including the Christmas Episode and, as you pointed out, the set runs 544 minutes. Thus, it does indeed appear that this set will include the Christmas episode.
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:05 PM
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Best episode of Season 2. It's hitting on all cylinders again.

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Old 01-23-2012, 06:53 AM
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Best episode of Season 2. It's hitting on all cylinders again.

That's good news,thanks for the report. I am really looking forward to Season 2 and plan to watch my recording of the two hour first episode tonight. I have delayed starting in order not to run out of Downton Abbey episodes before my BD set for Season 2, which doesn't ship until February 7, gets here.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:29 AM
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Critic's Notes
Downton Abbey and Spartacus: Why They're Almost The Same Show
By Maureen Ryan, HuffingtonPost.com



"It's wonderful what fear can do to the human spirit."

Given the headline of this article, there's a 50 percent chance that you would assume that the above quote is from "Spartacus," the Starz gladiator drama that is well known for its regular displays of violence.

But the quote comes from Mrs. Patmore, the cook on "Downton Abbey," who makes that observation in an upcoming Season 2 episode of the tony PBS period piece.

And I'm betting you can believe that statement came from a character on the PBS show, because both of these dramas, despite their surface differences, cover very similar terrain.

Both "Downton Abbey" and "Spartacus" are obsessed with power. Who has it? Who wants it? Why do people wield it the way they do? What do people will do to obtain it? And what do people have to sacrifice in order to break free of the rigid rules that hold them in place? Fear and power go hand in hand, which is something the long-suffering Daisy, Mrs. Patmore's sole minion, knows well.

"Downton" and "Spartacus" may be set a couple thousand years apart, but both shows depict constant struggles for control and strenuous attempts to enforce laws and longstanding customs. Whether the characters are wearing loincloths or corsets, the paths they travel aren't all that dissimilar: Most people in "Downton" and "Spartacus" want to escape their situations, or change them in some fundamental way, but they usually have to give up a lot to alter their circumstances just a little.

I'm a fan of both shows because they explore these ideas about power and autonomy via a roster of compelling characters, all of whom are forced to interact in close quarters. In both "Downton's" and "Spartacus'" respective hothouse environments, characters in very different classes are constantly negotiating what kinds of intimacy and intimidation are allowed and what kinds aren't. Sure, "Spartacus" may be the less polite drama, but it's no less moving once you get invested in its characters' quests for love, safety and a few scraps of emotional fulfillment.

Still don't believe the shows have a lot in common? Seriously, they do:

--They both value language and boast their own distinctive syntaxes. The Dowager Countess' elegantly vicious put-downs are every bit as memorable as the Shakespeare-meets-the-street rhythms of "Spartacus."

--They're both period pieces that don't feel musty or completely removed from modern life. We may not live in manor houses or ancient villas, but we can relate to the characters' desires to better themselves and control their own fates.

--They both boast memorably complex characters who can surprise you with their deviousness or their unexpected altruism. Sure, a few of the characters on both shows are one-dimensional, but both shows also have such large ensembles that it's not hard to find protagonists to care about.

--They both embrace the soapier aspects of their stories (Love! Betrayal! Unexpected deaths! Illicit sexytimes!). Neither is re-inventing the wheel when it comes to their genres (i.e., period drama and gladiator epic), but at their best, they are excellent examples of their genres and expertly dispense cliffhangers, declarations of love, confrontations and sly humor.

--They're both strongly serialized, and in that regard, I'd say "Spartacus" is the more finely crafted affair. "Downton," which I remain addicted to despite some its Season 2 wobbles, looks classier, but this season, as I said in my review, it lurches from story to story somewhat ungracefully. "Spartacus," on the other hand, is one of the most meticulously constructed shows I've ever seen. Really.

I could go on comparing the two shows despite their wildly different reputations. "Downton Abbey," after all, is the darling of the "We Love Quality TV" brigade and airs on PBS. It's so proper that it practically serves you crumpets through your TV screen (and if it did, I wouldn't object).

As for "Spartacus," I'm betting all you know about it is that people regularly get naked on it ... when they're not slicing each other up in the gladiator's arena, that is. The show's reputation as pulpy almost-porn isn't really deserved (though sure, it's sexy, exciting and expertly embraces its more melodramatic aspects). But I'd be a fool not to at least acknowledge what those who haven't seen the show think of it.

And there are substantial differences between the shows, aside from the fact that Spartacus is unlikely to take afternoon tea and Carson the butler is unlikely to rip another servant's throat open (as much as he might want to). The "Downton" servants and their employers are far from equals, but at least the servants get paid (a little) for their seemingly endless work. The slaves on the Starz show don't have it quite that easy. "Spartacus: Vengeance," which arrives Jan. 27, depicts what happens to slaves that run off: They're ruthlessly hunted down and killed. Even the Dowager Countess would think that's a bit much.

So they're not exactly the same shows, but the best parts of both dramas depict intelligent characters who are trapped in situations that are not of their own making. Lady Mary Crawley would be a CEO or a world-class something in a society that allowed women of her class to work outside the home, but "Downton" perceptively depicts how her circumscribed life has made her frustrated and somewhat bitter.

As for "Spartacus," since it began in 2010, the show has subtly made a very powerful point about how oppressive regimes eventually cause their own downfalls. When a society has a cancer at the center of it (in this case, slavery), that disease will eventually infect every single aspect of the society and bring it down from the inside; that appears to be the show's stealth thesis. The slave-owning characters on "Spartacus" have many believable flaws, but the chief one is an inability to see how treating other human beings like easily replaced furniture is killing their own souls.

In that respect, I'll take this comparison further and make the case that "Spartacus" is actually the more challenging drama. "Spartacus" doesn't just examine the Roman status quo, it violently assaults it. "Downton," on the other hand, makes the case that, though some social rules were a little unfair, all things considered, things were pretty jolly back in the day, weren't they?

Sure, the PBS drama shows that English society during and after World War 1 was evolving, but, especially in "Downton's" second season, it would appear that creator Julian Fellowes believes the semi-feudal system depicted on the show just needed a little tweaking around the edges. The servants, for the most part, love their employers and make enormous sacrifices for them. And the wealthy Crawley family, for the most part, are depicted as kindly and tolerant employers. Though Lord Grantham makes a couple of mistakes this season, he is, generally speaking, the most positive advertisement the English aristocracy could hope for.

"Downton" flirts -- quite literally -- with more revolutionary ideas, but the show's radical Irish chauffeur exists mainly as an inappropriate boyfriend for Lady Sybil, not as a man whose ideas are worth taking seriously and are representative of the social ferment of the times. That the fusty ruling classes -- which dragged Europe through a ghastly war in which millions died -- should be more or less in place when the war ends is a basic assumption that "Downton" never really challenges.

"Spartacus," of course, depicts a more brutal society in which slavery was a fact of life. So it's not unexpected that it has a less gentle take on power dynamics than "Downton" does, but I wish the Starz show would get some credit for being not just politically aware, but psychologically astute. Just as "Downton" makes you feel for the lowliest housemaid's plight, "Spartacus" creator Steven DeKnight makes the audience understand what it would feel like to be denied true intimacy and autonomy. That's really the whole point of the show, even though "Spartacus" never forgets it's entertainment.

No one is in any danger of misunderstanding what "Downton Abbey" is about: It exudes class from every well-scrubbed, highly polished pore. But a lot gets lost in translation when people judge "Spartacus" by its racy promos and sweaty posters. Yes, "Spartacus" does depict a lot of sex, but most of those sexual situations are transactions, designed to get the characters something they want. True love -- without agendas -- does exist in this universe, and it is highly prized, but it's a rare pleasure these characters (rich or poor) don't get to experience often. And when an entitled character takes what he or she wants sexually, with no regard for the humanity of the slave they're demeaning, the show makes a point to depict the psychological fallout of those acts. In ancient Rome, just as in the tweedy English countryside, thoughtless acts have consequences.

Maybe neither of these shows is your cup of tea, and that's fine. But it would make me sad if fans of one show didn't at least check out the other based on some preconceived notions. Whatever you think these shows are going to be like, once you get involved in the human dramas and complex relationships they depict, your first impressions may fall away. And you'll see that the doughty Dowager Countess of Grantham and the sword-wielding gladiators aren't so different after all.

They all certainly know something about vengeance.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mauree...f=maureen-ryan
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:54 PM
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TV Notes
Downton Abbey Casts Shirley MacLaine as Lady Grantham's Mother
By Michael Ausiello, TVLine.com - Jan. 30, 2012

Maggie Smith’s acid-tongued Countess will no doubt have something delightfully bitchy to say about this: Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine is joining the cast of Downton Abbey as the mother of Elizabeth McGovern’s American-born Lady Grantham.

According to The Daily Beast, MacLaine will appear during the international phenom’s third season, which begins production next month (just as Season 2 winds down on PBS.)

“My late grandfather directed Shirley MacLaine in Gambit in 1966,” said executive producer Gareth Neame in a statement, “so it is a delight for me that she will be joining us on Downton Abbey.”

http://www.tvline.com/2012/01/downto...aine-season-3/
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:55 PM
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Wackjob Shirley probably believes that she WAS once Lady G's mother.
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:37 PM
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Ha! Funny!
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:40 AM
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Here are the latest lengths, less closing credits, for the previous three airings:

Jan 15 - :51:09
Jan 22 - :51:08
Jan 29 - 51:06

This week's episode should fall into the :51:08 category.

Unfortunately, the finale will be hacked, as the 2:01 running time (with two closing credits and two opening credits) will probably be force fed into a 1:50:xx slot

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Old 01-31-2012, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mrvideo View Post

Here are the latest lengths, less closing credits, for the previous three airings:

Jan 15 - :51:09
Jan 22 - :51:08
Jan 29 - 51:06

This week's episode should fall into the :51:08 category.

Unfortunately, the finale will be hacked, as the 2:01 running time (with two closing credits and two opening credits) will probably be force fed into a 1:50:xx slot

This news makes me glad I have ordered the UK version of the Season 2 BDs from Amazon. On another topic, I am delighted that Shirley MacLaine has been cast as Cora Grantham's mother. MacLaine may be a nutty artiste but she is undeniably a talented actress. I cannot imagine a better foil for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess than the quick witted and acid tongued but funny MacLaine.
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Old 01-31-2012, 11:52 AM
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...I am delighted that Shirley MacLaine has been cast as Cora Grantham's mother...

FWIW, that should be Cora Crawley, aka Lady Grantham.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:46 AM
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I am constantly impressed with the beautiful costumes, lighting and clarity of HD on this series. Fantastic production
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMilner View Post

I am constantly impressed with the beautiful costumes, lighting and clarity of HD on this series. Fantastic production

I think the series has been shot on an Arri D21 Alexa (digital - not film) camera, and I agree that it has a very clean and crisp look.

The UK has quite a history of costume drama (we make loads of the stuff!) - so there is quite a decent bank of skilled costume and wardrobe people here.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:23 AM
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So who IS Patrick, really?
I think he's bogus.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:26 PM
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