The buzz around the new Upstairs Downstairs remake has not been good. Most of the talk has been negative in the sense that it could not possibly live up to the surprise period hit, Downton Abbey.
I never really got into the original Upstairs Downstairs. Frankly, it’s just too old and date for me to get into. The concept is intriguing – but it wasn’t to my taste. So, I was definitely looking forward to a more modern take on the story.
The plot is relatively simple – Sir Hallam Holland, a diplomat, moves into the townhouse along with his wife, Lady Agnes. Along with former parlourmaid Rose Buck now running her own agency for domestic servants, they renovate the house to its former glory after years of being mothballed.
The new series is set against the background of the storm clouds gathering in Europe, as World War Two approaches. There’s a lot going on – it’s a heady time for London as Britain prepares for a new King in the throne. This is pre-abdication London with talk of the King and his scandalous affair with Wallis Simpson. It’s very interesting to watch the house be restored, have it staffed and prepare to hold major public events.
It’s a beautiful old house – the fairy tale type of house that you think of when you think of pre-war Britain. It was an enjoyable 1st episode but I think they tried to cram in too much into one episode. This first series is only 3 episodes and it’s clear that more had been planned but I suspect BBC budget cuts have something to do with compressed episodes.
There’s a good amount of intrigue, scandal and sex to make the show interesting enough. The cast is gorgeous and they look like they fit into their roles well. So, is it as good as Downton Abbey? Not yet. Downton Abbey was sprawling and took advantage of 7 episodes to tell a complete story. It also took place in a different time period. That said - I’m pretty content to like both shows, but hiding by the first episode – Downton pulled me into the world of the show much quicker.
I’ll certainly still tune in next week. As far as I’m concerned there’s not much better than a decent British costume drama on a cold winter night.
What did you think of Episode 1 of the Upstairs Downstairs remake? Let us know in the comments!