The previous blog is a story I sent to papers, previewing the new "Downton Abbey" season. It's a well-crafted show, but sometimes a tough one to join in progress, with its swirl of changing characters and titles. With that in mind, I also sent papers this character guide:
By MIKE HUGHES
As “Downton Abbey” returns – 9 p.m. Sundays on PBS, under
the “Masterpiece” banner – it provides an evolving set of characters and
positions. Here’s a quick guide to the start of the season:
Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, has devoted his life
to running the estate. He’s still partly in charge, but with no male heirs,
control went to his nephew Matthew Crawley.
Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham, is an American. When
she married Robert, she brought the cash infusion the estate needed.
Lady Mary Crawley, their eldest daughter, restored the
family prospects by marrying her cousin Matthew. He died in a car crash shortly
after their baby son was born.
Lady Edith Crawley, the middle daughter, seemed destined for
spinsterhood. Then she started writing columns for a London newspaper … and
dating the editor. This season, she has big highs and lows.
Tom Branson is the former chauffeur, a socialist who married
the Crawleys’ youngest daughter Sybil. She died of an illness; he remains in
the mansion, raising their toddler. Matthew made him the estate manager, as
part of modernization efforts; now management wobbles between Robert, Mary and
Violet Crawley, Robert’s mother, is the widowed dowager,
with an acerbic wit. She alternately feuds and bonds with Isobel Crawley,
Matthew’s mother, who is a force for modernization.
Others show up often. They include, Lady Rosamund Painswick,
Robert’s sister … Lady Rose MacClare, the dowager’s grand-niece, who is
temporarily at the mansion, but would rather by partying in London … and Dr.
Clarkson, whose track record for saving lives is shaky.
Charles Carson and Elsie Hughes are referred to strictly as
Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. As butler and housekeeper, they run the staff with
unflinching precision. Oddly, Carson was once in show business.
John Bates, the Earl’s valet, still limps from a war injury.
He married Anna Smith, was convicted of killing his estranged ex-wife, then was
Beryl Patmore is the good-hearted cook and Daisy Robinson is
her assistant. Young and vulnerable, Daisy falls for men who aren’t interested;
she also bowed to pressure and married a soldier on his deathbed.
Joseph Molesley was Matthew’s valet. He’s still at the
mansion, while looking for work.
Alfred Nugent was hired as a footman, despite objections
that, at 6-foot-4, he’s too tall for the job. Daisy (5-foot-4) likes him, but
he only seems to see Ivy Stuart; Daisy’s life is like that.