TV on DVD: Watch the entire third season of 'Downton Abbey,' on Blu-ray, right now
So, "Downton Abbey" fans, still reeling from last week's shocking turn of events? No worries, we're not going to get into specifics -- but if you have managed to remain spoiler-free up till now, let us just tell you that the shocks, they are still a-comin', including one in the Christmas special that qualifies as a game changer.
And while three episodes of the current third season have yet to air on PBS -- the finale is scheduled for Feb. 10 -- fans can pick up a copy of the new "Downton Abbey: Season 3" Blu-ray boxed set and watch the entire season, including that Christmas special, weeks before the season wraps.
In addition to the "Journey to the Highlands" Christmas ep, the more than two hours of bonus material in the boxed set include the featurettes "Downton Abbey: Behind the Drama," "Shirley MacLaine at Downton," "Downton in 1920," "The Wedding of Lady Mary," and "Behind the Scenes: Journey to the Highlands," which covers that dramatic end to the season.
Meanwhile, for those viewers whose appetite for British TV drama has only been whetted by their embrace of "Downton" drama, a roundup of other recent DVD releases that might make the wait for "Downton Abbey," Season 4 (scheduled to begin production in February), more bearable:
"Agatha Christie's Poirot & Marple: Fan Favorites" (Acorn Media)
The collection of two "Masterpiece Mystery!" entries introduces viewers to two of Christie's best characters, Belgian detective Poirot (David Suchet) and the sweet (but too clever to be underestimated) Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie), in 11 great stories (16 hours' worth). The 11 installments were voted on by Poirot and Marple fans as the series' best, so the collection serves as a good primer on how much fun the shows are (and yes, there is plenty more of both detectives if this set hooks you).
"Wodehouse Playhouse: The Complete Collection" (Acorn Media)
Real-life marrieds Pauline Collins and John Alderton star in this six-disc set that unfolds 20 tales of hilarity from humorist P.G. Wodehouse (the creator of Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves). This new collection of the series, which aired on PBS from 1975 through 1978, also includes a bio of Wodehouse (who co-wrote the original book for "Anything Goes"), photo galleries, subtitles, and notes on the short stories adapted in the series.
"Misfits: Season Two" (BBC Home Entertainment)
So you say you want a high-concept British dramedy? Try this: A group of rebellious teens sentenced to community service (complete with hideous orange jumpsuits) gain supernatural powers during an electrical storm. In this season, the teens discover they're being stalked by a masked man, then learn they can sell their powers. But, as always in TV land, British or American, be careful what you wish for … those superpowers might be a blessing, after all. The boxed set includes behind-the-scenes featurettes for all seven episodes, including the Christmas special. Two additional seasons of the show have aired, with Season 4 wrapping in December 2012, so again, dive in with the knowledge that there's more to watch if you like the show.
"Waking the Dead: Season Seven" (BBC Home Entertainment)
A British take on the police procedural, focusing on cold cases. The show won an International Emmy in 2004 and sparked its own spinoff series, and with nine seasons in total (the show ended its run in 2011), "Waking the Dead" is a worth a look for fans who enjoy the "ripped from today's headlines"-type current events topics favored by so many American crime dramas.
"Midsomer Murders, Set 21" (Acorn Media)
The four movie-length stories in this collection have never been aired in the United States, meaning it's the first chance for U.S. fans to see DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) in action. He and his new partner tackle murder cases in the idyllic but dangerous Midsomer County, including a gruesome death at a classic car show, a series of copycat murders, and a New Age cult. The series, which premiered in England in 1997 and is still in production on new episodes, is a favorite of Johnny Depp and the queen of England.
"Red Dwarf X" (BBC Home Entertainment)
Commentaries, deleted scenes, outtakes, and a new documentary supplement this, the first full season of the sci-fi sitcom "Red Dwarf" since 1999. The six episodes reunite the original cast and end with the fate of the crew depending on -- uh oh -- Rimmer (Chris Barrie).