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More than just a good show... a lesson for all leaders.
Daniel C. Hatfield | Orlando, FL USA | 05/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is definitely a great collection from purely a reality show entertainment point of view. However, what struck me even more than just my amusement was the lessons this show articulated about leadership and management. I've done quite a bit of reading about leadership, everything from "Think and Grow Rich" to "Primal Leadership", and one the overriding themes is always communication in all its various forms and in all the directions it flows. This series does a suburb job of illustrating exactly what can do wrong and how if different levels of an organization, or in this case, a manor, do not know, do not understand, or do not choose to care to understand what's going on in the hearts and minds of the people around them.Sir John publicly insults the butler, and you get to see first hand how much more devastating that is than respectfully pulling someone to the side. The lady of the house's biggest complaint at the beginning of the show was about how she never saw her children. By the end she didn't seem to care, which shows us how quickly our minds can change if we don't maintain focus. Sir John kills a couple of birds for the lowest servants to cook for themselves as a treat. However, there's a big party coming up, and there's no way the servants are going to have time to fry the birds, so the apparent act of kindness is received by those whom it was directed at in completely the wrong way, which shows how important it is that we understand what the people around us need. The best example for poor leadership in the house, however, probably occurs at the end. Sir John and the family are so distraught about leaving the house. They breakdown in front of the servants while saying good-bye, and they feel awful about leaving everyone whom they've come to feel so close to. At the same time, the servants are rather glad to be leaving aside from missing other people in their group, and most of them have developed a strong dislike for the family, of which the family is completely oblivious. The implication? Well, first, this shows how easily the same situation can look to two different groups of people on different sides of a situation. Secondly, if that was an organization, it would be on the brink of having its workforce walk out on it, even though, to the eyes of management, everything was splendid and, as they understood it, everyone was very connected to everyone else at all levels.I've done my best to describe what I saw in this review, but I'm sure I've done it poorly as I am not well trained at critiquing this sort of thing. Also, there is plenty more going on that I didn't even come close to touching on. Please believe me on this point, though: if you are even at least a little bit interested in buying this title, do it! You will be so happy, and perhaps enlightened, that you did!"
Recreating Edwardian Country Life
Kona | Emerald City | 05/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For three months, ordinary people played the parts of a Lord and Lady and the thirteen servants who worked for them in a large English country home. It was furnished circa 1906; the cast members dressed authentically, and there were no modern conveniences whatever.
Anna and John, the married couple who became the Lord and Lady of the house, had no trouble fitting into the roles of snobbish aristocrats who spent their days in selfish pleasures. They gave elegant dinners, a ball, and a charity fete, never realizing their staff were run ragged by their demands. Downstairs, the scullery maid washed dishes 16 hours a day, the footmen served the meals, and the butler supervised the servants. They worked seven days a week, only left the kitchen for morning prayers, and had no social or private lives.
Two scullery maids quit after only days, due to the unbearably hard work. Another scullery maid found romance (quite forbidden in Edwardian times) with the hall-boy, and the entire staff eventually learned to co-exist with the tempermental French chef. This is a great series, highly recommended for those who enjoy English history."
Upstairs/downstairs drama at its best
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 08/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the beginning of the show, Anna Oliff-Cooper describes her life as a busy doctor. She seems like the ultimate professional woman, juggling the demands of career and family. The Oliff-Coopers (Anna, her sister, her sons, and her stuffy husband John) enter the Manor House playing the "aristocrats" and soon enough, this loving mother and doctor becomes lazy and vain. She never sees her children and doesnt care. She and her husband spend all day planning lavish balls, meeting Important People, and worrying about clothes and fashions. Meanwhile, the servants work 18 hour days, exhausted and resentful. This is "reality tv" at its best, and like all good reality tv, the situations feel real enough to be uncomfortable. PBS's "Fronteir House" showed a disintegration of a family and a petty but vicious frontier feud. "Manor House" has even more memorable characters, including the pompous John Oliff-Cooper, who is soon spouting silly theories about social darwinism. Sir Edgar is the stern but softhearted butler, who at first sides with his masters, but ends up identifying intensely with the downstairs servants. There's an Indian tutor who is shunned by both the downstairs servants for his snobbery and the upstairs family for, well, his being a tutor. There's even a downstairs romance between the scullery maid and the hall boy. A sympathetic Edgar knows abot the romance (which would have been strictly forbidden) but looks the other way. In the end, upstairs and downstairs look more even than one would imagine. The Oliff-Coopers are indolent, but not really happy -- their small son soon considers the downstairs servants more like family. Anna's sister is so unhappy she leaves the house. The downstairs servants fight but also bond tightly. Overall, this was a wonderful series."
MR. EDGAR RULES!
Shamus Macgillicuddy | Brooklyn, NY United States | 01/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MANOR HOUSE is probably the best reality show I've ever seen. So well-cast, so loaded with real social meaning, and full of the kind of tension that recent REAL WORLD incarnations could only hope and pray for. (Even if I had no interest in history, my interest in gossip could keep me watching these people circling each other for hours.) It's also more provocative in many ways than game-based reality programming, because it FEELS like there is a game going on in MANOR HOUSE all the time. You leave the show with a creepy sense of how much "play" there is involved in any kind of social living. It's also fascinating to see how hard those who benefit from social imbalance work to justify what is, in essence, just good luck."
The best reality show
Kona | 05/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched all six hours of this television program on PBS, and it changed my entire outlook on reality programming. The show places a group of peolple in a giant Edwardian Manor, and they have to act as if the last hundred years never happened. The main conflicts in this series arise from the social status between the master family (upstairs) and the servants (downstairs).This series was not only educational, but very entertaining and different. Especially if you are even slightly interested in the British culture at that time. I would not recommend this, however, for people with really short attention spans.If you ever get tired of The Bachelor or American Idol, or any other reality program, give this a try. It is worth every penny."