A number of readers have written to let me know that they do indeed like “The Gilded Age,” the new HBO series from “Downton Abbey” dude Julian Fellowes. That pleases me, because I like it, too. It’s not necessarily among the very best TV costume dramas we’ve seen in the past decade or two — most of them, such as PBS’ “Bleak House,” are miniseries — but it’s entertaining, well-appointed, and, importantly, enjoyably acted.
Christine Baranski and Carrie Coon are outstanding as personifications of old and new money, respectively, and Morgan Specter is perfect as the robber baron trying to buy his wife a place in high society.
But I’m also hearing from those who feel that “Gilded” is far inferior to “Downton.” I admit that the downstairs part of the “Gilded Age” story needs some serious work, while “Downton Abbey” arrived with that aspect fully developed. But I’m optimistic about the show, as long as Baranski and Coon stay onboard, and I like the 1880s New York setting, when it still included lots of land.
“Downton” love runs deep, though, and this item is primarily for the “Downton” die-hards, who’ve been eagerly waiting for the show’s second movie spinoff, “Downton Abbey: A New Era.” Focus Features has moved the premiere date a number of times, likely waiting for COVID to ease up a bit. It has just been pushed from March 18 to May 20, when, perhaps, people might be more willing to go out to a theater. The first movie was a hit in 2019, grossing $194 million worldwide, so Focus wants to play this one carefully.
In “A New Era,” the characters go to the South of France to look into the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa. Joining the original cast will be Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, and Dominic West.