‘Downton’ and Danson

(Above: Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Ted Danson, Kristin Bell)

Q: What could the period drama Downton Abbey and the fantasy comedy The Good Place possibly have in common?

A: NBC, which will air two hours of promotional tie-ins tonight through back-to-back salutes starting at 8 pm ET/PT.

The tie-in for The Paley Center Salutes The Good Place is pretty obvious. The Good Place, a solid performer for NBC since 2016, will launch its fourth and final season a week from today in the same 9 pm time slot as the special.

The tie-in for tonight’s opener, Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event, is not so obvious. The series, after all, ran on PBS. But the new Downtown Abbey movie, opening in theaters tomorrow, comes from Focus Features, one of NBC’s sister companies.  

Both shows promise behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast members. The Good Place salute will also feature highlights from the sitcom’s first three seasons, while the Downton Abbey show will include yet-to-be-named celebrities sharing their love for the franchise.

Return to Downton Abbey: A Grand Event will be hosted by Derek Hough (ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and NBC’s World of Dance) on location at Highclere Castle, where both the series and movie were filmed.

All 52 hour-long episodes of Downton Abbey, which ran six seasons from 2011 to 2016 in the US, can be streamed by Amazon Prime subscribers and by PBS station members via Passport.

The first three seasons of The Good Place, with 37 half-hour episodes, can be streamed by Netflix subscribers.

During its TV run, Downton Abbey won a dozen Emmy awards, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie for its first season, and individual honors for creator/writer Julian Fellowes, Maggie Smith (three Supporting Actress awards for playing Dowager Countess Violet Crawley), and composer John Lunn (two Emmys).

The Good Place has yet to win an Emmy, but has four nominations this year: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Actor for Ted Danson, Outstanding Guest Actress for Maya Rudolph, and Outstanding Writing.

The Emmys air his Sunday, September 22, 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT, over Fox stations.

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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