Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
A WAY TO GO YET
on 29 May 2011
1936. Death of one king. Abdication of another. Meanwhile 165 Eaton Place emerges from its six year sleep....
That familiar signature tune sent a tingle of anticipation, memories revived of the early 1970's when it introduced a viewing highlight of the week. How splendid to know Jean Marsh would again be Rose, hopefully guarantee of a smooth transition!
Unfortunately the new production has been overshadowed - not only by recollections of its illustrious predecessor but by the arrival of "Downton Abbey", this oozing quality and justifiably earning the plaudits. In such acclaimed company weaknesses prove all the more glaring: far too much crammed into just three episodes, promising storylines skimmed over, most of the characters requiring greater depth.
Renovation of the house was quite well handled. Jean Marsh impressed and had moving moments. Eileen Atkins made a formidable matriarch, capable of surprising. I also enjoyed Adrian Scarborough as resourceful butler Pritchard. (It took a while to realize tiresome Lady Persie was played by Claire Foy, she who so delighted as Little Dorrit.)
Although disappointing, there is more than enough potential to justify a second season - provided lessons are learned, these to include making the music far less intrusive. Hopefully the subsequent DVD set will follow "Downton Abbey"'s example and remove those infuriating pre-credit spoilers. (By the way, the cover of the current boxed set warns that there are "scenes of smoking".)
Despite reservations on this occasion, that initial good will has not evaporated. May the new "Upstairs Downstairs" yet prove a viewing highlight!