TV Pick: Downton Abbey

“Downton Abbey,” a wildly popular British series about the inner workings of an aristocratic mansion in 1920s England, has captured the zeitgeist and satisfied America’s insatiable Anglophile appetite.

But the show is more than just lavish sets and costumes. What makes “Downton Abbey” so brilliant is the talented and expansive cast, the wide variety of characters from different upbringings and the incalculably delightful barbs from the mouth of actress Dame Maggie Smith (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”).

Smith’s Dowager Countess and the other residents are experiencing an ideological shift this season. The winds of change have arrived at Downton Abbey in shocking and often painful ways. Can the Crawley/Grantham household remain entrenched in its old-fashioned, hierarchical order, or will the changing mores of the time bring about a revolution of sorts?

Whatever the answer, series creator Julian Fellowes consistently populates “Downton Abbey” with beautiful imagery and sophisticated writing.

“Downton Abbey” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on PBS.

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