Downton Abbey: S4

downton abbey s4Nearly writing off Downton Abbey after the pitiful season finale for Series 3, I calmed down, gave in, and watched the new season. And I’m glad I did. The fun is back. There’s mystery and intrigue but the series seems to have rediscovered its footing and knows finally what it is. Great early 20th Century British melodrama. The characters are all finely tuned.  Lucky for us there’s already a S5 being planned. Highlights from this season include Mary being courted by at least two gentlemen, one of them played by Tom Cullen who was last seen snogging a man in Andrew Haigh’s deliriously perfect Weekend. Paul Giamatti was slated to play Cora’s brother but never showed up until the Christmas special. Miss O’Brien’s hasty and perhaps permanent departure, Edith and Michael’s romance, Edith’s sudden beauty, Rose’s unexpected romance with the jazz singer Jack Ross, Isobel and Violet’s unlikely friendship, Violet’s recovery from what was surely to be a life-threatening illness – I hope that means another season of Maggie’s wit, Anna’s story arc of terror – I thought it showed solid acting and a twist from the usual Anna and Mr. Bates love story, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore, and Mr. Carson all moving into the 20th Century, and Mr. Carson and Mr. Mosely’s exchanges. The one thing I didn’t like was a lack of direction for Thomas’s character. What will they do with him?

The extra Christmas special highlighted Rose’s coming out at Buckingham Palace. Nothing outrageous happens in the season finale, except for a Miss Marple sort of mystery of a Duke of Windsor scandal. Mary quietly considers her future – I hope she picks Anthony simply because Tom Cullen’s beauty is captivating, Edith makes a huge decision in the shadow of secrecy and Paul Giamatti finally shows up as Cora’s nasty brother. In the end Downton gets its mojo back in S4 and I’m grateful because Downton is delicious costume drama comfort food.  4 out of 5.

8/13/15: Rewatching Downton is always a treat. Nothing better for costume drama comfort food. In the original review I missed talking about Alfred’s departure and Daisy’s expanded story. Both strong acting for Season 4. Mary’s outfits were stunning this season as were Violet’s. I love Downton Abbey and will be crushed more than a bit when it ends in 2016. But I’m thrilled they are going out on a high note. Bravo to Julian Fellowes and company.

3/15/2017: Downton Abbey has become delicious comfort food for evening’s when a film is too long and there’s no new television series to devour. Still holds up the third time around. This time I took notice of Cora’s brother Howard’s man-servant. What an adorable and very American character. 4 out of 5 continues to be true for Downton Abbey: Season 4.

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