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Upstairs Downstairs - The Complete First Season

4.3 out of 5 stars 2,248 customer reviews

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(Sep 25, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Devotees will treasure owning a complete season of this acclaimed series. This premiere season features 10 episodes never seen on Masterpiece Theatre. Simon says: A union dispute involving technicians caused some episodes from the first season to be filmed in black and white.

Special Features

  • Bonus Series Retrospective: Upstairs Downstairs Remembered: the 25th Anniversary Special

Product Details

  • Actors: Gordon Jackson, Angela Baddeley, David Langton, Raymond Huntley, Patsy Smart
  • Directors: Bill Bain, Brian Parker, Christopher Hodson, Derek Bennett, Herbert Wise
  • Format: Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2001
  • Run Time: 663 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,248 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NKCM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,111 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Upstairs Downstairs - The Complete First Season" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 9, 2011
Format: DVD
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 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.
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This British series is in a "class" by itself. It's characters are unforgettable, the acting inspired and the backdrop evocative - Edwardian England from 1904 into the 1930s. The story evolves around the aristocractic Bellamy family "Upstairs" and their servants "Downstairs," but it is not a soap opera. It is as genuine, real and honest as any period production, or for that matter, any production, that I have ever seen. The characters grapple with the same struggles that we continue to confront in mordern-day America: love, loss, coming of age, morality, prejudice, death, economics, social responsibility, freedom and the search for life's ultimate meaning - concluding with the horrendous effects of a World War and its devastating aftermath. This unflinching look at history as well as a truly timeless, engaging saga is not to be missed. I genuinely rejoice that such a remarkable treasure is finally available on DVD. Originally broadcast on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre.
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Here's the old and new UP/Down info. After airing of "The Forsyte Saga" (a must series also), Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh dreamed up the "Upstairs Downstairs" concept. Jean stared as Rose in the 70s TV blockbuster, and now continues that role in the continuation of the story on Brit TV (Dec '10). 3 episodes (alas only 3) advance the story now to 1936, with a new cast (excepting Marsh who is in both the old and new) and also now including Atkins as Maud. You get the same house, same music, same title. After "Upstairs Downstairs" the pair of actresses combined again in creating "The House of Elliott", another period saga, bloody good Brit drama, an absolute must own "complete collection."

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.
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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.
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