Upstairs Downstairs-Series 3 (1973)

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Released 15-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 653:24 (Case: 676)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (31:05)
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bill Bain
Derek Bennett
Cyril Coke
Lionel Harris
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Charlotte Bingham
Julian Bond
Raymond Bowers
Terence Brady
Maureen Duffy
John Harrison
John Hawkesworth
Elizabeth Jane Howard
Deborah Mortimer
Jeremy Paul
Alfred Shaughnessy
Rosemary Anne Sisson
Anthony Skene
Case ?
RPI $79.95 Music Alexander Faris
Martin Case
Barbara Bates


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    After a long wait, we finally have season three of Upstairs Downstairs in our hands, and a great season it is too. One thing that struck me yet again is that this is a very interesting way to learn a little about English history. We see some major events happen during this particular series that spans the couple of years leading up to the first world war, and they take on a new light when you see how they affect the characters that you have come to know well. History comes alive in a small way and can give you a new perspective on the event. An interesting thing happened while I was reviewing these discs in that a friend asked to borrow the previous series to show her children, the idea being that it showed a way of life, not that far in the past in real terms, that is completely different to what children see growing up today. I think this is a great idea and any of the great costume dramas from the BBC will also fit this bill admirably.

    This is a strong and interesting season, though not as compelling as season four (but let's not let the cat too far out of the bag yet). There are some major changes in the cast this season which yet again make for a difficult plot synopsis if I am to avoid spoilers. The method chosen to make one of these changes is very clever indeed and adds a whole new dimension to that particular historical event.

3.01 Miss Forrest. (50:11)

Richard Bellamy has decided to write a biography of one of his famous forbears, and to help him turn his scribblings into neat typed pages he has hired a rather pretty but very proper middle class lady to act as his secretary, Hazel Forrest. James takes a shine to her almost immediately but events elsewhere soon throw the house into complete disarray.

3.02 A House Divided (50:46)

The household is in a complete uproar with the events that open this episode. Hazel Forrest is caught somewhere on the landing belonging neither upstairs nor downstairs. She attempts to help all involved while not being treated the best by some.

3.03 A Change of Scene (50:44)

James Bellamy is invited to one of those incredibly British country houses with endless acres of green lawns and what seems a complete lack of morals. The idle rich play their games while Hudson, who has accompanied James as his 'man', is tempted almost beyond enduring, caught between an offer of a position with a great house and family and his loyalty to the Bellamys.

3.04 A Family Secret (50:35)

The romance between James and Hazel has reached the critical point where James is getting down on one knee, but there seems to be a problem and he is turned down without an explanation.

3.05 Rose's Pigeon (51:39)

Rose's kind heart leads the entire family, but in particular poor old Edward, into danger when she opens the door to Alfred and gives him shelter. Alfred was the footman at the Bellamy's some years ago but now appears to be in real trouble.

3.06 Desirous of Change (50:39)

Two guest stars make this an interesting and amusing episode. A supposed French Countess arrives and attracts Richard's immediate attention while downstairs a new underhouse maid seems to have more than one story to tell.

3.07 Word of Honour (51:37)

Poor old Richard may be a politician but he seems to have two great disabilities for this profession. One is that he is more than a little naive and the second and far more debilitating is that he is an honest man. These two attributes lead him into more than a little trouble with his first ever foray into the stock market.

3.08 The Bolter (50:05)

The problems that we saw when Hazel first tried to assert her place in the Bellamy residence are greatly amplified when James takes her for a weekend away hunting at a large country house. She does not fit into the upper crust of society and in trying to find a place ends up on a runaway horse, although this is no fault of her own, but rather is thanks to the nastiness of the other women and men. She is offered no support at all by James who is acting the complete prat.

3.09 Goodwill to all Men (50:45)

Georgina Worsley is a new character that appears to be staying with us for a while. She is a young girl and Richard's ward as her parents are deceased. Through Georgina we will be introduced to the life of a débutante of the times. While new in the house she befriends Daisy, the new underhouse parlour maid and convinces her that a visit to her home in the slums is just what is needed at Christmas time. The trip, to say the least, does not go as planned and Georgina learns a little about the sheltered life that she has led up till now.

3.10 What the Footman Saw (49:39)

While acting as butler to James at a great country estate, Edward sees some hanky panky going on. Later, on his return to London, he imbibes a little too deeply at the local pub and reveals this information which is overheard by a private detective. This leads to all sorts of trouble as the focus of this rumour is a colleague of Richard's in the parliament.

3.11 A Perfect Stranger (51:30)

Here we see the impression that a young sheep farmer from Australia can make, first on Rose who falls almost instantly in love, and then on the other downstairs and upstairs residents as they wonder just what Rose is getting into. What is infinitely worse is that he is a Labor supporter and espouses the great Aussie 'all are equal' in front of Mr Hudson.

3.12 Distant Thunder (50:41)

Having just lost their first baby, Hazel is confined to bed, while James escorts Georgina to a ball. Not one of his best decisions, though as we have seen in the past not one of his worst. There is great unrest in the household as the tension between Hazel and James infects everyone.

3.13 The Sudden Storm (51:33)

While comic relief is supplied by the dual storyline of Mrs Bridges being wooed by the local butcher and the servants taking a seaside jaunt on their collective day off, this is an episode that will leave you gobsmacked by the attitudes shown to the impending war, the war to end all wars!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall, the video quality may have improved over the previous season but only marginally. The outside (on location) footage, which appears to be film based rather than captured on video, is actually quite good and shows up the video footage rather badly.

    The transfer is presented at its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

    The video footage lacks sharpness except on the close-ups, and even there it could be better. Moving objects don't stand a chance. Shadow detail is acceptable but there is constant low level noise present.

    Colours are muted and affected by the ever-present video noise.

    MPEG artefacts are a constant due to the video noise such as the rather large block on the face of Edward at 7:27 in the first episode. Posterization is present, particularly in the skin tones. There are some jumps, such as at 19:16 in the second episode, where there appears to be a split second of footage missing. An artefact that appears to be a videotape problem where part of the image smears across the screen occurs several times in most of the episodes.

    There are no subtitles on these discs.

    All four discs are RSDL formatted, with four episodes on the second and fourth discs leaving us with no layer change on those discs and three each on the first and third discs with layer changes occurring at 31:05 and 25:00 respectively. Both are on scene changes with no dialogue and thus are not at all obtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There is a single Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack on these discs that is basically of the same quality as the first two offerings. There is some hiss and the occasional pop, but nothing that will really distract from the presentation.

    Dialogue quality and audio sync remain good.

    Again there is no music other than the opening and closing credits.

    The surrounds and the subwoofer are not used by this soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    A simple static 1.33:1 menu gives the option to select one of the episodes on the disc. A picture adorns each screen and can cause both excitement and be a minor (or major) spoiler as they portray a scene from the upcoming episodes, scenes that you might not have expected.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Nothing appears to have changed concerning the availability of this series across the world. I am still listing R4 as the winner on the evidence of overseas reviews of the R1 versions mentioning problems that probably arise from the PAL to NTSC conversion. Other than this, the content appears identical throughout all regions.

Summary

    One of the things that I enjoy most about this show is the adding of depth to history that I studied at school. The history in textbooks is somewhat dry and impersonal - this series adds depth to that history by involving the characters in the events and showing their reactions. This is true of this series but even more so of season four as we chart a course through the terrible time of World War I.

    The video is affected by age and source material problems.

    The audio is functional.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Friday, December 10, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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