Apple offers final 'Downton Abbey' episodes before they air on PBS

  • Slideshow Photos

    'Downton Abbey' season 3

    The drama at the English estate kicks off on PBS on Jan. 6, 2013. Get a sneak peek at some of the photos from the new season!

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    The cast -

    The Great War is over and a long-awaited engagement is on, but all is not tranquil at Downton Abbey as wrenching social changes, romantic intrigues, and personal crises grip the majestic English country estate for a third season.

    Masterpiece / Masterpiece
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    The great dames -

    Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith) will pit her sharp tongue against new foe Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), Cora's mother, in the new season.

    Masterpiece / Masterpiece
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    The American -

    Shirley MacLaine joins the cast in season three as Martha Levinson, the Countess of Grantham's mother from America.

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  • Downton Abbey Joss Barratt Photographer

    'Downton Abbey' season 3

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    Inmate -

    Lord Grantham's valet, John Bates (Brendan Coyle) may have escaped the death sentence after being found guilty of murder in season two, but he's still behind bars. Bates and lady love Anna (Joanne Froggatt) will be fighting for his freedom this season.

    Masterpiece / Masterpiece
  • Downton Abbey Joss Barratt Photographer

    'Downton Abbey' season 3

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    High standards -

    Downton's butler, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), came down with the Spanish flu at the end of the season. Prior to that, he struggled to keep the small staff performing its duties exactly, though much of the male staff was off at war.

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    Mr. and Mrs. Strallan? -

    Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) found love again with season one suitor Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst), but will they make it down the aisle in season three?

    Masterpiece / Masterpiece
  • Downton Abbey Joss Barratt Photographer

    'Downton Abbey' season 3

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    Running the house -

    Housekeeper Mrs. Hughes (Phyliis Logan) and cook Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) kept the estate tidy and fed during the war. In the new season, one of the ladies will face a challenge that brings the two closer together.

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    The help -

    O'Brien was her scheming self at times during season two. Expect more of that behavior in the new year.

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If you're a fan of "Downton Abbey" but not a fan of the long wait between the U.K. broadcast and the U.S. broadcast, there a little good news. In just two weeks, you can finish up the entire season before the final three episodes even air on PBS.

But of course, a perk like that comes at a premium price -- $19.99, to be exact.

On Monday, Apple announced that "Downton" devotees who purchase a "season pass" for the series from the company's iTunes store will be privy to the early viewing in the form of "the unedited U.K. edition."

The advance screening kicks off on Jan. 29.

As for viewers who prefer their TV favorites free, PBS will air the last three episodes of the series on Feb. 3, 10 and 17 respectively.

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