Jimmy Fallon Returns With More ‘Downton Sixbey’ This Week

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’s star-studded Downton Abbey sendup, Downton Sixbey (named for the studio in which he films) has been surprisingly entertaining as of late, with special guest stars Whoopi Goldberg, Brooke Shields, Fred Armisen and Carson Daly, who keeps getting killed off by hot-air balloons, asserting ?uestlove as the heir to Downton Sixbey. Jimmy Fallon dons a rather unconvincing British accent and, as Lord Grantham, makes some unfortunate business decisions, including investing in something called the “Shake Weight” and a restaurant franchise called Thank Heaven’s It’s Friday.

This week, we were treated to two new episodes, chock full of dowager-spoofing bon mots (“heir today, gone tomorrow”) and scenes from the “downstairs” writers’ room, where crude puns about knob-polishing and recycling jokes (“Downton has fallen on hard times”) abound. Oh, and the Thomas and O’Brien avatars are nearly perfect. On Wednesday night, following Cousin ?uestlove announcing which of the lord’s daughters he has chosen to marry. The answer will be unsurprising here, and the wedding episode that ensues is equally amusing, especially for fans of the Edwardian melodrama. Here are both, for your mid-morning viewing. 

We’re Breaking Up With ‘The Voice’

You watch too much TV. No, you do. So do I. We all follow too many series and overload our DVRs to the point where we have to spend Sunday afternoons clearing them out like they’re our junk drawer. And there are new shows premiering all the time! Some of them worth a look—okay, most of them aren’t, but SOME. But we can’t just keep piling on like this. We’ve gotta start weeding shows out. On the plus side, if you’re a wonky sort, a good TV purge is often a great way to examine what you’re looking for in your entertainment. What you value. So each week here at BlackBook, we’re going to tell you what show you should be giving up on. It won’t be easy, but it has to be done. This week, we’re letting go of The Voice.

Getting Dumped: The Voice

What’d They Do This Time? Look, we all know why we started watching The Voice. We’d just gotten out of a grueling relationship with American Idol that left us disillusioned and with nightmares about LeeDWyze. At the time, The Voice was as good a rebound choice as anything else. A leopard never changes its spots, after all—we’re always going to need some kind of music-based talent show to rally around. And The Voice had a lot of great elements. For one thing, they seemed to value exactly what their title said they would, preferring impressive vocals over gimmicky, freakshow auditions. And the focus on mentorship, rather than throwing contestants out to the wolves not knowing anything, was a cool twist. But let’s be honest: we had one thing on our minds when we were falling for The Voice: those chairs. They were a brilliant innovation, bringing all the spontaneous excitement of a Whack-a-Mole game to the traditional singing competition. Watching the power shift from the judges one minute (will they hit that button??) to the contestant the next minute (which mentor will they choose??) is legitimately exciting TV.

This is the problem, though: everything that’s great about the show is swiveling around in those chairs, and after the audition rounds are over, there are still weeks—MONTHS, even—to go before the show settles on a winner. Which, also, not for nothing, but can you name one winner of The Voice off the top of your head? Do you even know how many there have been? The simple truth is that the contestants have never been more compelling than the judges, and the later weeks really suffer for that. After multiple seasons of trying to make the middle and later rounds as compelling as those wonderful chair-turning rounds, isn’t it time to admit that this is all the show is capable of offering, thank it for some hot rebound action, and start looking for something more stable?

Anything Else? Carson Daly. Why? Why is Carson Daly? Why is he constantly introducing himself to the families? Do the other judges even know he’s there? We should be fine with not knowing the answers to any of these questions, by the way.

What We’ll Miss: The judges, of course. Their competitive camaraderie is a lot of fun to watch. But that’s actually another reason to call it quits now, with Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green leaving after this season. If the sad last few years of American Idol have taught us anything, it’s that the desperate search for random celebrities to plug into judges’ chairs is a sad spectacle indeed. We’ll be able to get our fill of Adam Levine on American Horror Story, and THAT show will get him naked, so we’re fine with the tradeoff.

What We’ll Have More Time For: The Voice is on two nights a week, for three hours total, so it’s like breaking up with THREE shows at once! Mondays are kind of a wasteland if you’re not into Dancing with the Stars or Bones, though we’ve heard good things about Switched at Birth on ABC Family (seriously!). But on Tuesdays, you’ll have more time for the promising Ben & Kate on FOX. No singing on that one, but Lucy Punch kiiind of looks like Christina Aguilera?

Follow Joe Reid on Twitter.

Morning Links: Banjo Player Earl Scruggs Dies, Carson Daly Apologizes

● Banjo-playing, bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs died in Nashville yesterday at the age of 88. The influence his hard-driving, three-finger banjo pick had on his own Woodstock generation and those that followed (looking at you, Mumford and Sons) can not be overstated. [Billboard]

● In the heat of this boy band moment, 98-Degrees is rumored to be reuniting for the first time in ten years for a summer reunion tour. [RumorFix]

● Damien Hirst left this drawing of a shark — "just a quick sketch" to later be auctioned off for $7,400 — with one lucky chauffeur as a tip. Generous! [AnimalNY]

Mad Men writers cribbed that "rambunctiously racist" opening water-bomb scene straight from an A1 New York Times story from May 28, 1966. [NYT]

● Charlie Kaufman, of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich fame, has signed his first book deal with Grand Central Publishing. [Deadline]

● Not hot to discuss her late night dalliances, Rihanna brushed off questions about about a certain Mr. Kutcher at a London press conference for Battleship, calling the inquiries "disappointing." "I am happy and single if that’s what you are really asking," she allowed instead. [MissInfo]

● Carson Daly apologized yesterday after making a confusing and homophobic joke about how a theoretical flight full of gay men headed to a flower convention would not have been able to stop Clayton Osbon, the crazed JetBlue captain. "I’m saddened that my comments, however unintentional, offended anyone, specifically members of the LGBT community,” he said in a statement. [NYDN]

Morning Links: Britney Spears Is Being Sued, Rihanna Misses ‘Dick Pictures’

● “F THAT!” tweeted Carson Daly after learning that Britney Spears, who he has known since she was 15 years-old, is only giving pre-recorded and pre-approved interviews these days. Ding dong! Maybe it’s all fake. [NYM] ● Speaking of Britney: The pop star and her father are being sued for $10 million dollars for stinky business. A middle-man marketing company claims that the Spears’ went behind their back to secure a perfume contract with Elizabeth Arden. [TMZ] ● “That’s a stupid question. You’re a smart girl. How could you want to write that?” Chided Kim Catrall before suggesting that the Page Six reporter who dared to ask the 54 year-old about her grooming habits find a more “respectable job.” “Why don’t you work at — what’s that news agency — Roybers?” Reuters. [NYP]

● Paris Hilton has finished. “I have done everything that I wanted to do and I feel very blessed that I have been very successful on every area,” she told the AP. “So it’s very exciting. There is nothing else to do.” [Newser] ● Rachel Zoe posted the first photos of her newborn, Skyler, on her website. Meanwhile, Zoe’s former assistant Brad Goreski has finally landed his very own Bravo show! Tentatively called It’s A Brad Brad World, the show will follow him as he launches a styling business. [PopEater/JustJared] ● Rihanna told Rolling Stone that she’s lonely. “I haven’t gotten a dick picture in a long time,” she said. “I think people are a little afraid. It can turn out bad.” [OK]