In the first trailer for “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” sharp eyed fans will notice the absence of Matthew Goode as Lady Mary’s second husband. He seems to have been replaced or substituted for with Hugh Dancy, who’s getting a lot of work these days (he’s a regular on the “Law & Order” revival). Good for him but bad for Goode, who only made a brief appearance in the first “Downton” movie. (He may do it again since Goode was obviously too busy playing Robert Evans in the “Godfather” mini series, “The Offer.”)
“A New Era” looks like a middle film in a trilogy, so it’s not over. Violet (Maggie Smith) didn’t die from cancer after all, but announces that she inherited a villa in the South of France. This gives everyone a chance for a trip to a sunny, warm locale away from Downton. But Mary stays behind to watch over a film crew making a talking picture on location.
It seems like Branson finally marries, securing the Downton fortune for good. But the family trip suggests that Violet inherited the villa because what? One of her children was fathered by its owner? She used 23 & Me? Or talked to Henry Louis Gates on PBS?
Anyway, this won’t be the last “Downton” movie If it just makes $75 million and does well on Peacock, there will be a concluding chapter. Everyone involved will deny it. There will be huffy British protestations. And then, viola, one last chapter with teenage kids facing the stock market crash and Great Depression.
But not yet!
PS Julian Fellowes’ “The Gilded Age” has been renewed by HBO for a second season. Last night’s fourth episode seemed like an improvement on the clunkiness of the opening chapters. The lighting is still harshly networky, some of the actors’ cadences are enough to kill you, and the opening music and montage look like they’re from “Dynasty.” But progress is there. I love the story of Peggy Scott nd her family. That’s a winner. And it’s nice to see Kelli O’Hara, a Broadway giant, finally having a non singing onscreen hit. But if she even hums, all those people are going to lose their minds. same for Audra McDonald. Then what?