Downton Abby – a rambling, extravagant Edwardian manor and park settled in the rich North Yorkshire scene – needs a beneficiary. Woman Maggie Smith turns in a show-halting execution as Violet, the charmingly difficult Dowager Countess of Grantham, matron of Downton and the undeniable expert on everything. Hugh Bonneville stars as her child, the aloof, unflappable Earl of Grantham; Elizabeth McGovern plays his far-located American spouse, Cora; and a ritzy cast round out the sparkling, gossipy, and dumbfounding people of this epic story from Academy Award-champ Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park).

After a catastrophe adrift kills the assumed beneficiary, Lord Grantham is looked with the likelihood that the house he’s cherished as long as he can remember may some time or another have a place with a far off cousin he’s never met. Yet, before he can stress over that he should manage his shocking little girl, Lady Mary – considered by numerous individuals to be the legitimate beneficiary to Downton. Indeed, even the staff has feelings on the family’s issues. And keeping in mind that most are given to those they serve, there are others whose childishness and conspiring accomplish more than essentially upset the well-oiled inward functions of the bequest. As the workers’ insidiousness heightens, even the most dedicated representatives start to envision an alternate life.

Setting many long periods of British gentry against the tides of social change and specialized advancement, under the approaching shadow of World War I, will the destiny of Downton and its family – above and underneath the stairs – be settled? Or on the other hand will life be modified so significantly that its lord never again matters?

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