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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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Weekend Review: About a Boy, Fisher Sneak Peeks, Downton Finale

Minnie Driver, David Walton, Banjamin Stockham

This week's gold-medal question: Can NBC reverse its spotty track record when it comes to using the ratings boost of the Olympics to launch new programs? (Remember the Summer 2012 debacle when the network interrupted the flow of London's Closing Ceremony to inflict Animal Practice on an unwilling captive audience?)

The news is better this weekend, during the closing nights of the Games. The comedies getting a sneak peek are considerably more entertaining than Animal Practice — what wouldn't be? — and they won't air until after that night's Olympics packages are finished.

First up is NBC's best new comedy of the season (including the star-driven disappointments that flopped on Thursdays this fall): About a Boy, airing Saturday night at approximately 11/10c before moving to its regular time period next Tuesday at 9/8c. This charmingly offbeat ... read more

Weekend TV Review: Give These Shows a Medal!

Benedict Cumberbatch

While the Olympians continue to dominate the TV spotlight in Sochi, another gathering of championship talent takes a bow in the weekend's other gold-medal event: PBS's Great Performances presentation of National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage (Friday, 9/8c, check tvguide.com listings).

Laurence Olivier led the National Theatre upon its founding in 1963, and he and other luminaries are seen in vintage clips from past productions, interspersed throughout a dazzling evening of live re-enactments and tantalizing excerpts from landmark plays, including Angels in America, Stuff Happens, The History Boys and War Horse. Fans of Downton Abbey will delight to see the Dowager Countess Maggie Smith in her 1964 prime, vamping in ... 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 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

Ask Matt: How Scandal-ous, Smash's Crash, PBS Is Hot, Middle Graduation, More

Kerry Washington

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: [SPOILER ALERT for anyone who's fallen behind on Scandal] I'm a loyal reader of your column, and always enjoy hearing your well-thought-out and articulate opinions on TV's hottest topics. I'm writing to you for the first time now because I wanted to know your take on the latest installments of Scandal. I saw in your last column the tag line "Scandal is the new Revenge," and I agree Scandal has been far more gripping lately than Revenge. read more

Guide to Holiday Weekend TV: Liz & Dick, Downton Salute, SpongeBob Christmas

Lindsay Lohan

What unbecomes a legend most? Look no further than this long weekend's well-timed candidate for the TV Turkey Hall of Fame: Liz & Dick (Lifetime, Sunday at 9/8c), an epic of stunningly cynical and pathetic miscasting, a TV-movie so laughably inept it doesn't deserve to be on a first-name basis with anything resembling humanity. read more

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