[Spoiler alert: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of Downton Abbey. If you haven't watched it yet, read at your own risk.]
Although Downton Abbey's third season has already played in its entirety in the U.K., a majority of American fans of the series have kept scrupulously ignorant of what happens in order to enjoy watching the series unspoiled. And even for those who already knew what was coming, Sunday's episode was far more horrifying and heart-wrenching to watch than we could have imagined.
Downton Abbey survived World War I. But can the country manor weather the latest skirmish, a below-stairs battle between those scheming servants O'Brien and Thomas?
That's just one of the many entertaining questions and diverting dilemmas presented by the long-awaited — and well worth the wait — third season of this Masterpiece Classic addiction, which returns like a delicious if bittersweet bonbon. (And how I hope you've kept the blinders on regarding the many spoilers issuing from across the pond during the recent U.K. telecast.)
"No family is ever what it seems from the outside," muses the formidable Dowager Countess (the peerless Maggie Smith) during one of the many crises that beset the Crawleys and their loyal servants over the next seven Sundays (PBS, check tvguide.com listings).
On the West London set of Downton Abbey, where all of the "downstairs" scenes are shot, two footmen in formal attire are about to bring another lavish meal upstairs to the waiting lords and ladies. It's a familiar sight, but don't let it fool you: As Season 3 of the Emmy-winning drama begins, the Grantham family and their servants are entering a different world altogether — and it may be a difficult one for...
"It's good to remind people, love is love," says Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. And more than 15 million viewers in the U.S. and U.K. are having a love affair with the palace-size hit, which has reinvigorated period drama and earned raves around the world (100 countries have acquired rights to air the show). Far from a sophomore slump, Season 2 of the sumptuous series about life among the British gentry and their servants during World War I has broadened the story's scope to take in the violence of the battlefields and the impact of the conflict on the residents both upstairs and down.