Upstairs Downstairs-Series 5 (1975)

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Released 15-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 816:55 (Case: 832)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (7:12)
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 No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The fifth season of Upstairs Downstairs is the final season in the series. The ending is much more restrained than we find in series today, probably because they knew that the series was ending and cliffhangers are not a feature of BBC period dramas. It is still very sad to reach the ending as this series has been fantastic to watch. The characters are very engaging, the storylines excellent and overall this was a particularly interesting period in history.

    This season is probably not as strong as season four, but that is not to say it is not good, just that season four was going to be really hard to follow, if for no other reason than the first world war provided such a dramatic backdrop to the story. This season picks up after the war and flows through to the start of the Great Depression, an interesting time that is particularly well reflected in the antics of Georgina and her friends. It was again a time of social upheaval, the lifestyles of the very rich were further undermined in this period. The fabric of their society was starting to unravel.

    Previous seasons were each thirteen episodes long, and despite being asked to produce a sixth season, John Hawkesworth refused but did agree to produce an extra three episodes within this season, presented as episode numbers 10, 12 and 14. This season is very much about the characters and their trials and tribulations. The actors all give excellent performances and you will become deeply involved in pretty much every episode. There are a couple of episodes that are not quite up to scratch, but overall this is a pretty solid ending to a fantastic series.

1: On With The Dance, Summer 1919 (50:49)

    We start the season with much uncertainty as it looks like Richard is getting married and moving out of Eaton Place. Uncertainty upstairs always leads to some tension downstairs.

2: A Place In The World, February 1920 (52:17)

    James is trying his hand at politics. Unfortunately, he stands for the Tory party in an electorate that could not be more Labor if it tried.

3: Laugh A Little Louder Please, Summer 1921 (50:27)

    The gay parties of the '20s are portrayed in this episode. Unfortunately, not everyone is getting into the party mood. The war has left deep scars on many.

4: The Joy Ride, Autumn 1921 (51:18)

    James buys an aeroplane and talks his mother-in-law into coming on a flight with him. Tension and rumours rise as they are overdue in getting back to their aerodrome.

5: Wanted - a Good Home, Spring 1922 (48:56)

    A very severe governess is brought into the house to tutor Virginia's daughter. The social hierarchy of the times dictates that she is in charge when the Bellamys go away, with disastrous consequences.

6: An Old Flame, Spring 1923 (51:37)

    James is increasingly frustrated with his life and gets involved in a way that he shouldn't with his old love Diana Newbury who we saw married to James's best friend in a previous season.

7: Disillusion, Spring 1924 (50:57)

    I am not sure that this episode really fits within the character of Hudson as we have come to know him. He is very attracted to the new housemaid and has to choose between his infatuation and his role as butler.

8: Such A Lovely Man, Summer 1925 (52:25)

    It is a great pleasure to see Robert Hardy (Siegfried from the series version of All Creatures Great and Small) strutting his stuff as a very English and rich gentleman. He plays the part to perfection as Virginia courts his influence at the behest of James. Things appear to get nearly out of hand but the ending is a wonderful twist.

9: The Nine Days Wonder, May 1926 (48:09)

    One of the main historical events of this series is the general strike of 1926 in support of the coal miners. We see the upper class 'doing their bit' to keep the city of London running in an attempt to break the strikers.

10: The Understudy, September 1926 (51:07)

    There is a very important dinner party coming up and at the last minute Hudson falls ill. Someone is going to have to try and fill his butler's shoes for this most important event. There are tensions below the stairs as there are two vying for this job.

11: Alberto, June 1927 (51:27)

    Georgina becomes the talk of the town as she lands a bit part in this new entertainment called films. Her role and costume combined with a nasty little trick played by her best friend leads to much trouble.

12: Will Ye No Come Back Again (51:26)

    Richard, James and Georgina are invited to use the country estate of a rich friend that is located in the highlands of Scotland. Interesting both for the play between James and Georgina as well as a wonderful story involving Hudson and the local ghille.

13: Joke Over, Summer 1928 (50:26)

    Georgina's rabble rousing with her friends comes to a head with a drunken car trip into the country where a cyclist is run down. She discovers who her true friends are. Anthony Andrews makes his first appearance here as the Marquis of Stockbridge. Another great actor that adds his skills to the cast.

14: Noblesse Oblige, Summer 1929 (50:40)

    Georgina and Robert, the Marquis of Stockbridge, have fallen in love but they are from two different strata of this class-conscious society.

15: All the King's Horses, October 1929 (50:29)

    The great stock market crash takes all of James' money with it. Unfortunately, it also takes Rose's inheritance thanks to overexuberant advice from James. This is the last straw for James who has not really had a break since nearly dying in the trenches.

16: Whither Shall I Wander? Summer 1930 (54:35)

    Unfortunately the menu title page on this disc and the previous rather spoils any surprise that might have been contained in this episode - in fact, you will have been looking at this particular picture wondering for the last eight episodes, which is rather naughty of the DVD producers. This is a very well done episode and is a perfect ending to the series.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented at its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the overall quality is pretty much in line with the last season.

    Sharpness is typical of video-sourced material of this age; close ups are reasonably sharp while distance shots lack resolution. There is a fair amount of low level noise present and the shadow detail is acceptable but could have been better.

    Colours lack real impact and are somewhat undersaturated. They are also affected by the video noise that is present.

    Video artefacts such as tearing and other glitches continue to outweigh the occasional macroblocking that is present. The video source is really the source of the majority of problems that this transfer exhibits. Outside footage is film based and shows a range of artefacts such as grain and some scratches.

    There are no subtitles present.

    As there are extra episodes in this season all the discs have four episodes each. In the past, there have been no layer changes on the discs but in this case three of the discs have layer changes, usually just into the third episode. Disc 1: no layer change; Disc 2: at 7:12 in the third episode on the disc; Disc 3: at 5:43 in the third episode on the disc and Disc 4: at 3:46 in the third episode on the disc.

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

Audio

    The single Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack remains simple but functional.

    The dialogue quality is good as is the audio sync.

    The only music is during the opening and closing credits. All of the classic British TV series have distinctive music and it only takes a few bars to transport you into the well known world of that particular series.

    The surrounds and subwoofer were not utilized 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 with a picture from the series as the backdrop adorns each disc. As noted above, the same image is used on discs three and four, revealing a rather large spoiler.

R4 vs R1

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

     Content across the regions appears identical. R4 remains the pick as R1 reviews report transfer problems.

Summary

    A fine series of episodes with a great wind-up for what is one of the most famous and popular of the old British period dramas. A fine collection of discs that I am very glad they decided to release even if they might have tried to source slightly better masters (if they exist).

    The video is functional.

    The audio similarly functions acceptably.

    They could also have sourced something for the extras but alas did not.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Thursday, January 13, 2005
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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