191 of 206 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New era upstairs/downstairs
I haven't actually watched the old "Upstairs Downstairs," but it's pretty much become the standard of historical dramas where we see both the aristocrats and the servants.
So I was deeply intrigued by the news that the BBC was reviving the show for a new three-episode miniseries, serving as a sequel to the original series. It's a sleek, glittering affair with...
Published on March 9, 2011 by E. A Solinas
63 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Downton Abbey Lite
One the biggest Masterpiece Mysteries is why the producers released the new "Upstairs Downstairs" in the same season as "Downton Abbey" to which it simply cannot compare.
The sets and constumes are elegant; the actors are excellent--Eileen Atkins as the Countess is superb; and Jean Marsh is her same delightful self as Rose, who is now the Housekeeper--but it is...
Published on April 25, 2011 by F. S. L'hoir
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191 of 206 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New era upstairs/downstairs,
So I was deeply intrigued by the news that the BBC was reviving the show for a new three-episode miniseries, serving as a sequel to the original series. It's a sleek, glittering affair with lots of actual historical figures and events, but the story never forgets that the real focus is on the people both upstairs and downstairs.
The year is 1936. George V has just died, his feckless son is involved with Mrs. Simpson, and Hitler is on the rise. Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard) and his wife Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes) move into 165 Eaton Place, intending to turn the "mausoleum" into a livable house. So they employ Rose Buck (Jean Marsh), who was once a maid at their house, to find them some suitable servants.
Soon the house has plenty of new inhabitants. Downstairs: fussy but kind butler Pritchard (Adrian Scarborough), snobby cook Mrs.Thackeray (Anne Reid), hot-tempered footman Johnny (Nico Mirallegro), and others. Upstairs: Agnes' snotty fascist sister Persie (Claire Foy), and Sir Hallam's bossy globe-trotting mother Maud (Dame Eileen Atkins) and her warmhearted secretary Amanjit (Art Malik).
And while Lady Agnes hoped to have the "perfect" home, 165 Eaton Place is soon rocked by a series of problems -- an arrest, dabblings in fascism, a pregnancy, a birth, a death, constant friction between Maud and Agnes, and the discovery of secret children upstairs and down.
Technically the new "Upstairs Downstairs" is a sequel to the old one, but it's not necessary to have seen the older "Upstairs Downstairs" to understand what's going on. There are some nods and references -- particularly the presence of housemaid-turned-housekeeper Rose -- but it's mostly a self-contained story.
The writers do a great job of packing a whole season's worth of drama, sorrow, joy and soap-opera mayhem into just three hours, but somehow it never feels rushed. And they also do an adept job at weaving the story of 165 Eaton Place together with real-life events -- Ribbentrop and Simpson make cameos, Persie becomes involved with fascism, and Hallam is good friends with the Duke of York (later the king).
And it has a talented cast of well-respected actors (Keeley Hawes, Dame Aileen Atkins, the weirdly stiff Ed Stoppard, Adrian Scarborough, Art Malik and of course Jean Marsh), as well as a few newbies (Nico Mirallegro, Ellie Kendrick). The only problematic character is Claire Foy's -- Persephone is such a selfish, repulsive character that it's pretty much impossible to care what happens to her.
"Upstairs Downstairs" is a solid miniseries that stands on its own merits, but leaves the door open just in case. Juicy, dramatic and very entertaining.
88 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have seen the COMPLETE original series and recommend all-old & new,
No disappointment from me or my wife with the 2010 3 episode addition compared to the older TV blockbuster series. The new cast keeps up the believable, compelling stories and character delight. Rose and the house (+ music) gives the old lovers the flavor of the past, even if the interior has been redecorated to 1936. It takes only the 1st episode to fall in love with the new upstairs and downstairs families of 165. Excellent cast. With the long bonus feature, there is a hint at more. For me...like handing a fat man a box of chocolates and asking, "Do you want more?" YES!
Interesting that they had the "to be King Geo VI" in the show, prior to the abdication of his King brother, and he did not stutter. After the success of "The King's Speech" about the same time as this series release, that bit of trivia is evident.
As for the original "Upstairs Downstairs" series. It is 27-year span epic winning 9 Emmys, 2 BAFTAs, Golden Globe & a Peabody Award, 31 nominations. The aristocratic Bellamy's of 165 Eaton Place, London, live upstairs over the downstairs clockwork servant aid led by butler Hudson (Gordon Jackson). Classic Edwardian masterful plots in this funny and dramatic back time-travel over 3 decades inside the Bellamy house. A crowning British achievement in the 70's and worth owning today. Since it's period drama it never goes out of style. It's a British TV saga classic.
Sir Richard Bellamy MP (David Langton) and Lady Marjorie (Rachel Gurney) have heir Lt James (Simon Williams) and Miss Elizabeth (Nicola Pagett-`A Bit of a Do') who need quite a crew downstairs to keep their house in order. Mrs. Bridges (Angela Brddeley) cooks up a storm, while maid Rose (Jean Marsh, co-creator) helps keep linens and affairs tidy. The pilot (an alternate plot pilot available) introduces new servant Sarah (Pauline Collins), who adds saucy spice to the house on both ends of the stairs. Footman Alfred (George Innes) who quotes Bible, Perce (Brian Osborne) is lady's-man coachman during carriage years, Thomas (John Alderton) chauffeur in later auto episodes. The star studded cast is endless. I strongly recommend you get the 40th Collection and see it while waiting for the new 21st century produced episodes DVD to be released.
This newest release (40th Anniversary Collection) provides 21 discs in 5 solid cases all in the anniversary storage sleeve. Quite an improvement from the earlier release. 68 episodes, each about 50 min. Add 25 bonus hrs and you have a value, not to mention the dynamic dramatic entertainment including romance, mystery, drama, historical significance, humor, suspense, & more. Episodes 2,3,4,5,&7 are B/W due to a technicians strike. Pilot was remade in color. The features + bonus time total divided by the current Amazon price makes the HOURLY entertainment cost less than $1.87. A VALUE! Compare that to the new release with only 3 episodes.
SUBTITLES-Anniversary set OFFERS SUBTITLES,like the new episodes. Helpful for some of us. A Jean Marsh memories insert is included and created in Oct. 2010.
And YES, I bought the new 3 episodes to go with the older episodes. And hoping for more.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tasty Dessert Morsel That Is Decidedly Less Filling Than The Original Main Dish,
This review is from: Upstairs Downstairs Season 1 (Amazon Instant Video)A staunch supporter of the original "Upstairs, Downstairs," I was more than a little intrigued when an updating was announced. A true piece of television history for five seasons of groundbreaking drama, the modernization certainly had a lot to live up to. So I was very surprised that this promised series only had three episodes--and it was actually a sequel of sorts as opposed to a re-imagining. Well, the truth of the matter is--this version definitely lacks the bite and complexity of the original series. But with such a limited running time, I suppose that was to be expected. However, the resultant product (while perhaps not the stuff of TV legend) is a fitfully entertaining confection in its own right. Glossy, well produced, well acted--this version may be slightly superficial, but it sure is likable enough.
Set several years after 165 Eaton Place closed it doors, the current series is set in 1936 at the precipice of world conflict. New inhabitants (Ed Stoppard and Keeley Hawes) move onto the premises and must rebuild the house to its former glory. Hawes enlists the aid of an employment specialist (Jean Marsh reprising the infamous role of Rose, but with a bit less pluck) to staff the quarters. Complicating matters, the indomitable Eileen Atkins (cue expected Emmy nomination) is on hand as the free spirited, but strong willed mother in law. The introductory episode plays largely to comedic conventions as Hawes and Atkins engage in subtle warfare. Each episode gets progressively darker, with the rise of fascism playing as the predominant plot point in the second show. And for the finale, things wrap up pretty conveniently for everyone. This is not meant to be a dark historical treatment--the unpleasant backdrop is really secondary to the antics of the cast. It's entertaining soap opera mayhem against the backdrop of history.
Again, forty years from now, this won't be considered the enduring classic that its predecessor is. But that's really not its intent. The cast is fun and engaging--there isn't quite the pronounced distinction between Upstairs and Downstairs that helped define the original. Funny and touching, it's hard not to be enchanted by this show even with its more fluffy approach. I thought everyone was great--but once again, Atkins takes the prize for most valuable player. Haughty, hysterical, and surprisingly down to earth--she will be what I remember most about this contemporary visit to the legendary 165 Eaton Place. And if you haven't seen the original, do so. KGHarris, 4/11.
63 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Downton Abbey Lite,
The sets and constumes are elegant; the actors are excellent--Eileen Atkins as the Countess is superb; and Jean Marsh is her same delightful self as Rose, who is now the Housekeeper--but it is as if the producers/writers have crammed too many ideas into too short a time. Three not-quite one-hour episodes are not enough. The story is choppy. Instead of being developed, the characters have been served to us in a narrative shorthand: the brittle haughty wife; the nobly motivated husband; the perversely promiscuous sister; the equally promiscuous but good-hearted maid; the footman, who is a barking fascist in one episode but then, in the next episode, has a sudden unexplained change of heart. All have been set against a sketchy historical background of social and political problems of the '30s: the problem of members of the upper classes who supported the fascists; the problem of European refugees; the problem of what to do with mentally challenged relatives of the aristocracy; the problems of class and race.
Various notable personages drift in and out of the house briefly: foreign minister Anthony Eden; German ambassador von Ribbentrop; Mrs. Simpson; the Duke of Kent (presumably Bertie was occupied in another film with his speech lessons); society photographer Cecil Beaton (in a scene with the cook that would have been delightful had it not been hastily imposed onto the narrative without much point). Furthermore, the historical element has been inserted into the story so perfunctorily that unless one is thoroughly familiar with it (as one should be, ideally), the viewer might wonder who this Anthony person is, who keeps bossing Lord Hallam about.
There are lots of excellent possibilities in respect to this series, but they need to be developed over time: six or seven one-and-a-half hour episodes, are recommended.
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like the old series,
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Contrived,
There are three episodes. The first episode was quite nice. I was very touched to once again have Jean Marsh (Rose) with me. I replayed her return to 165 Eaton Place several times just to watch her smile. But the reverence she engenders comes not from the current story but rather from my memory of her from decades ago. I also found the butler very endearing - a worthy replacement to Mr. Hudson. But most of the others were just cartoons unsuccessfully designed to elicit emotional responses from the viewers. It doesn't work. The mute child who kept rolling symbolic marbles was a cardboard contrivance. Agnes's annoying younger sister was way over the top. Agnes herself was too overbearing and her mother-in-law was way too quick-witted and clever to be believable. The all-wise Indian man with his monkey was just another glittery ornament to hang on the tree. Speaking of tree, in the last scene it suddenly becomes winter so everybody can inexplicably come together around the Christmas tree for a happy ending. Bizarre.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous period drama,
This review is from: Upstairs Downstairs Season 1 [HD] (Amazon Instant Video)I admit I was not familiar with the original Upstairs, Downstairs show from the 1970s until very recently. Thanks to Amazon Prime membership, I'm able to watch the episodes of the original show for free, and am still working my way through Season One. I love the interesting plot lines, the great cast, and the quality of writing. However, the production values are predictably dated and the film quality leaves much to be desired with the effect of looking washed out with dull colors. I hope they will restore the show one of these days and come up with a better quality DVD, with crisp and clear images and sound.
When I saw that there was a remake of Upstairs, Downstairs, I was excited especially since I was feeling withdrawal symptoms with the end of Season 2 of Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 2 (Original U.K. Unedited Edition), one of my favorite British period dramas. One of the drawbacks of this remake is the fact that Season One only has three episodes! Initially, I thought this must be due to unfavorable audience response, and that the show was not renewed, but to my delight, it has been renewed for another season with six episodes. I still feel it is not enough, but I'll take what I can get!
The setting for this remake of Upstairs, Downstairs is 1936, about six years after the year in which the original series had ended (in film). 165 Eaton Place is literally resurrected, not by a member of the Bellamy clan (the original family that resided there) but by the Holland's, made up of Sir Hallam (Ed Stoppard) who works for the Foreign Office, and his wife, Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes). They are soon joined by Hallam's eccentric mother, Maud (Eileen Atkins) and Agnes' spoilt younger sister Lady Persie (Claire Foy). Maud pushes her way into the household, bringing along her secretary/manservant Amanjit (Art Malik with a ghastly beard) and her little pet monkey Samson.
The staff downstairs are made up of housekeeper, Mrs. Rose Buck (Jean Marsh - yes, from the original Upstairs, Downstairs, where she played a parlour maid); butler Mr. Warrick Pritchard (Adrian Scarborough); chauffeur Spargo (Neil Jackson); cook Mrs. Thackeray (Anne Reid, formerly of Coronation Street - Golden Anniversary Collection [DVD](REGION 2, UK VERSION); and a housemaid, Ivy (Ellie Kendrick, who played Anne Frank in Masterpiece Theatre: The Diary of Anne Frank. There's also a young footman who appears, goes away, and returns during the first season.
The main events in this first season revolve around Lady Agnes trying to take charge of her household, and coming up against her formidable mother-in-law who uses her vast experience as a weapon to override her daughter-in-law's wishes. Not that Lady Agnes tries too hard, given a new development that preoccupies her. Meanwhile, a new maid is brought into the fold, and it turns out she is a Jewess who has escaped from Germany. She appears sickly and harbors a secret that is revealed soon enough.
Lady Persie is portrayed as the self-centered, lost soul-type whose reckless nature causes her to not only throw convention to the wind, but also strike up a most inappropriate alliance. She also develops an interest in right-wing activities involving the fascist movement in Britain, a thread that was unfortunately rushed through during the course of the three episodes. Another thread explored this season was the relationship between Wallis Simpson with Edward VIII and the abdication crisis.
I liked this first season, but would have liked to see more time spent on developing the main characters. It all seemed a bit rushed, as if the writers and producers were trying to cram as much as they could into the three episodes. I hope to see more time being spent on plot and character development next season. Note: I had some difficulties with the HD streaming (it froze a couple of times) compared to the regular definition streaming which was excellent.
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fraudulent,
It is also tries to make the connection by taking us to 165 Eaton Place, the Bellamy townhouse in the original Up/Down, left in 1930 and vacant ever since. When we arrive at 165 with the new owners in 1936, the very first shot shows clearly that it is not the same townhouse - the pillars framing the portico are fluted rather than plain and a double door opens into the hall, where the original had a single front door. Inside, the hall is dominated by a chandelier that was not there before. The door leading to the servants' area has changed color in the six years the house was unoccupied, and a small diamond-shaped window has appeared in it. The new owners order extensive renovations, but the lavish result would not have fit inside the original townhouse. This 165 Eaton Place would require the dimensions of a mansion to accommodate the upstairs changes. Downstairs, the servants' quarters also bear no resemblance to the original before or after renovation.
The original Up/Down rarely left the townhouse. It focused on the characters and their development and interactions, sometimes influenced by events in the real world. Each episode tended to be centered on only one or two characters, and scenes ran for the five or ten or twenty minutes needed to create "theatre." Watching them, you got to know and become interested in the achievements and problems of the characters as people. Music was used in a scene only when it came from an on-screen source - a phonograph, an off-screen band, etc.
The new Up/Down has a short attention span. It jumps all over the house and London, and it's very involved with events in the real world. By concentrating on those events, the scripts are too superficial to make you care what happens to the characters. And this Up/Down is cursed with virtually continuous background music that is frequently intrusive and often loud enough to interfere with the dialogue.
The original Up/Down was conceived by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, who provide another tenuous connection to it by appearing in this sad reincarnation. We know that they are splendid actresses from their work elsewhere. Here Marsh is wasted as the colorless housekeeper and Atkins's character has only one note, sarcastic bossiness. There is no way to judge the acting abilities of the rest of the cast, which often seems to be on automatic pilot.
The BBC has commissioned another six episodes of the new Up/Down. That's fewer than half of a usual series and suggests the Beeb is not completely happy with the first series. It could encourage the new episodes to be electronic theatre by limiting the production to three or four locations inside 165 Eaton Place to force the writer, Heidi Thomas, to populate her scripts with real characters and their relationships with each other, whether upstairs or downstairs, and having only minimal connection to real world events.
I always looked forward to seeing each episode of the original "Upstairs, Downstairs" in its broadcasts from my local PBS station and still do now in repeats from DVDs.
The new incarnation has nothing to make me want to watch it again. I can't give it no stars, so I give it one star for effrontery.
Addition, August 23, 2011: a BBC press release posted on the Upstairs Downstairs website says that Eileen Atkins has left the cast of the new episodes. She "is reportedly unhappy with the direction the new scripts are taking."
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If You Loved The Original - Don't Bother With This One!,
I'm sorry I spent the money and wasted my time on this set. The original Up/Down was terrific. This one is a DUD. The characters aren't well developed nor are they nearly as endearing as the original cast. The Downstairs servants (with the exception of Rose) for the most part are immoral and vulgar and very easy to dislike (exception are Rachel and the man from India).
My recommendation is not to purchase this one.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Back! Now Hurry Back!,
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