Seek and you shall find... Here's the answer to my question, and from a noted authority, the man who restored the classic film, My Fair Lady: Thread Starter Robert Harris, Archivist. UPDATED 3/6/12
The final result of problems with the U.S. domestic release of Downton Abbey comes down to a simple fact. Both Season 1 as well as Season 2 are fully defective, as they are improperly mastered. For those who wish to own the series, Amazon offers a few different possibilities. Purchasing the UK release, which is non-region coded via a U.S. supplier is not the best route, as ridiculous prices are asked. The easy way is to order from Amazon UK. I found the boxed set of two seasons to be fairly priced, and delivery quick. Be aware that while the U.S. Season 2 is inclusive of the final episode, the UK set is not, and it must be ordered separately, but is easy enough. The interesting thing here is that while Season 1 (U.S.) shows the same problem as Season 2, it is not as obvious, and plays decently. Season 2 is unwatchable, which begs the questions, what has PBS done to destroy the quality of the master? I would suggest that the PBS (U.S.) release issued as "Masterpiece Classic," and "Original UK Edition," be returned as defective, which they are.