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Customer Review

1,468 of 1,531 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY THE DUMBED DOWN PBS VERSION!, February 1, 2011
This review is from: Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Season 1 (DVD)
EDIT: I am revising my post and giving this 5 Stars instead of one as PartlyCloudy has kindly pointed out that my review of the PBS version has ended up under the "UK version". There is much confusion out there since the infamous Daily Mail article claimed that a full two hours of the original ITV series had been cut by PBS. Many claim the cuts are minor and unnoticeable. I'd venture to guess that about 35 minutes were edited out of the original, but more importantly, it was a hack job and many scenes do not play out as intended. Below is my slightly revised review of the PBS version which you should avoid at all costs:

Do not buy the so-called "dumbed down" PBS version of the outstanding British ITV series Downton Abbey. We watched the entire series with great joy while in the UK last year, and after excitedly telling our American friends to watch Downton Abbey on PBS, my husband and I looked at each other in horror and confusion as we watched one butchered scene after another. Don't be misled by those who recalculate the running time to account for the removal of commercials (from the ITV version) or the reformatting to shorten the series by increasing episode length (7 episodes in the UK, 4 longer episodes in the US). The fact is, SCENES WERE OMITTED AND OR TRUNCATED because as PBS Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton shamefully admitted, "American audiences demand a `different speed' to their shows." She also claimed that American audiences would have trouble understanding the complicated inheritance issues. Wow. This is an extraordinary admission from a PBS executive. Don't people turn to PBS for an intelligent alternative to the idiocy of American commercial television? I submit it is Rebecca Eaton who is dumb, not the PBS viewership.

There is apparently a Region 2 version of the unedited ITV series on Amazon (EDIT: and now we see there is an "unedited UK" version provided by PBS though I have not seen it and cannot attest that it's the actual ITV version), so just check your tech specs before buying or search elsewhere. And for the much anticipated season two of Downton Abbey when it premieres later this year, get a UK VPN and stream it from the ITV Player. Each episode remains available for streaming for several weeks after it airs. Note: Many inadvertently refer to this as a BBC series. It is in fact an ITV production.

Shame, shame, shame on Rebecca Eaton and PBS.
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Tracked by 9 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 60 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 1, 2011 11:48:39 AM PST
PartlyCloudy says:
Curious.. Your comment is showing in the "Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition) (DVD)" comments list. Is this the same one you are reviewing? I know Amazon sometimes gets reviews of different versions mixed in together. Just wanted to be sure. I will see if I can find the Region 2 version and compare specs. I appreciate your pointing out that there are differences!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 1, 2011 1:43:44 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 1, 2011 7:15:03 PM PST
D. Burke says:
Wow! Thank you, so much, for your review with the information regarding PBS's "dumbed down" version! I suspected some such when I saw that there was a UK unedited edition. But I had not imagined the attitudes of Rebecca Eaton and PBS. I share your disgust. I am humiliated at how much our entire country is being dumbed down. It also frightens me. Shades of Harrison Bergeron!

I had to edit this comment to tell you that, again thanks to you, I found the unedited version in Blu-Ray in a region-free edition from the UK for about $35 dollars from an Amazon seller.

Downton Abbey: Series 1 [Blu-ray]

Posted on Aug 21, 2011 3:34:53 PM PDT
A. Winters says:
I just watched the UK un-PBSified version on VideoBB and I was stunned by the difference in quality between the two. At the end of a PBS episode, I felt as if I were juiced up on electricity or something. The PBS series slammed me from one scene to another, leaving me to fill in the holes on my own. The UK series is like proceeding through one of the great classic novels at a nice, easy pace. This allowed me to sink more deeply into the story and appreciate the characters better.

One final note: Why on earth did PBS eliminate the snuff box sub-plot in episode 5? That was brilliant!

Thanks for your suggestion of getting a UK VPN. I found another suggestion from a website called How To Hide Your IP ( It offers a free package allowing me to stream the series directly from the iTV player. Alternatively, I could wait until season 2 is uploaded on VideoBB, but I don't know how long that will take.

Posted on Jan 4, 2012 2:33:45 PM PST
Mike Schmitt says:
for what it's worth, I recently finished watching the PBS blu-rays (labelled "original UK edition") and as far as i can tell, the snuff-box subplot was kept in-tact. but I'm not sure whether this is supposedly different from the version you were originally referring to.

Posted on Jan 7, 2012 12:48:01 AM PST
Yes, thankfully, was able to watch the entire series on Netflix (I think). Was very confused, at first, since watching the PBS version. Watching it on Netflix changed the experience entirely.

Posted on Jan 9, 2012 1:27:50 PM PST
Your post had me worried, and so I did some sniffing around on the internet and found this blog: that explains the run-times in the UK, combined with commercials, gives the perception of a massive change in the show, but the actual run-times equal out to just over 6 hrs for both US/PBS and UK.

Posted on Jan 10, 2012 6:12:22 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 10, 2012 6:12:49 PM PST
B. Chaplin says:
Thanks for raising this issue - I had no idea there was a difference!
The episodes from iTunes claim to be the 'full UK version'. Hopefully this is so?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2012 10:24:42 PM PST
Actually that blog is old news. ITV is a commercial network in the UK and Downton Abbey was reformatted to present the program not only on non-commercial US public television but also in fewer episodes. That's all fine, but the math is not the problem, it's the editorial decisions of PBS that I take issue with and, if you re-read my post above you'll see that PBS admitted as much, and hacked at the ITV version to "dumb it down" for the American audience. But if you really have any doubts I suggest you watch both versions as I did and then decide which one is the better presentation. Since I wrote this post many have pointed out that the "original UK edition" is available on Netflix and here on Amazon. The fact that they are marketing it as such should tell you something.

I've already seen the second season of Downton Abbey in the UK but have not yet seen or heard any rumblings about the US version. Let's hope they've worked it out.

Posted on Jan 13, 2012 9:40:21 PM PST
Gerald says:
are u having line issues or is it me or my dvd player? ive looked and looked trying to figure out why!!
i see posts about how amazing the picture is, the texture and quality......when a person or camera moves, its like billions of lines a fraction off. (not happening w/other movies/dvds i have, so its odd)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2012 9:40:06 AM PST
Lisa says:
Interesting about Rebecca Eaton! Explains a lot about the snide comments the British make about Americans "not understanding" their shows or calling us "stupid" on FB pages pertaining to their shows. Also read where PBS has a channel over there now.
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