Maggie Smith

'Downton Abbey': Let's Discuss the Series 4 Finale

 

Previously, on Downton Abbey: Ivy gets a proposal from Alfred, because no one can ever leave this show, but she turns him down. Daisy makes her peace and says goodbye to him. We see Awesome Mr. Mason again for like five minutes. Baxter and Molesley are surprisingly adorable together. Violet figures out Edith’s pregnancy secret and offers to bankroll her trip to Switzerland to “learn French” and/or hide her illegitimate child. Bates takes a mysterious daytrip that is so obviously going to end badly. Anna tells Mary who really attacked her. Rose gets engaged to Jack Ross, but Mary convinces him to call it off, the local church bazaar happens, Robert comes home from America and Mary’s veritable army of boyfriends is still hanging around. Oh, and Green the Horrible Rapist appears to have mysteriously died. Whoops.

How have we already arrived at the Series 4 finale? Sheesh. Lots of ground to cover – and things to discuss – so let’s get on with it.

'Downton Abbey': Let's Dish the Drama in Series 4, Episode 7

 

Previously, on Downton Abbey: Robert has to go to America to help Cora’s Plot Point Brother with some business no one cares about, Mary finds out what happened to Anna, Edith decides to have an abortion, but can’t go through with it at the last minute. Mary and Blake finally start liking each other after they spend a night saving pigs and getting covered with mud, the Dowager gets sick but luckily gets better fast, Tom met a girl at a political meeting. Super Stalker Lord Gillingham and his Horrible Rapist Valet return to Downton for a visit, and Bates looks like he’s totally figured out the Horrible Rapist bit. Oh, and there’s some more pointless drama with Alfred, Daisy and Ivy, but I’m just going to pretend it’s not happening because we all hate it.

What will happen this week? Who can even say. Onward and let’s find out.

'Downton Abbey': Let's Discuss Series 4, Episode 6

 

Previously, on Downton Abbey: Evelyn Napier and his horrible boss Mr. Blake arrive at Downton for a visit, Alfred learns he did make it into Top Chef School after all, which means Molesley gets a job at last, the only story they can think of to do with the Dowager Countess is about whether she’s being robbed by a staff member, Rose brings in Jack Ross’ band to play for Robert’s birthday and then sneaks a kiss with him in the basement, Bates and Anna go on a date and, oh, Edith’s pregnant. Dun dun dunnn.

Never a dull moment on Downton, am I right? Onward to this week!

'Downton Abbey': Let's Discuss Series 4, Episode 5

 

Previously, on Downton Abbey: Bates bullies Mrs. Hughes into telling him what happened to Anna. Mrs. Hughes does, but also lies a little bit because we’re all afraid that Bates might go on a rampaging murder spree at the drop of a hat. Cora gets a new ladies’ maid who seems to owe Thomas a favor. Robert does some complicated financial lending to help a tenant keep their farm. Alfred takes his Top Chef test. Evelyn Napier from Series 1 reappears and is a much more attractive boyfriend option for Mary than Stalker Tony. Edith makes a secret trip to the doctor, so you know bad stuff’s probably about to happen, because, Edith’s life.

So, this week should be interesting, huh? Onward!

'Downton Abbey': Let's Discuss Series 4, Episode 4

 

Previously, on Downton Abbey: Anna is still struggling to come to terms with her sexual assault, Bates is still pushing his wife about why she won’t come anywhere near him, Tom makes some terrible life decisions, Edna creates a pregnancy scare, Alfred decides to try out for Edwardian Top Chef, Edith takes the next step with Gregson, Mrs. Hughes manages to get rid of Edna in the most awesome manner possible, Rose meets an African-American jazz musician and Mary gets a marriage proposal from a guy that’s known her for maybe 56 hours.

Man, last week was really busy, huh? Onward!

'Downton Abbey': Let's Discuss Series 4, Episode 3

 

Previously, on Downton Abbey: The estate hosts its first big house party since Matthew’s death, complete with a performance by a world-renowned opera singer, a new man for Mary (sort of), a crisis of self-worth for Tom, a super-creepy valet named Green who sexually assaults Anna, and a ridiculously over-the-top focus on card games that utterly no one cares about. Molesley still doesn’t have a job, and has to fill in as a footman at Downton, which he feels is beneath him. Edna works on flirting with Tom and getting him stupid drunk. Alfred makes sauces like a champ. And Cora is actually the least annoying person on the show for once.

Time for an all new Downton Abbey! Who's ready to talk about it?

'Downton Abbey': Let's Discuss Series 4, Episode 2

Previously, on Downton Abbey: Six months have passed since Matthew’s death. Mary is sad and everyone in the house spends an enormous amount of time arguing about how to make her life better. Isobel is sad, but perks up once given the project of minding Carson’s incredibly boring and uninteresting friend from His Theater Life Long Ago. Poor Molesley is sad because doesn’t have a job now. O’Brien quits, the Team Downstairs Love Quadrangle of Doom is still going on even though none of us care about it, Rose dresses up like the help, Cora manages to re-hire Horrible Edna as her new ladies’ maid, and the Dowager Countess is even more awesome than normal.

This episode is only an hour, but it's also like a punch in the face. Let's talk about it.

'Downton Abbey' Series 4: Episode 1 Recap and Discussion Right This Way

Downton Abbey is officially back! Series 4 premiered with a monster two-hour episode, full of lots of drama and laughter, as well as a few mind-meltingly boring bits. But we’re mostly just so happy to have the show back, it’s hard to care about that sort of thing right now.

There’s way too much backstory to cover in one “previously on” paragraph, so if you missed any episodes last season, check out the Series 3 recap section before proceeding. Everyone else, let’s get this party started shall we?

Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in "Downton Abbey". (Photo: Courtesy of ©Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE

British Actresses You Should Know: The Great Dame Maggie Smith

The great Dame Maggie Smith celebrates the anniversary of her birth on December 28, and since she herself is a treasure that deserves to be celebrated basically every day of the calendar year, it seemed fitting to include her in our guide to British Actors You Should Know. (Many happy returns, Dame Maggie! We love you!)

Obviously, we’re pretty sure that you in fact do know who Maggie Smith is. She’s such an accomplished performer that it would be hard to have missed her completely. But, whether you know her primarily as Downton Abbey’s acid-tongue matriarch or Harry Potter’s awesome Transfiguration teacher, Smith has a back catalogue of work that’s well worth checking out if you haven’t seen the bulk of it before.

A few favorites are below – and this list is in no way comprehensive of everything she’s done, just warning y’all about that up front.

'Great Performances' to Air National Theatre 50th Anniversary Celebration in February

Britain’s National Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – much like several other well-known British institutions, including the Rolling Stones and, of course, Doctor Who. For those that don’t know, the NT is one of the UK’s two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company. It presents a varied program, staging everything from Shakespeare and international classic dramas to new and modern works by contemporary playwrights.

Many of the British actors we all love have done stints at the NT, performing a wide variety of roles in various productions. And by many, we really mean pretty much everyone ever who works in British entertainment. Familiar faces like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren and many, many more are all alumni of the National Theatre and clearly remain very fond of it.

Earlier this Fall, the BBC held an all-star gala event in honor of the 50th birthday of this cultural institution and the stars turned out in force to celebrate. The program was basically a dream for anyone who loves theater or has been any sort of fan of British television or film over the past couple of decades and we all were basically green with envy that we had to miss out on seeing this once-in-a-lifetime line-up for ourselves. Well, we can all turn a little less green – because the special is going to be aired in America.

Read on for more.

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