Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 27
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 27
  3. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Sarah Rodman
    Jan 3, 2013
    80
    Fellowes does a good job of keeping all of his players engaged while introducing fresh faces and bringing back old friends.
  2. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Jan 3, 2013
    67
    Plotting is not Fellowes' strength, but Downton's appeal is visual.
  3. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    Jan 3, 2013
    88
    This third season is more in keeping with Downton's first [season].
  4. Reviewed by: Joanne Ostrow
    Jan 4, 2013
    80
    This is put-your-feet-up, pour-a-brandy television, a tasty import that's good company for a culture undergoing its own sometimes dizzying shifts.
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jan 2, 2013
    83
    As sweet as treacle tart, the third season of Downton Abbey arrives reasonably fresh and warm. [11 Jan 2013, p.74]
  6. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jan 3, 2013
    75
    Downton in season 3 is still a soap opera (as it was in season 1, as well), but it's a smarter one; it's harder to see the puppet strings Fellowes is pulling this year to get to his desired outcomes.
  7. Reviewed by: Sara Smith
    Feb 1, 2013
    70
    Those who accept it for what it is--a funny, manipulative soap that relies on historical upheaval to frame its scarce plots--should be happy to hear that Downton’s new season is better than its last.
  8. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Jan 4, 2013
    80
    This year, by contrast [to last year], the drama flows more naturally; it cuts closer to home, and nearer the bone, allowing Smith and McGovern, particularly, deeper material than has previously been their portion
  9. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Jan 4, 2013
    100
    [Creator Julian Fellowes] never been afraid to have characters we like do things we don't like. That continues in season three, which finds plenty of new ground even as it inevitably begins treading back over some old.
  10. 80
    The melodrama is deliciously engrossing and occasionally wrenching--two episodes in the middle of season three may empty local Rite-Aids of Kleenex--but in the end, it's a light series: "light" as in the opposite of dark, not insubstantial; warm, hopeful, inspiring.
  11. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Jan 2, 2013
    83
    Fans will be pleased, though they shouldn't be too surprised by the major plot development Sunday--it's obvious by half.
  12. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Jan 2, 2013
    100
    If the Granthams are low on dough, emotionally they're richer than ever. [14 Jan 2013, p.51]
  13. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    Jan 4, 2013
    80
    If you've loved every minute of Downton Abbey up to now, you'll likely still love it this season.
  14. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jan 2, 2013
    80
    While some plots on Downton Abbey may be more meaningful than others, nothing in season three rings as false a note as the Patrick-has-amnesia story in season two.
  15. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    Jan 3, 2013
    70
    Objectively, Downton is not that good and certainly not as good--well-made, well-wrought, reasoned, executed--as it once was. But objectivity only has a little do with it.
  16. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Jan 3, 2013
    75
    On the one hand, our love of the characters makes it more than possible to overlook the sloppiness of the scripts. On the other, though, it's because we do know these characters so well that we notice the inconsistencies in the first place. Again, none of this detracts significantly from our enjoyment of the series.
  17. Season 3 gets off to a fine and frothy start.
  18. Reviewed by: Sal Cinquemani
    Nov 12, 2012
    75
    Downton Abbey thrives when tackling plotlines that are confined to the personal and social conflicts of the estate, both upstairs and downstairs.
  19. Reviewed by: Jace Lacob
    May 30, 2013
    80
    The strength of Season 3 is marred somewhat by its relatively lackluster season finale.
  20. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Jan 2, 2013
    80
    Fellowes has a stronger hold on telling the individual tales of his well-drawn characters, and that pinpoint focus utterly redeems the series early on.
  21. Reviewed by: Maureen Ryan
    Jan 2, 2013
    70
    It tends to work a lot better as the season progresses--like a 19th Century train, this polished piece of machinery starts slow and needs to work up a head of steam in order to be enjoyed in all its Victorian glory.
  22. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jan 4, 2013
    100
    Downton Abbey is like British catnip, a dazzling entertainment where saucy always trumps stuffy. It's popcorn TV with a champagne aftertaste.
  23. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jan 7, 2013
    91
    Through it all, though, Downton Abbey is still superior entertainment on a grand scale.
  24. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jan 3, 2013
    100
    What lies ahead for Downton fans is a first-rate run of episodes that feels less hectic and more tightly focused on the family core.
  25. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jan 4, 2013
    100
    To anyone who has followed the ups and downs of Downton Abbey, the good news begins with those first strains of John Lunn's lustrous score, and doesn't abate until Fellowes and company have wrung every last ounce of emotion from these finely embroidered characters.
  26. Reviewed by: Sohrab Ahmari
    Jan 4, 2013
    100
    Downton has returned with all its powers intact, not least its power to mesmerize its armies of devoted fans.
  27. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jan 4, 2013
    70
    Downton Abbey comes back stronger and more muscular this time, with intriguing and shocking new plots that provide a bit of vital momentum and an uncharacteristically wrenching dose of tragedy.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 101 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 12
  2. Negative: 2 out of 12
  1. Jan 20, 2013
    10
    Julian Fellowes has done it again. Series 3 of Downton Abbey is just as excellent as its predecessors. The first season was absolutelyJulian Fellowes has done it again. Series 3 of Downton Abbey is just as excellent as its predecessors. The first season was absolutely incredible, with every storyline providing a wonderful story by itself. The second season, while still fabulously written and well acted, was too founded on melodrama to make me truly love it, though I still liked the series greatly. This current series, the third series, is just as good, if not better, than the first series.

    Maggie Smith still anchors the cast with her deliciously snarky performance as the Dowager Countess, with Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville continuing their great work as the Earl and Countess of Grantham. Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt, and Phyllis Logan continue their strong work, as do Jessica Brown-Findlay, Rob James-Collier, Siobhan Finneran, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Amy Nuttall, Kevin Doyle, and Allen Leech. Michelle Dockery, after giving brilliantly subtle, emotionally suppressed performances in the first 2 series, gives by far her most emotional characterization this season, especially in the series' first episode. Mirroring her, Dan Stevens also amps up his acting, providing some scenes that are simultaneously heartbreaking, infuriating, and emotionally painful. After becoming somewhat a character of annoying habits and nitpicks, Penelope Wilton's Cousin Isobel receives a welcome role renewal and is allowed to show her underrated acting abilities once again. Laura Carmichael is also terrific in showing the pain agony her character must endure and then trying to find herself and her place in the rapidly changing world. Unfortunately, the more and more episodes I watch, the less and less I like Mr. Bates and the more and more I like Anna. My distaste for Bates comes not from the character himself, but from Brendan Coyle's monumentally annoying portrayal of him. His constant whispering is maddening at best and downright infuriating a good portion of the time. Coyle's annoying characterization aside, this show has left behind any negative parts of its melodramatic streak in series 2, and has blossomed anew. Shirley MacLaine's presence is brilliant and every one of her lines is perfectly delivered. Her banter with Maggie Smith is a high point.

    Period detail-wise, the show just keeps delivering. The costuming is spot on every time. Even if I had no idea of the point in history when I began, I knew immediately it was the 20s when Mary donned her blue proto-flapper dress and hat in the first episode. John Lunn's fabulous music is still just as terrific as always, and Nigel Willoughby's cinematography is just as beautiful as always. The tracking shots are possible the best since Thomas Schlamme's flawless walk-and-talk one in Aaron Sorkin's works, especially The West Wing.

    I don't know how many series are ahead, but all I can say is I hope it never ends.
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 1, 2013
    8
    I still really like this show, but this season I felt like I was watching a show that was written, rather than seeing something that reallyI still really like this show, but this season I felt like I was watching a show that was written, rather than seeing something that really happened. The people in the show seem like real people still. But the situations they get put into seem very much the work of writers. Full Review »
  3. Feb 18, 2013
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. The season 3 finale was AWFUL!! Really? Kill off Sybil in Season 2 finale (around childbirth) and now let's kill off Matthew in the Season 3 finale (on the day of the birth of his child). Lacks originality or thought or creative writing..... ridiculous, sooooo disappointing. UGH!! Not sure that I will continue watching and I have been an avid fan.... Full Review »