After a long-awaited hiatus, the Masterpiece Theatre production returned on Jan. 6 with nearly two hours of storyline revolving around Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew's (Dan Stevens) wedding and Lord Crawley's impending financial downfall.
Fans were finally gratified by seeing the extravagant wedding, which took place after two seasons of "will they, won't they." However, the joy was counterbalanced by the news that Lord Grantham's (Hugh Bonneville) investments prior to the war had gone sour, and the company where most of Lady Grantham's (Elizabeth McGovern) fortune was invested was quickly going bankrupt.
A record 7.9 million viewers tuned in to the U.S. season premiere of "Downtown Abbey," which quadrupled the average viewings for PBS primetime shows. These typically draw in 2 million viewers.
The show almost doubled the premiere of its second season, which averaged 4.2 million viewers a year ago in January 2012.
Perhaps part of the draw was Lady Mary's wedding gown, the most expensive costume on the show to date.
Costume designer Caroline McCall created the gown, a lacy long-sleeved dress adorned with Swarovski crystals. She added a vintage veil and a diamond tiara from U.K. jeweler Bentley & Skinner to the outfit for a total of $200,000.
"I wanted her wedding dress to have a bit of softness," McCall said in E! Online. "I wanted her to look really romantic, really elegant."