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Downton Abbey

Sun Sep 29, 9-10.05pm, ITV

Series four, episode two
It’s rarely remarked upon but, to the casual observer at least, ‘Downton Abbey’ is really funny. It’s probably a combination of the absolute solemnity with which its major incidents play out and the shameless emotional manipulation embodied in the incidentals – the music, for example, verges on self-parody.

After last week’s scene setter, a few plotting timebombs are planted tonight – poor Mr Molesley has fallen on hard times (cue literal violins) and looks likely to be patronised to within an inch of his life. A visit to one of York’s hottest nightspots seems sure to have lingering repercussions.

But more significantly, there’s word from Matthew! From beyond the grave!! And it’s a word that might just drive a wedge between Mary and Robert. Generally, it’s business as usual, drifting along like the immaculately staged, complacent, button-pushing, middle England-pacifying Sunday night catnip that it is.

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