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Did Downton Abbey Lose Its Charm? Finale Rounds Out a Frustrating Season

Michelle Dockery, Julian Ovenden

[WARNING: The following contains spoilers from the Season 4 finale of Downton Abbey. Read at your own risk.]

We are grateful to have Downton Abbey in our lives, but our devotion to the show is the very reason we're so irked at how it progressed this season.

Although we've come to terms with the loss of Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay), it doesn't seem like the writers quite know what to do in the wake of those deaths. So much of this season felt either forced or false or just failed miserably. Has Downton Abbey lost its charm?

Before launching into the season as a whole, let's go over the highlights of the finale, shall we?

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Downton Abbey Season 4 Scoop on Lady Mary, London and More

Michelle Dockery, Allen Leech

Pull out your dancing shoes, because Downton Abbey will be entering the Jazz Age.

[Warning: The following contains major spoilers from the past three seasons of Downton Abbey. If you haven't caught up yet, read at your own risk!]

It's been months since fans reeled from that shocking Christmas episode that also rocked the Crawley family, and now they're moving into the 1920s with new babies, suitors and even a musician or two. The story picks up in February 1922, when Downton Abbey is still in deep mourning for the loss of heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) from an auto accident.

13 reasons we want to grow up to be Downton Abbey's Dowager Countess

"Both the audience and the characters have experienced some passage of time," executive producer Gareth Neame said at PBS' Television Critics Association fall preview on Tuesday. read more

Downton Abbey Adds First Black Cast Member

Gary Carr in "Death in Paradise"

Gary Carr will portray the first black character on Downton Abbey during its upcoming fourth season, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Season MVPs: The year's best

Carr, who will play a "charming and charismatic young jazz singer," joins returning regulars Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Jim Carter and Shirley MacLaine. Some of the other new faces for Season 4 include Tom Cullen, a new love interest for Mary (Dockery), Dame Harriet Walter as Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager Countess, Nigel Harman as a visiting valet Green, Julian Ovenden as aristocrat Charles Blake, and Joanna David as the Duchess of Yeovil.

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Downton Abbey: Was Thomas' Downfall Deserved?

Rob James-Collier

[Spoiler alert! The following contains details from Sunday's episode of Downton Abbey. Read if you dare risk the wrath of the Dowager Countess.]

Downton Abbey's Thomas finally got his comeuppance, but was it enough? Or was it unfair treatment?

On Sunday's episode, the sneering servant was finally outmaneuvered by his fellow downstairs nemesis O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran) who convinced him that footman Jimmy (Ed Speleers) reciprocated his romantic feelings. Thomas (Rob James-Collier) made his move by kissing the unsuspecting sleeping Jimmy, who was shocked and disgusted by the unwanted advances.
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VIDEO: Sesame Street Spoofs Downton Abbey

Upside Downton Abbey

First there was Birdwalk Empire, and now there's Upside Downton Abbey. Sesame Street parodied the popular British import last week, as part of a lesson about the effects of gravity.

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Weekend Playlist: Downton Abbey, Lifetime's Amish Murder, Portlandia, and More

Shirley Maclaine, Maggie Smith

Downton Abbey survived World War I. But can the country manor weather the latest skirmish, a below-stairs battle between those scheming servants O'Brien and Thomas?

That's just one of the many entertaining questions and diverting dilemmas presented by the long-awaited — and well worth the wait — third season of this Masterpiece Classic addiction, which returns like a delicious if bittersweet bonbon. (And how I hope you've kept the blinders on regarding the many spoilers issuing from across the pond during the recent U.K. telecast.)

"No family is ever what it seems from the outside," muses the formidable Dowager Countess (the peerless Maggie Smith) during one of the many crises that beset the Crawleys and their loyal servants over the next seven Sundays (PBS, check tvguide.com listings). read more

Top Videos of the Week: Wins of the Year, Charlie Brown School of Dance, Newtown Tributes

Paul McCartney

This week, Paul McCartney stood in for Kurt Cobain to front a semi-reunited Nirvana at the 12-12-12 Hurricane Sandy benefit concert (and later on Saturday Night Live), and there were touching tributes to the Newtown shooting victims from SNL and The Voice. The cast of Downton Abbey acted out scenes from Breaking Bad, we met the most easily scared man in the world and/or Norway, and Anne Hathaway and Samuel L. Jackson had a "sad-off" about their upcoming movies: Les Miserables and Django Unchained, respectively.

Check out those videos and more below.

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VIDEO: The Downton Abbey Cast Does Breaking Bad

Breaking Abbey

On Thursday's Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert debuted a "sneak peek" at Breaking Abbey. You know, the Breaking Bad adaptation as performed by cast members from Downton Abbey.

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Weekend Reviews: Downton Abbey, House of Lies, AbFab and More!

Downton Abbey

Who says you can't go home again? Not that any of us ever lived in a place as grand and as teeming with character — highborn and low, selfless and treacherous — as Downton Abbey. read more

Downton Abbey 2 Spoilers: Mary and Matthew's Relationship, a New Housemaid and the Great War

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery

When Downton Abbey returns for its second season on Jan. 8, 2012 on PBS, the action will pick up two years after that fated garden party in which the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) announced that England was at war with Germany.

During Sunday's preview of the hit British series, executive producer Gareth Neame confirmed that the action in the seven-episode second season will take place over two years, just like the first season. "The new series is a similar sort of span," he says. "We start in 1916. The war will come to a conclusion within this series, and the final episodes is the time after the war."

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