Friday, March 5, 2021

Season 42 - Upstairs, Downstairs Series 2 (2012)

Upstairs, Downstairs is like the brick and mortar of Masterpiece. This show took America by storm when it originally aired in the seventies so anyone who considers themselves an Anglophile was excited when a reboot was announced. Instead of retelling the tales of the Bellamys which ended with the stock market crash of 1929 we jumped forward several years with the Holland family taking up residence at 165 Eaton Place in 1936. The wonderful holdover from the original series is that they were able to convince Jean Marsh to return as Rose Buck. Joining her was her co-creator of the original series, Eileen Atkins, finally taking a roll in front of the camera as Sir Hallam Holland's mother. The first season consisted of three magnificent episodes that felt like coming home. The new series had that perfect balance of aristocracy, government intrigue, human rights, and scandal that made the original series so addictive. Yet for me I fell irrevocably in love with the show during the second season because of Hallam's affair with his sister-in-law Lady Persephone, played by future monarch Claire Foy. It all started on the eve of World War II, rescuing Lady Persie from the clutches of the Germans while strains of music drifted through the streets. Almost a decade ago I found this doomed romance beyond thrilling, especially with it's tragic ending. Last year I rewatched all of Upstairs, Downstairs and was surprised that I no longer found this affair romantic. I was firmly on the side of Hallam's wife, Lady Agnes, played by the extraordinary Keeley Hawes. How could I have changed so much in a decade!?! How could I be wishing Persie's demise to arrive sooner!?! It just goes to show that the indication of a great television series is that with each watching you find something new about it and yourself. Which made it all the more painful when the success of Downton Abbey led to Upstairs, Downstairs being cancelled too soon. I'm sorry, but I watched and loved BOTH shows so they can coexist! After all Downton Abbey is just a reinterpretation of Upstairs, Downstairs!  


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