Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Upstairs Downstairs

Studio: BBC Worldwide
Originally Released: Apr. 2011

Synopsis: Remade from the hit 1970s serial, this new version of Upstairs, Downstairs, condensed into three hour-long episodes, creates for a modern eye a vision of what 1936 in England must have looked like. That is, if you were royalty, and ran a fantastic mansion at 165 Eaton Place, in one of London's poshest neighborhoods. This show, as indicated in its title, revels in its overall ability to convey life as it unfolds upstairs, among the elite, and downstairs, among those who work tirelessly to keep the palace running. From the first episode, "The Fledgling," the plot is placed politically, socially, and romantically as newlyweds Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard) and Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes) decide to sweep the cobwebs out of the old family haunt in favor of modernization. While mundane house dramas unfurl, increasing tenfold once Sir Hallam's nosy, old-fashioned mother, Maud (Eileen Atkins), decides that she and her pet monkey will be moving in, larger political dramas pepper the personal landscape. For example, in "The Fledgling," as well as the next episodes, "The Ladybird" and "The Cuckoo," Agnes's sister, Lady Persephone (Claire Foy), is increasingly misled by the newly formed fascist party, and mounting tensions between Jewish household members and Persie's ilk, including German official Ribbentrop (Edward Baker-Duly), loom large. As would be expected in this royal tale, much of the plot comprises Agnes's ability to bear children and the political expectations Sir Hallam must meet even when morally conflicted.


My Take: In my quest to watch or read everything even somewhat remotely like Downton Abbey (yes, season two is finally back thank God!!!), I turned to the BBC's remake of Upstairs Downstairs. Has anyone else seen this? I felt the need to share this because it was a fascinating look at 1930s London, a time period I love reading about so why wouldn't I love watching it.


Ok, so it's not quite as good as Downton Abbey but it has a lot of similarities to make it worth watching! It's set in the 1930s so obviously it's a different time period but for the clothes and the decor alone I think we can all look past it. The cast of characters of the elite is similar to that in The King's Speech. I think from the title you can gather that we get to know the rich who live upstairs at the beautiful 165 Eaton Place in London and the servants who work downstairs. How they all interact and come to live in the house is what makes this show sing.


One of the stand out characters in this series is Maud, played by Eileen Atkins. Much like Maggie Smith keeps the humor rolling in Downton Abbey, so does Eileen Atkins. As the mother or mother-in-law she is a bit of a know-it-all which sometimes gets her into trouble but I loved the interplay between her and her daughter-in-law Lady Agnes played by Keeley Hawes.


As you can imagine, with it being the 1930s, there is much talk of a coming war and politics in the series so if you don't know much about the time period you might find yourself a little lost but if you do know some, you will find yourself easily immersed. Well worth a couple cold evenings passing the time immersed in this period drama!

16 comments:

  1. I remember when this was on PBS years ago. I wasn't interested at the time but I'd definitely watch a new production now. Thanks for highlighting it!

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  2. i'm embarrassed to admit that i haven't even watched downtown abbey yet! but i will be checking both out!

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    1. I haven't been able to catch season 2 yet so don't be too embarrassed!

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  3. It was ok, and I certainly liked that hottie who showed up a few times...the duke?

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    1. The Duke of York? Yeah he was pretty hot!

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  4. I'm still behind on the first season of Downtown Abbey but may have to check this out when i am caught up!

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  5. Great idea! I'm so mesmerized by Downton Abbey, that I'll try anything to get by during the off season! I'll put this on my list for after season 2!

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    1. I'm the same way! I want to get my hands on anything similar!

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  6. One of my favorites! I've already seen the entire Downton season 2, so I'm looking for something to sustain the feeling! Thanks for reminding me to revisit Upstairs Downstairs. :)

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  7. I watched the original Upstairs Downstairs series and thought it was wonderful so I am glad to hear the new one is good too

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  8. I just downloaded the original Upstairs, Downstairs as Thomas from My Porch is a huge fan of it. I've been enjoying watching the older series, and am in anticipation of downloading the remake. I'm looking forward to Downton Abbey!

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    1. I clearly need to check out the original of this series too!

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  9. Gah! Stop adding things to my list!! :)

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  10. I have been hearing about this, but haven't looked into it. I will have to one of these days!

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  11. I watched the whole first season last spring and I can't wait for them to start the next installments. It was well worth the couch time.

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