Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Upstairs Downstairs - Series 2 (2012)

Took me long enough to review this. I actually watched Upstairs, Downstairs: Series 2 when it aired on PBS last year, but I ended up pushing this review back further and further, adding to it little by little until now. As you may remember, I was not a fan of the first series of the reboot of Upstairs, Downstairs, but I watched Series 2 hoping that it would get better. Though I didn't think it would live up to the original series, I still watched and expected it to be a decent period drama. How did I find it? Well, read on!

Note: This review contains spoilers from Series 1 of Upstairs, Downstairs. If you do not want to run into spoilers, then do not read this review. If you want to read up on Series 1, you can find it here.

Box Art
The story starts just before England entered WWII. Lady Agnes Holland has given birth to her second child, but does not have any more hopes of having any more children. Hallam's aunt, Blanche Mottershead, has moved in with the Hollands after the death of Hallam's mother, Lady Maud. Lady Persie returns from Germany after a riot breaks out and resettles back in 165 Eaton Place seeming to renounce her Nazi views. There is also some additions to the staff: Beryl Ballard as the new nursery maid and Eunice McCabe as the new kitchen maid.

Most of the cast from the last series returned for Series 2. Due to health problems, Jean Marsh's character, Rose Buck, has a very limited role in the new series and is only in two episodes. There are still a couple of familiar faces from other period dramas

Actor/ActressCharacterAlso Seen In
Keeley HawesLady Agnes HollandWives and Daughters as Cynthia Kirkpatrick, Under the Greenwood Tree as Fancy Day
Anne ReidMrs. ThackerayBleak House (2005) as Mrs. Rouncewell
Claire FoyLady Persephone TowynLittle Dorrit (2008) as Amy Dorrit
Blake RitsonDuke of KentEmma (2009) as Mr. Elton
Alex KingstonDr. Blanche MottersheadLost in Austen as Mrs. Bennet
Eileen Atkins did not reprise her role as Lady Maud Holland since she did not like how her character developed.

I was hoping when I started watching Series 2 that I would gradually grow to like the characters more and more. After all, I was only lukewarm to a majority of the characters in Series 1, so maybe after getting to know the characters a little more, I would grow to like them, right? Well, it didn't quite work out that way unfortunately. Even after finishing Series 2, I was still lukewarm to the majority of the characters or my opinion of them fell substantially. There were a few that I grew to like a little more, but most of them fell flat to me. You will notice that I didn't comment much on the staff in this section. Pretty much my view of them remained the same as the last series: they weren't really anything special.

Lady Agnes with American business man, Casper Landry
Unlike most characters, I did grow to like Lady Agnes a little more. In the first series, I thought that she was a little bossy, but in this series, I felt a little sorry for her, especially when she and Sir Hallam were growing apart. I don't think she made the correct decisions all the time, but I did feel a little sorry for her. In contrast, I began to really dislike Sir Hallam, especially after he was getting involved with Lady Agnes's sister, Lady Persie. They took a perfectly good character that was honorable and completely destroyed any respect I had for him. This was quite unfortunate. It was almost like Robert in Downton Abbey towards the end of the second series, but the difference was that Robert's character wasn't completely destroyed. If they continued with Series 3, I don't think I would like Hallam very much at all.

Lady Agnes talking with Casper Landry at 165 Eaton Place
The scenery is pretty much the same as Series 1 with some differences. Most scenes take place in London, but there is a part of Episode 1 that takes place in Germany when Hallam travels there. 165 Eaton Place looks as nice as ever and most of the action takes place there.

The film quality is still great! As much as I liked the original series, the film quality was always lacking, but in the reboot, the film quality is excellent! There are plenty of colorful scenes, but there are also some scenes that were drab for effect.

Lady Persie is still dressed in red
Again, I don't know much about 1930s/early 1940s fashions, but the costuming looked very nice! Pretty much what I've said for Series 1 still applies for Series 2. Both Lady Agnes and Lady Persie were dressed very nicely!

Overall: 2/5
I'm not surprised that the show was not renewed for another series. While the first series wasn't all that great to begin with, this series just took a downturn and made the entire show worse. I'd still say I've seen worse period dramas than this, but this was by no means great. The characters, to me, were not developed the way I would have liked. I was hoping that I'd grow to like most of the characters more with the second series, but it didn't happen here.

There is a lot more content with this series than Series 1. Appropriately, this series was rated TV-14. Some of the story lines were pretty edgy, so be warned if you watch this series.

Upstairs, Downstairs: Series 2 is available on DVD.

Upstairs, Downstairs Overall: 3/5
I'm just going to come out and say it: the original series was definitely the better series. Sure, you had to work though the first couple of series of the original series, but it did eventually get good. Unfortunately, the reboot left a lukewarm feeling in me, like I didn't care if the series went on. What went wrong with the new series? A couple of things:
  • The characters weren't as likable and I just couldn't like them as well. Don't get me wrong, I still had some characters that I liked in the new series, but they paled in comparison to the characters in the original series.
  • Rose was barely in it! I understand that Jean Marsh had some health problems (which is why production on this series was pushed back: not her fault), but half the time you completely forgot about Rose which meant that there really wasn't a connection to the original series other than it took place at the same house.
  • They got way too edgy with the plot lines in Series 2. What would have otherwise been a PG show had themes that were very TV-14. It was like they were trying to be controversial to get ratings.
Again, I'm not shocked that a third series was not recommissioned. This series just fell flat. Could Downton Abbey be responsible for the reboot of Upstairs Downstairs failing? Possibly, but even compared to the original series, Downton Abbey is still better. Downton Abbey had better characters and a better storyline, which the new Upstairs, Downstairs lacked. It also didn't help that production on the second series was delayed, so probably their "thunder" was lost (again, not Jean Marsh's fault). If there had been a third series, I would have watched it, but I'm not sad that there isn't going to be a third series either.

1 comment:

  1. Hello there!

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