Not Getting Enough of Your ‘Downton Abbey’ Fix on TV?

Here’s your chance to impress your friends and family with your prognosticating abilities. The DVD of the second season of Downton Abbey goes on sale tomorrow (February 7), nearly two weeks before the Emmy-winning British TV series finishes its run on PBS on February 19.

By buying and binge watching Season Two, you can then confidently “predict” whether Matthew and Lady Mary will ever admit to their love for each other, whether Anna and Bates will manage to be together, and whether Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess of Grantham will continue her stream of withering bon mots. Or you can just smile knowingly as friends and family frantically speculate on what will happen next.

In addition to the eight regular episodes, the DVD includes the ninth, special Christmas episode, which marks the conclusion of Season Two. The three-disc set also has three short specials offering behind-the-scene looks at this season’s costumes, romantic plotlines, and the conversion of Downtown Abbey into a convalescent hospital for injured World War I British soldiers. Among the tidbits gleaned from these extras:

- Shooting was held up at one point to ensure that the military medals pinned to Lord Grantham’s dress uniform and those of other characters were correct.

- Laura Carmichael, the actress who plays Edith Crawley, was thrilled at the chance in her farming scenes to wear a shirt once worn by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa.

- Michelle Dockery, who plays Mary Crawley, says of her character and Matthew (Dan Stevens), “I think he’s the love of her life.”

- Many of England’s great houses, just like Downton Abbey, were converted temporarily to hospitals and similar institutions during World War I. But unlike the Crawleys, who continue to live alongside the recuperating officers and soldiers, most of the residing families moved elsewhere for the duration.

- Maggie Smith says of her character, Violet, the Dowager Countess: “I have the feeling that she’s older and wiser than the rest of them. She’s been there, done that, gotten the t-shirt.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VM8QaQ8pl4

When you’ve finished watching Downton Abbey, whether on DVD or PBS, you might want to try Poldark. One of the earliest BBC series to become a hit on PBS, the complete series has just been reissued as an eight-disc DVD set. Based on novels by Winston Graham, the miniseries chronicles the romantic and business adventures of Capt. Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis), a dashing Revolutionary War veteran living in 18th century Cornwall. The show, which lasted for two seasons and included 29 episodes, also starred Angharad Rees, Judy Geeson and Trudie Styler (for three episodes). It originally began airing in the U.K. in 1975 and in the U.S. in 1977.

For fans wondering what ever became of Ellis, he continued to act for decades, most recently in 2006 in the Swedish TV version of Wallander. Now age 70 and retired from acting, he has written a cookbook devoted to healthful recipes for diabetics (like himself) and lives – and blogs about – the good life in the south of France.