Category: Downton Abbey

'Downton Abbey' recap: 'I can be as contrary as I choose.'

"I am a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose," says Violet. Later, when she hears convalescing soldiers clamor through an open door, she says, sighing, "Really. It's like living in a second-rate hotel where the guests keep arriving and no one seems to leave." With that, the Dowager Countess is back.

The ladies take the lead this week at "Downton Abbey." The cousins are almost at war, while the sisters make an uneasy (no doubt temporary) peace. Lady Mary has decided to say yes to Richard Carlisle; Lady Sybil is considering the overtures from Branson, the revolutionary chauffeur. Downstairs, Mrs. O'Brien starts to shift her allegiance from her fellow conspirator Thomas to Lady Grantham, making small moves that can have big effect. The house cooks quietly conspire to turn the Crawley house in town into a soup kitchen. Ethel, who wants nothing more than a next adventure, finds one in her Omar Sharif. And even Little Daisy, the lowest of the maids, makes two significant things happen: she inadvertently tips off the house that Mr. Bates is working in a pub in town, then insists that her sort-of-beau William's not coming back to Downton for a short leave means something must be wrong.

Something is: last we saw him, he was on patrol with Matthew, running into the forest with bullets coming from both directions. Now he's missing in action.

Cousin Isobel also quickly disappears from the scene. Her duties running the convalescing officers at Downton Abbey have been absorbed by the running of the house -- with a bit of velvet glove control from Lady Grantham. Sure, Isobel is annoyingly officious, but Lady Grantham locks her out rather cruelly. Isobel responds by marching off in a huff -- all the way to France, where she will serve the Red Cross where she's needed. An extreme reaction, perhaps -- not to mention dangerous.

Lord Grantham seeks out Bates; apparently, a Lord visiting a pub was a pretty unsual event in 1918. Even more unusual: he apologizes to him, admits that he's come to love Matthew like a son and his disappearance has him verging on despair. Then he invites Bates to return as valet, or perhaps valet-slash-confidante-slash-shrink. Bates, sick of slinging pints without Anna at his side, says yes.

After the jump: more, including an end-of-episode plot twist.

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'Downton Abbey' recap: Power struggles and longing

While the people who bring us "Downton Abbey" were off collecting awards last night, the 20th century continued to unfold on PBS. Recuperating soldiers -- officers only -- are moving into Downton Abbey, and there are struggles for power on all fronts. Home fronts, that is. It's Cousin Isobel versus Countess Cora, Robert Crawley versus the guy in charge of the hospital, Mr. Carson versus returning sly servant Thomas, Lady Mary versus Lavinia. These are mostly battles in struggles that promise to last a while.

As Cousin Isobel marches around officiously, ordering bed placement and taking over rooms, Lady Edith wanders. Her sister Sybil, in her oh-so-crisp nurse's uniform, tells her she should find something she's good at, because "It's doing nothing that's the enemy." Well, Lady Edith was doing something (someone?), but she's not allowed to see her farmer anymore.


The dowager countess, who seems to be getting fewer zingers this season than last, comes around with that cousin from London. They've got dirt on Lavinia! They are plotting to unseat Lavinia from Matthew Crawley's affections so he can be with Lady Mary, where he belongs. Apparently awful newspaperman  Richard Carlisle, who is wooing Lady Mary and had words with Lavinia in the garden, once got Lavinia to secret him information. She betrayed an uncle and sparked a scandal that Carlisle broke in his papers.

The Countess' plan however, has two key flaws: first, it's Lady Mary who must secure Lavinia's trust to get the whole story. When the two talk, Lady Mary, who had expected to hear of an illicit love affair, discovers Lavinia did it all to save her father. Hmm, isn't that kind of like what Lady Mary had done? As Mary gets the story firsthand, she winds up respecting Lavinia, just when she's supposed to be in high sabotage mode.

The seceond flaw in the plan is that the older ladies want Lady Mary to deliver the dirt to Matthew. Will she do it?

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Golden Globes: Jessica Lange wins for supporting actress in a series

Jessica Lange in "American Horror Story"

Jessica Lange of "American Horror Story" won the Golden Globe award for supporting actress in a series, mini-series or motion picture made for television. Lange beat out Kelly MacDonald of "Boardwalk Empire," Maggie Smith of "Downton Abbey," Sofia Vergara of "Modern Family" and Evan Rachel Wood of "Mildred Pierce" for the award.

Lange plays intrusive neighbor Constance who, by use of her Southern charm, worms her way into the lives of her newly moved-in neighbors in the horror series on FX. This is Lange's 12th Golden Globe nomination and fifth win.

The Golden Globes are being held at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday and are being televised on NBC. 


Complete Golden Globes coverage

PHOTOS: Golden Globes red carpet arrivals

Golden Globes: Ricky Gervais takes his shots

-- Nardine Saad

 Photo: Jessica Lange in "American Horror Story." Credit: FX

Golden Globes: Idris Elba wins for actor in a TV miniseries

Golden Globes: Idris Elba wins for actor in a TV miniseries

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

Idris Elba of "Luther" won the Golden Globe award for actor in a series, miniseries or motion picture made for television. Elba beat out Hugh Bonneville of "Downton Abbey," William Hurt of "Too Big to Fail," Bill Nighy of "Page Eight" and Dominic West of "The Hour" for the award.

Elba plays antihero detective John Luther in the series on BBC America. His "Luther" character is able to identify a killer at 10 paces but has suffered a mental breakdown, which resulted from the flawed decision of chasing down a pedophile. Elba has also appeared in "The Wire, " "The Office" and the film "Thor."

The Golden Globes are being held at the Beverly Hilton on Sunday and are being televised on NBC. We'll carry all the breaking TV news and reaction here on Show Tracker.

— Nardine Saad

[For the record, 6:45 p.m. Jan. 15: This post originally listed Idris Elba's character as Martin Luther. His character's name is John Luther.]


Complete Golden Globes coverage

PHOTOS: Golden Globes red carpet arrivals

Golden Globes: Ricky Gervais takes his shots

Photo: Idris Elba at the 69th Golden Globe Awards. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Golden Globes: Kate Winslet wins for best actress in a TV mini-series

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet, who stars in HBO's "Mildred Pierce," won the Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a mini-series or motion picture made for television, beating out "Diane Lane" in "Cinema Verite," Emily Watson in "Appropriate Adult," Romola Garai in "The Hour" and Elizabeth McGovern in Downton Abbey."

Winslet plays the title role in the period melodrama about an independent woman at odds with her strong-willed, backstabbing daughter. The Oscar-winning actress will be able to place the Golden Globe beside the Emmy she won last year for the role. In 2009, she had the distinction of winning two Golden Globes in the same year -- for best actress in a motion picture drama for "The Reader" and for best supporting actress in a motion picture for "Revolutionary Road." Winslet received another Golden Globe nomination this year for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical, for "Carnage."

The 69th Golden Globes are being handed out at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. The ceremony is being broadcast live on NBC.


Complete Golden Globes coverage

PHOTOS: Golden Globes red carpet arrivals

Golden Globes: Ricky Gervais takes his shots

-- Greg Braxton

Image: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

'Downton Abbey' Season 2 premiere doubles PBS ratings

Downton abbey
PBS has dressed up "Downton Abbey" into its biggest hit in years.

Monday's Season 2 premiere of the tart British period satire averaged 4.2 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. And that doesn't include viewers who watched later station replays or on a DVR.

That was double PBS' usual prime-time average and 18% higher than "Downton's" first-season average, according to a press release from WGBH-TV, the Boston PBS-member station that presents the series as part of the "Masterpiece Classic" brand. NBC Universal coproduces the series.

It's also higher than the numbers for some other "prestige" dramas, including AMC's "Mad Men," which averaged fewer than 3 million viewers in its fourth season (it returns for Season 5 later this year). 

Trackers, what do you think of "Downton"? Sound off in the comments.


"Downton Abbey" recap: Season 2 premiere

"Downton Abbey" returns with more intrigue

-- Scott Collins (

Photo: Elizabeth McGovern costars in "Downton Abbey," which has become a hit for PBS. Credit: PBS



'Downton Abbey' recap: Back with a bang and a velvet frock

Downtonabbey_season2-1Bombs are exploding and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), ice blue eyes shining in a face grimed by mud, plans to leave the trenches for a short visit home to Downton Abbey.

"Life at Downton," he says. "It seems like another world."

And it is: a world of lovely dresses, handsome help and winsome gentry. The wildly addictive Masterpiece Classic "Downton Abbey" is back for its second season, with all the pomp and intrigue anyone might wish for.

World War I -- or as the Downtoners would say it, the Great War -- has been in progress for two years when the season opens, but our time in the European trenches is short. Matthew swiftly heads back to Downton, where the Crawleys are putting on a fundraiser to support the men at the front. There is tension about which men are fighting and which men have stayed at home, but really. What does that matter when Matthew and Mary are about to see each other again?

Don't get too excited. Matthew now has a fiancee, Lavinia; she gets to wear the greenest, shiniest dress of the 36 or so on display this episode. [See the gown tally below.]

We're swiftly reminded of the order of things. Cousin Isobel, Matthew's mother, has found an uneasy peace with the Dowager Countess -- if Mary won't marry Matthew, who stands to inherit Downton, then they all want to find a way to make things work (at least, on the surface). Mary feigns disinterest when she hears of Matthew's engagement -- then later bursts into tears. Can he really love Lavinia instead of her? Maybe, but don't count on it.

The music comes to a subtle halt as Mary and Matthew's eyes meet across the room. What's there -- is it love, anguish, desire, hope, disappointment?

That's upstairs. Downstairs, the servants are having more luck in love. Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) and Anna (Joanne Froggatt) make sweetie eyes at each other. And wait, what's this? They're having a conversation on their own, all joy and smiles?

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