Thursday, January 2, 2014

Change is in the Air at Downton

You know the year is off to a good start when we are treated on day five with season four of the PBS Masterpiece Classic series Downtown Abbey.

Should you need a reminder, season three ended with both a birth (Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley's son) and death (Matthew Crawley/Dan Stevens who ran off to search for greener Broadway and film pastures) in the two hour Christmas special. The finale ended on a poignant moment when Mary asked her hubby "Will I be your Mary Crawley for all of eternity?" which suggested Matthew had about five minutes of television time left. If this were American tv, Stevens could return in a dream sequence but since it is not, look for Lady Mary to shed the black dress and hook up mid season.

Look for Lady Mary clad in lots of black for the first part of the season
Actor Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham will play a possible suitor for Lady Mary

Fortunately fan favorite Maggie Smith a.k.a. Dowager Countess will be back and here is hoping we see more of Shirley MacLaine as well. Actor Paul Giamatti (who has played a wide range of characters from HBO's John Adams to NBC's Pig Vomit in Private Parts) joins the cast as Cora's playboy brother Harold.

MacLaine and Giamatti with Mr. Carson/Jim Carter
Look for the top-notch costumes, sets, landscapes and writing that have made the show such a phenomenal success along with lots of grief, melodrama and the occasional plot twists we have come to expect from writer Julian Fellowes.  While Highclere will still play a major character right down to the original Van Dycks on the walls, look for lighter, more fun filled sets as the characters up their social game in London.

The period perfect settings of Highclere have become a familiar setting for viewers
Many of the show's settings will see an update to reflect the twenties

Production designer Donal Woods oversees the sets that will include the addition of party scenes in London
Jazz singer Jack Ross/Gary Carr plays a new character

Paul Giamatti and Poppy Drayton in what could be a Ralph Lauren Ad - ironically much of last season's line was influenced by the show

Never fear, there will be a season five. In the meantime, catch season four at 8pm/Central Sunday, January 5th on PBS.

Photo Credits: © Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE