I’m just discovering the wonders of ‘Upstairs Downstairs,’ the iconic British series from the 1970s. It’s been released in a 40th Anniversary Edition this year, and Acorn Media sent me Series One, which includes four discs and six hours of bonus material.
Here’s the premise: It’s set between 1903 and 1909, and “upstairs” are the wealthy, aristocratic Bellamys, including Sir Richard Bellamy (David Langton), his elegant wife Marjorie (Rachel Gurney), their son James (Simon Williams) and daughter Elizabeth (Nicola Pagett).
“Downstairs” is where their loyal servants live and work — Hudson, the proper butler (Gordon Jackson); Mrs. Bridges, the garrulous cook (Angela Baddeley); Rose, the calm and watchful maid (Jean Marsh); and many others.
For 30 years, all of these folks share a fashionable townhouse at 165 Eaton Place in London’s posh Belgravia neighborhood. And a lot happens during those years — social change, scandals, political upheaval and World War One.
I’m part-way through Series One and love it. I’ll probably end up getting the whole series at some point. It’s kind of a forerunner to movies like ‘[amazon_link id=”B0020TS5LU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gosford Park[/amazon_link]’ and ‘[amazon_link id=”B00003CXC9″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Remains of the Day[/amazon_link],’ two of my all-time favorite movies.
Bonus features include ‘The Making of Upstairs, Downstairs, Part 1,’ episode commentaries, and an alternate pilot episode (which is always interesting to watch after you’re familiar with the original pilot).
Check out [amazon_link id=”B004H0ZHD4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]’Upstairs Downstairs’ on Amazon[/amazon_link], and watch a bit below, along with some tidbits from the writers and actors.
Also check out the new PBS series of ‘Upstairs Downstairs,’ which carries the story through to a new generation, this fun parody from ‘Sesame Street,’ and Acorn Media, which distributes some lovely U.S. and U.K. series like ‘Midsomer Murders,’ ‘Agatha Christie’s Poirot,’ and ‘New Tricks.’
Are you familiar with ‘Upstairs Downstairs’? Is it a favorite?
More ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ Reviews:
DVDTalk, Paul Mavis: “A beautifully scripted, complex long-form drama/serial, made successful by an incredible array of talented British performers, ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ is required viewing for anyone interested in television drama.”
SFGate.com, David Wiegand: “To be sure, the production values of ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ are not the most sophisticated. Yet, because of the compelling story line, superb acting and frequently superb writing, the show is as fresh as it was 40 years ago.”
TV and Film Guy, BlogCritics.org, Josh Lasser: “…while I can’t say that it’s every bit as good now as it was when it originally aired (I’m not old enough to know that), I can tell you that while the set will suck hours and days of your time, it’s well worth it and a truly great television experience.”