Good news for all you Downton Abbey fans out there! We've finally got the date when the fourth season is going to come back on the air: Sunday, January 5, 2014. It's going to last for eight weeks and end (hopefully in far less tragic fashion than last season) on February 23, 2014.
Unfortunately, however, season 4 will premiere in the UK in the autumn of 2013, meaning that the storyline will be more than wrapped up by the time it broadcasts across the pond. And you know everyone will be spoiling the crap out of the show, especially after such drastic changes like the ones we saw in season 3. Why can't they premiere on the same date -- or at least move them a little bit closer?
I know I'll lose a lot of sleep thinking about it. But still, here's what we can look forward to come 2014. Some spoilers ahead if you haven't seen the show (why haven't you?!).
We left off last season still reeling from the sudden death of Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) -- a move that seemed to ruin many Christmases for folks in the UK. Youngest daughter and fan favorite Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) also kicked the bucket during childbirth. And the cunning Miss O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran) isn't returning to Downton either. Those are some major characters to replace, especially since a walloping 24 million total viewers watched Downton last season. At least it sounds like Dowager Countess is here to stay, though. Thank goodness.
But there are a whole bunch of new characters we'll be introduced to throughout the show's eight-week run. Tom Cullen, who plays Robin Hood on ABC's Once Upon a Time, will be playing Lord Gillingham, "an old friend of the Crawleys." He's rumored to be Mary's new love interest -- let's hope they've got just half the chemistry she and Matthew had. And of course plenty has been said about Gary Carr, who will play Jack Ross, a jazz singer, and is the first recurring black actor on Downton. About damn time!
We'll also see a new valet (Nigel Harman), Duchess of Yeovil (Joanne David), Lady Shackleton (Dame Harriet Walter), and aristocrat Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden). Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson will return for season 4 as well.
In case you wanted to know some more fascinating PBS news in light of the premiere date announcement, PBS will premiere the six-episode dramedy Last Tango in Halifax on September 8. It was BBC One's top 10 highest-rated dramas in 2012, so it should be a good one. I'll for sure be tuning in.
Though the news of an official premiere date is exciting, it really sucks that US fans of Downton Abbey need to avoid the entire Internet for a couple months to avoid spoiling the show. We'll just have to wait and see if any of us have the patience to do so. I'm already going to predict that I'll fail quite spectacularly at this.
Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Excited to hear there's an official premiere date?
Image via PBS.org