Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jan 2, 2014
    80
    The cast is so uniformly good, frankly, it’s tempting not to single anyone out, and Fellowes continues to juggle the dizzying assortment of plots with what appears to be effortless ease. That said, one can see him repeating himself in some of the flourishes as the season progresses.
  2. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Jan 3, 2014
    80
    Much remains solid at the heart of rich Downton drama, and Fellowes has certainly shown in the past that he can bring it all back home.
  3. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jan 3, 2014
    50
    The show is becoming somewhat repetitive and a bit dull to the point that it feels like Downton, already renewed for a fifth season, needs to wrap it up sooner rather than later lest it overstay its welcome.
  4. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jan 3, 2014
    70
    Downton is on much firmer and more satisfying ground when charting the new romantic possibilities for Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) or spinning sentimental morality tales among the colorful servants below stairs.
  5. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jan 3, 2014
    75
    You may not completely love this fourth vacation away from the 21st century, but lingering affection should more than carry you through.
  6. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Jan 2, 2014
    70
    It's that very attraction--familiar characters acting with familiarity and only the slipperiest of soap schemes to throw them off course--that fuels this series. It's not particularly elite anymore, but it's incredibly efficient.
  7. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Jan 2, 2014
    83
    Slow start Sunday, but the drama's beauty and quality are intact.
  8. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Jan 2, 2014
    63
    The show must carry on, and of course it does, but rather sluggishly.... Overall the acting from the ensemble remains strong enough to sweep you along from episode to episode. [13 Jan 2014, p.47]
  9. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    Jan 3, 2014
    80
    Actors may come and go, inconveniently or not, and viewers may grouse, but Fellowes is composing a love letter to a way of life that's pretty much past.
  10. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Jan 2, 2014
    58
    All this twee is verging on twaddle.
  11. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jan 6, 2014
    75
    PBS made all but the final two hours of Season 4 available for review. And while certainly not a slog, they end up being more than a bit saggy.... ownton Abbey has no scenes or sequences of knockout import during these first seven episodes.
  12. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Jan 2, 2014
    75
    Despite the pluses and minuses of the script, the cast generally delivers the goods, especially Phyllis Logan as housekeeper Mrs. Hughes, Joanne Froggatt as lady's maid Anna Bates, and Jim Carter as Carson, the overseer of the household staff.
  13. Reviewed by: Alessandra Stanley
    Jan 3, 2014
    70
    The narrative this time around is even more stretched, derivative and repetitive than Season 3’s, but almost ingeniously so: It is both utterly predictable and surprisingly addictive.
  14. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    Jan 3, 2014
    80
    When Fellowes allows his characters to show that mettle and strength are not necessarily the prettiest things in the room, Downton transcends its soap bubbles and more than earns its histrionic plot twists.
  15. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jan 2, 2014
    70
    Except for a dismally protracted story line, there’s more than enough pure Downton-ness to enjoy this time around.
  16. Reviewed by: Joanne Ostrow
    Jan 6, 2014
    80
    Clearly, writer-creator Julian Fellowes knows how to keep fans hooked, cleverly playing out credible character traits across time, and knowing the breathless pace of change resonates with our current passage into another modern age.
  17. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    Dec 30, 2013
    75
    Clever dialogue and an unmistakable sense of place still make the show worth watching, even when the narrative is spinning its wheels.
  18. 100
    The “Masterpiece” drama returns Sunday, recapturing some of the excitement that made America fall so hard for it three years ago.
  19. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    Jan 3, 2014
    50
    The show makes Granthams of all of us: content with what we have now (a middling costume soap opera) because we can still remember its glorious past (that first season). It’s safer and cozier than a show about open class warfare.
  20. Viewers who look to Downton Abbey for loads of escapist splendor may want to temper their expectations when the wildly popular British drama returns for its fourth season on Sunday.
  21. Reviewed by: Sarah Rodman
    Jan 2, 2014
    80
    It continues to be to Fellowes’s credit that he manages to write for such a large number and wide array of characters and yet makes viewers know and care about each one. None is purely hissable nor heroic, intentions are murky, and impulsive choices have major consequences, keeping the enjoyable soap at full lather.
  22. Reviewed by: Jeff Jensen
    Jan 3, 2014
    75
    A house party brings an allegedly higher class of people--and their servants--to Downton as Season 4 kicks into gear, for better and worse. [10 Jan 2013, p.67]
  23. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    Jan 3, 2014
    80
    While newcomers may wonder why so much is made of so little, they can’t deny the delicious one-liners Fellowes has written. Coupled with a driving score, Downton Abbey moves--in ways you never thought possible. It's good to see it back.
  24. Reviewed by: Sara Smith
    Jan 3, 2014
    50
    Showrunner Julian Fellowes knew he had to spice things up, apparently, so he employed a lazy, “shocking” plot device that will leave fans sickened, indignant and wondering why Fellowes just didn’t give his beloved characters something worthwhile to do instead. That offensive event aside, this season’s repetitive tropes, recycled conflicts and predictable heartbreak are not worth the trouble this time around.
  25. Reviewed by: Robert Rorke
    Jan 3, 2014
    100
    One of the many excellent things about Downton Abbey is the variety of rich female characters creator Fellowes has fashioned.
  26. Reviewed by: Kevin Fallon
    Jan 10, 2014
    50
    Its characters are depressingly the same.... Pretty much everyone else is recycling their old plot points, too.
  27. Reviewed by: Diane Garrett
    Jan 15, 2014
    70
    Despite the occasional creakiness and lapses into melodrama Downton Abbey remains a show to watch, notable for its dreamy production values and the real depth of feeling it portrays between the classes.
  28. Reviewed by: Sal Cinquemani
    Dec 30, 2013
    63
    While there's plenty of potential fodder for a pulpy potboiler spread throughout the rest of the nine episodes, it's these more mundane, increasingly transient plotlines that come to define the latest installment of the series.
  29. Reviewed by: Myles McNutt
    Jan 3, 2014
    67
    While Downton Abbey has been stuck in the same basic theme of “tradition versus progress” for four seasons now, the closer it inches toward modernity, the more dynamic its basic setting of becomes, and there are moments in season four—particularly late in the season—when this version of the show shines through.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Apr 24, 2014
    10
    As long as we have the Dowager Countess, there is no way that Downton Abbey can EVER disappoint.

    Season 4 was a little dry, but FAR from a
    disappointment! Full Review »
  2. Jan 16, 2014
    6
    While still being a visual masterpiece for a tv-series, the fourth season lacked plot. I guess they thought they'd spiced things up with Mary's new suitors, but they actually didn't. I think this show needs to try harder to make the viewers perceive the passing of time and add a little bit of action.

    But Fellowes, being an aristocrat himself, is probably used to much slower, quieter, more upper-class paces than what we might be accustomed to. Let's see if season V grabs the bull by the horns and really transforms the Grantham family into something appealing.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 13, 2014
    5
    Starting to loose its creative lure. Tragedy after tragedy does not make for good entertainment. It makes for a news show. There was more of an interesting story line in past. Hope it gets back to that soon. Last night's show was far too disturbing. I'll watch documentraries if I need a heavy dose of that kind of reality.
    Disappointed
    Full Review »