The season 4 premiere of “Downton Abbey” was a winner and then some. The two hour show broke PBS’s previous record for any drama, and scored 10.2 million viewers. That was up 22% from the season 3 premiere. PBS says that between 9 and 10pm they tied CBS and “The Good Wife” for most watched network of the evening. But according to tvbythenumbers.com, PBS’s 10.2 million exceeded CBS’s “Good Wife” (9.24) and “The Mentalist” (9.93). Between 9 and 10pm everything else on TV was just laid to waste.
Last night was the first time in eons, I guess, that I watched “Downton” in real time on PBS. My my things have changed. There are lots of sponsor commercials from the likes of Ralph Lauren and cruise companies. There are endless plugs, and constant invocations of the names of people who’ve given money. On top of that, PBS is really invested in a lot of ancillary chat rooms and live tweeting and that sort of thing with the cast. Plus I hadn’t really noticed they don’t call it “Masterpiece Theater” anymore, just “Masterpiece.” I guess “theater” scares people off.
No, it’s not your grandmother’s PBS anymore. Survival ain’t easy when Mitt Romney wants to shut you down.