January 2, 2015 8:09 AM

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At this point, a new season of “Downton Abbey” is much like a visit from old friends. Sure, the stories are familiar — perhaps even just variations on what you’ve heard before — but it’s more about sharing their company and the feelings they rekindle. So after some awkward aspects to season four, the new year returns exploring many of the same issues while adding wrinkles to old ones, as Julian Fellowes continues to masterfully juggle a vast assortment of players upstairs and downstairs. Modernity is the overarching theme, but that won’t prevent admirers from dutifully returning to savor “Downton’s” Old World charms.

In some respects, the latest episodic flight (all but the Christmas episode were made available) feels less like Season 5 than Season 4, Part B, what with so much unfinished business to transact. That’s not a serious knock on the show, necessarily, although the latest storyline doesn’t contain the s...

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