Nick Briggs / ITV for MASTERPIECE
"Downton Abbey" is over for the season, but there are still plenty of other options to satisfy fans.
On Sunday night, "Downton Abbey" viewers bid the second season of the addictive drama farewell. Now fans face a long wait until the premiere of the show's third season, and no doubt, they have many questions.
Is there any hope for Bates? Will Matthew and Mary really make it work? What the heck are we supposed to watch now that "Downton Abbey" is over?
Well, at least we have some answers for that last question.
Want to see more upstairs-downstairs action? Try watching "Upstairs, Downstairs." The Masterpiece series, created in the 1970s, begins in the Edwardian era but soon catches up to the World War I drama of "Downton" and beyond. The grand townhouse where it all takes place isn't as expansive as the Abbey, but it packs just as much drama relating to the haves and the have-nots who serve them.
Season one is available for instant viewing on Netflix, and the entire series is available on DVD.
A modern classic
If you find it hard to get lost in the dated feel of a '70s television production, watch the modern production of "Upstairs, Downstairs," which aired just last year in the U.S. Set in the 1930s, it's the continuing story of the townhouse drama with an all new family -- and a very familiar housekeeper. This is actually the perfect time to catch up on this series, not only as a "Downton Abbey" substitute, but because the second season is already on the air in the U.K and will eventually make its way to Masterpiece, too.
Season one is available on DVD.
Different, but satisfying
The action in the "North & South," based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novel of the same name, predates "Downton" by a bit, but the late Victorian trappings won't dull the miniseries' appeal. In fact, the dark, industrial story lacks the aristocratic side of things all together, but the life and death dilemas, class struggles and romance are all there and just as engrossing.
The miniseries is available for instant viewing on Netflix, and it's available on DVD.
More Maggie Smith
Of course, finding a suitable "Downton Abbey" substitute isn't just about the era, the costumes or the social divide -- there's also the talent. Fans missing all of that are bound to be satisfied by Robert Altman's film "Gosford Park." As if the setting and scandals weren't enough, Maggie Smith, aka everyone's favorite dowager countess from "Downton," steals just as many scenes in this one.
The film is available on DVD and for instant viewing on Netflix.
Stay tuned to Masterpiece
Maybe the easiest way to fill the Sunday night gap that "Downton Abbey" leaves behind is to simply continue to tune in to PBS at the same time each week. Fans of period pieces and emotional plots have a lot to look forward to. Next Sunday night Masterpiece kicks off four weeks of Charles Dickens stories with "The Old Curiosity Shop." "Great Expectations" and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" follow. Then, once the early Victory Dickens tales are over, Masterpiece has something to really appeal to the "Downton" fans during the last weeks of April with "Birdsong," a two-part miniseries based on Sebastian Faulk's World War I era love story.
And on the off chance that none of those shows pique your interest, there is one more option guaranteed to please the most particular "Downton Abbey" fan: Go back to the beginning and watch "Downton Abbey" again.
Season one of "Downton Abbey" is available on DVD and for instant viewing on Netflix. The second season is also on DVD, but for a limited time, you can watch the episodes online via the Masterpiece website.
What will you watch now that the second season of "Downton Abby" is over? Tell us on our Facebook page.