But anyways, after last series's finale with the untimely death of Matthew in a car crash, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this series. I knew Downton Abbey wasn't going to be as good as it was previously, but maybe it was going to be better than I expected. I spent all of last year saying that I would be surprised if Downton was going to last past this fourth series, but with the commission of the show's fifth series, I was proven wrong. But what did I think of this series? I had mixed feelings about it to say the least, but it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. This series exhibited a lot of changes to the show to lead it in a new direction. There were plenty of changes that occurred in this series, and I only commented on the major ones. If you would like to know my opinion on a change that I didn't comment on, leave me a comment and I'll answer it!
|DVD Box Art|
Six months after the tragic death of her husband Matthew Crawley, Lady Mary continues to mourn the sudden loss of her husband. Matthew's estate is called into question since he did not leave a will, leaving Lord Grantham to look over Downton by himself while he allows Mary to mourn. The rest of the Crawley try to bring Mary out of her mourning. Tom Branson continues to raise his daughter, baby Sybbie, at Downton, but questions whether he belongs at Downton. Lady Rose takes up residence at Downton while her parents are in India.
This series sees the absence of old characters that departed from the show, but also the introduction of new characters and new (and some familiar) faces.
|Actor/Actress||Character||Also Seen In|
|Hugh Bonneville||Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham||Daniel Deronda as Mr. Grandcourt|
|Jim Carter||Charles Carson||Cranford as Captain Brown|
|Brendan Coyle||John Bates||Lark Rise to Candleford as Robert Timmins|
|Michelle Dockery||Lady Mary Crawley||Return to Cranford as Erminia Whyte|
|Joanne Froggatt||Anna Bates||Robin Hood (2009) as Kate|
|Maggie Smith||Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham||Becoming Jane as Lady Gresham|
|Harriet Walter||Lady Shackleton||Sense and Sensibility (1995) as Fanny Dashwood|
|Penelope Wilton||Isobel Crawley||Wives and Daughters as Mrs. Hamley|
|Allen Leech||Tom Branson||From Time to Time as Fred Boggis|
|Joanna David||Duchess of Yeovil||Pride and Prejudice (1995) as Mrs. Gardiner|
|Samantha Bond||Lady Rosamund Painswick||Emma (1997) as Mrs. Weston|
|Lady Mary post mourning|
|Isobel walking with Violet|
|Edith sitting with Michael Gregson|
|Lady Rose at her coming out.|
|Cora and Robert on Robert's return from America|
|The lady's maids of Downton. Anna with Baxter.|
As with the previous series, the scenery continues to be one of the highlights of the show. Compared with the other series, this series has more places that are shown. Lady Rosamund's home is explored more in this series because Edith goes up to London to visit Michael Gregson quite a bit (though there is a question of where the Crawley's London house went). Dance halls are also more involved in this series because Rose likes to go dancing. And in the Christmas special (which does not take place during Christmas), Buckingham Palace is present
The costuming continues to be great, but since I'm not a fan of 1920s fashions, they didn't leave much of an imprint on me. Lady Mary continues to have great dresses, but she seemed to come out of mourning quickly (she was only in mourning for the first episode). Lady Edith's costuming should win an award for "Most Improved": Edith looks a lot better during the fourth series than she did at the beginning of the show. While Edith looks better than she did, some of her outfits were misses with me; there were a lot of them I was like, "Edith, what are you wearing?" Rose does have a lot of nice dresses that are colorful and youthful. I would almost say that her costuming was just as good as Mary's.
Was this series as bad as I thought it was going to be? No. Was it better than last series? No. Would it have been better if Matthew (and maybe Sybil) had been in this series? Yes. The major focuses of the show that made Downton Abbey popular are gone and so the show had to be taken in a new direction. At this point, I would say it would have been better if they had stopped at the third series and finished everything off nicely. I'm sorry: Downton's former glory just isn't there anymore and I suspect it isn't coming back. It's still renewed for a fifth series, so I'll continue to watch Downton, but I don't see it lasting beyond Series 5. (Of course, I said the same thing last year).
The major questionable content lies in the third episode of the series Spoiler where Anna is attacked by Green End of Spoiler. I was expecting the scene to be a lot more graphic than it was from what I saw people on Facebook saying, but it can nevertheless be disturbing. There is some scandal talked about concerning Edith and Michael Gregson. There are also some suggestive implications that result in pregnancy Spoiler one of which turns out to be false End of Spoiler.
Downton Abbey is airing on PBS now, but will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on January 28th. There are eight episodes and a Christmas special included in this series.