The Crawleys struggle forward after Mathew’s shocking death, Downton Abbey Season 4 airs on Sundays, January 5th through February 23rd, 2014, on PBS **** 4 Stars
By Gabrielle Pantera
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2014/1/2 – “I really missed him, not being around,” says Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery of Stevens. “We’d spent so much time together and gone on this journey together, nobody really knowing about it, then suddenly it was this huge success. I really loved playing that story line with Dan. The new actors have come in and that’s exciting. Fresh blood. She does eventually have to find a husband because of the position she’s in. She has the heir to Downton. She’s taking her time. She does have suitors this year.”
“It’s never simple,” says Downton Abbey star Laura Carmichael. “For Edith it’s never simple. So we saw that things with Gregson are heating up. He’s declared his love. But he is, of course, married. It’s a nice series for me I think this year. The house is reeling from the news of Mathew’s death. Things are shifting a bit for those girls. They’re never going to be the closest of friends. Season three was carnage. The great thing about those story lines is it really informs season four.”
The year is 1922, six months after the unexpected death in a motoring accident of her husband Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is dressed in black, still lost in mourning for the death of her beloved Matthew. Their child George is largely ignored by Mary. Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) has taken over running the estate again after Matthew’s death.
“I always remember back to the very first line that Julian Fellowes wrote when he sent me the first page when we were fleshing out the idea,” says Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame. “It became the first line of stage direction in the script. It said, ‘A wonderful house, a stately home in this beautiful parkland. It looks as though it will stand for a thousand years. It won’t.”
The first episode is two hours. It starts slow and is choppy, but as the episode progresses it evens out and the rhythm feels familiar. There’s the despair that Lady Mary feels. Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) is still feisty and still as caring of her family and the servants.
Below stairs O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran), lady’s maid to Cora Lady Crawley, departs in the night like a thief. She leaves two letters. Mr. Barrow (Rob James-Collier) is back to his old trick against the other servants. Why is he back to his old tricks? Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) becomes involved with everyone’s lives trying to help them with their problems. She helps Matthew’s mother Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) regain purpose in her life. Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) gets an unwelcome letter from someone from his past.
Lord Grantham son-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is helping run things as the agent to the estate, but can’t stand up to Grantham. Tom wants Mary to be involved with the running of the estate for George’s sake. Grantham ruined the estate the last time he ran things. Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is still writing and going to London. Gregson loves her but is still married to his insane wife. Will Edith ever get to be happy? Cousin Rose who’s joined the family at Downton, is bored and is always looking for creating mischief.
Look forward this season to Mary coming back to life, to finding purpose and standing up to her father. This is escapism from the realities of our world to a time when the world was transitioning from a rigid class system to modern society.
Downton Abbey returns for its fourth season Sunday, January 5th at 9pm on PBS.
Twitter: @DowntonAbbey, @MichelleD_FC, @Allenleech, @hughbon, @ElizabethMcGov, @Carmichelle, @lesley_nicol, @jessicafellowes, @julianfellowes, @thatdanstevens