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In Defense of Downton Abbey (Or, Don't Believe Everything You Read)

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating.

Which means, if I can get on my soapbox for a minute, that in order to judge something, one ought to experience it first hand. One can't know how the pudding has turned out until one actually tastes it.

I was asked last week--while I was on vacation with my wife--for an interview by a journalist from The Daily Mail, who got in touch to talk to me about PBS' upcoming launch of ITV's period drama Downton Abbey, which stars Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Dan Stevens, Elizabeth McGovern, and a host of others. (It launches on Sunday evening as part of PBS' Masterpiece Classic; my advance review of the first season can be read here, while my interview with Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and stars Dan Stevens and Hugh Bonneville can be read here.)

Normally, I would have refused, just based on the fact that I was traveling and wasn't working, but I love Downton Abbey and am so enchanted with the project and the work done by creator Julian Fellowes and the series' cast and crew that I relented after several email exchanges.

The journalist in question--that would be Chris Hastings--wanted to talk about Downton's journey across the pond and specifically the cuts that had taken place along the way. When ITV aired Downton Abbey, it did so as seven episodes of varying length, while PBS was airing it as four 90-minute episodes. Which brings us to the main point of this post: despite the fact that I spelled out for Hastings that barely any cuts had been made to Downton Abbey, he wrote a now much-publicized piece for The Daily Mail in which he alleges, according to the hyperbolic lede, that "Downton downsized... by two hours because American TV executives fear its intricate plot will baffle U.S. viewers."

To put it bluntly: it's simply not true.

While I would be incensed about the article to begin with--given that Hastings took up my time on vacation, interrupted me incessantly while I was answering his questions, refused to listen to me, clearly had an agenda of his own, and then had the temerity to quote my review without proper attribution--I'm most angry about the fact that I actually did the math for Hastings during the interview, demonstrating in no uncertain terms that there weren't two hours missing from the US broadcast of the series.

The only thing missing here are, in fact, the commercials themselves.

Let's take a closer look. PBS is airing Downton Abbey as four 90-minute episodes, bringing it to a run-time of roughly 6 hours. Removing the ad breaks, ITV's run of Downton Abbey ran for--wait for it--roughly six hours. (Two episodes ran as 60 minute installments, while five ran for 45 minutes excluding the commercials, of course.)

I pointed this out to Hastings, who countered by saying that the two episodes were 90 minutes. Yes, I said, with commercials. And I countered again by saying that ITV received complaints after the first episode that there were too many ad breaks. The numbers that Hastings was using to make his case about widespread cuts failed to take into account the commercials, which don't air on PBS, even though he himself admits this in his piece.

But Hastings clearly already had an agenda and he clearly wanted to make a point about "simple" Americans "in the land of the notoriously short attention span."

Furthermore, comments made by executive producer Rebecca Eaton of WGBH Boston, which co-produced Downton Abbey, were taken out of context and misunderstood.

In reorganizing Downton into four installments, editors altered the episodes' structures in order to accommodate the altered timeslot. When Eaton said that heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) came into the storyline in the first episode rather than the second, she's speaking truthfully. He does now appear in the longer-running first 90-minute episode, but it's not that the first hour has been excised from the show. Rather, he appears in the last 30 minutes, which does, yes, quicken the pace of the entail/inheritance storyline by dint of his appearance in Episode One.

Small changes were made in order to get Downton to fit precisely into the running time allotted by PBS. Hastings goes so far as to admit this ("Ms Eaton insisted that any changes were minor and did not affect the quality of the programme."), even though it seems to be at odds with his thesis. And the internet comments that he quotes--again, unattributed--were in fact addressed to me over Twitter and I reassured those involved that it wasn't the case.

He even repeated Eaton's comments about having only made small cuts of dialogue to me on the phone.

Hastings went on to discuss the fact that Masterpiece host Laura Linney explains matters of the entail and of the Buccaneers (American heiresses who married into the British aristocracy during the Gilded Age), using it once again to attempt to slap U.S. viewers. Hastings writes, "PBS also believes its audiences will need an American to outline the key themes of the show."

First, Masterpiece's hosts typically do explore the historical and social contexts for the series. This would include the matter of the entail (which Hastings admits was confusing for British audiences as well) and Lady Cora's role as one of those Buccaneers. Nothing new there as Linney is performing the same role that all of Masterpiece's hosts ably step into before each episode of a program. Second, Linney might be American but her fellow hosts--among them, past and present, David Tennant, Alan Cumming, Matthew Goode, etc.--are not. So I'm not sure what to make of the "Americans need Americans to explain things to them" comment, which just comes across as ill-informed and mean-spirited.

But that seems to be the point of Hastings' piece as a whole, really. His insistence that "two hours" have been cut from the runtime run counter to our interview and mathematics as well. His attempts to get both me and Lord Fellowes to come up with a predicted audience number for Downton in the US failed as neither of us would offer him a guess as to how many people would be tuning in.

It's safe to say, however, that Hastings' wrong-headed article could actually cut that number, as readers of the Daily Mail piece have been up in arms about the (false) loss of two hours of material and the perceived brazenness of PBS executives for altering the show. (Again, untrue.)

But Hastings may have wanted to do the maths for himself, confirm his findings, or actually sit down to watch the imported version of Downton Abbey before writing his article.

His messy article is, in some ways, awfully similar to Mrs. Patmore's salty meringue, and just as unappetizing.

Downton Abbey launches Sunday evening at 9 pm ET/PT on PBS' Masterpiece Classic. Check your local listings for details.


susclare said…
So just to clarify - nothing was edited? The total running time is exactly the same (minus commercials)?

I ask this because PBS does trim programs from England to fit into it's designated slots - heaven forbid they run the show from 9-10:35 instead of 10:30 sharp.

I would like you to ask Ms. Eaton next time you speak to her as to why she does this. To my mind, who is she to determine the edits don't affect the program? If you are going to run the show, then run the whole show - every word, every pause, every pronoun, everything.

This happened with Sherlock which apparently had bits and pieces removed as well.

BBCAmerica has finally learned it's lesson and is running programs without edits. Why is this concept so difficult?

Sorry to be so grumpy, but this is a big gripe that I have had for a long time. And I really don't need someone to "introduce" programs to me - really I don't.
LizzieJ said…
Thank you so much for clearing this up. I knew after I read the "Daily Fail" article that you would be the one to know the real scoop - little did I know you had actually been interviewed for the same article!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for taking your vacation time to write this. I did the math myself when I read your first article, even looking up the UK DVD runtime of the program.

I am looking forward to watching, and I have to wonder if it was equally upsetting to the writer from the Daily Mail that Jungle Book was written here in the US while Rudyard Kipling lived in Vermont and that he married an American? Sorry to digress there, but I watched the replay of "My Boy Jack" last night.

Once again, thanks!
Lori said…
I am happy to hear it has not been edited, but as one of the other posters pointed out, PBS is notorious for editing Masterpiece Theater shows. Not only Sherlock Holmes, but Northanger Abbey lost two scenes in the American broadcast. It's really annoying that they do this, and won't even sell the full length version on their website.
txvoodoo said…
I tried to post a comment on the DailyMail article this weekend, but their moderation didn't allow it through. I went to the ITV site, and the PBS site, and added up the total number of minutes each aired (or would air) and came to the conclusion that there wouldn't be any cuts, merely a re-packaging of the episodes to make them similarly sized for PBS.

But no, insinuating that Yanks are incapable of comprehending what is, in essence, a soap opera - albeit beautifully dressed and acted - is far more entertaining than actually publishing the facts!

Nevermind that we've been watching complex period dramas for decades: Upstairs Downstairs, the Jane Austen catalog, dramatizations of Dickens, etc. No, of course we're unable to understand an entailment!

My eyes are rolling SO hard!
Alexandra said…
Having Masterpiece Theatre introduced to the audience is a time-honored tradition, and it began with a Brit: the tremendous Alistair Cooke, who served as host from the show's inception in 1971 until he retired from the program in 1992.

We may not need a host to introduce the programs to us, but the format is over 40 years old (a little shy of that if we count the 4 years it aired unhosted); it's tradition, and I, for one, love that tradition and hope it continues.
MasterpieceFan said…
@ Lori. PBS cannot sell the full length DVD of Northanger Abbey (NA) on their website because they don't own the distribution rights to that version. When PBS entered into a contract with its English partners to broadcast NA in the US, they arranged at that time for NA's production team to edit the program down to fit their time allotment with PBS. Apparently, NA's production company had not negotiated their own North American distribution deal (the way the makers of the 2007 Persuasion had, with BBC Video). Therefore, WGHB (an arm is PBS) was the distributor of the North American DVD of NA. And the edited version of NA is the only version they had distribution rights for. PBS has learned from this experience which is why the North American DVD release of Downton Abbey (distributed by PBS Video) will be the complete version that was broadcast in the UK on ITV.
Rowan said…
Ill-informed and mean spirited just about sums up the Daily Mail.
Anonymous said…
That's about what I expect from the Daily Mail, a horrible little newspaper!
Elanorrose said…
The same America that produces and airs programmes with intricate plots for over 13 hour long episodes such as Mad Men? Hmm.
George Matusek said…
I wonder if Chris Hastings would be capable of following a fast-paced American screwball comedy from the 1930s or 1940s --- such as a movie written and directed by Preston Sturges (who wrote dialogue to rival that of Shakespeare) or Howard Hawks's "His Girl Friday" with its rapid-fire overlapping dialogue.
Jake said…
People seem surprised that the Daily Mail resorted to lies to project its conceited representation of foreigners as truth. Suppose the shock that some people are this eloquently stupid never really wears off
Anonymous said…
You describe the Daily Mail article as "ill-informed" and "mean-spirited". I'm afraid, as a Brit, I can assure you that it is in that case pretty much a classically characteristic Daily Mail article.
LB said…
The Daily Mail is a revolting newspaper, happy to blithely report things which they know are false as facts. They are also renowned for their xenophobia.

The introductions sound very interesting and would be useful for UK audiences too.
English bloke. said…
As an Englishman, I have to say I'm ashamed and appalled by the Daily Mail. It is, as has been said, a hideously bigoted, right wing, knee jerk reaction rag. Anyone in England with an ounce of moral fibre/intelligence knows this and stears clear of it. I can only apologise on behalf of all non mean spirited, bigoted etc Brits. Pleas don't feel it represents don't!!
Megan said…
How surprising on the Daily Fail's part.
TheEponymousBob said…
May I first, as a Brit, apologize for the Daily Mail; it really doesn't deserve the name "newspaper"; and second, as a pedant, apologize for pointing out that it should read "in no uncertain terms"?
Jace Lacob said…

Not pedantic at all. You would be right. It was a typo on my part that's now been fixed. Thanks!
Unknown said…
Can I apologise on behalf of the rest of the UK. Hastings is a clot, as are the rest of his colleagues who work on the Daily Fail.

Enjoy Downton when it comes on, I didn't as it's not my type of viewing but my wife assures me it was the best TV program she watched all year.
Jo said…
Alas, you will never get fair representation of the facts from the Daily Hate! Neo Nazi newspaper of choice who dislike anything that isn't English* (*white, conservative, middle to upperclass. Hurrah for the black shirts!)

They use the sneering journalism to decide on the story and than tweak all 'facts' to fit. Alas, you were just unfortunate to be preyed upon as an expert source they can (mis)quote to suit their end.

As a Brit, I feel compelled to apologise for the shoddy journalist standards in that rag (not that I have any responsibility, but I am very English** about bad manners! (** White, middle class, not a conservative, would cheerfully punch a Blackshirt in the face should the occasion arise)

To my American cousins, please enjoy Downton Abbey in whatever format is should be presented to you. Oh, and if you get the chance, try and catch the new Upstairs Downstairs that just showed over here. It's also rather good!
Craig Ranapia said…
I'm very sorry about your rude introduction to the British tabloid at its worse, but here's another rather delicious irony. American shows routinely get the nip/tuck treatment in foreign markets - sometimes to fit timeslots and other times to conform to differing broadcast standards. (And that no only happens with American TV. There's much unintentional comedy to be drawn from films that are contractually obliged to deliver a "clean" audio track for sales to television and airlines.)

And if the Daily Mail could get the Blimp-ish chip off its shoulder for two minutes, it should be reminded that such landmarks of "heritage" British television as the 1995 Pride and Prejudice and Simon Schama's fifteen hour 'A History of Britain' simply couldn't have been made without co-production finance from America (A&E and The History Channel respectively). If you dirty Yanks are trying to dumb down and demean English culture, you're sucking at it.
Ian Davison said…
I wish I could say I'm surprised but the Daily Mail is not known over here for its accuracy of reporting. It's primarily a means for the small-minded to have their xenophobic world-view confirmed. I hope you enjoyed (the rest of) your vacation!
James1878 said…
What a perfect opportunity to link to The Daily Mail Song.

"It's absolutely true, because I read it in the Daily Mail."
LB said…
What a fab vid. Thanks for this: I'm going to send it on to someone who's been lied about and attacked by them more than once, they'll be tickled.
Anonymous said…
Here's a link to the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct. You could probably get this 'journalist' on breaching the clauses of both Accuracy and Discrimination.
Turcopilier said…
The explanation of the legal nature of an entail was made as clear as reasonably possible in the first episode and being referred to several times subsequently should be easily understood. What is particularly ridiculous about this article is the suggestion that British viewers were able to understand what this was better than Americans. An entail, used to insure a landed estate could remain intact and pass by a pre-ordained succession (primarily, but not necessarily to insure a title was not separated from the historic estate), was only ever used by a very small number of families. It is no longer possible to establish an entail and estate duty actually means that their application could inhibit sensible tax planning. Americans should find this series as enjoyable as did British viewers.
THX--1138 said…
@Anonymous, there really is no point in complaining to the PCC. If you look in the who's who section of the PCC site you'll see one of the members of the commission is Paul Dacre, who is also... the editor of the Daily Mail.

Self regulation; ain't it great!
Anonymous said…
“A lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies.”~Alfred Lord Tennyson
If it were not for this controversy I might not have known about this fascinating new program, Downton Abbey, that is to air on Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. We love to watch Masterpiece here in the US. It often affords us the opportunity to enjoy British TV series or educational programs that might otherwise go unwatched. Before DVD's and the Internet PBS and Masterpiece brought something to people of all economic backgrounds and did it as a public service (especially for those in rural areas or low income areas who could not afford cable). I grew up with this channel as a kid knowing the value of public television and the world it could open up for people through their programming, so when I watch this Hastings prostitute himself and his profession merely to appease his target audience I am reminded of another quote, “The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche.
I am pleased to see this article here, "In Defense of Downton Abbey." I am even more pleased to see the overwhelming response by the British citizens toward the US citizens. I so often hear (in the news) of British angst toward Americans (or pretty much everyone against Americans), so it is nice to see that is not actually the case. "Don't Believe Everything You Read"...or hear, I guess.
Anonymous said…
It's the Daily Mail... You don't really need to say any more. Terrible hate filled publication.
rechercher said…
If you want to mention past "hosts" of Masterpiece, especially those who are/were British, best not to leave out the original and still champion--Alistair Cooke.
Jon88 said…
"PBS is airing Downton Abbey as four 90-minute episodes, bringing it to a run-time of roughly 6 hours. Removing the ad breaks, ITV's run of Downton Abbey ran for--wait for it--roughly six hours."

Just for the record: From the opening montage until "It was her idea" and the fadeout, the episode ran 80 minutes. Okay, 80 minutes and about 12 seconds. Which yields a run-time of about 5 hours and 20 minutes. A very rough six hours.
Jon88 said…
Apologies. I just rechecked your breakdown. Your "roughly six hours" is really 5:45, so instead of PBS cutting 40 minutes, they're cutting only 25. Hell, I'll give you back the end credits, we'll call it 20. Still, not exactly a small difference.
Rick Joshua said…
I can see exactly where you are coming from with regard to Daily Mail "journalists".

I run an historical website which touches an a potentially controversial aspect of the Second World War, and received a call from a Daily Mail journalist to discuss "issues that had been raised". Despite the fact that the site had been running without complaint for some eight years and my general distrust of tabloid journalists in particular, I agreed to speak to him.

The resulting article had little resemblance to the topics that were discussed in the interview; he might well as not spoken to me at all, as it was clear from the off that there was an agenda. I am now doubly wary of such individuals, and were I to sonsent to a similar interview I would take care to record it in full.

I have never watched Downton Abbey, by the way!
Margaret said…
See? This just goes to show how when somebody wants to stir the pot, a provocative piece can still have legs even well after evidence to the contrary has been presented. I say this because I spouted off in my blog yesterday about it and was only just now pointed to your blog post, even though it was posted 10 days ago.

Sincerely Yours,
A Dumb American
Unknown said…
The author is not correct. I have compared my DVD of the full UK version side-by-side with at least the first two episodes of PBS's on-air version, and a significant amounts of cuts have indeed been made, and some key storylines have been reduced in the U.S. version.

The PBS on-air version is still an enjoyable experience (and lovely in High Definition), but to really enjoy this great series, buy the DVD!! (Even the DVD that PBS is selling is the uncut UK version, which makes you wonder why PBS didn't just the air the entire thing int he first place.) The uncut UK version is so much richer, and the characters and storylines so beautifully filled out with marvelously intricate, and beautifully incredible, detail. Julian Fellowes is a master storyteller, and the full version really gives him the opportunity to fully use his come palette of dramatic colors and textures.

Having seen the entire UK version in its entirety, it will be interesting to see what additional edits and cuts PBS makes in the upcoming episodes on "Masterpiece."

It leaves me with one lingering question, though . . . PBS spends so much of it time running and rerunning repeats from the past, it is hard to understand why they would not have opted to show this fine series in its full and original form. I think American audiences deserve that, and it sort of boggles the mind to speculate why they didn't just run the entire thing, rather than go to the expense of whittling almost 2 hours off of the original series.

Oh well. Still a wonderful series. But the DVD is the complete story.
Unknown said…
Penelope Wilton's character as Mrs. Isobel Crawley, the mother of the new heir Matthew (played by Dan Stevens) is especially reduced in the PBS version, with key scenes in the hospital totally cut, which is a shame because Wilton's performances are marvelous.
Anonymous said…
thats a terrible shame if the past two posts are correct. i cant comprehend why pbs would do such a thing. it really mocks the idea of "honoring" masterpiece theatres 40 years on pbs.
e2c said…
It's quite true that there are a fair number of cuts in the PBS version (so far, at least). I wondered if this was the case after watching PBS episode #2, which seemed to jump from scene to unrelated scene toward the end of the episode... and sure enough, the two commenters above are correct.

I really don't understand why the show can't be aired in its entirety here in the US, and feel cheated by PBS.

To be clear, this has been done in the past, and not just with programs aired on Masterpiece.
Bill & Jill said…
A splendid article about a splendid show! This Yank and his missus are grandly enjoying every moment of Downton Abbey, cuts or not.

Personally, I'm hoping Bates will smash Thomas in the teeth. Perhaps that will happen to that blighter of a 'reviewer' from the Daily Mail...

JDintheQuietCorner said…
Since this has come out, the Daily Fail's comments section for this article is blocked. They apparently don't appreciate being shown they are wrong. Nor do they have the decency to provide a retraction.

People wonder why newspapers are disappearing.... It's because readers can't trust 20 percent of what's printed.
Anonymous said…
Loved Downton Abbey - not since By the Sword Divided has a series captured my imagination so much, although in truth I have read so many books that are similar that I pretty much guessed every plot development except the Duke and Thomas' fling and Mr Pamuk's ill fated end.

I hope Rebecca Eaton realizes for round 2 that her audience can't get enough of this. She needs to join a twitter party!
Anonymous said…
It doesn't surprise me to learn that the series has been shortened for an American audience. I clearly remember when MPT announced around 1990 that it was no longer showing series with multiple episodes because supposedly the audience would not be interested. (The folks at PBS must still be puzzling over the success of The Sopranos, Madmen, and the audience that will watch Nancy Grace night after night to dwell on every intricate detail of some bizarre crime.)
Frankly, MPT lost its way when it made that decision in 1990, and it has never reallly recovered. Note to begin with that we now watch a truncated "Masterpiece" rather than "Masterpiece Theatre." Further note the other programs have been chopped down such as the remake of The Forsyth Saga in only a few episodes compared to the original. I hate to think what they would do with a remake of the original 8 episodes of Cousin Bette -- maybe a 30 minute version about a meddling relative who puts her nose where it doesn't belong.
By the way, we did notice at the time that episode 2 of Downton Abbey was disjointed, and we also thought that Northanger Abbey was the Cliff Notes version. The comments here have clarified this for us.
Unknown said…
I watched the Downton Abbey episodes online last year on my computer and even on my iPhone. Not ideal but very much better than not seeing it all all. It was love at first sight. I cannot account for it. I adore everything about it (except Thomas).

The two plot lines that intrigue me are the ones with irretrievable consequences. O'Brien's tantrum with the soap! How will she ever manage her conscience. ... Edith's jealousy tantrum -- OMG. Would jealousy really cause one to deliver such a letter about one's sister? She can't take it back. And now Mary has gotten her revenge in spades. I can't help but feel sorry for Edith, but what she did was despicable. ... Along with Anna, I too am in love with Mr. Bates. What is it about him that makes him so appealing? Must be our propensity for the strong silent type.

I anxiously await delivery of the DVD.
Hope said…
The Daily Mail cares NOTHING about
accuracy and the only reason to read it is just for laughs, due to all the errors in spelling, contradictory "facts" in a single article, and pumping or demolishing celebrities according to DM whims (or maybe bribes from publicists?). The ONLY thing the DM HAS is hysterical hyperbole and the facts be damned, on Downton Abbey or any other subject.
Marie said…
So why did I purchase what is advertised as Season 1 non-edited UK version of "Downton Abbey?"

That's how it was worded on iTunes, and that's what I believed to be true. This is very strange.
I can only take my hat off to the impressive roster of talent and skill of the English series. I really hope to continue producing more things like this in the factory yours to the delight of all.
It's just perfect the atmosphere of the time and classes cohabit in it. And then you come to mind the equally wonderful "Upstairs, Downstairs", although old, is still a benchmark.
It's a series for lovers of vintage series, craftsmanship and drama students in our country.
Anonymous said…
Here is what imdb has to offer on the topic:

What is the difference between the US and UK broadcasts of Downton Abbey?

There are a few minor differences, which are only found between the UK version and the US televised version. The DVD version in the US is the original 7 episodes, as shown in the UK.

The US televised version loses about 30-40 minutes of the show, with a couple of minor subplots missing or cut down significantly. Some scenes have also been re-arranged, as the US televised version was shown in 4, longer episodes and the UK version in 7 shorter episodes. There are also a couple of short extra scenes that are shown in the US televised version and the UK version.

Whilst these few differences are quite minor, if you have the chance, it is well worth seeing the DVD version, which is the original UK 7 episodes.
Anonymous said…
Any American who decides to invest his or her time in "Downton Abbey" is most likely already a step ahead of the game in understanding and appreciating English culture. Such Americans need not be infantilized, as the target audience for "Downton Abbey" isn't exactly the same audience that the Kardashian sisters receive (for example).

As an American anglophile who has just discovered "Downton Abbey," I'm disheartened to read that some people behind the curtain believe that I'm either incapable of understanding so-called complex story lines (get over yourselves- it's a soap opera) or that I will become irrevocably pressed with ennui upon witnessing the finer points of English culture or history (how kind of you to consider my emotional wellbeing).

If anyone is challenged in this equation, it would be the people who choose to marr such an excellent production for whatever reason.
Lynn said…
I enjoy the ritual of the introductions because they remind me each time of Alaistair Cooke. Younger people don't have that tradition so they seem to find the intros annoying. Interesting that the comments here gradually morphed into reinforcing the Chris Hastings version of "edits" vs the author's. There's nothing like a lie repeated til it becomes the truth.
Anonymous said…

I am a wee bit confused about the different versions that might not or might not be out there. I look on Amazon and there is a PBS version for sale along with a Original UK Unedited version of Downton Abbey for sale. I would very much with to buy an uncut version of this series. I am not sure if the uncut UK unedited versions will run on the U.S blue rays/dvd machine.
Anonymous said…
I know this is an old article, but I just watched episode 1 off Season 1 (the uk version ) and compared it to the 1st episode that I taped off of PBS. There are clearly small chunks of dialogue and brief moments showing character's reactions to each other that were cut from the PBS version. Dialogue between Daisy and Ms. Patamore come to mind especially because although just a few lines were cut, the original scene flowed where the PBS scene was just choppy.
I watched Series 3 on ITV's website this fall, and I'll be interested to see what cuts were made in the US version this time around. Hopefully PBS has realized that American audiences want to watch the whole program.
George is not correct. There were slight, not significant cuts, as Lacob notes, to Downton Abbey series one when it was broadcast on Masterpiece. PBS, in must be remembered, stitched an episode and a half of ITV Downton together when it broadcast series one. ITV, by the way, is a commercial network so episodes are around 45 minutes each.
The PBS DVD, "original UK version" of series one is exactly the same as the ITV Universal Playback DVD. The only difference is that the UK version has, if memory serves, two commentaries while the PBS has none.
Anonymous said…
I too am a little confused here. PBS sell a UK version. Is that the one I should purchase if I want the best?
Lisa said…
Hi. I'm going to ask this....I just received the complete collection of Downton Abbey on dvd from my daughter. I wonder, if you could tell me, if anyone knows, does the dvd series have the commercials built in so you have to watch commercials, or are they edited out? I really cannot see keeping the dvd's if there are commercials in it. I purchase dvd's so I don't have to sit through commercials. If anyone knows the answer, could you please let me know. It was very thoughtful of my daughter, thinking of me because she knows that I absolutely Love the show. It would be a shame if they created the dvd's with the commercials built in. Thanks for any information you may be able to provide.

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I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian