User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 268 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 11 out of 268

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  1. Jan 26, 2011
    Hmmmm. On American TV, pandering is gratuitous sex, carnage of every kind, terrifyingly good-looking stars, and innocents in peril. On British TV, pandering is revisiting great works of literature, TV, and film. Need I say more? Instead, let me add my cheers to the general applause for this beautifully-executed, absorbing series, which I had planned to watch over several evenings but instead gobbled down in a one-night marathon. There's been lots of praise (all of it just) for the writing and the acting and the various kinds of design, so I won't belabor what has been said better by others. What I would like to stress is the subtlety and complexity of the characters; the reason "Downton Abbey" is NOT "Gosford Park II" is that, instead of static, one-dimensional characters (however delightful), the series has the time and the intelligence to create characters who express inconsistencies, have insights that are only partial, change in fits and starts. For someone used to American TV, in which "change" means a blinding epiphany followed by violent (and often temporary) maturation, these characters are extraordinary, offering the viewer a range of responses to almost every principal. I withhold the "10" because plot developments did occasionally seem obvious or contrived, but this quibble is minor and may disappear next season. No need to manufacture drama when the Great War rips the world apart. Expand
  2. Mar 20, 2011
    A fascinating series that I was immediately hooked on. Magnificent acting, masterful direction, gorgeous sets, and whip-smart writing. The best television of 2011 thus far.
  3. Feb 17, 2011
    Downtown Abbey has got to be one of the most entertaining shows of the year. The amount of emotion packed into seven episodes is astounding. This is truly a must watch for all.
  4. Jan 18, 2011
    Very enjoyable show! The scenes move quickly, and the dialogue is crisp and to the point. The characters are realistically depicted and well-acted by every member of the cast. There's no overacting. So far, each 90-minute episode has flown by. I can't wait for the next episode, and I'm delighted to hear that they are about to begin shooting a second season. If I had one tiny criticism, it would be that the potentially budding romance between the Turkish diplomat and the eldest daughter progressed a bit more quickly than I found believable for that character. But, like I said, the scenes move quickly, so that's forgivable. I wish there were more shows like this on TV. Expand
  5. Jan 15, 2012
    I love the series, a feeling that is enhanced by the fact that I never watched "Upstairs Downstairs" and only watched "Brideshead Revisited" once. WWI period dramas really are the best, and the British know how to do them. I was particularly entertained by the general aversion to electricity and to all the modern conveniences that we now take for granted. It was quaint. I am glad to see Maggie Smith in another role that is worthy of her, although I hope she resists the temptation to get too soppy as time goes on. Her cutting remarks keep the series on an even keel, if you ask me. The most curious thing is that my sympathies lie with the secondary characters in the series, and not those who have the major roles. I don't know why this is, but it makes me willing to keep watching until the bitter end, which is presumably when Herr Hitler finally puts in an appearance. For any and all history buffs, "Downton Abbey" is well worth watching. Expand
  6. Apr 8, 2012
    I absolutely love this show (and I'm your typical, feet up on the coffee table, "Quiet, I'm watching the footy" kinda guy).
    Really looking forward to season 3
  7. Apr 12, 2011
    I am very fond of series set in the past, this one is interpreted by brilliant actors, I looking forward to watch the next season, the British cinema is at the pinnacle of his art, without violence and filled with poetry.
  8. Feb 18, 2012
    A near perfect drama that studies the ins-and-outs of British economic classes, wartime and romance, Downton Abbey is a brilliant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. A classic in the making.
  9. Jan 18, 2011
    I am thoroughly pleased with Downton Abbey after watching the first two episodes. It is wonderful to watch what is being called Gosford Park 2 by some. The dialogue is witty and the characters come to life for us, especially Hugh Bonneville who plays the Lord of the Manor. The home is grand as would be expected but not as ornate as some of other productions. My favorite is Maggie Smith who can play an old cynical woman so well with all her wickedness with a grain of softness hidden deep down. I am also pleased to hear that this will just be the first season of the show, with more to come..yummy..I thought it was just a mini series as we usually get in period dramas. I can't wait to watch the rest! I just wish KCET and PBS would work out their differences so we can see it through KCET. They have the best feed in LA..the outer lying cities don't seem to come in as clear. Expand
  10. Jan 15, 2011
    Wonderful tv. After the first episode I instantly cared about the characters. I found the rest online and they are all just as fantastic as the first. Maggie Smith in particular is fantastic.
  11. Jan 17, 2011
    While I do not usually follow period dramas closely, this program hooked me from the first minute as all the characters are interesting and real, and the production values, direction and editing are all first rate. A really good look at early George V England!
  12. Jan 23, 2011
    Okay, I just finished tonight's episode and that's it for me. I can't take anymore. If I ever hear it's actually ending, I may check in to see how. I wonder if the producers/writers, whatever, thought they were making another "Upstairs/Downstairs"? If so, they weren't. That was a fantastic series.
  13. Jan 25, 2011
    This is excellent TV. I am fascinated by the story-telling from multiple perspectives, and by the artful portrayal of this time of rapid social change. I hope it becomes available to watch on Canadian TV.
  14. Jan 29, 2011
    A masterpiece. Definitely one of my favorites series. Characters, dialogues, art direction, everything on it makes this series unique. It's wonderful how the show shows the life of both aristocrats and low class. The only bad thing is that is too short. Can't wait until next season! The wait is going to be rough...
  15. Feb 6, 2011
    I do love period pieces. That said this is such a wonderful series. Well written, amazing cast that totally delivers. Thank God there is something for adults to enjoy on TV.
  16. May 23, 2011
    This is a slow pace drama, includes all ingredients to make an interesting series. Perfect balance between the real life of the servants and the upper class. Stunning decors and surroundings, a nice view back in time and engaging storyline.
  17. Feb 17, 2011
    The transition between scenes and the wife's american accent could use some work, but this is without a doubt the best new show this season. Julian Fellows has created a fictional masterpiece that shouldn't be over looked. At it's heart, it's a story of change regarding the cultural shift of what's acceptable and not acceptable in high society, in the early twentieth century. If your someone who enjoys Big Timing his/her friends on your knowledge of British television, this show is for you. Expand
  18. Feb 22, 2011
    Wonderful series this is.. i really like to watch to this online.. wonderful this is to be watched. All the story line of this series is really great

    Watch ABC Online
  19. Jun 4, 2011
    An absolute joy to watch from start to finish. Full of class and sophistication, subtle, humorous, dramatic, enticing, sumptuous and eminently watchable. It's quite simply the best TV series to coming along in a very long time. Production values are excellent resulting in a period story that is believable and immersive. Don't miss it; it's a wonderful experience.
  20. Jun 6, 2011
    I loved this show and the characters. I'm so glad that they are showing interesting shows to watch on Masterpiece Theater this past year or two. I can't wait to see what happens to the characters in the next season, which I understand is being filmed. The dialogue was perfect and the whole season was well written.
  21. Jun 28, 2011
    I just love this show, and I can't wait for the second season - and the Christmas special! (Wiki). I find the show so interesting and exiting. It's like a British version of the Danish show "Matador" and I have been looking for a show just like that for so long now.
    I am really looking forward to the return of Downton Abbey!
  22. Sep 24, 2011
    I was a little late to the game on this series as I didn't think I would get into a British costume period drama/comedy of manners. However, I wish that there were a lot more than the six episodes in the first season. Perfect in every way, the cast is extraordinary, the story lines engrossing, sets and costumes lend easy credibility. This show plays like a documentary of life in an aging Manor Home at the turn of the 20th Century. Major props to Dame Maggie Smith. She seems created in a lab especially for this role...rock it girrrl! Expand
  23. Oct 10, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Impeccable. Inventive (to a point). Incredible. These are 3 of the plethora of adjectives I could use to describe the triumph that is Downton Abbey. The Emmy-winning mini-series-turned-series has been called the "Upstairs, Downstairs" of this generation, but in my limited experience with the latter, Downton takes the cake, several cakes if you will. After first hearing about the series over 1 year ago through my love of the script of Gosford Park and its writer, Julian Fellowes, I honestly forgot about it. That was until the series won the Emmy for Best Mini-Series/TV Movie. That rekindled my interest. I looked on Netflix, and lo-and-behold, it was viewable instantly. After the first 10-15 minutes of episode 1, I was hooked. Fellowes, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Gosford Park, and his screenwriting capabilities have improved exponentially since 2001. A better production than Gosford Park by leaps and bounds, I was absolutely blown away by the screenplay. It juggles multiple complicated story lines deftly and the direction is equally skillful (especially that of Brian Percival). Set in Yorkshire and using Highclere Castle in Hampshire as the manor house, the story line begins with the sinking of the Titanic and continues to the end of the 1st season and the outbreak of World War I. A succession crisis of sorts as well as a sex scandal are thrown into the mix. The acting is top-notch, with Maggie Smith leading the bunch with one of the best performances (stage, film, TV, or otherwise) of her illustrious career as the proper, conservative, yet fiery grandmother/mother, the Dowager Countess. Her line delivery will make you at least chuckle 75-90% of the time. Also fantastic are Hugh Bonneville as the Earl and Elizabeth McGovern as his wife. Also featured are British mainstays of these sorts of series including Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, and Phyllis Logan. The three daughters of Bonneville and McGovern are quite well-acted, with Michelle Dockery's performance as the eldest as the one of note, and those of Laura Carmichael and Jessica Brown-Findlay also quite good. Some other personal favorite performances of mine are those of Joanne Froggatt, Rose Leslie, Dan Stevens, Penelope Wilton, and Siobhan Finneran. Easily the best show on television, I would recommend Downton Abbey to anyone who appreciates British period dramas, great acting, possibly the best TV mini-series script ever written, or magnificent characterization. Expand
  24. Jul 19, 2012
    It is extremely well acted and complex. Heartbreaking and emotionally resonant. And it could for some people be very hard to sit through. Notwithstanding this is a great show.
  25. Dec 2, 2011
    Outstanding British period piece. Great scenary, story lines, characters. I've seen it several times and it's just as good each time. I must confess I am a huge British period fan. I've searched far and wide for any and every similar title but little compares with Downton Abbey.
  26. Dec 5, 2011
    This serie is great in every way. The best for me today and one of the best of all time. Don't even know what to say. Don't even know how to say. It's perfect only this.
  27. Jun 10, 2012
    An excellent look at both the upstairs and downstairs residence of an early 20th century English manor. Downton Abbey has a compelling story of love, marriage, and inheritance and it's handled by an all-star cast. The series also boasts amazing production design and costumes.
  28. Jan 4, 2012
    I devoured this show in 2 days. I am a fan of british drama and period pieces so it's not surprise I absolutely love it. That my action movie/ indie movie loving dad also loved it is a testament to it's beautiful scenery, surprisingly scandalous plot lines, and the ode to a time of more subtle human interaction. I adore the complexity of the characters, and the wonderful Madame Smith. Stellar!
  29. Jan 9, 2012
    Literature in motion!! Beautiful characters, costumes and sceneries. Slowly, drawing into the lives of both domestic and dynasty. I never want an ending!
  30. Jan 4, 2013
    Metacritic won't let me remove my review. Reviews must be 150 characters long, so: Metacritic won't let me remove my review. Metacritic won't let me remove my review.
  31. Feb 7, 2012
    Watched both seasons in 2 days, and didn't stop to watch it for anything. That's how caught up I was in the show's story. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Collapse
  32. Mar 30, 2012
    We loved this tv show : actors, all the life's details in the castle, the difference between nobles and the employees , and the bridges between them
    Very high quality and hope to watch the season 3
  33. May 29, 2012
    If you like or miss soap operas this is a good choice, it is well written, acted and the characters are likable or even lovable. But I don't like soap operas
  34. Aug 23, 2012
    A great opening season to an extremely well written and great looking show. It is very hard to navigate a show effectively with such a large cast and numerous story lines. Downton Abbey does this very well. Their are many interesting characters here with great arcs. In addition the show has a great feel, written so that you truly feel transformed into this world. A great piece of television that I am hopeful will continue as effectively as it has begun. Expand
  35. Oct 8, 2012
    Although the sets, the costumes, the music, and the direction all work to create a captivating world, the writing is sloppy and is more in the realm of a soap opera or a cartoon than an intelligent drama. Instead of showing the lives of convincing characters, the people of Downton Abbey are often one-dimensional and far too repetitive. The show's villains are entirely without motivation, worse than the moustache-twirling villains from Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. The plots, somehow, are both predictable and absurd, and the characters complain, for years, about problems that are far too easy to resolve. Expand
  36. Jan 9, 2013
    I'm a huge DA fan. However, I think we fans were shortchanged in the Season 3 premier concerning Mary and Matthew's wedding and definitely on the honeymoon to the south of France. We had to find out about the honeymoon from Anna visiting Bates in prison. Seriously, this is the best they could do? Where's the romance? It's not just about eating dinner and dressing. Occasional undressing, although tasteful, would be very welcomed. Julian Fellows--please take note! Expand
  37. Jan 19, 2013
    Well after a good year of hearing about this show from my folks and sister and shrugging it off I decided to give it a shot. I couldn't be happier to have started watching this show. I started watching the series this past Sunday and I'm almost caught up to where it's at for this season. It's a phenomenal show that couldn't be done any better than it is. The dialogue that the writers have for this ensemble cast couldn't be any better. Along with the breath taking imagery of the period that's being depicted it couldn't go any better. Also you have to give two thumbs up to Maggie Smith as always. I wasn't to familiar with her work besides her being in Harry Potter, but seeing her in something new is riveting because she's such a splendid actor. Keep up the good work Downton Abbey and don't quit on us anytime soon. Expand
  38. Feb 1, 2013
    What a great piece of entertainment! The location, cast, plot, awesome old cars, clothes and mannerisms make for "Must Watch" television. Well done to all involved.
  39. Feb 14, 2013
    I love the restrained way of British film TV. The storytelling is sometimes a bloody mess, but it's the costumes, the sets, the unintentionally hilarious to this American dialogue. I LOVE this show.
  40. Mar 10, 2013
    There was no one more surprised then me to find out how awesome this show is. As a rule I don't like British shows, I don't watch PBS,and historical romance isn't my "thing". But I kept hearing about this show so one night I decided to order episode one on my kindle. I stayed up all night watching the first season.
  41. Apr 6, 2014
    By chance, I watched an episode from the 4th series on TV and since then I was hooked. I had to get the full package and watched it all from the start. I find this an outstanding series, from the opening credits with the great music down to the most insignificant detail. In fact I thought it was going to be pretentious and silly, but I found it most engaging.

    The story starts with the
    tragedy of the Titanic in the background and how the death of the heir to Dowton will affect the lives of many people. Even if it is hard to sympathize with the problems of the upper class, the characters are quite vivid and decent. The “staff” is also portrayed in a captivating way.

    Costumes are magnificent and really makes one feel nostalgic for a time when women were so much better dressed than nowadays.
  42. Jul 1, 2013
    I love this show soooooo much. Even though they kill off a lot of main characters it's still a great show. It makes it more real. I hate when you watch a show and no one ever dies. Let's make it a little more real life! So glad I started watching this show. It's amazing!
  43. Aug 15, 2013
    Whoever knew that the upstairs-downstairs set up of a traditional upper class household about the intertwining lives of pristine aristocratic families and their large staff of servants in the early 1900s on the brink of changing times could be so wonderfully addictive? Downton Abbey is a soap opera, yes, but it's soap done right, with excellent performances, writing, and intriguing characters you can't help but pull for, even in their darkest times. Expand
  44. Jan 27, 2014
    Wonderful, easy to watch period drama. The sets, the language and the general atmosphere provide a show that is captivating and very enjoyable. Excellent entertainment.
  45. Jun 1, 2014
    Put simply, this strikes me as the most perfect single season of television that I have ever seen. It has a beautiful setting, a range of memorable characters, and dramatic situations that are plausible and not over the top (as would infect later seasons). What I like best about DA, Season 1 is that it is basically a sober yet interesting take on life. It's appeal isn't about relishing a bunch of ugly characters in outrageous and sordid settings and situations. Like one article writer said, it's mostly a bunch of people with both virtues and flaws doing the best they can in an imperfect and far away world to which we all nevertheless can relate. It's too bad that the show very soon afterward began to jump the shark. Expand
  46. Aug 7, 2014
    Whenever BBC production is on, there is no doubt it would be successful. Downton Abbey is the most sophisticated, intelligent, heartwarming series on TV nowadays. Personally I'm getting tired and repulsed by the shows involving so much blood, sex scenes and slang. Finally these series stand up to all those non-sense the viewer watches. Julian Fellowes is a brilliant writer. He even has an Academy Award to prove it. It also takes a skillful cast to create a masterpiece. The acting of Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Dan Stevens, Allen Leech, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton and the unbelievable Dame Maggie Smith complete the high quality of the series. If you are a connoisseur of art, in this case - the cinema, you'll enjoy and look forward to every episode of Downton Abbey. Expand
  47. Sep 9, 2014
    As an historian, I love the world. As a viewer, I love the characters. Because that's what this show is. It's a full set of genuine characters set in the 1910-1920s. You get a great view of how things were even just 100 years ago, and you end up feeling like part of the Downton family.
  48. Sep 9, 2014
    Layers of people in the embodiment of British stately.. classical drama wonderful and expressive, and the emergence of a well-meaning aristocracy in all its aspects ", especially between floors"

Universal acclaim - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Reviewed by: Jeanne Jakle
    Jan 14, 2014
    There are plenty of jolts throughout: bigotry, rape, a possible murder. However, as is normally the case with Downton, it's the quieter moments that shine brightest.
  2. Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    Jan 10, 2014
    If some plot elements in the third season seemed forced (and they did), then Fellowes seems to have completely regained his balance in the fourth season. And that balance means expertly bouncing between the upstairs and downstairs worlds of Downton, letting the plot turns flow naturally, carrying us along joyously for the posh ride.
  3. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Feb 14, 2011
    Now, I wouldn't say I loved it. Parts of it I didn't even like. I became quite engaged with what was going on downstairs with the servants, while I found virtually everything having to do with the Granthams (at least the parts unrelated to how they dealt with the staff) a chore to get through.