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Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora #6

Downton Interruptus: As the summer winds down, we are just weeks away from the premiere of Downton Abbey‘s Season 3 in the UK. I know there are many here who are frustrated by the wait for the new season to arrive Stateside, but I think of it this way: While true, sooner would be better, even though we have the longer wait to get our Downton Abbey fix, we really are the lucky ones because, unlike the viewers in the UK, we get to watch it commercial-free. Just think of how different an experience this show would be with annoying commercials breaking the mood every ten or fifteen minutes. I much prefer watching it the way we do, on PBS, where we get to fully steep in the fantasy of it all uninterrupted.

Encore! You’ll be happy to know that even before Season 3 premieres, Julian Fellowes has confirmed that there will be a Season 4! That Downton Abbey is such a runaway hit is good news. The bad news (depending how you look at it) is that Downton Abbey is such a runaway hit, that the cast is getting boatloads of big Hollywood offers, and it has been reported that there are fears that it may affect their availability. That availability may affect their characters’ storylines (or even fates) for Season 4 (and beyond). Those Crawley girls especially are in high demand. But let’s not borrow trouble. From what I’ve seen, there’s none extra needed.

I’ve seen a few preview trailers for Season 3 which hint at the BIG stories to come this season and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say this: These heirs and heiresses have got tsurises. (FYI: Tsuris? That’s French for trouble.) Big tsurises. That’s all I’ll say.

And talk about a big tsuris for Violet. Here is a first look at Shirley MacLaine as the Long Island interloper, meeting up with Dowager Countess Grantham, who seems to relish her arrival as much as she would a flare up of farmers (and don’t worry, no spoilers here).

Elementary (school) my dear Watson: Speaking of old ladies, what is with Benedict Cumberbatch anyway? Masterpiece’s Sherlock seems to have some sort of Jets/Sharks thing going with Downton Abbey, doesn’t he? He has repeatedly dissed the show in the media, and most recently, while promoting his own new, period drama in the UK, he was quoted yet again, in Reader’s Digest, as saying “Downton was ‘f***ing atrocious.’” Harumpf! The cad! (Someone please grab the smelling salts for the Dowager!) For their parts, the Downton cast seem to be getting a giggle out of it—you can do that when you’re riding the wave of a huge hit! In response, Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens and Brendan Coyle all (temporarily) changed their Twitter avatars to the front cover of the Reader’s Digest, which pictures Cumberbatch and the headline ‘Move Over Downton.’ Then they changed the avatars to pink bunnies, leaving us to wonder what that means…

Everyone in the Pool: With Shirley MacLaine making a brief appearance this season as Martha Levinson, it kind of makes one wonder who else might turn up at our favorite country house. I mean, we know that every actor, both here and in the UK, would LOVE any kind of part. But it would take a special person to fit the bill. So as much as I dislike it when Americans appear in my British fantasies, here are a few ideas: With William gone, the Crawleys will need a new footman, and I think Tim Gunn would fit the bill perfectly. He already looks like an Edwardian who has time-traveled to our time and is unfamiliar with our modern ways (i.e. he is fully pressed and speaks in complete sentences.) Anna’s mother, Tammy Wynette, could stop by for a visit – and the first words out of her mouth would be, “Girl, seriously? It was just a song.” In Season 4, Shirley’s Martha could come back schlepping her friend, Wallis Simpson along for the ride. And why not? Since every current event of the time affects the residents of our friends at Downton directly, why shouldn’t Prince Edward meet the woman he gave up the throne for at a house party thrown by Lord and Lady Grantham? And of course, what EastEnders fan wouldn’t love to see the Cockney Sparrow, Barbara Windsor, working downstairs and get the chance to yell, “Get out of my kitchen!”?

What’s in a name? It was recently reported that Siobhan (O’Brien) Finneran’s nickname on the set is Darth Vader, for the way she stealthily appears out of nowhere.

Tiny Bubbles: There was a general consensus, among critics who decide these sorts of things and get to make pronouncements in the media, that Downton Abbey had a sophomore slump last year. My own theory is that these snooty critics suddenly woke up and realized that they had been taken in by the dreaded s-word: A soap! Yes, they had fallen in love with a soap and they wanted to make sure everyone knew they had been duped, lest they lose their cynic cred (sort-of like when you trip and say, “I meant to do that” to no one in particular). But it is interesting to note that so far, in the UK, those same critics are now raving about how great Season 3 is (causing Benedict Cumberbatch to seek emergency treatment for a bad case of noogies). It will be interesting, that’s for sure!

So as the countdown to Season 3 continues, I know you Downtonians are patiently waiting – but what else can you do? Book a flight to the UK to watch it live? (Actually, that’s not as crazy as it sounds: some fans do go to great lengths to avoid the wait for their favorite shows. I know a big EastEnders fan who booked a trip to London just so she could watch EastEnders 25th Anniversary episode live.) But no need to get that crazy; Downton Abbey will be here before you know it. And as the Downton Abbey premiere gets closer here in the Colonies, THIRTEEN does have some fun things planned for you. What are they? You’ll just have to wait and see!

In case you missed it, read the last edition of Dispatch from the Downton Abbey Diaspora.

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As the longest-running primetime drama on American television, MASTERPIECE celebrates its 40th-anniversary season in 2011, bringing viewers the best in literature-based drama, mysteries, and groundbreaking contemporary works. Watch Sundays, 9PM ET/PT
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