Downton Abbey Dish #25

Deborah Gilbert | December 30, 2013

T-minus one week and counting to the January 5 Downton Abbey Season 4 premiere! Yes, almost here! I have to say that at this point I have already seen episode one but I am sworn to secrecy. All I will say Downtonians, is that it does NOT disappoint. It starts with a mysterious disappearance and just keeps moving. And this season, just like the last two seasons, after each episode airs, please join me on THIRTEEN’s website for The Downton Abbey Dish, my cheeky recap of that week’s episode. It posts just as the episode is ending. So please read and join in the discussion. But first…

Let’s Go to the Videotape: As mentioned in my last Dispatch, it was a whirlwind week when the cast was in town, but the folks at PBS were somehow able to distill the week down to 2 minutes and 51 seconds. There is the Tea Truck, the Q&A and Meet & Greet at the Times Center, and best of all some comments from everyday New Yorkers on the street.

The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Housemaids: We have heard before that, in an effort to make her look true to the period, they put wax in Daisy’s hair, to make it look sufficiently kitchen maid dirty. But here we find out from Sophie McShera that she (and the other downstairs characters) also have an authentic aroma, as they don’t wash their costumes! And there’s also news here of Sophie’s new project with Lily James (AKA Lady Rose): Cinderella, which features a reversal of roles, of sorts.

And speaking of Stink: Did you watch Mr. Stink with Hugh Bonneville, which aired on THIRTEEN on Dec. 22nd? Such a charming tale! It reminded me of a classic 1960’s Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color program. From everything we’ve seen on Downton Abbey, had things been different, it would have been easy for Lord Grantham to turn out like Lord Darlington, wouldn’t it? But then, that is the story of just about any homeless person, given a change in circumstances, it could happen to any of us, couldn’t it? And small world that it is, having already seen episode 1 of Downton Abbey’s Season 4, I heard a familiar voice, then put a face to it; the woman who stood up and asked the question of the candidates plays baby George’s nanny on Downton Abbey – and I say I recognized her by her voice, it’s because she looks completely different in period costume. If you missed, Mr. Stink, you can watch it online.

If They Could See Me Now: Shirley MacLaine may have had a long and storied career and life (actually, several), but she says Downton Abbey has eclipsed all of them. Read this article in the Radio Times. (Britain’s version of TV Guide) to find out how she was just like millions of other Downtonians around the world when watching the end of Season 3 (which she didn’t see coming!). Lucky for her she put down the chair and stepped away from the TV.

The Newlywed Game: From Access Hollywood comes an interview with Joanne Froggatt on Season 4 with Anna and Bates, and Anna’s concern for the grieving Lady Mary. Will there be a baby Bates? It seems that everyone is acting like a yenta and asking her. Naturally, what she wants for the characters she loves is different than what she’d like as an actress – tsuris is so much more interesting to play. Lucky for her, no one on a drama ever stays trouble-free for long!

Material Girls: Add this to the ever growing list of Downton Abbey-inspired products; a collection of fabrics designed to capture the look and feel of that Yorkshire country estate that has come to be our second home (sort-of). The City Quilter on West 25th Street in Manhattan is the hub of quilting in New York and they’ve got a line of Downton Abbey fabrics. And if you need quilt patterns for the Downton-inspired fabrics, here’s just the thing from LoveBug Studios; they have a weekly Downton Abbey quilt along. They already have seven different Downton Abbey-inspired quilt blocks to get you started: There’s no time to waste if you want to make a comforter to curl up on the chaise lounge with for Season 4, so get sewing!

Roaring 20’s to Swinging 60’s: Here is Michelle Dockery looking so different than Lady Mary that at first I didn’t realize it was her! She’s got fringe! That’s Brit-speak for bangs – and here she is looking every bit the Mary Quant/Mod London girl. And of course, in the interview, she’s talking about Mary and her emotional struggles. This interview is from last Season, but it was new to me, and likely you missed it as well.

Mad Hatter: How casting is done is something I always wonder about because it plays such a huge part in the success of any production. One could argue that getting the casting right may just be more important than getting the scripts right. When the right person is in the part, and the magic of chemistry happens, the whole thing simply breathes and you cannot imagine anyone else in the roles (though I don’t think chemistry is something you can cast for – it happens or it doesn’t). But can you imagine anyone else playing Carson? Lady Mary? The Dowager? Nope. If any actors ever came forward to claim they had been offered the parts and turned them down, I would not believe them. Even the actors in minor parts are perfect. But there is something else I wonder about when I think about the casting of Downton Abbey: When it came right down to the final casting decisions, was the deciding factor who looked the best in hats? Because they all do look great in hats. And I do believe that hats really are as important a part of Downton Abbey as the manor itself. They had to think about strong jawlines to go with those Edwardian confections and cloche hats that would follow. In the cast Q&A last week, Laura Carmichael said she thought hats should make a comeback. I agree! What say you?

This will be my last Dispatch before Season 4 begins. Make sure you join me for my Downton Abbey Dish, every Sunday night after the show. And if you are tweet-inclined, check out the live Twitter party as well by following @ThirteenNY and me, @E20Launderette, on twitter. So here we go Downtonians; warm up your tail Isis! We’re coming home to Downton!

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