This episode is channeling Season 1 but bringing way more drama. It’s great to see the return of the snarky, passive-aggressive Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) we love to hate. She’s back to becoming stone faced and staring into space, viciously insulting her sister, and getting the best suitors. She’s not the only one back to their Season 1 personas. Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) is back to scheming and has enlisted some help. Plus, the moment you have been waiting for ... the peace between the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) and Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) is over. Full shade ahead!
Evelyn Napier (Brendan Patricks) stops by the Abbey. If you’ve forgotten him, he is the suitor that introduced Mary to Mr. Pamuk (Theo James). Mr. Pamuk was the guy that de-virginized her and died in her bed. Napier is working on a survey of how the war has affected Aristocratic manors. Speaking of manors, Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) is dealing with the death of one of the estate’s farmers. Mr. Drewe (Andrew Scarborough), the farmer’s son, has inherited a significant amount of debt. Lord Grantham kindly pays the debt in exchange for Mr. Drewe working it off. The Lord is back to keeping secrets from fellow estate runners, Mary and Tom Branson (Allen Leech). Branson is threatening to move to the U.S. to escape the stuffy life of an aristocrat and spare his daughter any embarrassment.
Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael) is lurking by the metaphorical mailbox waiting to hear back from Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards). It doesn’t look promising for him since he just moved to a pre-Nazi Germany. Drunk Liza Minnelli Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) adjusts to her new lady’s maid and tries to convince Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) that they need to buy a refrigerator.
Isobel takes an interest in a young neighborhood boy, Peg. She convinces the Dowager Countess to hire him. However, when an antique letter-opener goes missing, the Golden Girls clash over the boy’s guilt. It’s witty barbs and loud sighs. Here’s hoping they have a fight in a fountain like on Dynasty.
Alfred (Matt Milne) seems adept at cooking. He’s selected to apply for the apprenticeship at The Ritz. Everyone in the kitchen is excited but he’s nervous. Meanwhile, with the prospect of Alfred leaving, Carson (Jim Carter) offers the footman position to Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle). Despite willing to take any odd job in the village, do with that what you will, Molesley’s pride is hurt at the prospect of being demoted to footman. Alfred ends up not winning the internship so Molesley ends up red-faced when he returns for the job. Looks like Molesley is one step closer to suicide.
The disturbing Anna Rape storyline continues to get more depressing. Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) has been super icy to Bates (Brendan Coyle). Bates overhears Anna talking to Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and he devises a plan to find out what happened. He threatens to leave unless Mrs. Hughes comes clean. Thinking on her feet, she invents an assailant that raped Anna during the concert. However, Bates is convinced it’s Mr. Green (Nigel Harman). This is where things get dark. To this point, Anna has not known his name was even Mr. Green. Also, Bates is getting very scary and murdery. His violent inclinations and Anna’s fear make it seem like he could be abusive. Here’s hoping the writers don’t go in that direction.
Style & Sass: Best Lines of the Night
Not the first time you have had the wrong end of the stick. –Mary to Edith
I wonder how your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara ‘round the clock. –The Dowager Countess to Isobel Round I
Mrs. Patmore, is there any aspect of the present day that you can accept without resistence? –Cora
Well M’lady I wouldn’t mind getting rid of my corset. –Mrs. Patmore’s response
What would you prefer that I invite the local criminals to drop in strip the house bare? –The Dowager Countess to Isobel Round II
There is no shortage of shocking moments this season. It looks like Downton Abbey is channeling Melrose Place. Here’s hoping that Heather Locklear stops by as a 1920s advertising executive hell-bent on getting her hands on the Abbey. The original Shady Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is replete with side-eyes, social slights, and aristocratic sass. Lady Edith is also making poor romantic choices as usual. Oh poor Edith, why are you so unlovable? Meanwhile, has anyone noticed that Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) sounds a lot like a slightly inebriated Liza Minnelli?
The party guests are slowly leaving. Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) proved himself a hero. Miss Braithwaite (MyAnna Buring) has gone full-on Fatal Attraction on Tom Branson (Allen Leech). She is trying to turn their one-night-stand into a ticket to the wealth of Downton.
Lady Mary, Edith, Tom and Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James) head to London to stay with Lady Rosamund Painswick (Samantha Bond). They head to The Lotus Club to listen to some jazz. Steve Urkel Jack Ross (Gary Carr) serenedes with the most nasal rendition of 1920s jazz. When, Lady Rose’s escort gets sloppy, Jack saves the day by cutting in. However, Tom rushes to stop her from dancing with a black man. Racism is alive in London, people.
Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen) is courting the hell out of Lady Mary. He even snuck on the same train to surprise her at home. He proposes but Mary has to decline but she does give him an epic kiss on the grounds.
The Drama: Not only is Mr. Gregson heading to a pre-World War 2 Germany to get a divorce, but they totally spent the night together. He seems somewhat above board since he gave Edith power of attorney over his finances. But ... does he plan to sleep with her and run? Also, has he left her with legal control for an ulterior motive?
Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) is still recovering from her attack and not doing so well since she has to see Mr. Green (Nigel Harman) before he leaves. She has become very icy to Bates (Brendan Coyle) and absolutely refuses to tell him why. She has even asked Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) to move back with the servants. Ivy (Cara Theobold) and Jimmy (Ed Speleers) have upgraded their lame courtship into full-on canoodling. Alfred (Matt Milne), jilted, has decided to apply for a cooking fellowship with The Ritz hotel. He may be leaving Downton like his aunt O’Brien. Carson (Jim Carter) is also beginning a very slow flirtation with Mrs. Hughes. Could the Mom and Pop of the staff get together for real?
The Drama: Mrs. Hughes plays Tom’s hero by destroying Braithwaite and her pregnancy claims. She finds a book about conception and bluffs Braithwaite into leaving Downton. She also tells her that if she makes a fuss she will never get a job in her lifetime. Now, if only Mrs. Hughes can tackle Anna’s attacker.
Best Lines of the Night
Don’t be transparent mamà, it doesn’t suit you. -Lady Mary to Cora
Don’t say I’m not good enough. If you were good enough for Lady Cybil Crawley then I’m good enough for you. -Braithwaite to Tom
Ivy moves a little fast for a beginner, don’t she -Daisy (Sophie McShera)
If we only had moral thoughts ... what would the poor church men find to do? -Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith)
Things have come to a pretty pass when you have to be rescued by a black band leader. -Lady Rosemound being a tad wee bit racist
Do you ever wonder why people dislike you so much? It’s because you’re sly, oily, and smug and I’m really pleased I got to tell you before I go. -Braithwaite to Barrow
If we’re playing the truth game. You’re a lying manipulative little witch and if your schemes have come to nothing I’m delighted. -Tom Barrow (Rob James-Collier) to Braithwaite
Edith is about as mysterious as a bucket. -Lady Mary
The 4400 succeeds where shows like Heroes, No Ordinary Family, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have failed. It puts a human face to super powers. This innovative series has such a mind-blowing take on what would happen if people developed superhuman abilities. It also uses other science-fiction conventions, plot twists and great actors to create a binge-worthy series.
Over the course of 50 years, 4400 people are abducted. On one day, they all return seemingly unchanged, but different. A government task force is created to manage their assimilation back into society. An FBI agent, Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch), and a CDC agent, Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie), head up this task force to deal with their developing abilities and discover the reason they’ve returned. What follows is a shocking reveal that they were not abducted by aliens but by humans from the future. They have been given abilities to help save humanity’s future.
The series doesn’t rely too much on super powers and flashy special effects. Instead, it creates an X-Files style procedural with rich characters and an engrossing plot. Each episode, Tom and Diana must help one of the 4400 with their abilities and discover their benefit to society’s future. Meanwhile, various members of the 4400 must adjust to how life has changed since their disappearance. Baldwin’s nephew Shawn Farrell (Patrick Flueger) comes back with the power to heal and his family having adjusted to life without him. Conchita Campbell plays Maya Rutledge, an 8 year old abducted in 1938, and brought back with the ability to see the future. The characters are sympathetic and this adds heart to the series.
The 4400 has some pretty great acting talent. Billy Campbell (The Killing, Enough) plays Jordan Collier, a successful businessman who creates a Scientology-style religion around The 4400. The series also features appearances by Summer Glau (Serenity), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) and Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope).
Fans of superheroes and science fiction will love The 4400. It also adds enough plot twists and dynamic relationships that non-geeks will love it too. All four seasons of the series are available on Netflix.
Our favorite upstairs-downstairs drama is back! Well, almost.
On Tuesday, several Downton Abbey castmembers and executive producers took the stage at the TCA press tour to talk about the emotional whirlwind that was the third season and to give a few hints of what's to come in the new episodes. Here are some small spoilers:
Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson's relationship will remain strictly professional.
When asked about a potential romance between the two Downton staff members, actress Phyllis Logan, who plays Mrs. Hughes, was quick to put an end to those rumors. "No. No. We still have a very nice working relationship. We still have occasional spats here and there. We still have a lot of respect for one another. We occasionally get to drink a glass of sherry together…not as often as I would like.”
Lady Mary won't be in mourning the whole time.
Mary actress Michelle Dockery noted that the widow will have "more than one" love interest in the new season, including Lord Gillingham, a new character played by Irish actor Tom Cullen. “He is an old family friend who she’s known since the girls were children, and they haven’t seen him since she was tiny," she explained. "She’s kind of slowly throughout the series coming back to real life and of course it’s important for her to eventually move on, so he is a potential love interest.”
Edith's bad luck may take a turn for the better.
Laura Carmichael, who plays Edith, said that “[Creator] Julian [Fellowes] has this take that some people in life are lucky. And some people aren’t. And Edith is definitely one of those unlucky people. I love the Gregson and Edith relationship because he’s so different from any of the other men in Downton. He’s kind of a working, modern man. A self-made man. And exists in a different universe in London. Their relationship is interesting and I think different.” Producer Gareth Neame added: “I think what we can say is it is a very different season for Edith this year. Really different stories. Very exciting.”
But, Edith's career and relationship with her editor will become more "complicated."
In response to questions about Edith's future, Carmichael remarked, “She is still involved with her editor and it is a lot more complicated than that, which I’ll just have to let you see without giving too much away." She also added, "She’s still sort of turning in some articles and we know that she’s been writing about the cause of the soldier, but it’s the kind of modern woman thing. I like to think of her as the Carrie Bradshaw of the 20s.”
There will be a 5th season, hopefully without any more major cast departures.
“What’s wonderful about the show is that it’s opened doors for all of us,” said Dockery. “As far as we know we’re all doing series five next year, and beyond that we really don’t know. That’s in the hands of Julian and our producers so we’ll see. So long as the core cast remain…I think if other actors start leaving that would be a worry.”
The departure of Dan Stevens will open up a lot of new material.
Michelle Dockery talked about her thoughts on the loss of Matthew Crawley. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh, crap. What is going to happen?’ Because I thought, ‘Where can this story go now?’ We spent all this time on this will-they-or-won’t they relationships and then suddenly it was coming to an end. So initially I was concerned.” She quickly added, "But as much as it was sad to see Dan go, same as it was sad to see Jessica go, it opens it up for Julian to write a new chapter.”
Widowed Mary won't be hooking up with her widowed brother-in-law.
“They are very much friends. And he is her brother-in-law still. I think they become close because of what they’ve both been through, having lost a partner. And also Mary becomes far more involved in the running of the estate with Tom, so we do have a lot of scenes together,” said Dockery. “But romantically, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I hope not.”
Daisy has grown up, but only a bit.
When asked about Daisy's evolution, actress Sophie McShera responded, “Someone asked me how old she was when we began and how old she is now. And that couldn’t work out…she must have been about 10 when we started.” McShera added, “She’s had such a journey and even during her terrible teens, you know that bratty teenage stage which she’s still in a bit. She’s being a bit of a jealous girl with Ivy and everything. She’s had an amazing journey. I’ve really loved it. I like that we get such a long time because you can grow up on screen, which is always exciting.”
Thomas is due for some drama.
Actor Rob James-Collier wasn’t present to talk about Thomas Barrow, but Neame gave us a few hints about the insensitive valet's future. “He is a complete outsider. Of course it’s going to be a complex world for him going forward. I’ve heard rumors that O’Brien may be heading for the hills. There’s going to be a bit of a shakeup to what happens to his story.” He added: “He’s always going to have that core thing of wanting to be in control, wanting to find out what’s going on, wanting to make sure he can dictate things, that rivalry with Carson. He remains a very compelling character."
Downton won't go to World War II.
We've watched Downton span a decade, but how far will it progress through modern history? This season picks up in 1922, a full ten years after it started, in the wake of the Titanic disaster, but Gareth Neame doesn't anticipate the show moving into any additional major historical events. "I don't think we'll go on to the Second World War," he said.
Downton Abbey Season 4 is set to premiere on January 5 in the U.S. (but we know that all of you true fans will be illegally streaming it come fall when it airs in the U.K.). Until then, we'll be counting down the days until we can hear Laura Linney tell us "this is Masterpiece Classic."
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Looks like the cast of Downton Abbey (or at least Rob James-Collier, Hugh Bonneville, Sophie McShera, Joanne Froggatt, and Brendan Coyle) finally realized why Americans are so confused by the name of their show. While in New York City, the adorable Brits covered up the "w" on a Downtown subway sign in a moment of divine pundom. Bonneville, who apparently knows how to use the Internet despite spending most of his time in the early 20th century, tweeted the shot. Oh my tea and crumpets, they are best mates!
PS: They totally stole my joke/Halloween costume.
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[Photo Credit: Twitter]
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]