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 c... more »onfronting 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.« less
"It wasn't commercial. It wasn't conventional. It dealt with issues not often talked about in the early 70s, both the social issues that permiate through the series, and also such issues, in certain episodes, as prejudice, suicide, and homosexuality. This is the story of the Bellamy household at 165 Eaton Place, London, both the upstairs family (the Bellamy family, led by Richard Bellamy, a member of Parliament) and the downstairs family (the servants, led by Angus Hudson, the butler, who in his way is more aristocratic than the aristocrats). Yet in many ways, they are a single family, and we see them from the period 1905 to the 1920s, an era of profound social change, and we see the effects such changes have on this household, from a time when going "into service" was routine to the time when having half a dozen servants for a small upper middle class family such as the Bellamys was beginning to be the exception, not the rule. The series includes rarely shown episodes from the 1st season, as well as the special, Upstairs Downstairs Remembered: The 25th Anniversary Special. While the special is included with the first series episodes, I would advise waiting until you have viewed the entire series before watching the special, to avoid any plot points being given away. The acting is wonderful, led by Gordon Jackson (as Hudson, the butler), David Langton (as Richard Bellamy), and Jean Marsh (as house parlormaid Rose Buck). Marsh also originated and guided the series. These three characters seem like rocks, upon which the waves of the social changes beat. Yet they are worn and changed by the events of this incredible era. Nonetheless, this is very much an ensemble cast--no character appears in more than 60 of the 68 episodes. The first season seems almost experimental--many of the episodes have specific themes, such as those mentioned above. A couple were unsuccessful and their events are never referred to again (for example, "The Swedish Tiger"). In the remaining seasons, events tend to build over the thirteen episodes, to culminate to some extent in the final episode of the season, which usually deals with a major event in the world (for example the King's death at the end of the second season, the start of the war in the third, the end of the war in the fourth). Perhaps the most powerful episodes are those dealing with World War I, and the profound waste of the war, as many of the best of the generation are lost. By the end of the War, there has been tremendous tragedy, and even the most ardent supporter of the war doubts the justice of the war. But do not underestimate the fifth season, as the social structure crumbles. The signs of this crumbling are seen throughout the earlier episodes, but they come to a head in the fifth season. I have tried to avoid discussing the plot, so as not to give away the plot events that should come as a surprise to you. But suffice it to say that this is one of the first series when anything can happen within the framework of the series, when you could not count on everything ending happily by the end of the hour--or at all. Brilliant. Brilliant."
The entire series in a 20-disc box set!
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 09/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This box set comprises the entire series of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS (all 68 episodes spread across 20 discs), and is well worth the price. This wonderful series has become a British institution and a worldwide favorite among viewers. It has a huge fan following.The story follows the lives and loves of the Bellamy family who reside in a fashionable house in Eaton Place. Downstairs, their loyal and lively servants uphold their own code of values whilst trying to come to terms with an ever-changing world. UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS covers the years 1903-1930, and features fantastic writing and direction, not to mention top-drawer performances from a gloriously talented cast.Season 1 - We are introduced to the Bellamy family: Richard (David Langton), his wife Lady Marjorie (Rachel Gurney) and their grown-up children James (Simon Williams) and Elizabeth (Nicola Pagett). In the first episode, "On Trial", we also meet the vivacious Clemence (Pauline Collins) who arrives at 165 Eaton Place looking for a job. After Lady Marjorie re-names the girl Sarah, she's quickly inducted into the household, but finds life as a servant frustrating and unnatural.Later choice moments in the season include "Magic Casements", where Lady Marjorie has a brief and tender affair with a young army captain; "The Path of Duty" features the rebellious Elizabeth running away from home on the eve of her society debut; "Why is Her Door Locked?" recounts the unhappy, emotionally-disturbed Mrs Bridges (Angela Baddeley) kidnapping a small child. The season ends on a hopeful note as Elizabeth marries the romantic poet Lawrence Kirbridge (Ian Ogilvy) in "For Love of Love".Season 2 - Picks up the story following Elizabeth and Lawrence's honeymoon, and their household in Greenwich. Humorous scenes downstairs featuring Rose (Jean Marsh), Thomas (John Alderton) and Mrs Fellowes (Dorothy Frere) contrast dramatically with the unhappy marriage of Elizabeth and Lawrence upstairs.Other standout episodes include "Your Obediant Servant", where Hudson (Gordon Jackson) dresses up as a toff in order to impress his brother's family who are visiting from India; "The Property of a Lady" where Sarah and Thomas attempt to help Lady Marjorie who's being blackmailed about her secret affair from Season 1; and "Out of the Everywhere" where the resourceful Sarah once again saves the day for the Bellamy's. Perhaps the season is best-remembered for "Guest of Honour" in which King Edward comes to dine at 165. This season marked the last for Elizabeth, Thomas and Sarah.Season 3 - Another strong season, which gets off to a cracking start in "Miss Forrest", in which Richard has hired the services of secretary Hazel Forrest (Meg Wynn Owen) while he is busy writing Lord Southwold's political biography. Lady Marjorie is getting ready for a voyage on the Titanic...Later standouts include "A Perfect Stranger" where Rose gets her first taste of real love when she meets charming Gregory Wilmot (Keith Barron), an Australian sheep-farmer. Romance also keeps up James who impetuously proposes to and marries the mild-mannered Hazel; "Goodwill to all Men" introduces us to Lord Southwold's young ward Georgina Worsley (Lesley-Anne Down), and a charming storyline featuring the second (and last) appearance of Cathleen Nesbitt as Dowager Lady Southwold. The season ends on a dramatic note when World War One is declared.Season 4 - Generally regarded by fans as the strongest of the five seasons, with superb acting and cracker storylines. The season starts off with "A Patriotic Offering" where Lady Prudence (Joan Benham) suggests that Hazel takes in a family of Belgian refugees. "The Beastly Hun" features an Emmy-winning performance from Gordon Jackson; whilst "If You Were the Only Girl in the World" has Hazel falling in love with a handsome young airman who is later tragically killed in a bombing strike. The season also introduces us to the charming naval widow Virginia Hamilton (Hannah Gordon), who turns to Richard for help when her oldest son is to be court-martialled. The season ends on a tragic note when Hazel contracts a severe and dangerous strain of the flu virus just as peace is declared by England.Season 5 - James and Georgina settle into a party lifestyle with their mindless society friends, whilst the newly-married Richard and Virginia settle into life at Eaton Place with her two young children Alice (Anne Yarker) and William (Jonathan Seely). "A Place in the World" details bored and dissatisfied James following his father in politics; "Disillusion" follows an ill-fated romance between Hudson and young maid Lily (Karen Dotrice), and Georgina toys with a career as a movie actress in "Alberto". The season ends with the marriage of Georgina and Robert, the Marquis of Stockbridge (Anthony Andrews). James returns from a trip to America with big dreams about the Stock Exchange, but then the Wall Street crash puts the financial future of the Bellamy's in doubt...There aren't enough words to express how much I love UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS. My favorite moments from the series come mostly from seasons 1 and 2, and while I love the entire series, I particularly love the performances of Nicola Pagett (Elizabeth) and Pauline Collins (Sarah).If you are a fan of the series or a fan of British period drama, then I highly-recommend this superb series! A must-own."
Excellent series - Outrageously bad DVD transfer
clalande | 09/19/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The series is a gem. Believe every positive review about it. It is television at its best. The only outrage is the poor quality of the transfer on the A&E set released in the US and Canada. The picture, colours, sound are awful. I bought the set and returned it. I saw the United Kingdom release, Region 2 encoded, and it is much better. You can get an idea of the difference in picture and colour quality on the Upstairs Downstairs web site, video availability page at http://www.updown.org.uk/vidtab.htm. A&E should be ashamed to give this excellent series such a bad treatment and charge over $300 for the insult."
The finest extended series of films ever made for TV.
Russell Fanelli | Longmeadow, MA USA | 02/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Upstairs, Downstairs is, in my opinion, the finest extended series of films ever made for television. Spanning five seasons, the writing, acting, and directing were uniformly excellent.Upstairs are the Bellamy family. The two members that continue for all five seasons are Richard Bellamy, a member of Parliament, and his son James, a Captain in the English army. Downstairs are the servants who are led for all five seasons by Hudson, the butler, Mrs. Bridges, the cook, and Rose, a maid. The performances by all these principals were excellent in every respect. Dozens of other characters come in and out of the various plots throughout the years. Most notable are Richard Bellamy's first wife Lady Marjorie and a niece, Georgina. Downstairs Edward, the footman and chauffeur, his wife Daisy, and Ruby, helper to Mrs. Bridges, all played important roles in the series.Many things make this series great and the stories come first. The Bellamy family and their servants are living in tumultuous times, the first thirty years or so of the 20th Century. The 1st World War, "the war to end all wars," was a defining moment in time for the English, the Bellamy family, and their servants. The war changed everyone and everything forever and this series does justice to the horror of that terrible event and its impact on the lives of the English people.But the war is only a part of the story line, albeit an important one. We come to know the Bellamys and their servants almost as well as our own family. In fact, they seem to become a part of our family, so real are the stories and the performances of the actors. Rarely have actors in a television series ever been able to provide so much depth of characterization. This is due largely to the fine direction and superb dialogue of the scripts for each episode of the series.For the most part the action takes place in the Bellamy's London home. Over five seasons we see little of London except through the windows of the Bellamy's house. The war footage is a notable exception to this statement. Even so, enough is happening under that roof to keep us genuinely interested and engaged.I had not seen this series when it originally aired thirty years ago and only by accident saw a video of a first season episode. I was quickly "hooked" and then watched the rest of the five seasons on DVD. Other than taking less room on your shelf, the DVDs did not appear to me to be much better than the video I viewed.It seemed to me as if the program, like a fine wine, aged gracefully and improved over time. I know that I enjoyed each season just a bit more than the last and with great regret watched the final episodes. It was as if I were saying goodbye forever to close friends and family. This series is good enough for a repeat viewing and so I have the deferred pleasure of knowing I will be reintroduced to the Bellamys and all their servants at some later time. However, for the first-time viewer, a real treat is in store for you!"
Rerelease coming 10/25/05, hopefully with better video quali
D. Rebnord | 09/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As others have noted this first release of Upstairs, Downstairs had a horrible transfer to DVD (see e.g., http://www.updown.org.uk/dvdus.htm). It had the video quality of a VHS tape of a city council meeting aired on a cable public access channel. Hardly worthy of one of the most memorable and beloved series in TV history. A new DVD release of this wonderful series is coming 10/25/05. Based upon the supplements announced with the new release, one can hope that the video in the new release will be notably better than in this collection."