Aired: PBS, 2010-Present
Series creator Julian Fellowes' lavish period piece is also a pace-driven soap opera, set on a spectacular estate out in the English countryside of Yorkshire, home of the aristocratic Crawleys and their staff. Fellowes, who wrote the screenplay for Gosford Park, which was set between the wars, here examines England and the classes on the brink of World War I. Unsure whether Downton Abbey would last more than a season, the show's renewal, he wrote, enabled him to examine how the outbreak of world war affected not just those who were in it, "but also, and mainly," those who stayed behind. "We would examine how the order and the old certainties were shaken, how some people would hate the changes and bow under their weight, and others would start to sense new beginnings and changing roles, which once had been defined by sex or class, but which were now relaxing."
*Non-WGA determined credit