Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Downton Abbey


Wait a minute, is this the BBC or the MMA (er, that is, if the MMA smelled of Earl Grey tea and used impeccably crafted highbrow barbs in lieu of body slams)?

In any case, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has taken a cue from his newly BAFTA-nominated character and made a brilliant, if rather cutting, deduction about his fellow Masterpiece-embraced export: Downtown Abbey's second season. Bit of a stinkfest.

You heard correctly. Now grab your pistols and brace for dawn...

Cumberbatch shared his affectionately dismissive if—let's be honest—hard-to-fault critique of the sister PBS series while relaying an anecdote about an encounter he had with Masterpiece's executive producer Rebecca Eaton at this year's Golden Globes, when she was taunting the British thesp with the Emmy freshly won by the rival series.

"I just looked at it and went: 'Begone, woman. Bring it back when it says 'Sherlock Holmes' or [Sherlock cocreator] Steven Moffatt or myself—someone else who's more deserving than the second series of Downton Abbey,'" he told the New York Times.

Do they give awards for most diplomatic diss? Because if so, we can go ahead and close the ballot box now.

"I know too many people who are in it," Cumberbatch continued on. "I thought the first series was good. That's what I'll say."

Benedict Cumberbatch

Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

As it happens, his sentiments more or less echo those of fans and professional critics alike of Downton's second slightly alienating season, not to mention those of star Elizabeth McGovern herself, who rivaled even Cumberbatch's diplomacy by telling the Los Angeles Times that "the show in the first season was more to my taste than the show in the second season."

And lest it seem otherwise, the 35-year-old Sherlock star, whose own Masterpiece Mystery! series returns for a second season on PBS May 6, proved that he isn't all about serious studies in small screen craftsmanship (or averse to doling out praise where warranted).

Yes, he knows about his doppelgänger otter meme that took the Internet by storm last month. And rather delightfully, he finds them both "brilliant" and "fantastic." The feeling's mutual, we suspect.

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