‘Downton Abbey’ Returns to PBS

January 2nd, 2014

Nick Briggs for The New York Instances

“Downton Abbey” returns to American television Sunday with Tom Cullen as a suitor courting the widowed Lady Mary, performed by Michelle Dockery.

NEWBURY, England — We have raged from fate and occur via our phases of grief. We have approved that no make a difference how a lot we miss him — his limpid blue eyes, his very good feeling in marrying Woman Mary after his tiresome fianc?e lastly succumbed to the flu — Matthew Crawley is never coming back. He is dead, having been hit by a truck while driving inattentively in the waning times of very last time on “Downton Abbey.”

The surviving characters have been coming to grips with that jarring growth, too, a method that has taken area off display screen, thankfully, as sustained mourning is not considerably enjoyable to view. The fourth “Downton” time, beginning Sunday on “Masterpiece” on PBS, begins six months after the crash, with the house — Lord and Girl Grantham, their two surviving daughters, Mary and Edith, and the servants below stairs — dusting itself off from this most wrenching of calamities and obtaining on with the organization of dwelling. By natural means, some characters are faring far better than other individuals.

“If there’s a concept to the fourth year, it’s how Mary will rebuild her existence,” mentioned Gareth Neame, a “Downton” government producer. It was April, and Mr. Neame was sitting down, fairly incongruously, in a contemporary-working day workplace at Highclere Castle, the genuine Hampshire estate right here that stands in for the fictional Downton Abbey for some scenes (other people, including bedroom and kitchen scenes, are filmed at Ealing Studios in West London). The residence was littered with props and film gear. Actors flitted close to in period of time attire.

Almost no one (apart from Dan Stevens himself) wanted Dan Stevens, the dreamy English actor who played the popular Matthew, to leave the solid. But his choice to seek his performing fortune somewhere else meant he experienced to be killed off, and the demonstrate runners made the decision to turn the dilemma — Woman Mary’s unexpected widowhood — into a spectacular chance. In real truth, it could have happened at a very good time, delivering a possibility to breathe new life into a display that has enhanced its viewers dimensions at a shocking price even as critics and some viewers grouse that its narrative traces are not as exciting as they once ended up. Also, fortunately married is a boring point out to depict on screen, specifically when the adore scenes entail a 1920s partner who wears pajamas in the bedroom.

“Once a young pair get married, there tends to be a remarkable lull,” Mr. Neame said. “The thought of several suitors arriving, fascinated in Girl Mary, is really interesting.”

There will be other plot developments, way too. Amongst a handful of new figures will be the show’s 1st black character, a jazz singer played by Gary Carr. The redoubtable Shirley MacLaine will return at the stop of the year, actively playing Woman Grantham’s feisty American mom, and will be joined this time by her feisty American son, performed by Paul Giamatti. Lady Edith, jilted at the altar by her weedy beau, will have some fascinating escapades, as she branches out in unconventional methods, the two personally and skillfully.

In the meantime, Lord Grantham will have to adjust to the modifying times even though discovering a way to shell out the crippling demise obligations introduced on by Matthew’s demise Branson, the chauffeur who married into the loved ones and has been promoted to estate supervisor, will continue negotiating his uneasy changeover from downstairs to upstairs a beloved below-stairs forged member will be the sufferer of a shocking criminal offense that will be adopted by an incident that may not be murder but will be suspenseful. And Carson, the butler, will go on getting Carson.

“Poor outdated Carson,” explained the actor who plays him, Jim Carter, speaking in his trailer — 1 of dozens parked down the hill from the castle — in the course of the day’s lunch crack. “He’s worn the exact same clothing, and poured the same wine, for four years.” As the butler, his task, he stated, is to offer a bulwark of stability for the house, no issue what. “He’s not authorized to have considerably of a social daily life. The country demands!” stated Mr. Carter, whose hair appeared unruly and un-Carsonesque. (“I occur in searching like a haystack, and they set some thing on it to make it go quite reliable,” he mentioned.)

Back in the house, the forged was rehearsing a scene showcasing a discussion of the whereabouts of Lady Edith, who was seemingly at an unknown place in London. Any discussion with Maggie Smith, as Lord Grantham’s mother, is bound to characteristic some waspish remarks, and in this 1, the actress — in civilian attire with quick hair and bluejeans — was reciting a line in which her character dismisses the idea that Edith may well have some thrilling issues going on: “Edith’s about as mysterious as a bucket.”

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