Thursday, December 22, 2011

Great drama. Period.

By Suzanne Kashuba

Growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., I related to the endearing characters on “The Waltons.” I shared John-Boy’s dream to be a writer; I pined along with Mary Ellen to see the big-city lights. But mostly, I learned more than any history book could convey about the human challenges facing families during the Great Depression and World War II.

Period dramas are fictional, yet the best of them bring the past to life in a way that is realistic and memorable. Vicariously living history through the eyes of fictional characters helps us understand the past – and how it affects our world today.

PBS’s “Masterpiece Classic” has been among the top producers of the genre for 40 years, but its latest, “Downton Abbey,” has proven to be one of the most popular MASTERPIECE series of all time.

In 2011, about 13 million tuned into season one. Critics raved. And “Downton Abbey” won six Primetime Emmy® Awards (including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie).

Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton credits screenwriter Julian Fellowes with much of the success: “No one can equal him at breathing life into a world that vanished almost a century ago,” she said.

The all-new Downton Abbey Season 2 (Sundays, Jan. 8 – Feb. 19, 2012, at 9 p.m. on WNED-TV) is set during World War I — a fascinating era of social transition that rapidly transformed an age-old system of class and privilege, affecting every aspect of life in England.

Watch Downton Abbey I Wonder Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

“Downton Abbey”–All new season 2 airs Sundays, Jan. 8-Feb. 19 on WNED-TV

What happens to the glittering world of an English country home in the midst of a brutal war? Listen as some of the key cast members discuss their revealing roles.

Dan Stevens on Matthew Crawley, Downton Abbey’s unexpected new heir — handsome, marriageable, but proudly middle-class
Siobhan Finneran on Downton Abbey’s Machiavellian maid, Miss O’Brien
Elizabeth McGovern on Downton Abbey’s mistress, Lady Grantham, who reacts with impressive cool when social Armageddon threatens to bring down the family.

With characters so compelling, no wonder “Downton Abbey” has become a worldwide hit!

Go to the PBS Masterpiece Facebook page for a special surprise and to learn much more about the new, seven-part series!

What’s your favorite television drama and why? What character do you enjoy watching most?


  1. There's a lot to be learned from this history -- and it is so entertaining!

  2. "Goodnight, John Boy!"