Writer Julian Fellowes has set up the new season superbly-lots of conflict, drama and romance/heartbreak in the queue. On first impression, there seems to be a less melodramatic air this season which I rather like. But it is early days, and I will only allude to the fact that there are plenty of twists and surprises in store. It was a stoke of brilliance to bring on Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, who added the perfect counterpoint of the uncouth American brassiness to Maggie Smith's elegantly staid and traditional English Lady Violet. MacLaine's stark make-up and flashy clothes were just so over-the-top, almost theatrical. When she took over during the failed dinner party and turned it into a cold buffet/picnic, and then broke out in song after, I howled with laughter at the reaction by her English relatives and the guests. When the stalwart Butler Mr. Carson agreed (amazingly) that in the nontraditional party was a success with the locals and family, I knew that change was indeed in store for us this season. In stark contrast to this charmed life of privilege is the miserable existence that the incarcerated Bates must endure while locked up in York prison. Anna is working hard to discover evidence of his innocence. And, what of the financial crisis? Will life as the Crawley family has known it for hundreds of years end soon? In the spring of 1920 the wake of WWI is deeply felt at Downton Abbey as change is in the air for England and the Crawley family and their servants. Long standing traditions die hard, and many members, upstairs and downstairs, are determined to resume their pre-war style of life. As guests arrive for the wedding of Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) and Lady Mary Crawley (Michele Dockery), they bring with them a touch of the outside world to this isolationist enclave of English society. Lady Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham's (Elizabeth McGovern) American mother Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) descends on her English in-laws with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop; her brash American manners and customs are in direct opposition to the other grandmother of the household, Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith).