Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: Upstairs, Downstairs - Series 4 (1974)

Wow! It's been a long time since I reviewed Upstairs, Downstairs. There were a couple of reasons for this: in the middle of the series, I became very busy with school and couldn't watch it like I was. My mom actually continued on with Upstairs, Downstairs and finished it ahead of me. But lately in my free time, I found some time to sit down and slowly finish it. I finished it fairly recently, so I'll be posting the last series soon. Well, here we go!

Note: This review of Upstairs, Downstairs will contain spoilers from Series 1, 2, and 3. If you have not seen any of the previous series and do not want to run into spoilers, you may want to wait before you read this review. I suggest that you read my Series 1Series 2, and Series 3 reviews first before watching. 

Note #2: Please excuse the lack of pictures. I had such a hard time finding good pictures.
Box Art

With WWI underway, everyone at 165 Eaton Place is affected by the war. Upstairs, Hazel Bellamy, the wife of Captain James Bellamy, is often left at 165 Eaton Place with her father-in-law, Richard, while James goes off to war. Downstairs, Mr. Hudson and Mrs. Bridges manage the house while trying to help the war effort. Edward Barnes, the footman, feels the pressure of enlisting in the war and eventually does and at the same time falls in love with parlor maid, Daisy.

Most of the cast members from Series 3 are in Series 4. There aren't any sudden changes in the staff downstairs, though footman Edward leaves to fight in the war for a little while. There are only a couple of recognizable cast members in Series 4:

Actor/ActressCharacterAlso Seen In
Jean MarshRose BuckSense and Sensibility (2008)
as Mrs. Ferrars
Meg Wynn OwenHazel BellamyPride and Prejudice (2005) as Mrs. Reynolds

The Bellamys and the staff of 165 Eaton Place
The war has affected the lives of everyone at 165 Eaton Place. Upstairs, James has returned to the army to fight at the battlefront, Georgina has become a nurse, and Hazel and Richard help out back in London with charities. Meanwhile, Downstairs, Edward feels the pressure of joining the army, and Rose and Mr. Hudson volunteer at extra jobs around the city. You also get to see the change in attitude as the series progresses. At the beginning of the series, everyone supported the war and were eager to help out, but towards the end of the series, everyone grew weary of the war and just wanted it to be over already.

One of the prominent points of the series is the "love triangle" between James, Hazel, and Georgina, which started at the end of Series 3. You had to feel sorry for Hazel (though at times she can appear to be a bit unemotional): it was almost like James and Georgina were going off to war and getting closer while she stayed behind. Really, the one who cared most for the neglected Hazel was Richard. It was almost like Hazel and Richard could have made a good couple (if age wasn't a factor). I didn't completely hate James, but I didn't like him either after his treatment towards Hazel. It was kind of like he would have been an okay character if he didn't have a wandering eye. I wasn't all that fond of Georgina either because of her place in the love triangle: if it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't have minded her that much.

Another element of the story was the love story between Daisy, the parlor maid, and Edward, the footman. A lot of their story is Edward going off to war while they are engaged and married. Their story showed the effects of the war on married couples: Daisy, often times, couldn't maintain her concentration on her work for very long since she was worried about Edward, and Edward, after he came back on leave, had symptoms of shell-shock.

This series of Upstairs, Downstairs takes place entirely during the years of World War I and ends on the day it ended. There are many references to real life events, such as the Sinking of the Lusitania and the bombings that happened in London. The historical events affect the lives of everyone at 165 Eaton Place, such as the quality of the food that is eaten going down due to rationing.

The overall scenery doesn't really change all that much. 165 Eaton place still looks relatively the same other than some of the rooms were closed up since they were not being used. There are some scenes that take place at the battlefront (well, not exactly. More like the hospitals near them). Other than that and a couple of scenes here and there, the majority of the scenes take place at 165 Eaton Place. The camera quality is typical of 1970s series: the quality isn't all that great, but it's not terrible either.

The costumes in this series weren't anything special. They weren't awful, but they weren't great either. Many of the costumes were not decorated very much due to the war, so many of the clothes were plain. The staff uniforms weren't different from the previous series.

Overall: 4/5
This series was a definite improvement from Series 1 and 2, and in some ways is better than Series 3. There is a serious tone throughout the entire series (it does take place during WWI), and there aren't too many "happy" episodes. There are a lot of historical facts incorporated into the story line, but it doesn't come off in a boring way. In fact, you may walk away from watching this series with some more knowledge of WWI.

Compared to the last three series, there are less content issues. There are a couple of suggestive scenes and dialogue, but there are fewer than in previous series. There is a scene that talks about the treatment that some refugees went through and there is a scene with a bomb going off, but there is nothing graphic. This series would be rated TV-PG today on TV, but if it was in theaters, it probably would be PG.

Upstairs, Downstairs: Series 4 is available on DVD. It has 13 episodes that are about 50 minutes long.

1 comment:

  1. I love Upstairs Downstairs and series 4, could, in my opinion stand alone as an excellent miniseries on WWI.


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