Preview of Downton Abbey Season 3 on Masterpiece Classic PBS

Downton Abbey Season 3 banner

The long wait is almost over Downtonites. The two-hour premiere of Season 3 of Downton Abbey is next Sunday. Yes, the phenomenon continues for seven new episodes, January 6 – February 17, 2013 at 9:00pm ET & PT on PBS.

The Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award winning period drama begins its seven week run in on January 6 and concludes with a ninety-minute finale on February 17.  Hold on to your bonnets—there is much to get excited about—including 9 1/2 hours of screen time entrenched in drama, romance, deceit and heartbreak. The acclaimed all-star cast returns, including Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham and guest star, Academy Award®-winner Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, Countess Grantham’s freewheeling American mother.  Here is a brief preview from PBS:

Downton Abbey Season 3: Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham and Jim Carter as Carson (2012)

It is the spring 1920. The Great War is over and the long-awaited engagement of Lady Mary and Matthew is on, but all is not tranquil at Downton Abbey as wrenching social changes, romantic intrigues, and personal crises grip the majestic English country estate. Shirley MacLaine joins the much-loved cast, which includes Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, and a host of others. “No family is ever what it seems from the outside,” observes Smith’s shrewd character.

Last season closed with the reluctant heir to Downton, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), recovered from his war wounds and ready to tie the knot with the eldest of Lord and Lady Grantham’s daughters, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery). Meanwhile, Mary’s youngest sister, Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay), has eloped to Ireland with the political-minded chauffeur, Branson (Allen Leech), and is expecting a child.

Downton Abbey Season 3: Jessica Brown-Findlay as Lady Sybil Branson (2012)

A tantalizing glimpse ahead: Lovebird servants Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) face new ordeals in their star-crossed marriage. Downton’s impeccable butler, Carson (Jim Carter), breaks in a new footman, who happens to be the nephew of the scheming lady’s maid O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran). Following Matthew and Mary’s engagement, Robert sticks to his duty to maintain Downton more firmly than ever—even as other great houses are crippled psychologically and financially in the wake of World War I. In this changing landscape nothing is assured, and could it be that even the war-weary Crawleys must fight a new battle to safeguard their beloved Downton?

Downton Abbey Season 3 is a Carnival/Masterpiece Co-production. It is written and created by Julian Fellowes. The first episode is directed by Brian Percival. Other episodes are directed by Andy Goddard, Jeremy Webb, and David Evans.

Downton Abbey Season 3: Brendan Coyle as John Bates (2012)

I have seen the new season and it does not disappoint. There are many twists and surprises, so I shan’t spoil any of the great drama and romance for anyone by saying too much. I will be recapping and reviewing each new episode as they air, so please check back every Sunday for my insights and decided opinion! If you would like to catch up on previous episodes of season 1 and 2, you can browse through our Downton Abbey Archive here on Austenprose. The DVD of season 1 & 2 are available for purchase and stream live at Netflix. Have fun, and get psyched. There will be a totally awesome Downton Abbey-a-thon here at Austenprose over the next seven weeks.

Episode Guide

Downton Abbey Season 3: Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson (2012)

Episode 1 – January 6, 2013, 9-11pm ET on PBS

Wedding guests descend on Downton Abbey, where disasters large and small threaten. One is Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), the Countess of Grantham’s out-spoken and carefree American mother who tries to loosen up her in-laws.

Downton Abbey Season 3: Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley and Robert Bathurst as Sir Anthony Strallen (2012)

Episode 2 – January 13, 2013, 9-10pm ET on PBS

The fate of Downton Abbey hinges on a letter from a dead man. Lady Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael) and Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst) face their own fateful moment. And Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) confronts a crisis.

Downton Abbey Season 3: Joanne Froggat as Anna Bates and Brendan Coyle as John Bates (2012)t

Episode 3 – January 20, 2013, 9-10pm ET on PBS

Two social revolutions arrive at Downton Abbey: the Irish civil war and the fight for women’s suffrage. A mysterious conspiracy keeps newlywed Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) apart.

Downton Abbey season 3: Sophie McShera as Daisy Mason (2012)

Episode 4 – January 27, 2013, 9-10pm ET on PBS

The Crawley family faces its severest test yet. Meanwhile, new faces try to fit into the tight-knit circle of servants. And new evidence turns up in a baffling case.

Downton Abbey Season: 3 Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Mary Crawley (2012)

Episode 5 – February 3, 2013, 9-10pm ET on PBS

Things go badly amiss at Downton Abbey. Lord and Lady Grantham are not speaking. The servants are shunning Matthew Crawley’s mother Isobel. And Matthew and Lord Grantham have fallen out. Also, Mr. Bates takes a gamble.

Downton Abbey Season 3: Jim Carter as Mr. Carson and Hugh Bonneville as Robert  Crawley (2012)

Episode 6 – February 10, 2013, 9-11pm ET on PBS

Change arrives in a big way for several key characters at Downton Abbey. A yearly cricket match with the village sees old scores settled and new plots hatched.

Downton Abbey Season 3: Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley (2012)

Episode 7 – February 17, 2013, 9-10:30pm ET on PBS

The Crawleys travel to Duneagle Castle in Scottish for a holiday, while the downstairs staff stays behind at Downton Abbey. New romances flare up, and a crisis unfolds.

Downton Abbey Characters/Cast

Downton Abbey Season 3: Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary and Jessica Brown-Findlay as Lady Sybil (2012)

Upstairs:

Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham – Hugh Bonneville
Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham – Elizabeth McGovern
Lady Mary Crawley – Michelle Dockery
Lady Edith Crawley – Laura Carmichael
Lady Sybil Branson – Jessica Brown-Findlay
Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham – Maggie Smith
Lady Rosamund Painswick – Samantha Bond
Sir Anthony Strallan – Robert Bathurst
Hugh ‘Shrimpie’ MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire – Peter Egan
Susan MacClare, Marchioness of Flintshire – Phoebe Nicholls
Lady Rose MacClare – Lily James
Martha Levinson – Shirley MacLaine
Isobel Crawley – Penelope Wilton
Matthew Crawley – Dan Stevens
Tom Branson – Allen Leech
Dr. Richard Clarkson – David Robb
Michael Gregson – Charles Edwards

Downton Abbey Season 3: the servants hall

Downstairs:

Mr. Carson – Jim Carter
Mrs. Elsie Hughes – Phyllis Logan
John Bates – Brendan Coyle
Joseph Molesley – Kevin Doyle
Mrs. Patmore – Lesley Nicol
Sarah O’Brien – Siobhan Finneran
Anna Bates – Joanne Froggatt
Thomas Barrow – Rob James-Collier
Ivy Stuart – Cara Theobold
Jimmy Kent – Ed Speleers
Alfred Nugent – Matt Milne
Edna Braithwaite – Myanna Buring
Daisy Mason – Sophie McShera

Downton Abbey Season 3: Laura Carmichael as Edith Crawley (2012)

Further reading

Images courtesy © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE; text © Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com