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"Downton" has commanding season finale; Ch.2 scores with Olympics

By Alan Pergament

You may recall that my review of the first seven episodes of "Downton Abbey" before the fourth season premiered was that this season of the popular PBS series is a well-acted, entertaining downer.

I suggested the fall leaks about the big plot moments of the season that previously played in Great Britain ruined some of my enjoyment of the exploits of the Crawleys and the people that serve them early in the 20th Century.

I watched the first seven episodes all over the holidays and I almost got as depressed as Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) after the tragic death of her husband Matthew (Dan Stevens) in the season three finale.

There wasn’t a whole lot of happiness or laughter going on in the first seven episodes as Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), Anna Smith (Joanne Froggart), her husband Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) and Tom Branson (Allen Leech) all faced crises and serious issues.

I chalked up my unhappiness to the troubles shows typically have around the fourth season capturing the magic that made them so popular in the first place.

PBS didn’t allow critics to see Sunday’s 90-minute season finale back in January, but it became available for preview recently.

And I can report I am happy with it. It airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on WNED-TV, the local PBS affiliate.

There are a lot of uplifting stories about all the characters with issues who learn to take command of their lives in a world that is changing around them.

However, I advise viewers not to expect every plot element to be 100 percent resolved. That's not always the best way to do things anyway.

Viewers also shouldn't expect anything as big as what happened in the season three finale.

I especially loved the sweet finale scene between the two people who run the place -- Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan).

Channel 2 may miss the Sochi Olympics more than most NBC affiliates because its prime time ratings consistently hit the Top 10 markets in the country on a nightly basis.

The Wednesday night telecast that featured American Ted Ligety winning the gold in giant slalom and the short program of ladies' figure skating had the highest national household rating for the second Wednesday of a Winter Games in 12 years. Channel 2 had a 15.9 rating and tied for ninth place with Indianapolis. Denver was No. 1 with a 20.4.

Of course, Denver doesn’t have to compete with Canadian coverage. Channel 2's rating is much more impressive when you consider many WNYers have the option of watching events live on the CBC affiliate out of Toronto.

Inquiring minds want to know: What happened to Channel 4’s 24-hour Weather Line service that provided forecasts by calling a telephone number? Channel 4 General Manager Rene LaSpina said the station dropped the service from an outside provider. She added it is using the money it saved on its digital end with its apps and website.

I have had a few emails about the end of Weather Line, but in a world in which most people can instantly access weather information on the phone, on the internet or a variety of cable TV stations it doesn't seem to be much of a loss.    


Drama | Sports on TV | Television | TV news
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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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