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Upstairs Downstairs

After watching my first season of Downton Abbey (loved it), I decided to try and watch this much lauded old show. Could not get through the first episode. The new maid shows up at the house, has total seventies big hair with Edwardian garb, a pet movie peeve, and her accent made me cringe. So many seventies movies/shows rarely hold up well due to this strange mixing of contemporary hairstyles and period clothes and cheap(?) production.

Should I try and get through the first episode? Will it get better?

by Anonymousreply 3901/20/2013

It will get better but slowly. The next few episodes are in black and white and yes, Sarah is rather ridiculous as a character. There will be a few more ridiculous and silly plot devices but once Sarah leaves for good (she leaves and comes back, then leaves again) it gets better. The world war once episodes are quite good as are the 1920s.

by Anonymousreply 105/29/2012

The show gets significantly better; however, the fact that you "could not get through the first episode" probably means that you won't like it at all.

by Anonymousreply 205/29/2012

How long a period does it cover R2?

by Anonymousreply 305/29/2012

Who the hell had big hair in the original "Upstairs, Downstairs"?!! The women all had Gibson Girl type hairdos.

I watched every episode during my teens and I do not remember a female character with 70's hair.

The B&W episodes you will most likely also find annoying.

OP, you appear to have a short attention span and can't see beyond things such as hairdos and cheap production values. The orginal "Dark Shadows" soap had horrendous production values, yet viewers saw beyond that!

Go back to your trashy reality shows and crap like"'Merican I Dull", they seem to be more your speed.

by Anonymousreply 405/29/2012

Sorry I don't watch reality tv R4. Last night I rewatched Gosford Park.

by Anonymousreply 505/29/2012

Claire Foy alone makes the (new) second series worth checking out.

Old series is well worth the slog. The WWI series (4) is superb (it makes the second season of Downton look terrible)

by Anonymousreply 605/29/2012

R4 a Gibson Girl was big hair and I doubt domestic staff at the time would have had them. Most other period pieces have domestic staff with plain hair styles, usually buns, neatly tucked into a cap. I was under the impression Gibson Girls were worn by women with more leisure time.

by Anonymousreply 705/29/2012

"R4 a Gibson Girl was big hair and I doubt domestic staff at the time would have had them."

I consider a Gibson Girl type hairstyle a very loose bun, so sue me.

My point was, there were NO female characters on the original "Upstairs, Downstairs" with big teased 70's hair. I gather OP meant 70's disco hair, not 70's hippy part in the middle hair, which was still being worn by non-disco music loving women.

Ruby, the plain scullery maid, for example, had a loose sloppy bun type hairdo. Mrs. Bellamy had a more sophisticated type of large bun hairdo, which I always called a Gibson Girl hairdo.

Hope that clears things up.

by Anonymousreply 805/29/2012

The Gibson Girl was a loose bun but the top was usually worn over a rat because, unless you have hair like Helena Bonham-Carter, that pouf was unattainable.

by Anonymousreply 905/29/2012

[R9]'s response was the gayest (and most interesting) thing posted here today.

by Anonymousreply 1005/29/2012

Why thank you R10.

by Anonymousreply 1105/29/2012

FYI R9, Helena Bonham-Carter admitted many years ago that her wild luxurious long wavy hair was mostly extensions. She was wearing extensions long before today's Hollyweird actresses and reality stars started wearing them.

IIRC, she mentioned her extensions in an interview in "Town & Country" of all magazines!

by Anonymousreply 1205/29/2012

Another myth shattered.

by Anonymousreply 1305/29/2012

I'm disappointed to hear this. I too loved DA and was going to order Upstairs as well. So it is just production values you all are disturbed with? How is the story and dialogue?

This thread makes me sad.

by Anonymousreply 1405/29/2012

Lady Marjorie's hair looks very seventies. It does get better but it will never be as good as Downton, because there is no comparison in the production values and budget. Plus, Upstairs Downstairs could not afford many exterior shots of location work - it's almost always shot on a set and looks like it.

by Anonymousreply 1505/29/2012

The original UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS is one of the best series ever made. The producers were sticklers for period detail. if you were thinking about ordering it, by all means do so.

The only really unrealistic element of it is that the fifth season covers too many years (1919-1931) and the characters magically avoid aging.

by Anonymousreply 1605/29/2012

R14 try it for yourself.

by Anonymousreply 1705/29/2012

[quote]a Gibson Girl was big hair and I doubt domestic staff at the time would have had them."

If we're talking about Sarah, wasn't that sort of the point of her character? She never wanted to be a domestic and didn't act like a domestic, so in that context, would the big hair have fit?

It's been decades since I watched it, but I remember her character did everything short of soliciting sailors, so maybe the hair was by design.

by Anonymousreply 1805/29/2012

Oh, was she a tramp R18? Maybe I will try again.

by Anonymousreply 1905/29/2012

Sarah didn't have big hair. Pauline Collins, the actress who played her, has a big head. Servants had to wear their hair up off their shoulders and women didn't crop their hair before the 1920s. Hence, a big pile of hair atop one's head.

by Anonymousreply 2005/29/2012


Lady Marjorie Bellamy dies in the Titanic sinking. Parallel to DA.

by Anonymousreply 2105/29/2012

Many women in my family were domestics, just after 1900 through the 1920s, in Germany and America. While the Gibson Girl look started before the end of the 19th century, it continued through the period before the war, especially before the advent of film. Remember that this look was not just about big hair - it was constructed by Dana as part of an idea of a modern woman who was educated, equal to men, smart and sassy, and independent.

Domestics would not - and none of the ones in the archive of photos I have wore their hair in a flamboyant way that would draw attention to them they way a Gibson Girl look was intended to do. Strictly utilitarian in their daily looks, and their weekend looks were rather subdued, as well, at least until after 1920.

by Anonymousreply 2205/29/2012

OP what others have said. Once I started I loved the series and put off watching the final episode.. I hated to say goodbye I know.. MARY!!

by Anonymousreply 2305/29/2012

I don't think it looks particularly 70's.

by Anonymousreply 2405/29/2012

Still not very 70s.

by Anonymousreply 2505/31/2012

OP go for it. Consider the first few episodes are very uneven; just watch them for background. Once the episodes return to color it takes off and as others have said, some of the later years are engrossing and heartbreaking. Remember that this isn't a quick-cut production. The scenes can be long, like watching a stage play. This made me appreciate the actors and the production even more. Once you get hooked you will enjoy it.

Production values go to Downton; content goes to U/D.

by Anonymousreply 2605/31/2012

OP, it is definitely OK to skip the B&W episodes (the first 5 or 6 are in B&W) and jump in when they go to color.

One caveat though, if you do skip them you'll miss some of the most overtly gay stuff in the entire series. On the up side, the single worst episode is also in that group.

But, do try to stick with it, OP, it is one of the all-time best series ever on TV.

by Anonymousreply 2705/31/2012

Downton Abbey has some of the most ridiculous plotting ever seen in a TV series. OP, if you consider that the gold standard, then do all of us a favor and skip the vastly superior but more restrained Upstairs Downstairs.

by Anonymousreply 2805/31/2012

As others are saying, the first several episodes are a bit rocky. But once it takes off, it flies. It really is, in my opinion, the greatest television series of all time. I could watch the "Guest of Honour" episode every day.

And, in its own way, it was very groundbreaking in it's presentation of LGBT characters.

"Downton Abbey"?


"Downton Abbey" is the bridge and tunnel "Upstairs Downstairs".

"DA" is to "Up/Down" as "Long John Silvers" is to fish & chips.

by Anonymousreply 2905/31/2012

If anyone likes DA and Upstairs Downstairs check out The Grand. Watching it now and it's good. Lust, prostitution, suicide all in a big hotel in 1920.

by Anonymousreply 3005/31/2012

"I could watch the "Guest of Honour" episode every day"

That's my favourite too...

by Anonymousreply 3106/01/2012

Apparently, several cast members of UD won Emmy awards.

by Anonymousreply 3201/18/2013

I liked The Forsyte Saga too. Soap opera of the highest order, especially Susan Hampshire as Fleur & Nyree Dawn Porter as Irene.

by Anonymousreply 3301/18/2013

Eldergay here - fifty - who used to watch the original upstairs downstairs when it was originally screened here in Australia...

Saw a few episodes on DVD a few years ago when staying at a b&b in Toronto - they had it in their library & I enjoyed seeing it again - and so ordered the first two seasons when I got home -

but somehow never got around to watching them until now -

I'm stuck at home for a few weeks with a detached retina - and have to spend fifty minutes if every hour sitting/lying face down. I rented a chair that's made for this with a faceplate thing that enables you to read - and watch tv thru' a mirror device. So now's the time to get all the boxed sets out and binge - upstairs downstairs, original brideshead revisited, love in a cold climate, mapp & Lucia, I Claudius, Wodehouse playhouse...etc

I'm now about halfway thru the second season of u/d - and loving it! There are some really great scripts and the cast is great. Given the relatively small budget I reckon they've done an amazing job - and the frocks are lovely! (tho there are times where I wonder if miss Elizabeth would really be wearing the same outfit out and about that she first wore two or three years ago - especially since her other had a reputation for 'never wearing the same gown twice' to events outside the home.... Lol!

If you can follow events rit thru from the beginning - and yeah - the first seven or eight episodes are in black and white due to a strike by technicians at the time - it makes more sense. It's really not a big deal - and you get to see the lovely campy footman and his gorgeous German paramour - fabulous stuff!

There are some episodes that are a little strange and don't really work that well - like the incomprehensible 'Swedish tiger' one (a confidence trickster enters the Bellamy household - but the whole thing makes not a lick of sense) - but by the second series the whole thing really starts to gel and come into it's own...

I'm shocked mainly by how much i remember. My little teen gay brain used to go into overdrive when the show first ran here - and so far i don't think I must have missed an episode. The melodrama, the sense of history - the frocks! - and the slight old lovey/campiness sucked me in utterly!

One of the reasons I've not got into downtown abbey is 'cos the two or three episodes I saw seemed to be using plotlines lifted directly from u/d. I mean - I know there are only so many plots under the sun - and the concerns and goings on of one upper class Edwardian family were probably very similar to another - but even so - it seems pretty lazy to me.

It also deems like downtown kept pulling its punches - that is, the were some amazing set ups which should have had pretty dire consequences for major characters - and by the end of the episode they were all miraculously overcome and all went on as before. Including the evil 'bad guy' footman and the awful woman servant - the characters in u/ d seemed a lot more layered and real in comparison.

Anyway - if you can take into account that the production values were great for the time but not so slick around forty years later - then i should think any viewer with half a brain would find the whole thing a rewarding experience.

(hope the spelling and grammar trolls will cut me a break for typing this face down on an iPad whose keyboard I can only just make out! Lol!)

by Anonymousreply 3401/18/2013

Lady Marjorie Bellamy was one hot 50 year old.

Hazel the nice secretary rocked too

James -- just a mess.

by Anonymousreply 3501/19/2013

It tells you a lot about the British, in the period it's set in, the one it was broadcast in and now.

by Anonymousreply 3601/19/2013

I enjoyed UD immensely. I liked the black and white episodes and the Nelly storyline which explains a great deal about Mrs Bridges and Hudson and their relationship.

I enjoyed the way Marjory always smiled no matter what. I always imagined Pru entering the draw3ing room and saying "Good heavens Marjory! What's all this?" and Marjory responding with a smile "They are amputating my leg!"

-"That sounds painful!"

Lady Marjory, still smiling "Excruciating! Hudson, bring some tea!"

by Anonymousreply 3701/19/2013


by Anonymousreply 3801/19/2013

Speaking of anachronisms, in a season one episode of Downton Abbey, when they were discussing a miscarriage, the character of Thomas said "at this point it was no bigger than a hamster."

Hamsters were middle eastern and Asian rodents that did not become Laboratory animals until the 1930s and then popular as pets until the 1950s.

It would have been a very obscure reference for an English footman to use in 1914.

by Anonymousreply 3901/20/2013
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