Critics have plunged in the knives and given a good twist, Downton Abbey's plight during the Great War and Spanish Fever provoking sneers.
Admittedly some plot contrivances did not really convince and Mrs. Bates exuded so much venom she seemed to have strayed in from "The Wizard of Oz". Much drama of quality, though, remained as tragedy struck both upstairs and down, all concerned having forever to improvise. Conditions depicted were the result of extensive research. It is easy to mock Lady Sybil's wish to play her part, which meant first learning how to fill a kettle. That is how things were - so many of the pampered classes at a loss how to do even the most basic things for themselves.
The romances rather left me cold, except for Bates and Anna (Joanne Froggatt excellent). Unexpectedly the most moving moments were not the big set pieces but almost incidental: Thomas (of all people) weeping after a sudden death; his crony sourface O'Brien surprisingly sympathetic towards the shellshocked replacement valet Lang.
Maggie Smith's Dowager, as ever, reigned supreme. When Matthew was reported missing, she observed, "The next heir will probably be a chimney sweep from Solihull." Magnificently she championed the cause of badly injured footman William - casting aside pompous officialdom, cutting down to size that odious vicar. In every way a performance to treasure. Others, less showy, also impressed - not least Phyllis Logan as the housekeeper.
The television showing suffered from clutter. DVD spares viewers the adverts, promotions of forthcoming shows (one segment insensitively timed about five minutes from the climax of each episode), the pre-credit spoilers. Interesting bonuses include deleted scenes (several worth a look), features on costumes, romances, the challenge of converting the Abbey into a convalescent home.
Despite disappointments, there is much to admire - full worth perhaps more greatly to be appreciated when a little time has passed.