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!)