'Downton Abbey' premieres to big ratings

As Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) prepares to marry, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) prepares to take on Shirley MacLaine. NICK BRIGGS

The third season premiere of "Downton Abbey" drew 7.9 million viewers for a 5.1 share, according to PBS, quadrupaling PBS' average primetime ratings. It's a big leap from last year's premiere of season 2 as well, which drew 4.2 million total viewers. Even that number was an 18 percent increase from the season 1 premiere.

PBS garnered buzz for the sitcom by hosting curated Twitter discussions with prominent bloggers, including Philly's own Tom and Lorenzo (the Daily News wrote about the fashionable pair back in September).

Did you watch "Downton" last night? What do you think about season three? Unfortunately, we weren't able to avoid massive spoilers. If you still haven't caught it, check out Ellen Gray's review of the third season. The series continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on PBS.