Ripping the Abbey

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Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was partially filmedHighclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was partially filmed

Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was partially filmed

In anticipation of the recent movie of Downton Abbey, which I expect to watch when it’s available on Blu-ray, I decided to watch all six seasons (or series, as the Brits call them) of the original TV program again.

As it wasn’t to be found on any of the streaming services to which I subscribe [as it happens, that wasn’t correct], I opted to buy the Blu-rays and rip them to add to my Plex library.

Easier said than done. The Blu-rays were issued by PBS, an organization about which I share Phoebe Buffay’s enlightened view. PBS has a checkered history in issuing DVDs and Blu-rays, not always showing the content to its best advantage.

Moreover, when PBS aired the Downton Abbey TV series, it sliced and diced the episodes in a most unseemly manner in order to make them fit its rigid time slots. It even excised entire sub-plots!

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Two of my favorite characters, Lady Sybil and Branson. That’s the sometimes bitchy, sometimes not, Lady Mary in the background.Two of my favorite characters, Lady Sybil and Branson. That’s the sometimes bitchy, sometimes not, Lady Mary in the background.

Two of my favorite characters, Lady Sybil and Branson. That’s the sometimes bitchy, sometimes not, Lady Mary in the background.

Happily, the Blu-rays present the Downton episodes in their original UK state.

Unhappily, it’s not that easy to figure out which episode is which.

This is a fairly common problem when ripping DVDs and Blu-rays of TV series, as the episodes aren’t always stored in their aired order, so one must take a peek at the ripped file in order to figure out which episode it is. Alas, the Downton Abbey episodes don’t display a title near the start, so identifying them becomes a bit trickier.

Even so, the first four seasons didn’t present any major problems, but when I got to the Blu-ray discs for the fifth season, I hit a snag. Apparently there was a different encryption scheme incorporated into the processing of the disc (easily defeated, of course), but it left my ripping software, MakeMKV, displaying hundreds of possible episodes to rip. Which were the correct ones?

I found some help on MakeMKV’s forums, but the answers were a bit spread out over several threads, as well as a bit cryptic to the uninitiated, so I decided to consolidate what I learned into one blog post, in the hope that it might help someone else. I realize I’m coming a bit late to the party, as I suppose that by this time, most of the folks who want to rip the Blu-rays of Downton Abbey have already done so, but better late than never.

The one thing you need to know is that each episode is stored as a bunch of video segments, which are pointed to by a playlist file with the extension .mpls. So I’m going to list all the .mpls source files that you’ll need for each episode. As I said, that’s not too difficult for the first four seasons, as there is one playlist per episode and they are actually numbered consecutively, although MakeMKV rips them in reverse order. There is also one consolidated playlist which contains all the episodes on the disc.

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Screenshot of MakeMKV with an arrow pointing out the sourcefile .mpls filename. Click to enlarge.Screenshot of MakeMKV with an arrow pointing out the sourcefile .mpls filename. Click to enlarge.

Screenshot of MakeMKV with an arrow pointing out the sourcefile .mpls filename. Click to enlarge.

Seasons five and six are more difficult, but happily someone has already done the heavy lifting. So herewith are all the episodes and their associated playlists listed disc by disc.

So just rip the needed files, making a note of the filename that MakeMKV will assign to the ripped file, because it isn’t the same as the .mpls file. Presumably you already know how to Ctrl-Click the selected boxes and unselect them all, so I won’t mention it here.

Season 1

Disc 1
E1 00001.mpls
E2 00002.mpls
E3 00003.mpls
E4 00004.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Disc 2
E5 00001.mpls
E6 00002.mpls
E7 00003.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Extras (note these are not .mpls but .m2ts files; if you are using some software other than MakeMKV they may be listed as the Playlist that I’ve added after the filename)
The Making of Downton Abbey 00003.m2ts Playlist 4
A House in History 0011.m2ts Playlist 5

Season 2

Disc 1
E1 00001.mpls
E2 00002.mpls
E3 00003.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Disc 2
E4 00001.mpls
E5 00002.mpls
E6 00003.mpls
E7 00004.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Disc 3
E8 00001.mpls
E9 00002.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Extras
House to Hospital 00014.m2ts
Romance in a Time of War 0013.m2ts
Fashion and Uniforms 0012.m2ts

Season 3

Disc 1
E1 00001.mpls
E2 00002.mpls
E3 00003.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Extra
Downton Abbey – Behind the Drama 00013.mpls

Disc 2
E4 00001.mpls
E5 00002.mpls
E6 00003.mpls
E7 00004.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Disc 3
E8 00001.mpls
E9 00002.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Extras
Shirley MacLaine at Downton Abbey 00017.m2ts
Behind the Journey to the Highlands 00019.m2ts
Behind the Scenes The Cricket Match 00018.m2ts
The Wedding of Lady Edith 00015.m2ts
The Wedding of Lady Mary 00014.m2ts
The Men of Downton 00013.m2ts
Downton in 1920 00012.m2ts

Season 4

Disc 1
E1 00001.mpls
E2 00002.mpls
E3 00006.mpls(2) or playlist 3
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Disc 2
E4 00001.mpls
E5 00002.mpls
E6 00003.mpls
E7 00004.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Disc 3
E8 00001.mpls
E9 00002.mpls
All Episodes 00006.mpls

Extras
Meet the New Cast 00010.m2ts
Downton Diaries 00005.m2ts
The Making Of 00009.m2ts

Season 5

Disc 1
E1 00802.mpls
E2 00631.mpls
E3 00709.mpls
All Episodes 00406.mpls

Disc 2
E4 00457.mpls
E5 00972.mpls
E6 00334.mpls
E7 00887.mpls
All Episodes 00521.mpls

Disc 3
E8 00467.mpls
E9 00806.mpls
All Episodes 649.mpls

Extras
Behind the Scenes – Day 100 14.m2ts
Roaring Twenties 15.m2ts
A Day With Lady Rose 18.m2ts

Season 6

Disc 1
E1 00990.mpls
E2 00475.mpls
E3 00319.mpls
All Episodes 00445.mpls

Disc 2
E4 617.mpls 
E5 730.mpls 
E6 795.mpls
E7 208.mpls
All Episodes 627.mpls

Disc 3
E8 354 .mpls
E9 317.mpls
All Episodes 558.mpls

Extras
Farewell to Highclere 14.m2ts 
The Cars of Downton 15.m2ts 
Changing Times at Downton 18.m2ts

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