The Dowager Countess and her merry band of Abbey-residing misfits drew some 5.4 million for the sprawling Downton Abbey season two finale on Sunday night, the highest rating for something on PBS since the première of Ken Burns’ documentary on national parks in 2009. Despite grumblings of excessive soapiness and slapdash plot moves, apparently everyone and their grandparents tuned in to this season: According to the New York Times, the show often doubled the average PBS prime-time viewing numbers. No surprise, really, that Maggie Smith’s cutting quips and villainous servant schemes were more of a draw than the average PBS fare, but it means that season three—which is already being filmed, and is set to première in England this fall—is sure to descend on us with a tsunami of hype. Here’s hoping the inevitable Lady Mary-Matthew Crawley wedding has as many adorably awkward children as the actual royal nuptials.
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