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‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’ (review)

While Downton Abbey: A New Era doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the formal dining table, long-time fans of the hit Julian Fellowes’ PBS series will find themselves on yet another enjoyable if ever-so-leisurely stroll down memory lane with the drama-queens of the aristocratic Crawley clan and the domestic servant folk who match their theatrics at every turn.

When the ailing Dowager Countess (the always great Maggie Smith) learns that she’s been gifted a villa in the South of France from a romantic fling some 60 years earlier, Robert (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), along with a contingent of family members, are invited by the current occupants to discuss the contentious transfer of ownership.

Meanwhile, in order to make some quick cash to pay for a new roof, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) stays behind to oversee a silent film crew, led by director Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy) and stars Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), who have rented out the Abbey for their shoot, much to the excitement of the staff. And as past and future collide, can the denizens of Downton navigate uncharted waters and come out clean on the other side?

Of course they will.

This is Downton Abbey after all.

In a world which seems to be getting crueler by the day, Downton Abbey has its heart firmly pinned to sleeve with one goal and one goal only; leave you with a smile. It never makes heavy demands on its audience. Conflicts are easily resolved. Happy endings for everyone are just around the corner (well, maybe not everyone this go around).

It’s pure in its unabashed joy.

That being said, even at two hours, many of the threads that are quickly set up and knocked down seem like they would have been better served over the course of a season. The polar opposite of how I feel about a lot of current series, which could have easily been filed down to a single TV-movie event (I’m looking at you Moon Knight and Obi-Wan Kenobi).

With such a great ensemble it’s hard to see many of my personal favorites severely short-changed.

Extras include commentary, and several short featurettes.

But then again, any Downton Abbey is better than no Downton Abbey at all. So who am I to complain. Much like the first movie, this one is definitely for the fans.

 

 

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