I cannot answer in a definite way. Apparently it starts in early January, so my guess is that it will finish just before the DVD release date. If they are issuing it as they did in the UK, it does not include the Christmas special. I would guess they will release that separately, as they are here on the 26th of Dec.
I deleted my own post somehow. I was only going to say I don't have the answer either, but suspect that it will be included on the Season 2 DVD since it will air here in teh US as the final episode of S2 rather than as a stand-alone episode as it did in the UK. Also, Amazon UK is selling a seperate DVD of the Christmas special - seems like it would be available for pre-order here by now, were it not going to be on the S2 box set version. I would rather have it as a seperate disc myself.
The official PBS press release for the Season 2 DVD does not provide information about the inclusion of the Christmas special, but it states the runtime of the set if 556 minutes. Here are the approximate runtimes of all S2 episodes (as they aired in the UK, minus commercial breaks):
Episodes 1 & 8 - about 65 minutes each Episodes 2-7 - about 55 minutes each Christmas special - about 95 minutes
This adds up to 555 minutes, which is close enough for me to reasonably conclude that the Christmas special will be included. Also, the press release says the set will have "bonus features" (but doesn't specify what they are).
PBS is showing S2 from January 8 to February 19, so note that the S2 DVD set comes out two weeks before the finale airs on PBS!!
And as one final FYI, based on TV listings for the next two weeks, this is apparently how PBS is airing S2:
Jan. 8 - Ep. 1 + Ep. 2 (120-minute slot; edited a bit to make room for Masterpiece intro & outro) Jan. 15 - full version of Ep. 3 (60-minute slot) Jan. 22 - full version of Ep. 4 (60-minute slot) Jan. 29 - full version of Ep. 5 (60-minute slot) Feb. 5 - full version of Ep. 6 (60-minute slot) Feb. 12 - Ep. 7 + Ep. 8 (120-minute slot; edited a bit to make room for Masterpiece intro & outro) Feb. 19 - Christmas special (90-minute slot; edited a bit to make room for Masterpiece intro & outro)
Excellent, than you. I see the product description has now been updated to state that it DOES contain the Christmas special, as we figured. Guess I will still buy the stand alone DVD from Amazon UK, as well as Season 2.
Jill, Downton is one of many UK shows I "find" online soon after UK broadcast then purchase on DVD when released (from the US if released here), so I've already seen Downton S2.
Without spoiling anything, I would classify the S2 "Christmas special" as a continuation of the Downton story that could have just as easily aired in the UK the week after what was technically the S2 finale. While Christmas Day and New Year's Day are in the special, it is not a stand-alone story.
I'm actually quite pleased PBS is including the Christmas special, since ordering the PBS release for $20 is far cheaper than ordering the separate UK S2 and Christmas DVDs (currently, that would cost about $40 plus shipping).
While CDs can be purchased and used anywhere in the world, DVDs unfortunately cannot. There are six DVD regions around the world, including the U.S. and Canada (Region 1) and the U.K./Europe (Region 2), and a Region 1 DVD player cannot play a Region 2 DVD (and vice-versa). Also, the DVD format is different --Region 1 DVDs are NTSC format, while Region 2 DVDs are PAL format.
However, it is possible to play Region 2/PAL DVDs in the U.S. if you use a region-free DVD player. Some inexpensive US DVD players have "online instructions" for a code you can punch in on the remote that makes the DVD player accept DVDs from all regions. However, this sometimes doesn't work because of the NTSC/PAL difference (the player can play the DVD, but it won't look right on the TV).
I bought a region-free DVD player online several years ago that not only plays all regions, it converts the PAL signal to NTSC so it looks perfect on my LCD TV (I think it cost $80 or so). I have purchased quite a few DVDs from Amazon UK, usually great British shows not released on DVD in the US (I always do my best to buy US DVDs if possible, because they can be used on any DVD player, and it helps BBC, PBS and other US distributors!).