Downton Abbey, a British period drama, is a masterpiece. The first season begins with the news of the Titanic’s sinking, and ends with the announcement that Britain has been drawn into World War I; season two takes place during the war and in the immediate postwar years, up to 1920. (Julian Fellowes, the creator and writer of the series, owes a debt to an earlier British TV drama, Upstairs Downstairs (1971-1975), which also featured a rich family and its servants.) Downton Abbey’s cast of characters also spans the class spectrum, from the Dowager Countess (played by Maggie Smith, whose one-liners may be the best part of the show) and Lord and Lady Grantham and their three daughters, all the way down to Daisy the kitchen maid. The acting is superb, the relationships between the characters intricate, and the costumes and sets lush and perfect: the show is filmed partly at Highclere Castle and partly at Ealing Studios in London. Season three is in production – and eagerly awaited by many.