On Tonight: Going Back ‘Downton’

Here’s the show you’ve been waiting for: “Downton Abbey,” the elegant but frothy series at about an English manor house (that seems more of a castle) from the early 20th century, as their traditions and patterns of living among the home’s family and its squad of servants seemed threatened by the changing world.

There was no way the short series, presented here in four episodes in fall 2009, was ever meant to end the way it did. And now things have advanced two years into the war, with cousin Matthew Crawley off to war and the Earl and Countess of Grantham considering helping the war effort further by lending their manor as a soldiers’ convalescent center.

There are comings and goings to note, particularly about Mr. Bates, whose romance with a maid seemed threatened by his disappearance last season. Maggie Smith returns in her hilarious depiction of the doddy dowager. The central question is whether lady Mary (the alluring Michelle Dockery, pictured) will ever get together with the manor heir Matthew. She’s certainly softened her position about him but it may be too late. Some may want to watch just for the sumptuous costumes and setting. And despite the old world grandeur, Jonathan Fellowes’ script moves along its parallel stories quickly, in a modern way. The first episode of the second season runs two hours tonight on “Masterpiece Classic” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings); it continues to run for the next seven weeks.

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