PBS & Piracy

*This post contains NO SPOILERS about Season 3 of Downton Abbey. Don’t worry.

I’d just like to go on the record (along with Lord Grantham himself) to complain about what American fans of British television series have to endure because of the quirks of PBS.  Shortened episodes of Foyle’s War and airing delays of Downton Abbey leave me with mixed feelings towards the Public Broadcasting System.

I love the fact that thanks to Masterpiece Classic, Masterpiece Mystery, et al, we can enjoy the (usually superior) British miniseries and movies, like The 39 Steps, Sherlock, or Zen.

But delaying the airing of Downton Abbey is just crazy.  Gone are the days when we could expect spoilers not to be leaked across oceans.  We live in a different world than the 1990s, when the Europeans could watch our television series and choose to be happily ignorant of things that we had known for months.  And vice versa.  As far as communication is concerned, there is no ocean between the two continents.  As soon as something airs on television, blog posts and Twitter updates abound.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid spoilers regarding major plot lines, especially when things like Wikipedia are updated the second something happens in the world.  And it seems pretty unfair to demand an entire nation of viewers remain tight-lipped about a popular show just because our television network has chosen to hold the shows for several months.

If you don’t want to know anything about the newest season, you have to avoid the internet completely.  Even press releases from ITV aren’t safe.

Or… you can watch Season 3 “early.”  Rather than stumbling upon some spoiler before January, you can watch it in the Fall and be surprised as the drama unfolds.  Is it wrong to watch the episodes of DA when they’re posted on their Facebook page and they’re available for all to see?  What about using sites like expatshield or tunnelbear, which seem to be perfectly legitimate?

Last fall I was reading a caption on a picture of the girls from DA and saw that Lavinia died.  I didn’t even know who Lavinia was at the time, but I knew she wouldn’t get out of Season 2 alive.  It made portions of Season 2 a bit anti-climatic.

And if there’s anything I hate, it’s knowing the end of a story before its time.  I read series of books in order. I watch television series in order.  I like plots unfolding naturally.

Well, readers?  Thoughts?  Is it wrong to watch Season 3 with Downton Abbey’s natives or should we wait and watch it according to the whims of PBS?

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7 thoughts on “PBS & Piracy

  1. Mom says:

    The technology we have now makes PBS’s policy just stupid. The fact they think they can keep us in the dark shows they are deluded. But they are a liberal entity and don’t most govt funded entities think they can run our lives? I think so.

  2. Agreed. I just joined in at the start of season 2 and was trying to find out who some of the actors were on IMDB and found out the results of Season 2’s Christmas special. Oh well, I’m the type that reads the end of a book first anyway when I can’t stand the suspense… 🙂

  3. I agree with you, of course. But then (hard to believe) but there are some people who are still asking “what’s this Downton Abbey show everyone seems to be talking about?” so maybe we’re overreacting. the people who want to avoid it can manage to avoid it. then again, all it takes right now is to Google “downton abbey” and you’ll see a lot you might not want to in the search results.
    also, i’ve read that some of the actors have complained about the delay and how it encourages piracy and that there’s no reason for it. it seems just plain silly, really.

  4. Nick H says:

    Watch it when you want and how you want. By the way, what is Downtown Abbey? Seriously, I’m seeing more and more people talking about it. Maybe I should catch an episode sometime.

    • joanallegretti says:

      It’s a British period drama. Basically Foyle’s War without a murder each week, less history, and more romance. Actually, more of a historical soap opera. 🙂

      • joanallegretti says:

        And if you haven’t seen Foyle’s War, you should see that first- not because it has anything to do with Downton, but because it’s better. 🙂

  5. If there was an “all of the above” button I’d click it. Though I’ve read the plot summaries (thank you IMDB) for most of D.A.’s S3 it’s only because they keep it from the general US public so long and I’m not that patient. Yes, silly rule.

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