LESLIE CRISS: It’s finally time to catch up with friends across the pond



“I do think a woman’s place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.” – Dowager Countess of Grantham

Tonight’s the night if you happen to be a fan of the folk at the Abbey.

That’s “Downton Abbey.”

The fourth season of the Brits’ great gift to us begins this evening – 8 p.m. on PBS.

I feel I should confess – I have seen the first three episodes of the season, but only just recently. And I can’t reveal my source to whom I’m grateful.

Sometimes it’s hard to wait as long as those British folks make us wait for a continuation of the story line.

I mean, blimey, we’ve been waiting here in the good old USA since February, grieving poor Matthew who, delighted by the birth of his first son, topped a hill and swerved to avoid a truck, wrecked anyway and left wife Mary a widow.

I was a late-comer to the series that became a hit almost immediately when it first aired in Britain in 2010.

Even when it followed on American tellies three months later, I did not watch.

Then I started hearing friends talk about this outstanding series and how they could not wait until it started up again.

Finally, I could not resist, and a good friend provided me with the first two episodes so I could catch up.

I did not watch one episode, and wait a week to watch another.

No, indeed. After the first episode of the premiere season, I could not stop watching.

Like an excellent book, I was unable to stop thinking about the plot between episodes. The characters, a few of whom were definitely “off their trolley,” became a part of my daily conversation.

I felt like I’d become my grandmother, who used to talk about the folks who peopled her soap operas as if they were family members and dear comrades.

The difference? My pals lived in a mansion and spoke with a lovely accent. In common, my Downton buddies’ lives were teeming with conflict and strife, and questionable morals that often lead characters into embarrassing situations.

So, within a few days, I’d caught up, but would have to wait many months for the beginning of season three.

Those Brits do not a lengthy season film. We’ll begin season 4 tonight, and by late February or early March, it will be over, and our waiting will again begin.

Here’s something else we watchers have learned about our friends across the pond: They take great pride in killing beloved characters, with absolutely no warning, and we don’t appreciate it.

As we hunker down tonight to watch Lady Mary, Lord Robert, Mrs. Patmore and the rest, I, for one, will be praying to series creator Julian Fellowes that he’ll at least allow Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by the glorious Dame Maggie Smith, to live the length of “Downton Abbey.”



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