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"Downton Abbey"

 "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

'Downton Abbey' recap: Season 3, Episode 1

A whole lot has happened since last we saw visited the Abbey

So, if you've managed to avoid the "Downton Abbey" spoilers being tossed at you like exploding crumpets in a very refined video game, then this almost two-hour premiere was a welcome return to the hallowed halls of the grand estate. The good news? The soapiness of season two seems to have been (judging from this episode) set aside, and the plot seems character driven as opposed to being the fever dream of a crazed "Dallas" fan. Huzzah (clink glasses discreetly with second knife to your left)! 

Before we get started, I solemnly vow to you "Downton Abbey" fans -- no spoilers. Yes, these are recaps, so by their very nature they spoil the episode if you haven't seen it, but even as I watch ahead of air dates, I won't spill. Why not? Because this season has been halfway ruined for me by two spoilers I ran across, and I know how disappointed I am to know what's ahead -- and I won't do the same to you. 

So much happened in this opening episode, I'll just break it down by story lines. You can also read Alan's review (again, no spoilers) here

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<p>Billy Burke of &quot;Revolution&quot;</p>

Billy Burke of "Revolution"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: 'Revolution' producers promise the revolution will be televised this spring

Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams promise big things post-hiatus
PASADENA, CA - Since NBC announced that "Revolution" would be wrapping up the first half of its debut season in November and that it wouldn't return until late March, those of us who write about TV for a living have been speculating that this lengthy delay would auger poorly for the season's big new hit. 
 
It turns out that the people who write the show itself aren't viewing the hiatus as a negative. Or at least that's what Eric Kripke and J.J. Abrams told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday (January 6) morning. 
 
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"Deception"

"Deception"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: 'Deception' is 'family drama' that's more 'Donnie Brasco' than 'Revenge'

Issues of class, not race, will take center stage

While "Deception" (premiering Jan. 7 at 10:00 p.m.) may seem molded in the vein of ABC's soapy, mystery-fueled breakout hit, "Revenge," don't tell executive producers Liz Heldens and Gail Berman. Was she inspired by the rival network's "Revenge"? Um, no. "Two of my favorite movies are 'Donnie Brasco' and 'Sabrina'" Heldens said during a press tour panel, adding that her new show is as if those two films "had a baby." 

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<p>NBC&nbsp;has relied a lot on &quot;The Voice&quot;&nbsp;to return to success this season.</p>

NBC has relied a lot on "The Voice" to return to success this season.

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: NBC executives celebrate success, talk 'Revolution,' 'The Voice,' 'Parenthood' & more

Can the network stay on top while 'The Voice' is on the bench until late March?

During the last golden age of NBC — so long ago that Warren Littlefield may have come on stage wearing an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time — the network's presidents  made an artform of filibustering their way through each press tour executive session, pummeling the press into submission with statistics and graphs and charts demonstrating NBC's unquestioned dominance in primetime, late night, mornings and possibly day-parts that had yet to be invented. It was their way to brag, but also to drain our spirits so we wouldn't have the energy to pounce on the network's few weak spots from the mid-'90s through the early '00s.

NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt didn't quite pull off that trick during his first press tour session since the network's return from the abyss, but his introductory remarks were significantly longer than they've been of late, featured lots of numbers illustrating NBC's success in the fall, and may or may not have ended with Greenblatt dropping the mic before taking our questions.

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"All-Star Celebrity Apprentice"

"All-Star Celebrity Apprentice"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: 'All-Star Celebrity Apprentice' promises torture, 'crazy ass LaToya Jackson'

One returning star is dubbed a 'mean, nasty person' while another 'stabs you in the front'

"All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" doesn't return to NBC until Sun. March 3 at 9:00 p.m., but that didn't stop a few dedicated stars from showing up at a press tour breakfast. Marilu Henner, Trace Adkins, Stephen Baldwin, Omarosa, Gary Busey, Lil Jon and Lisa Rinna told gathered reporters about why they returned, who fought with who (short answer: everyone with everyone) and plugged their charities for good measure while throwing in some jabs at one another.

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<p>Robert Greenblatt. And Crystal.</p>

Robert Greenblatt. And Crystal.

Credit: NBC

Press Tour 2013 Live-Blog: NBC Executive Session with Robert Greenblatt

Expect 'Up All Night,' 'Private Practice' and maybe 'Hannibal' questions

I like the picture accompanying this live-blog. It speaks to a more innocent time when NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt and Crystal the  Monkey were very much in love and hope for "Animal Practice" sprung eternal.

Sniffle.

Good times.

There will be no Crystal at NBC's Sunday (January 6) executive session with Greenblatt, Paul Telegdy and Jennifer Salke, but Crystal's simian presence is sure to be replaced with a new-found sense of optimism at the network.

Click through for the full executive session live-blog...

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<p>Mary Hart insists on leading David O. Russell and the audience in singing happy birthday to Bradley Cooper.</p>

Mary Hart insists on leading David O. Russell and the audience in singing happy birthday to Bradley Cooper.

Credit: AP Photo/John Schearer

'Argo,' Sally Field and Helen Mirren highlight Palm Springs Film Festival Awards Gala

Cringe Alert: Mary Hart makes the audience sing happy birthday to Bradley Cooper

PALM SPRINGS - The talking points are getting a little repetitive, but some of the biggest players of the 2013 awards season charmed a packed Palm Springs Convention Center Saturday night for the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala. And, shockingly, longtime veterans of the event said 10-time host Mary Hart wasn't as bad hokey as she'd been during previous ceremonies. That's a scarier thought than anything on display in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D" this weekend, but I digress…

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Press Tour: 'Magic City' teases James Caan's arrival and an ambitious Season 2

Press Tour: 'Magic City' teases James Caan's arrival and an ambitious Season 2

Mitch Glazer also promises a great Passover seder
PASADENA, CA - "Magic City" won't return to Starz until a yet-to-be-determined date in the summer, but the premium cable network unveiled the first teaser for the sultry 1950s-set Miami drama on Saturday (January 5) at the Television Critics Association press tour.
 
As you can tell from the teaser [above], a lot remains the same at the Miramar Playa, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Ike Evans trying to extricate himself from the mobbed-up grasp of Ben "The Butcher" Diamond, played by Golden Globe nominee Danny Huston. There's sex and violence and some of the most impressive production design on the small screen.
 
As you can also tell, there's a new gangster in town, James Caan's Sy Berman.
 
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<p>Alan&nbsp;Arkin and Ben&nbsp;Affleck in &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

'Argo' wins with Houston film critics

Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence win top acting honors

After "Lincoln" led the way with nominations from the Houston Film Critics Society last month, it was "Argo" that took the prizes for Best Picture and Best Director. Steven Spielberg's film did win Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay, while most other awards followed established canon. This is the seventh Best Film prize for "Argo" on the critics circuit so far, bringing it ever closer to the "Zero Dark Thirty" tally of eight. Check out the full list of winners below and as always, keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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Tom Riley and creator David S. Goyer of "Da Vinci's Demons"

 Tom Riley and creator David S. Goyer of "Da Vinci's Demons"

Credit: Starz

Press Tour: 'Dark Knight' scribe talks giving 'Da Vinci's Demons' a superhero touch

David S. Goyer promises his take on the story will be 'eighty-five percent' true

Think Leonardo Da Vinci just sat around drawing cool stuff? "Da Vinci's Demons," an original series created by David S. Goyer, is set to prove otherwise. During a press tour panel for the STARZ show, the co-writer of "The Dark Knight" trilogy promised that, though the eight-part series will give the legendary creator some "almost superhuman" skills, "eighty-five percent of this is based on reality." 

And very little, if any, of that reality-based drama is going to consist of watching the master navel gaze. As Goyer points out, "If we showed Da Vinci painting for two minutes, everyone would be looking at their watches." 

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<p>Emmanuelle Riva in &quot;Amour.&quot;</p>

Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour."

Credit: Sony Classics

'Amour' wins top honors from National Society of Film Critics

Michael Haneke's film also takes Best Director and Actress

The last of the major US critics' awards landed today, and the National Society of Film Critics sided with the Los Angeles crowd, handing their Best Picture award to Michael Haneke's "Amour." The French-Austrian production narrowly saw off "The Master" to the top prize, also nabbing Best Director and Best Actress for Emmanuelle Riva. Paul Thomas Anderson's film had to settle for Best Supporting Actress for Amy Adams (again echoing the LA Critics' choice), as well as the Best Cinematography prize.

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<p>&quot;Ai Weiwei:&nbsp;Never Sorry&quot;</p>

"Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"

Credit: Sundance Selects

From 'Ai Weiwei' to 'Sugar Man,' handicapping this year's documentary feature race

Which five will be left standing from this competitive lot?

The field of documentary feature contenders this year is bursting at the seams with quality and the signs of a true golden age for the form. And this even with a number of the year's best having failed to make the finalists cut. Issues tackled are wide-ranging, artistry is apparent in a number of entries and the stories that are being shared are as powerful as ever. How do you even begin to handicap this thing?

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