PBS has announced that the third season of Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey will debut on January 6, 2013.
The show premiered in the UK on September 16, 2012 on ITV. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show boasted 8.6 million viewers, roughly 34.6 % of the viewing public in that time slot.
The period drama begins in World War I Britain and tells the tale of the Grantham family and their staff. The Julian Fellowes’ script is rich in intrigue, lavish costumes and the elegant appointments. Writers, bloggers and social commentators have all asked the obvious question: What makes Downton Abbey so popular? The appeal of sheer entertainment is one reason. Interest in history is another. In my case, I agree with the observation of Emmaline Deihl of The College Voice, ” It may seem ridiculous, but it is complete eye-candy for us history nerds, which is exactly what I want on a Sunday night.”
Downton viewers are many in number. According to the PBS web site, a startling “17.1 million viewers made Downton Abbey, season 2, the most watched Masterpiece series on record.” Reuters noted that “What sets Downton Abbey apart is the buzz the show is creating on new social media websites like Twitter and Facebook.” This is absolutely true. A cursory check of Facebook reveals an uptick in Downton chatter as the new season approaches.
The cast is anchored by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Dame Maggie Smith. Dame Maggie plays the wry matriarch, Lady Violet. Her quips alone are reason enough to tune in. If you look up Maggie Smith on YouTube you can view a gallery of Lady Violet’s most stunning retorts. Season three will be enhanced by American actress Shirley MacLaine. She plays Lady Cora Grantham’s American mother, Martha Levinson.
Downton Abbey season two is available at various outlets. The blu-ray is $24.49 on Amazon and and $34.99 at pbs.com and Barnes and Noble. The blu-ray version is currently selling for $21.00-$35.00 at the Barnes & Noble Marketplace and used on Amazon.
Season three is available for preorder on amazon for $44.99; it’s set for a January 29, 2013, release date.