Monday, December 22, 2014

DOWNTON Is Back, with Remembrance, Romance and Russians. Lots of Russians.

It seems as if we've been waiting forever, but Season 5 of Downton Abbey will be back on our screens very soon. Sunday, January 4, at 8 o'clock Central to be precise.

Just to whet your appetite, George Clooney and some other interesting folks have popped up in a spoofy charity video that's making the rounds. Yes, George does look like he belongs at Downton. And so does Joanna Lumley, at her AB Fabbiest as an irreverent angel. But back to Season 5...

Because Downton's episodes air in England well before they get here, intrepid sleuths (or people who visit England) already know what will happen to the Crawleys and their friends, lovers, enemies and servants in the momentous year of 1924.*

You will recall that we made it through World War I back in season 2, so it's fitting that we are ready for Remembrance Day and a war memorial as the denizens of Downton Abbey begin the new season. This Remembrance plot puts Lord Crawley and his faithful servant Carson at odds, signaling the continued erosion of the all-encompassing power of the nobility in British society.

Some stories from the past -- Mary's hot and cold running suitors, Edith's baby and her missing baby daddy, former chauffeur Branson caught in a no man's land between the working class and the aristocracy, Thomas scheming behind the scenes, and Bates and Anna's possible involvement with a murder -- continue in Season 5, although some characters we've met before -- like Cora's American mum and brother, played by Shirley MacLaine and Paul Giamatti -- have thankfully departed.

One change is just how much romance there is and how many characters (and generations) are involved. In other words, it isn't just Mary getting all the action. The romance in Season 5 includes the return of a long-lost love, several proposals (not all of them what you might call "decent"), a wedding, and suitors with Russian connections for both a grande dame and an ingenue, neither of whom is Mary.

Guest stars include Matt Barber, Anna Chancellor, Penny Downie, James Faulkner, Richard E. Grant, Sue Johnston, Rade Serbedzija and Catherine Steadman as dishy new arrivals, romantic rivals, and general complications in the Crawley family circle. I continue to hope that Imelda Staunton, the real-life wife of Jim Carter, who plays Carson, will show up, but no luck on that score yet.

For all things Downton Abbey, including preview pictures and video, reminders of where the plot left off in Season 4, games and quizzes, a Q&A with the real owner of Highclere Castle, and a place to shop for Downton trinkets and books, try the main PBS site for the show.

*I harbor fervent hopes that somebody fun -- Rose? Branson and little Sybil? -- will travel to New York and catch Fred and Adele Astaire in Lady Be Good at the Liberty Theatre on Broadway in December 1924, but that will have to wait till after the events of this season, which only make it to autumn of 24.

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