'Downton Abbey' returns, and it's as good or better than last year

The Baltimore Sun

"Downton Abbey," one of last season's big winners at the Emmy Awards, starts up again Sunday night on PBS. In a television season not blessed with much to rave about so far, let the hoopla be heard. This year's "Downton Abbey" is at least as good as last year's. Maybe better.

Instead of the small matters of the sinking of the Titanic and an estate to be handed over to strangers, this season's fly in the ointment is World War I. You remember: the Somme, the unparalleled slaughter of a generation of young men, and the creation of the trench coat. Maybe not in that order.

It all happens, along with blackmail, elopements, broken engagements, and the estate being turned into a convalescent home for wounded officers.

There is in all of this also one magnificent scene that will not leave a dry eye among the millions surely to be watching Sunday night. I'll say no more than that it involves a piano, one of the daughters of the house, and soldiers returning home.

Julian Fellowes, who won an Emmy for writing the entire series last year, is at the helm again. I've seen all but the final episode, which PBS felt critics could not be trusted with. Mr. Fellowes, get out pen and notepad and start another thank-you speech. Scripted television does not get any better than this.


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