What is the appeal of "Downton Abbey"? Everything -- the time period, the costumes, the excellent script, the acting, the ability of this TV series to put you into the story and care about the characters.
Each character seems fully fleshed out, not cardboard in anyway. You can take any one and imagine how their day would progress, what they think about, what their hopes are, their strengths and their weaknesses -- and that interesting writing prompt when creating your own characters -- what does your character have in his or her pocket? Daisy's character would not have the same thing as Lady Mary's, for example.
The series is a lesson in writing and creating characters.
Another series that I would watch again is "Foyle's War," about a detective in a small English town just before the possible German invasion in 1939. He struggles to solve crimes with the background of the greater threat. The stories of the black market, espionage, Nazi sympathizers, added to his own personal story make compelling watching. Michael Kitchen is brilliant in this role, underplayed perfectly. His driver, 'Sam," played by Honeysuckle Weeks, is another interesting character.
Kitchen is such a good actor that the narrowed eyes, the twitch of the cheek -- everything that he put in this role was there for all to see, the indecision, the desire to do what was right, the goodness of the man, made him real to the viewer. And, there will be more episodes in 2013!
These dramas are like a good book. You read every word and are disappointed when they end.
Meanwhile, not having seen any "Downton Abbey" "spoilers," what will happen to Matthew? Rumors say he will not be back after this season? Will Downton be sold? And what happened to the ruthless publisher who was engaged to Mary?