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TV Notes: ‘Downton Abbey’ kicks off big week

Don’t miss

“Downton Abbey” – The Edwardian spellbinder that proved to be so addictive in its initial Emmy-winning run is back for a second season. But it’s a time of major upheaval for our British nobles and their mostly faithful servants. Amid the turmoil of World War I, some of Downton’s men – including young heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) – put their lives on the line. Meanwhile, the tranquility of Earl of Grantham’s country estate is shattered as it is converted into a military hospital and the old social barriers fall by the wayside. But some things don’t change: “Downton” is still teeming with stunning frocks, steamy romances and a stellar cast that includes Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern. 8 p.m. Sunday, PBS.

Other bets

Sunday: “The Firm” is a new TV drama that picks up 10 years after the events established in the John Grisham novel and the subsequent movie. Stepping in for Tom Cruise is Josh Lucas as attorney Mitchell McDeere. 9 p.m., NBC.

Sunday: Don Cheadle takes on series television in the dark sitcom, “House of Lies.” He plays a cutthroat management consultant who is willing to do anything to get his way. Kristen Bell also stars. 10 p.m., Showtime.

Monday: “The Layover,” Anthony Bourdain’s food-centric new series, drops by San Francisco for a high-speed tour of the city’s culinary highlights. Along the way, local chefs Danny Bowien and Chris Cosentino show him the ropes. 9 p.m., Travel Channel.

Tuesday: “Billy the Kid: American Experience” tells the captivating story of a skinny orphan boy named Henry McCarty, who was born in the slums of New York City and went on to become an infamous outlaw in the Old West. The program features remarks by historians, writers and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. 9 p.m., PBS.

Tuesday: Pop artist Brandy, best known for her starring role on “Moesha,” joins the cast of “The Game” as the hit sitcom launches its fifth season. She plays a “sassy bartender” who becomes a new love interest for Jason (Coby Bell). 10 p.m., BET.

Wednesday: OK, this is somewhat confusing: Comedian Chelsea Handler co-executive produces and has a recurring role in “Are You There, Chelsea?”, a sitcom based on her best-selling book. But she doesn’t play the title character. That job falls to Laura Prepon. Go figure. 8:30 p.m., NBC.

Thursday: “30 Rock” fans, rejoice. Tina Fey’s Emmy-winning sitcom finally is back in prime time. Tonight’s Season 6 opener has the gang returning to work after a holiday break, and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) contemplating a new career as a hateful reality TV judge. 8 p.m., NBC.

Friday: Having aired for nearly 44 years, the daytime drama “One Life to Live” enjoyed a long life, indeed. But that’s no consolation to beleaguered soap opera fans who must endure yet another departure of an old favorite as the residents of Llanview say goodbye. 2 p.m., ABC.

Saturday: “A Taste of Romance” is a new TV movie about a classically trained chef (Teri Polo) whose competitive embers are stoked when a retired fireman (James Patrick Stuart) opens a restaurant next to hers. Of course, though, you know the friction will wane. 8 p.m., Hallmark Channel.