By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist August 22, 2012 at 12:06PM
After the hugely disappointing second season of the show, which crossed over from trashily entertaining to just plain dull, we were wondering if there was anything that could win us back to the third season of smash-hit costume drama "Downton Abbey." And then creator Julian Fellowes went and cast Shirley MacLaine. The 78-year-old veteran Hollywood star, famous for films like "The Apartment" and "Terms of Endearment" among many, many others, is joining the show's cast as the mother of Elizabeth McGovern's Countess of Grantham, and the potential to watch her trade barbs with Maggie Smith is certainly enough to have us setting the DVR for new episodes.
And that certainly hasn't changed after watching a couple of brief new clips from the upcoming third season. The first sets the scene for MacLaine's arrival, and the second sees her doing the impossible, leaving Smith's Dowager Countess speechless. It's not like Fellowes has suddenly turned into Ingmar Bergman or anything, but it does promise that her presence could be a real breath of fresh air for the show. There's no exact word on when the series will begin airing again, but if it follows the patterns of the first two seasons, it's likely to get underway on ITV in the U.K. next month before making it to the U.S. in January, or thereabouts. Watch the two clips below.