Downton Abbey will return to PBS for a fourth season this Sunday, 5 January, and anticipation for the quintessentially English period drama couldn't be higher in the United States. The early 20th century-set story of British aristocracy couldn't be further from the days spent by the modern Americans who will sit down in their droves to check out the new season, but can the escapist piece move America once again?

Downton Abbey
The big bad boys of Downton will be back

The Americanisation of the show, it's preoccupation with popular culture intertwined with the prevalent and glaring theme of British social history, is what has made it such a success on both sides of the Atlantic, and this American distinction will only increase in season four. In particular, one of the integral story lines of the season involves the Earl of Downton's niece and her courting of an African-American man, one that obviously hold higher implications not just because he is American.

The entire fourth season has already aired to British audiences, who weren't entirely convinced by the season's credentials when compared to the wondrously successful first three seasons. On review aggregator site Metacritic, the season holds a 72% approval rating amongst critics, a far cry from the 92 it received the first time round, and the 84 and 83 it received for seasons two and three respectively. Still, the show continues to provide a veil of optimism in our largely dreary view of the world through television and will no doubt provide the much needed ray of sunlight into the largely pessimistic American viewing schedule.

Whether you can handle another season of drawn-out repetitiveness is up to you, but if you can then Downton Abbey will return to US screens at 9 p.m. (EST) on PBS.

All the old scenery has been kept by the producers