Follow the "upstairs" dwellers, the Bellamys, and their "downstairs" servants through one of television's most loved and lauded series of all time. This collector's set includes the entire first season, all 13 episodes, of... more » the multi-award winning series. Catch a first glimpse of 165 Eaton Place and be enchanted with the saga that captures the essence of life and love in Edwardian England.« less
"I pre-ordered this set when it appeared on the website and recently received my copy to get me through the summer re-runs. I was so thrilled to see the superb boxed set, and was doubly impressed at the quality of the recording both visually and in terms of sound.Upstairs, Downstairs is the saga of the Bellamy family and their household staff in the early 20th century. Throughout the series their lives, loves, tragedies and triumphs are portrayed. This set of 13 episodes includes the COMPLETE first season as seen in Britain, including some black and white episodes never seen on tv in the US. In the first episode we are introduced to the colorful Sarah (Pauline Collins), in the second (B&W episode) Lady Marjorie has her portrait painted only to discover at the Royal Academy Show that the artist has also painted two half-naked maids in an attic room (possibly Bellamy maids?). In episodes 3 and 4 (B&W) we are introduced to the children, James and Elizabeth Bellamy. Episodes 5 and 6 show us the romance between Elizabeth Bellamy and a German Baron (and it's dark underside), and the pregnancy of the new maid, Mary. More familiar episodes to the US audience come in #7 and #8, Lady Marjorie is spellbound with a young army captain who is friends with her son James, and Emily (the annoying kitchen maid) falls for a neighboring family's footman, with disastrous results. Episodes 9 and 10 have Mrs. Bridges, the cook, behaving in a most improper way and stealing a baby, and the erstwhile Sarah returns with a new plan to improve her social standing. The two penultimate episodes in this set include the further adventures of Sarah the housemaid with a Swedish valet, and the further adventures of the Bellamy's daughter, Elizabeth, with a group of young Socialists. Finally we are left with the now estranged Elizabeth Bellamy and her relationship with a leftist poet, Lawrence Kirbridge--and a great eagerness to own the next 13 episodes, now also available.Upstairs, Downstairs is the classic "Masterpiece Theater" series, with costumes, drama, comedy, and riveting characters that we take to our hearts. If you are a fan of more recent costume dramas on A&E and PBS, you will very much enjoy this early series which holds up remarkably well, after nearly two decades. Treat yourself--you won't regret it. And, the set is very reasonably priced here at Amazon.com (I saw the same thing in a catalogue for $149.99)"
Upstairs/Downstairs - Complete First Season
E. Hornaday | Lawrenceville, NJ United States | 09/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This British series is in a "class" by itself. It's characters are unforgettable, the acting inspired and the backdrop evocative - Edwardian England from 1904 into the 1930s. The story evolves around the aristocractic Bellamy family "Upstairs" and their servants "Downstairs," but it is not a soap opera. It is as genuine, real and honest as any period production, or for that matter, any production, that I have ever seen. The characters grapple with the same struggles that we continue to confront in mordern-day America: love, loss, coming of age, morality, prejudice, death, economics, social responsibility, freedom and the search for life's ultimate meaning - concluding with the horrendous effects of a World War and its devastating aftermath. This unflinching look at history as well as a truly timeless, engaging saga is not to be missed. I genuinely rejoice that such a remarkable treasure is finally available on DVD. Originally broadcast on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre."
Upstairs Downstairs: The Premiere Season
Josh Hitchens | Philadelphia, PA | 12/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first season of UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS, possibly the best loved drama series ever made. The quality of this boxed set is wonderful, and the first thirteen episodes do a first rate job in setting up the plots and characters. We see the Bellamy family and their loyal servants from November 1903 to June 1909 in all their triumphs and tragedies. Of the 13 episodes, my personal favorites are THE MISTRESS AND THE MAIDS, BOARD WAGES, and A CRY FOR HELP. Ironically, these are of the five black and white episodes that have never been shown on American television. The Second and Third seasons are also on video, and I highly recommend them. Unfortunately, the Fourth season that dealt with World War One, and the Fifth Season, which was the last, are not yet available. I hope they come out soon. Finally, Upstairs Downstairs: The Premiere Season is excellent, collect the whole series!"
A Great Beginning to a Great Series
John D. Cofield | 09/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first series of Upstairs, Downstairs. Chronicling the lives of masters and servants in a Belgravia townhouse, Updown, as it is affectionately known, covers about twentyfive years. The first series lasts from about 1903 to 1908. It introduces most of the main characters of the entire chronicle, barring a few later additions to the caste. Most of this first series concerns the career of Sarah, who has the impertinence to come to the front door when she applies for the position of parlormaid in the first episode. We also see the early stages of the career of Elizabeth Bellamy, daughter of the house, as she rebels against the path her life is expected to take by her parents. Some of the episodes in this first series were filmed in black and white, due to a cameramen's strike. I find these particularly effective in portraying the barrenness of life below stairs. Some of the episodes are a bit off target, especially The Swedish Tiger, which is just plain weird, but remember the series had not yet reached classic status when these episodes were filmed. The first series is a great way to start your acquaintance with the residents of 165 Eaton Place."
Top drama series
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 02/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Savour the wonderful premiere series of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS in this great DVD box set.
The saga of the Bellamy family and their lively, loyal servants at 165 Eaton Place went on to span 5 series and countless awards. In the legendary first series we are introduced to politician Richard Bellamy (David Langton), his beautiful wife Lady Marjorie (Rachel Gurney) and their children James (Simon Williams) and Elizabeth (Nicola Pagett). Downstairs, their staff, Hudson the butler (Gordon Jackson), Mrs Bridges the cook (Angela Baddeley), Rose the maid (Jean Marsh) and Emily the scullery maid (Evin Crowley) attempt to uphold their own values whilst coming to grips with an ever-changing world.
Originally-devised by actresses Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, the series explored the day-to-day life of servant and master in the Edwardian period, a time of great political and social upheaval. The series later took the Bellamy family into the First World War (Series 4, regarded by most as the greatest), the 1920s flapper period and the impending Stock Market crash (Series 5).
As the series opens, it is the year 1903, and great changes are afoot for the Bellamy family.
"On Trial" - Into the structured Bellamy household whirls the unconventional free-spirit Clemence Delise (Pauline Collins) who is applying for the new position of parlourmaid. After Lady Marjorie re-names the girl Sarah, she is quickly inducted into the residence, but it soon becomes clear that Sarah's true calling isn't in domestic service.
"The Mistress and the Maids" - Lady Marjorie sits for an important society painter, but it's Sarah who enflames his creative talents.
"Board Wages" - When the Bellamy's leave London for the weekend, Sarah and the servants are left to their own devices. But when James unexpectedly returns home early, Sarah is thrown into a dilemma which could see her walk away from Eaton Place.
"The Path of Duty" - Elizabeth returns home from a German finishing school, but her stubborn, willful streak is still very much intact. When she must make her formal society debut, Elizabeth exposes her parents to a huge scandal by running away.
"A Suitable Marriage" - The visiting Baron von Rimmer seems the perfect prospective husband for Elizabeth...or is he?
"A Cry for Help" - Richard becomes entangled in scandal when the new maid appeals for his assistance in a delicate private matter.
"Magic Casements" - Lady Marjorie enjoys a tender but brief affair with one of James' military friends.
"I Dies from Love" - Emily becomes infatuated with a footman, leading to dire consequences when her affections are not returned.
"Why Was Her Door Locked?" - An emotionally-distraught Mrs Bridges plunges the Bellamy family into disgrace when she kidnaps a baby.
"A Voice from the Past" - Whilst helping in a soup kitchen, James and Elizabeth stumble onto a homeless Sarah, and decide to take her back to Eaton Place. The situation becomes complicated when Elizabeth learns of James' affair with Sarah during her previous employment at the house.
"The Swedish Tiger" - Sarah becomes a pawn in a plan to rob the Bellamy's of priceless antiques.
"The Key of the Door" - Elizabeth comes of age, but her headstrong attitude once again causes friction with her parents, when she befriends Evelin Larkin and her group of socialists.
"For Love of Love" - Elizabeth finally marries poet Lawrence Kirbridge at the request of her parents, and James rekindles his affair with Sarah, who is now a music-hall singer.
Due to a technician's strike in 1971, the first six episodes were taped in black-and-white, and an alternate colour version of the first episode was filmed later on, for broadcasters who didn't wish to screen the black and white episodes. In the colour broadcasts, Sarah leaves at the end of the first episode "On Trial", but the complete B&W/colour inclusive series has her leave at the end of "Board Wages". UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS is still often aired without the crucial black and white episodes, but the DVD edition includes the complete story arc with no omissions and both versions of the "On Trial" episode."