They took a breezy sit-com plot, about a movie being made in the Downton Abbey house, combined with a side-story about Maggie Smith inheriting a French villa from an ex lover, and split apart the rich and poor characters to where neither can do very much to help either story along...

For instance, Carson is the most against the production movie company's disruption of the house, so they send him to France... But wouldn't he be better batting heads with the studio? God knows, that would have made for a terrific episode... 

As for the overall drama/melodrama that the series is known for, there aren't too many shocks or surprises except for a searing epilogue, a few near-trysts along the way and, not counting a semi-intriguing history lesson about silent film stars fearing the introduction of "talkies" (already known from Singin' in the Rain), it's in one ear, out the other, and without any necessary tension or conflict... Ironically, up on the big screen, the characters seem much smaller, somehow, while the director doesn't savor the larger-than-life beauty and elegance of Downton or even France for that matter...Then again, for lightweight comedy, it's not a bad 90-minutes: Just don't except A New Era to equal the terrific British series that, for the most part, feels far too "Hollywood" here. Rates: **

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