Upstairs, Downstairs - Collector's Edition Megaset (The Complete Series plus Thomas and Sarah)

 
9780767087377: Upstairs, Downstairs - Collector's Edition Megaset (The Complete Series plus Thomas and Sarah)
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All 68 Episodes of the Landmark Series On 20 DVDs! Upstairs, the Bellamy family negotiated the scandals and successes of the English aristocracy. Downstairs, their loyal and lively servants showed far less reserve when confronting the challenges of their lives. Together, their stories made TV magic.When UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS debuted, network executives fretted that the series was not commercial and viewers would switch off in the thousands. More than thirty years later, it is universally recognized as one of the most successful and important shows in television history, seen by over 1 billion people worldwide and the winner of 9 Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Peabody, among many other awards.Take a final journey back to 165 Eaton Place with this comprehensive set featuring all 68 episodes of the unforgettable masterpiece, digitally remastered for presentation on DVD. The collection also includes the rarely-seen retrospective Upstairs Downstairs Remembered: The 25th Anniversary Special.

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Review:

This seminal British television series is just as enjoyable now as when it first aired in the early 1970s. Richard (David Langton), Lady Marjorie (Rachel Gurney), and their son James (Simon Williams) comprise the aristocratic Bellamy family that reside upstairs while their loyal servants--including butler Hudson (Gordon Jackson), cook Mrs. Bridges (Angela Baddeley), and housemaid Rose (Jean Marsh)--maintain the household from downstairs. The series follows the upper-class family's troubles as times change and the ongoing lives of their resilient staff.

Upstairs Downstairs: The Complete Series contains 68 episodes on 20 DVDs, as well as the series retrospective Upstairs Downstairs Remembered: the 25th Anniversary Special. Initially set in 1904, the first season comprises 13 episodes, 5 of which are 5 black-and-white episodes not aired during the first season of the original U.S. broadcast. The second season's 13 episodes cover various relationship problems and an appearance of King Edward VII. The third season's 13 episodes follow the London household through the prewar years (1912-1914). Outstanding cast performances and the dramatic backdrop of the Great War give the fourth season, set in 1914 to 1918, its reputation as the best of the five. Due to limited filming budgets, the war is largely seen through homefront activities. The 16 episodes of the fifth and final season cover the swinging '20s to the stock market crash (1919-30). The episodes of the fifth season are more self-contained than other seasons' and every bit as entertaining. The series ends with Rose locking up the empty house, closing the door on one of TV's most popular and acclaimed shows. Whether you first met the Bellamys and their delightfully enjoyable downstairs entourage in the 1970s or are just getting to know them now, the superb acting and compelling character development will always be the real reason to watch Upstairs Downstairs. --Tara Chace

Also included in the Collector's Edition Megaset is the spinoff series Thomas and Sarah, in which two of Upstairs Downstairs' most colorful characters were given a series of their own: Thomas the chauffer (John Alderton, Calendar Girls) and Sarah the parlor maid (Pauline Collins, Shirley Valentine). The series charted the social and financial escapades of this dubious pair, who lived together without getting married and were as comfortable with con artistry as lawful employment. The tone and quality of these 13 episodes varies from social commentary to light adventure, but at its best Thomas and Sarah could match its illustrious forebear. The first episode starts things off on a smart, satirical note: Thomas disturbs Sarah's carefully fabricated new identity when, to woo her back into his arms, he concocts a new persona of his own. But it's a handful of later episodes that are truly remarkable. In one, Sarah tells Thomas that she's pregnant to forestall his dream of emigrating to America. When he learns that she's lied to him, he enacts a vicious revenge; Alderton's performance is both convincing and frightening. In another, success in the stock market leads Thomas and Sarah to hire servants of their own--with decidedly uncomfortable results (Nigel Hawthorne, The Madness of King George, appears as a stern and rigid butler). The exploration of class is clever, subtle, and insightful. A second season was never produced due to a strike, but this single season remains a fascinating portrait of the Edwardian era, sparkling with superb acting and writing. Collins and Alderton create two engaging, contradictory, and utterly vivid characters, worthy of your time. --Bret Fetzer

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