Downton Abbey has NOT been dumbed down for American audiences

Carson, have him sacked, will you?

It is because I have so thoroughly enjoyed Downton Abbey that it has annoyed me to read the idiotic article by some lame Daily Mail "reporter" (term used loosely). I've since learned that most people in Britain are already fully aware that you don't give creedence to anything that comes from them. However, Chris Hastings stirred up the pot by suggesting that American audiences would be baffled by the plot of Downton Abbey and that 2 hours had been cut. It's simply not true, and the Daily Mail finally printed a reply made by the Executive Producer of PBS Masterpiece, Rebecca Eaton:

'You were wrong last Sunday to say Masterpiece on PBS is downsizing Downton Abbey by two hours because of the allegedly short attention span of Americans. As with virtually all our co-productions, Downton Abbey was edited for our commercial-free time slot. Approximately 35 minutes came out of more than seven hours and the cuts were made in the UK by the original producers. None of the characters, themes, or plotlines (including about the "entail" inheritance law) was eliminated. We have hundreds of talented colleagues in the UK whose work we showcase in the U.S. Any impression that we violate their work would be disrespectful and just plain wrong.'

Rebecca Eaton
Executive Producer, Masterpiece on PBS


  1. Halfway through last night's airing, I got online and ordered the DVDs. LOVING this show! And I can't wait for the new Upstairs/Downstairs later this season.

    And to top it off, I discovered that the Little Rock PBS station is airing third-season episodes of LARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD before Masterpiece Classic on Sunday nights. I'm really going to miss that when I get back home to Nashville and just wait for Netflix to finally pick it up.

  2. I am always so dismayed when American editors take it upon themselves to assume that American audiences need books, movies, or television need "Americanizing". To me it is just "dumbing down" and very insulting. I'm so glad Ms Eaton defended the cuts.

  3. Wow, that article was extremely offensive.
    It's true that a lot of American television is not very intellectually stimulating (i.e. Jersey Shore), but that is why some viewers turn to PBS to have more varied choices.
    No doubt there are citizens in the UK that have equally poor taste and short attention spans to those American viewers that the so-called-journalist points to.
    The Daily Mail is constantly disappointing in their coverage and full of errors. So the proverbial grain of salt comes into play, I suppose.
    The entire article was demeaning. Discussing Laura Linney as if she is some sort of kindergarten teacher that needs to slowly explain the program in monosyllabic words for the American viewers? Sorry, I don't mean to go on a rant.

    At any rate, I am also thoroughly enjoying Downton Abbey and will likely purchase the DVD once the program has concluded.

  4. Not to quibble TOO much, but it still looks as though 35 minutes was "edited" out. I suppose it's better than 2 hours, but jeez, why does any of it have to be cut? It's not that hard to figure out. Audiences for this sort of thing will be able to follow the plot, no matter how labyrinthine the entail might seem.

    Loved the Regency Mix, by the way. Gorgeous.

  5. I too am insulted by the implication that Americans need media, etc. "dumbed down". I'm watching the encore presentation now on PBS and thoroughly enjoying it and I'm having no problems understanding or paying attention to it.

  6. I too wonder why they had to cut 35 minutes. Was it just a time constraint by PBS?

    I loved the first episode (as did my two daughters) and I've already ordered the DVD because I don't know if I can wait four weeks to find out what happens. At least I'll get those missing 35 minutes!

  7. sheila and karenlibriarian,
    Yes the 35 minutes that was cut was due to fitting the time slots.

  8. Thank you for this great site and updates on period films!

    I just can't stand knowing they cut even 35 minutes out! I don't like wondering what I've missed.

    Do they do this major editting all the time with the Masterpiece Movies? For instance, does anyone know if they cut anything out of the 2010 production of Emma??? I must know... it was my favorite! If they did, I'll just have to buy the dvd! If anyone has any information, please let me know!!!

  9. NetMovieBlogger,
    Yes, there are cuts routinely made. I know that some fans of Emma, Sherlock and others were upset by scenes that were cut. Many people are continuing to request PBS to air these dramas unaltered. Until then, I am happy that they at least provide an opportunity for many of us to see these dramas!

  10. It's interesting that apparently the Brits think we Americans aren't as sophisticated as they are when it comes to our entertainment preferences, and yet they didn't hesitate to promote their progressive worldview as far as the same-sex kiss in the first episode. The storyline and acting are terrific, but that scene definitely takes it off the family-friendly list for countless period piece fans in the U.S. Really a shame, as they could have implied that relationship without showing it graphically.

  11. Emilie,
    I agree that it didn't need to be shown and it's unfortunate that some people won't be watching the series as a result.

  12. My mother and I loved the first airing so much, we went straight online and bought the DVDs. We watched the whole thing before PBS aired part 2 and we can't wait for Season 2. We did notice that they didn't cut the 35 minutes, but cut parts in half to fit them in the time slot and moved a few scenes around. It's ridiculous that some people think that American audiences won't understand or like British shows. I actually think they are funnier than their American counterparts.

  13. Thanks so much for clearing this up. This explains why there has been so much confusion about this! I love the show, so I'm relieved to hear we're only missing 35 minutes and not 2 hours.



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