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There was a lot to watch on TV last night here in America, so perhaps it was only mildly frustrating that Downton Abbey had it's UK premiere last night, which marked the show's biggest opening ever.  The 90-minute return of the show lured an average of 9.5 million viewers, according to Georg Szalai of The Hollywood Reporter, besting the season three opener's average of 8.6 million viewers—you know the one with Shirley MacLaine—which had been down slightly from the year prior. Season three, it should be noted, did end up as the show's highest rated season.

So begins another season of avoiding spoilers for a show that is nearly as popular in the US as it is in the UK, once again begging the question: why can't we all just watch it at the same time? The truth of the matter is that Downton, even with the delay, is doing great business for PBS, and PBS does not want to mess with that formula. We'll see if the network has any reason to change its mind come January, considering the show has lost some of its critical goodwill following last year's messy, death-ridden season. 

For now, know that season four—which features an insufferable Lady Mary in mourning—is strong as it ever was on its home court. 


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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