In season 4, ‘Downton Abbey’ tries to stick to its knitting

January 2, 2014 4:17 PM

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Welcome back, then, to “Downton Abbey,” where poor Lady Mary Crawley (that hard soul disguised as a porcelain bird, played both gloweringly and glowingly by Michelle Dockery) spends the early part of the show’s fourth season in a fog of exquisite, extended mourning for her husband, six months after his death in a motorcar crash. She’s wearing more black than the help.

Soon enough — and goaded by the estate’s butler, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) — Lady Mary realizes that if she doesn’t pick herself up and get on with life, she will get flattened by the fast-moving train that is Julian Fellowes’s highly popular, plot-heavy, character-driven drama. In Season 4, where it’...

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