They’re back. I say, isn’t that splendid? And aren’t we delighted? I can tell you that after years of American political corruption, weather disasters and worldwide terror, having the wonderful Crawley family back is like a clean breath of autumn air.

There they are, in the same big, drafty, gorgeous house, wearing the same wonderful, mesmerizing clothes that could have been designed by Ralph Lauren’s great-, great-grandfather, but luckily for us we have the brilliant Anna Robbins to enhance the already fashionable duds of the day.

Creator Julian Fellowes and director Michael Engler seemed to know how much we missed them, and they’ve brought them back looking and sounding as if they had only gone next door to borrow a cup of sugar.

“Downton Abbey” the movie is as expected, lush and beautiful, full of nostalgia, music, costuming and thanks to the fabled British lawns, and Hollywood’s gardeners, celestially landscaped.

FYI: No one dies this time. There are no bodies to be moved, no servants fired, no pregnancies to hide, no children to be rescued, and Lord Crawley’s bleeding ulcer isn’t even mentioned.

The plot this time is centered around a surprise visit, not by rich cousins Shirley MacLaine and Paul Giamatti from America or faux survivors of The Great War or the Titanic, but, hold onto your pearls.


Who’s that at the door?

Why, it’s the King (Simon Jones) and Queen (Geraldine James) of England, Ireland and every other land on the planet that Britain managed to purloin. And they’re coming for a banger or two and tea, if you please.

In truth, the whole thing is based on real historical events such as this. Ask Fellowes.

Actually the whole thing was preceded by a note that came by post. That’s right, just a friendly note delivered by Royal Post. There’s no “Do you mind?” Or, “Will you be in if we’re in town?” Not even a knock or phone call. That’s royalty for you.

Of course the Crawleys don’t mind. Would you? I mean really, if the Obamas emailed you that they’re going to be in town and would like to come for dinner, would you refuse?

The Trumps? Well, Maybe just Melania.


So look out, here they come with complete staff, food and drink, which leaves Mrs. Patmore and crew in a grand flap.

The royal staff arrives first, complete with snobby cooks, stiff waiters, haughty footmen, dressers, typists and silver polishers.

You’ll be happy to know that our old master butler, Mr. Carson himself, (Jim Carter) is pulled out of retirement just down the road, and he is thrilled to help out.

But our old crowd, and all are aboard, won’t just stand for being shoved aside. A grand plan, almost a sitcom device is hatched. You’ll love it.

Fellowes, that sly old fox, has a few tricks up his velvet sleeve to keep us from wallowing too deeply in the old waters.

There are several surprises this time out. A change in a family will frighten even the horses. And be prepared to see our favorite gay butler Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) discover that even the tiny rural village has a secret gay bar.


Most of you will be happy to see good old Tom Branson (Allen Leech) the handsome chauffeur, Irish revolutionary (my personal favorite) and now son-in-law back on the grounds with his baby daughter.

Fellowes also introduces a sweet young maid, Lucy (Tuppence Middleton) who really isn’t a maid (say no more) to catch Tom’s eye.

Would you come if Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) wasn’t there? Of course not. Fear not, she, of the saber tongue (“Machiavelli was greatly underrated.”) wouldn’t miss the King and Queen for love or pounds. Don’t fail to catch her classic curtsy.

John Lunn’s familiar music with sweeping violins and quivering oboes are there to make us tremble, remember and weep.

The great Ben Smithard’s camera has been upgraded, fine tuned and enhanced with swirling drones to hover and float from rooftop to rainy alley to garden, and it doesn’t miss a thing.

Mr. and Mrs. Bates are at the table, but not long enough to satisfy us.

From a mysterious start on a night train, to two new lovers waltzing in the twilight on the balcony, this dreamy pastiche is an early Valentine. See it at once, if for no other reason, just so you can tell your grandchildren why you miss Maggie Smith.

J.P.  Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.

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