For fans of “Downton Abbey,” it feels like decades since we last saw the Crawley family, and it’s still another long, Lady Mary-less four months until the costume drama returns to PBS in January. Luckily, the show’s producers are, like Lord Grantham, doling out tips on Christmas morning, unusually generous with information about the season ahead. We’ve already seen preview clips hinting at tension between the formidable dowager countess, played by Maggie Smith, and Lady Cora’s American mother, Martha Levinson, played by Shirley MacLaine.
On Monday, “Masterpiece” released a full-length, mildly spoilery trailer that should keep zinger-deprived “Downton” fans going for at least a few weeks more. Here’s what we can expect from Season 3, based on repeat viewings of the 1-minute, 15-second clip.
- Lots of American jokes: The dowager countess says Martha Levinson reminds her of “the virtues of the English.” Matthew, who seems to have lost his ability to detect irony in the Great War, asks, “But isn’t she American?” Exactly, my dear boy.
- Lots of height jokes: Downton Abbey has a new footman, and wow, is he tall. So tall, in fact, the dowager countess thinks he might be wearing stilts. Expect him to knock his head repeatedly on the low downstairs ceiling, and to politely laugh when the dowager countess asks him “How’s the weather up there?” for the 15th time. Annoying, sure, but it certainly beats shell shock.
- A rift between O’Brien and Thomas: “You’ve got a nice manner. You’re not vain like Thomas,” O’Brien tells the towering new member of the downstairs staff. Meow!
- Lady Edith will finally get her man: It’s taken the better part of a decade, but it appears things are finally moving forward for the middle Crawley sister and her much-older suitor, Sir Anthony Strallan.
- Bates and Anna will continue to suffer stoically: Poor Bates still appears to be in prison, years after his old battleax of a wife turned up dead, and Anna’s still determined she can get him out of the Big House. For our sake as well as theirs, let’s hope so!
- The Crawleys fall on hard times: “Are you really telling me all the money is gone?” gasps Lord Grantham in what may be the most exciting moment in the preview. Granted, we don’t know what money he’s talking about, or if it is in fact gone, but the trailer ends with yet another dowager bon mot – “An aristocrat with no servants is as useful to the county as a glass hammer” – which suggests there may be lean times ahead for the Crawley clan. Lady Mary clipping coupons? Perish the thought!
Sadly, the trailer lacks much in the way of Matthew-Lady Mary action, and it's also totally devoid of Lady Sybil, Branson, and their bouncing Fenian baby. For that, we’ll have to wait until January – or, at least until the next “Downton Abbey” trailer arrives in a few weeks (probably).