The popular British television series "Downton Abbey" launched its fourth season with a record-breaking number of viewers Sunday night, though reviews were mixed.
The show drew 9.5 million to Britain’s ITV, its best season debut yet, the Hollywood Reporter said
, up from the 9 million viewers who tuned in for last season’s premiere.
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Still, Sunday’s premiere was down from the peak audience of 10.7 million and an average viewership of 10.1 million for last season’s final episode.
The television series has garnered critical acclaim since it debuted in the United Kingdom in 2010 and began its broadcast a few months later on PBS in the United States as a period drama focusing on the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey.
The Telegraph lauded the Sunday season 4 premiere.
“A triumvirate of women made last night’s opening installment of the fourth series of Downton Abbey a glowing success,” the review said. “A great deal rested on this episode. The capacious hole rendered by the death of Matthew Crawley, handsome hero and heir to the estate, was one it wouldn’t be easy to fill. Julian Fellowes did well then to embrace his absence and instead of trying to distract us with too much below stairs frippery, placed Matthew’s grieving wife centre stage.”
The Guardian did not gush as much in their review.
“[The episode] was not the most auspicious of openers to the new season for the posh soap. There’s a dustiness and a mustiness about the place, a sense of same-old, same-old. Downton Drabbey,” the review said.
And successful as Sunday’s premiere was, it wasn’t the most-watched television show in Britain. That ranking belonged to "The X Factor," which had an average viewership of 9.8 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Season 4 premiere of "Downton Abbey" will be shown in the United States in January.
Meanwhile, across the pond, "Downton Abbey" was shut out Sunday at the annual Emmy Awards.
It was nominated for 12 and only took home one, Outstanding Music Composition.
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