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Granny's Past and a Baby Bates? Downton Abbey Season 5 Scoop

Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith

Last year, Downton Abbey went through a transitional season dealing with major loss but also laying the groundwork for what could be a very intriguing fifth season.

Before the series returns stateside on Sunday, Jan. 4 on PBS' Masterpiece, the cast -- Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech  along with executive producer Gareth Neame --  attended the Television Critics Association fall previews on Tuesday to present select clips from the upcoming season. Here's what we can expect:

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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 and the Insensitive Portrayal of Rape on TV

Joanne Frogatt

I tried to give Downton Abbey the benefit of the doubt. I tried to stave off my judgments until I had given the show time to prove me wrong, to prove that this wasn't just another case of rape as cheap and consumable entertainment. But here we are at the end of the season, and my frustration has only grown.

Downton's fourth season notoriously featured the show's most beloved character, Anna (Joanne Froggatt), being violently assaulted by a visiting valet. But contrary to creator Julian Fellowesdefense that he wanted to "[explore] the mental damage and the emotional damage" that follows sexual assault, I still have very little idea how Anna has been intimately affected by this tragic incident. Instead of parsing Anna's psychological state, the show continued its violation of her character by immediately shifting the dramatic tension to questions about how Bates (Brendan Coyle) would respond.

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Downton Abbey: Lady Edith's Heartbreaking Dilemma and Bates' Trip to York

Laura Carmichael

"Sometimes, I don't think God wants me to be happy." Poor Lady Edith. On Sunday's Downton Abbey, the second Crawley daughter is still dealing with the dilemma of becoming an unwed mother in 1920s polite society. On top of that ... read more

Downton Abbey: What's Bates' Next Step?

Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt

Mr. Green better watch his back. On Sunday's Downton Abbey, Bates (Brendan Coyle) finally got tipped off about Anna's (Joanne Froggatt) assailant when ... read more

Keck's Exclusives: Downton Abbey Producer Defends Controversial Storyline

Joanne Froggatt

Warning: If you have yet to view last night's Downton Abbey, stop reading now, as this story discusses a major plot point.

American viewers who tuned in to Downton Abbey on PBS last night got to see what outraged British audiences months earlier when the controversial episode first aired in the UK. Having previously survived the false imprisonment of her now-husband Mr. Bates, long-suffering head housemaid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) was ... read more

Weekend Review: Downton Abbey, Dateline on Asthma, Best of Fallon, All-Star Simpsons

Downton Abbey

Was it really so hard finding good help in those days? When Robert, aka Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), is informed that his wife is once again bereft of a lady's maid, he overdramatically moans, "Are we living under a curse?"

There's no question a pall thicker than London fog hangs heavy over Downton Abbey in its fourth year as Masterpiece Classic's signature series (Sunday, 9/8c, on PBS; check tvguide.com listings). Not only has Lady Cora's bedchamber not been the same since her scheming servant O'Brien left — she slinks away in the opening scene, and boy, is she missed — but the family and staff are in sustained mourning over the untimely (and contrived) death, six months earlier, of heir Matthew Crawley, Lady Mary's husband, in last year's unhappy finale.

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Downton Abbey Exec Producer Gareth Neame Previews a Season of Change

Downton Abbey

Soon after the conclusion of another record-breaking season of Downton Abbey in the U.K., executive producer Gareth Neame, who has worked on the international phenomenon with series creator Julian Fellowes since its birth, sat down with TV Guide Magazine to share some scoop. The much-anticipated series about the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants returns to PBS's Masterpiece this Sunday.

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Downton Abbey Downstairs Scoop: Anna Dances, Mrs. Hughes Subs, and Daisy Gets Nasty

Sophie McShera

Matthew who?

On the upcoming fourth season of Downton Abbey, the Crawleys upstairs may be mourning the recent death of their heir, but those downstairs are suffering from an additional loss: O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran). Beyond the absence of the scheming lady's maid, the servants will also have to contend with new-fangled kitchen gadgets, a familiar face returning and ongoing internal strife (we blame Thomas!).
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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

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