I remember the '70s and another Series which was cut more or less in the same parameters as this one, and that was "Usptairs, Downstairs".
This too was a masterpiece of a social study, of the times at the turn between the 19th and early 20th Century.
The only difference was that it was set in a City based household, while "Downton Abbey" is set in the very elegant English countryside.
Both series display the best of British Theatre and Cinema, in terms of production teams, actors, technicians and general staff.
It is absolutely to be considered high quality movie-making, even though meant for the home screen.
Everyone, but everyone, in this series, knows his business and does portray his own character with honesty and truth.
There is no dull moment, due to a skillful editing of scenes that are almost put together like in an elegant dance sequence.
It is a very intelligent show that explores every facet of Society as it was structured (so far, in season 1 and 2), before, during and right after World War I, and as people behaved and felt back on the Homefront, being so detached, yet totally involved with the destinies of those men sent abroad to fight.
It is no melodrama in the classic sense of the word. It is an honest depiction of what people "downstairs and upstairs" went through during those years.
The conventions, the rigid rules, the traditions, all changing just in a ten year period and being uprooted and twisted by the new winds of war.
There is something for everybody here. You want a thrilling story? Check! You've got it. You want love and romance? Check! You've got it. You want a social drama? Check! You've got it. You want a war drama? Check! You've got it too.
It's a very human story of all characters on board of this static ship that is "Downton Abbey". As firm as the Rock of Gibraltar one might say. And yet, not so static after all... Lots is happening here, and this, day by day.
Just think of the nightmare to have a sudden dinner invitation. The kitchen is in uproar, serving hands are missing, the masters are nervous, and everything seems to be doomed from the beginning, but then, somehow, everything comes together beautifully, like by magic...
Magic? Let's say blood and a lot of sweat...
I started this saying that it was addictive, and indeed it is. After an episode is over you immediately want to jump back in and watch the next to see how it goes on.
I only have Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and I am already asking for the 3rd Season to appear, just to know what happens next.
I simply can't wait... I hope it pops up soon (including the Christmas Special that I am sure will be a delightful treat).