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TV REVIEW: Downton Abbey - A Troubling Tale Of Tails

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Downton Abbey Episode 2 found Mary and Matthew coming back from their honeymoon, with two significant nods to their new status - driving a motor car, and then waking up together to Anna's curtain-pulling… "deshabille" as Matthew delicately put it, down to his altogethers in English.

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The future of Downton looked to be resting on the generosity of Mrs Leveson - much to the Dowager's disgust

"Now stop talking and kiss me before I get cross," Mary later admonished. But Matthew had something far weightier on his mind, with his dinner tails burned by the misadministrations of new valet Alfred just as a big 'do' was being planned to impress the Crawleys' American relation. The way Mary was going on, you'd have thought the whole future of Downton was going to fly or fail on the fate of her husband's charred panel. Scintillating stuff, this married life business.

Mary and Matthew's vacant will-they-won't-they limbo land had been filled by Lady Edith and her reluctant suitor Sir Anthony - at least this week he stopped erming and aching long enough to tell her straight he was too old for her, and for her father to tell him to bugger off. This being Downton, they were engaged by the credits.

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Lady Edith and Sir Anthony - will there be a time for another wedding at Downton, before the silver's sold?

Meanwhile, big challenges were being faced downstairs. Anna's crusade continued to vindicate her jailed husband - this story has to start moving soon for the sake of poor Mr Bates, never mind his horde of female fans - while Mrs Hughes had a medical worry with Mrs Padmore proving the perfect sterling shoulder to lean on, full of such comforting words as "better spend the money on a doctor than an undertaker".

REVIEW: Episode 1 - Downton's Back, And Branson's Pickled!

But this was all just colour to the main plot of the night, Lord Grantham's shirts going missing, much to Thomas's chagrin - this suspiciously soon after he'd shown new valet Alfred just who was boss, with unique advice on how to press a shirt, and burn a hole in a dinner jacket.

O'Brien's face was a picture as Thomas continued to undermine Alfred - the chasm between these two former conspirators can surely only end in tears, hopefully not those of the utterly loveable lady's maid, my constant favourite.

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Thomas and O'Brien - no love lost any more

The mind boggles that Lord Grantham - in the face of the imminent loss of house, face and fortune - would be upset about his dress-shirt not being on the right shelf, but maybe it's all a metaphor and, anyway, isn't such preoccupation the reason we love Downton so?

Of course, the continuing delight was Martha Leveson (Shirley MacLaine), still causing delicious outrage at the dinner party… "like a runaway train" as the Dowager furiously ruminated. In the final battle between these two, it's going to be a close run thing.

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Around the Web

Downton Abbey, ITV1, review - Telegraph

Downton Abbey, ITV1, review - Telegraph