In a new profile in the The New York Times, Cumberbatch recalled an encounter with "Masterpiece's'" Rebecca Eaton, a "Downton Abbey" executive producer. Described by The Times as an affectionate taunting, Cumberbatch said Eaton came up to him at the January 2012 Golden Globes ceremony with her new award for "Downton Abbey."
"I just looked at it and went: 'Begone, woman. Bring it back when it says "Sherlock Holmes" or Steven Moffat or myself -- someone else who's more deserving than the second series of "Downton Abbey."'"
Cumberbatch told The Times, "I know too many people who are in it ... I thought the first series was good. That's what I’ll say."
Cumberbatch's criticism comes on the heels of "Downton Abbey's" own Elizabeth McGovern's. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, McGovern, who plays Lady Cora on the crossover hit series, said Season 2 didn't quite align with her tastes. When asked about viewer reaction to Season 2 and its fatigue-inducing chain of events, McGovern said she felt it too. "It's kind of a taste thing, and the show in the first season was more to my taste than the show in the second season," she said.
The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan voiced similar sentiments in her January 2012 review of Season 2. In her review, Ryan wrote "the costume drama's pace is off in the early going and it's far more contrived and inconsistent than it was in its first season."
While McGovern and Cumberbatch may have had issues with Season 2, it was a ratings winner for PBS in the US. "Downton Abbey's" sophomore season ended with an audience of 5.4 million viewers, the highest for PBS in years.